resorting tips

travel tips
  • Resorting: a how to guide *part three

    (originally published on February 25, 2013)

    I am so excited to share this last post in the Resorting series with you! Beyond all the normal stuff people bring on vacation, I have a few items I bring to the Caribbean that you may not have considered.

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    Flexoline -- As I said before, nothing dries in the tropics, but you at least have a shot if you use this little item. Perfect for hanging up your swimsuits, no clips are needed. Just hang items over the top or weave your straps into the braided rubber strands. 

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    SealLine Eco-See Dry Bag (5 liters) -- If you are going on a boat, you need this. I learned the hard way and almost ruined my camera and everything I brought with me on my first catamaran trip in Jamaica. As I was about to climb up the ladder, a rogue wave smacked me in the face almost knocking me over. Now I put everything in there, even my coverup. It all stays nice and dry.

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    Dryer sheets for drawers -- It's damp there so sometimes things smell a little musty. Bring some dryer sheets to place in the drawers before you unpack your clothes. Also makes the room smell nice.

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    Prescription Snorkel Mask -- If you are blind as a bat without your glasses like I am, this is totally worth the investment. And it's not really all that expensive. I ordered mine through Snorkel-Mart. Bonus tip: if the snorkels usually make you gag or you have fatigue in your jaw when you are done, order a smaller mouthpiece. I got mine at SnorkelingOnline for $6.

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    Downy Wrinkle Releaser -- There is nothing worse than having to iron while you are on vacation. As soon as I unpack, I spray down everything with wrinkle releaser and hang it up. No ironing needed -- especially if you combine it with the iron and roll method I shared in the last post. Also bring some extra hangers with you. There are never enough.

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    Baggu zipper bags -- I have a ton of these and find them really useful when packing  ... earphones, gum, lip balm, hair clips ... everything is easier to find and not flying loose all over my tote.

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    Turkish Fouta towels -- Towels are like currency at resorts and sometimes you just want a little extra. These are lightweight and easily packed in a suitcase. Stylish, too, of course!

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    Tide to Go pens -- Funny how food seems to be attracted to my clothes. And sometimes one of those fruity cocktails spills on to my swimsuit during the day. This is the miracle worker. 

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    Glittery, Colorful bobby pins -- Hair in the tropics. No matter what you do, it will be unruly. I've given up on actually styling it and have come to rely on these simple yet stylish bobby pins to tame those crazy strands. And bring extra conditioner. You'll need it.

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    Floating camera wristband -- Cameras don't float. Fact. Don't lose your precious vacation photos. Strap it on!

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    Double stick tape -- Ladies, you know what I am talking about here! Warm weather clothes can be risky. Tape those gaps and loose garments down.

    Next Monday, I'll debut the vacation video I've been working on. It's pretty fun!

  • Resorting: a how to guide *part two

    (originally published on February 18, 2013)

    In my last Resorting post, I shared with you my closely guarded fashion tips and sources. This week, what are some of the things you should do in advance?

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    Crowdsource! -- Read the reviews on TripAdvisor, the information on Facebook, the comments on Twitter, and everything posted on the resort message board (Here's the one for our resort in Jamaica). Beyond just answering the question: "should I stay here?," these resources are chock full of good tips, great ideas, cautionary tales, and general fun. I never would have found the Daiquiri Shack across the street from our resort in the Bahamas, or the One Love Bus bar crawl we booked for my birthday this year, or that adults-only infinity pool on the other side of the resort in Puerto Rico, if I had not scoured these resources. 

    Search for photos taken by normal people who were there. -- Not only will it give you a better sense of what is there, it gives you a sense of what people wear and what the general vibe is. Professional photos make everything look awesome and don't give you a real view of what you should expect. Beyond a Google image search, I've checked Pinterest Boards, Flickr, and Picasa. TripAdvisor has some photos but more often than not they are from people who take photos of things that aren't perfect. I ignore them.

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    Create a packing list. -- I've been keeping extensive packing lists from year to year and only recently just added the whole thing into a database. It will help you feel totally prepared and not at all anxious that you'll forget something.

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    Take photos of your outfits. -- Seriously, I don't know if it's the rum, vacation brain, or early-onset dementia, but I forget everything the minute I step into that tropical climate. After putting all that effort into creating an outfit for each evening, it would be a shame to forget what you decided. Take photos on your iPhone so you can easily reference them. I do the same for my swimsuit/coverup combos.

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    Bonus tip for my OCD-inclined kindred brethren -- Pack your accessories for each outfit in a separate bag that you label with washi tape. I then put all of them in a large chevron pouch that goes into my carry-on. If I double up on accessories, I even write a note on the outside "+ gold chevron bangles."

    Iron and Roll -- I iron everything and roll it tightly before putting it into the suitcase. Most of the clothes stay in pretty decent shape that way. You won't spend your precious vacation time ironing or looking frumpy, for that matter.

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    Cross pack. -- Half the Mr.'s belongings and half of mine go into each suitcase. If one bag is lost, at least we'll each have clothes to wear. And bring a carryon with enough to get you through a few days -- swimsuits, coverups, dresses, and gold or silver sandals. I learned this one the hard way back in my teens when I had to wear the same clothes for three days straight! It sucks.

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    Pick an emergency exit word. -- Resorts are filled with people. Most of them are lovely wonderful people, but not all of them. The Mr. is very friendly and chatty -- especially when he has some rum in him. In order to avoid being saddled with the wrong people for the rest of the stay, we've started using code words which essentially mean, "Abort! Abort!" Be sure to pick something you can work into a conversation but won't get confused with other words that might be used regularly. Like "pomegranate." (That's not our word, by the way. I'm sworn to secrecy.)

    Only two more Mondays until our trip! Next week I'll share a well-researched list of things to bring with you!

  • Resorting: a how to guide *part one

    (originally published on February 11, 2013)

    At the risk of giving away all my trade secrets and revealing just how particular I can be in preparing for travel, I've decided to write a little guide to "resorting" in warm places. Whether you have saved for years for your dream vacation, are headed somewhere for a short extended weekend, or have the good fortune to be able to do this every year, or even multiple times a year, this is for you.

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    I've not always been a savvy resorter. I've had the painful experience of arriving at a Club Med completely unprepared for the color-themed attire required each evening. I've been to a resort where I completely missed the fabulous adults-only infinity pool only to find out about it after I returned home. Or the hot tub hiding in the tropical foliage on the far side of the complex. Or felt completely underdressed and underprepared for pretty much everything except floating around in the pool.

    Like most things in life, I learned from experience and by obsessively observing others. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing some insider tips, some of my favorite sources for your resort needs, and a little sneak peak sprinkled throughout into what I'll be bringing on my next resort trip in March.

    First up: what do I wear?

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    I used to wear shorts and a tshirt over my one and only black swimsuit. With my one and only pair of flip flops. And then we took a trip to Cancun. That Club Med I mentioned, to be exact. Where everything is communicated in at least three different languages and most of the people there are from Europe. And very, very chic.

    The week we visited, there was rain off and on so we spent just as much time in the lounge with our fellow resorters as we did at the pool. And that's where I noticed The Caftan. It was stylish, yet modest. It was so much lovelier than my half damp grey tshirt. And it totally changed my approach to vacation. Resorting is about enjoying yourself while wearing things you might not normally wear at your local pool.

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    Daytime

    You will spend your entire day in a swimsuit and coverup. Leave most of your shorts and daytime casual outfits at home. (I'll pack only one or two just in case we travel offsite. Even so, I wore a swimsuit and coverup to Rick's last time, just in case I wanted to take a dip in the ocean.)

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    So here's the deal, I do not believe in spending $300 on a beach cover up. That is just dumb. It gets wet. It gets sandy. It gets strawberry daiquiri on it. I've found some great ones in places you'd never expect to look (JC Penney!), but my favorite source is Echo Design. I always hit the sales at the end of the summer and probably own thirty plus now.

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    And swimsuits are really, really hard to find if you are anything other than tall and skinny. You also need a lot of them because nothing ever dries in the Caribbean. My favorite swimsuits come from Hapari. They really do fit everyone and provide enough coverage and support that some of us need! I also usually get a sturdier classic tankini set from Lands End for "sports" -- snorkeling and for the slide on the catamaran. Our first year in Jamaica, I brought four swimsuits, but noticed several of the ladies had many more on rotation. I now bring a different suit for each day.

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    Do not forget a beach bag! I usually bring two or three to accessorize  my outfits. Above is my favorite from last year.

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    Sandals and flip flops: Honestly, there is no better choice than Old Navy. They come in great colors (including sparkly ones) and cost less then $5. I also have these fantastic Jack Rogers jellys that I am bringing with me this year. 

    Evening

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    Generally, you are expected to dress for dinner. Not crazy fancy but, seriously, leave the shorts and printed tshirts behind, guys. I bring pretty basic dresses that I Caribbean-ize with lots of fun accessories and shoes. I also bring a lot of white linen pants that I pair with tunics and colorful shirts. Boden and Fresh Produce have great tunics, dresses, and colorful basics. And J. Jill has THE best white linen pants. I have five pairs.

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    It is truly all about the accessories! You don't really want to bring expensive things with you so its the perfect time to hit up Etsy and stores like So Good for items that will be perfect for the bright colors of the Caribbean. 

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    The clutch: Ladies, nothing is more important than bringing a few clutches with you. If you carry a camera and iPhone with you, you will need one! I keep my eyes open all year round, especially on sites like Gilt, where I found the super cool bag above. Etsy is also a great place for unique and fairly inexpensive clutches. 

    Still to come in the Resorting series: I'll be spilling it all ... what to do before you leave so you can really enjoy yourself while on vacation. And some of the things I bring with me that you may never have thought of! To cap it all off, a video I've been working on from last year's Jamaica trip. You'll be booking a trip by the time this is all done!