Clothes, clothes and more clothes…mostly mine…

As a “girlie girl” all of my life, with an affinity for the feminine flair, as far removed from “Tom Boyishness” as a female can be, I unabashedly admit to being the female stereotype when it comes to clothes.  

Although, annoyed by the process of purchasing clothing and its varying accouterments, there is a certain sense of glee when finding a bargain on an item I am particularly interested in acquiring. Not an impulse shopper, I rarely purchase items I don’t need or want.  There isn’t a single unworn, still price- tagged item in my closet (less the items we are purchasing for our journey).  
It’s all about “the hunt” and in some cases, “the negotiation” that get my shopping juices flowing and then, the subsequent acquisition of a high-quality, well-priced, properly fitting item to add to my repertoire of varying taste and style.  

Not a fashion maven, I  possess an uncertainty of my “personal style” as encouraged by an endless pouring of style and fashion shows on TV which I seldom watch. 
Moderately comfortable Easy Spirit fashion flats
Shall I say good-bye to these?

From time to time, I peruse a current fashion magazine in a genuine effort to become familiar with current hemlines, popular colors and shoe styles, always hoping they are befitting my body type, relevant to my age and commensurate with my comfort needs. 

As a result, my current wardrobe consists of a mishmash of layering pieces which I tend to wear without layering, with either a comfy pair of jeans or more often, not so comfy pair of jeans, the comfort factor based on what I had to eat in the past two days.  Sound familiar?

Shoes?  Not so much.  Yes, I have some high heels (seldom worn), fashion flats, (most often hurt my feet), sandals (no flip flops when I can’t stand to wear anything in between my toes), boots and those staples you’ll see me wearing in the grocery store; workout shoes, Keds slip-ons,  Easy Spirit anything and Aerosoles. (In the 70’s, I could wear Candie’s high heeled shoes for 18 hours straight. Not now.)

Comfy old Keds slip-on shoes.  Are these worthy of taking along?

Assessing mine and Tom’s current wardrobes some months ago, realizing how long we’ll be traveling, we both made the decision to sell all of our old clothing at our upcoming estate sale on the weekend of October 27, 2012 and to bring only new appropriate clothing with us.  

There’s no sense in bringing lots of jeans and sweaters to Belize, Africa, Italy (in summer), Madeira and Hawaii and other warm climates.

Old, worn, favorite comfy Dexter’s flats.  Shall I make room for these?  Here again, probably not, based on worn condition.

Here’s my list.  I posted Tom’s clothing list on Thursday’s post, May 31, 2012. Hold onto your shorts!  I said that I’m not a “clothes horse” but, I do like having choices:

  • 15 casual dresses, for everyday wear, easy to dress up or down, roll in a ball in a suitcase
  • 4 dressy dresses, for formal nights on cruises
  • 5 pairs jeans
  • 5 pairs Capri pants
  • 9 pairs shorts, mostly Bermuda length (acceptable to wear in public on hot days)
  • 1 black maxi skirt
  • 16 tee shirts
  • 12 various tops 
  • 4 cardigan sweaters, 4 shrug cover ups (for breezy nights aboard ship, matching dressy dresses)
  • 2 light weight jackets (1 blazer, 1 rain coat)
  • 1 hoodie sweater
  • 3 sets of workout clothing
  • Exofficio BugsAway: 2 pair convertible pants, 2 long sleeve tee shirts, 2 hats, 4 socks
  • 2 belts for dresses
  • 2 scarfs to dress up outfits
  • 4 bathing suits, 2 bathing suit cover up dresses, 1 black pareo
  • 6 sets sleepwear, mostly tanks and shorts, 1 lightweight robe
  • 1 pair workout shoes, 2 dress shoes, 2 pair walking shoes, 3 pair sandals, 2 casual shoes
  • 5 bras, 12 panties, 2 shape wear items for those formfitting dressy dresses
  • Various costume jewelry to match outfits – We will be selling all of our “real” jewelry prior to leaving due to the high risk of exposing oneself to theft while traveling
  • 3 handbags; 1 large, 2 small
Undoubtedly, I am unknowingly leaving out some items at this point.  As the packing begins, I’ll post photos of our packed goods and post a list of all the non-clothing items we will find necessary to pack.  

Most certainly, frequent travelers will laugh when they see our extensive lists.
I would only ask them this one question, “When have you traveled when you are never going home to repack, carrying everything you own for a period of no less than 3 years?”  Now, tell me we’re taking too much!

Clothes, clothes, and more clothes…

We take our clothes for granted. 

They hang in our closets patiently waiting to be selected as a means of covering our bodies for purposes of modesty or warmth while defining our personalities and our mood for the day.

Some days they fit tightly based on the size of last night’s scrumptious dinner or mind blowing dessert.  Some days they fit loosely after 24-hour bout with the flu, only to become tight again after a new day’s meals.  Some days they fit just fine.  

Our blue jeans are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon which at times, require us to lay on the bed to zip them using a mighty pelvis thrust followed by a hefty hike or two while we’re dancing on our toes trying to stuff in very last bit.

We all have favorite clothes.  Favorites make us look good, remind us of a sentimental occasion with their worn and comfortable feeling seemingly timeless. 

We save some of our clothes for decades, neatly tucked away in the attic, hoping they will come back in style. Ironically, when they do, there is a distinct trendy update, rendering them subject to stares from strangers and criticism from those we love, who refuse to allow us to embarrass them in public.

Some of us have no interest in their clothes, grabbing them mindlessly off the hanger with little regard for color, coordinating an outfit or the current style. Others of us are filled with angst, painstakingly trying on item after item in a futile effort to achieve that perfect combination that will magically make us look and feel good. 

Lately, I have been thinking about our clothes.  Honestly, in the past, I seldom “thought” about my clothes other than their purchase (usually online), their washing (frequently after one wearing), their  necessity of being ironed (love to iron!), then deciding on what to wear and the occasional annoyance of a “wardrobe malfunction.”

Thinking about clothes has become a necessary element of traveling about the world for the next three years or more, with two suitcases and one carry-on each.  We have read numerous websites with packing suggestions.  No, not much help there when most suggestions are for vacations, not carrying everything owned at the time, never going “home” to repack. 

I’ve always rotated my clothing not only for variety, but to take advantage of what fashionable items I had at the time.

Tom tends to wear the same clothes day after day. I currently do laundry every day. Whatever he wore today will be back in his drawer within a few hours of his taking them off being “first up” to be worn again the next day, rather than rummaging through the drawers to find something different. 

This past weekend, when we started accessing his wardrobe needs, the top two or three items in each drawer were old and worn.  Everything underneath these items, was nearly new.  We found 20 short sleeve button down shirts in his closet that he had never worn, from either lack of looking through them or from them not fitting him until now with him 25 pounds lighter from his recent diet, low carb, wheat free, grain free, starch free and sugar free.  With his 20 shirts neatly folded and ready for packing, we are purchasing the following items to round out his wardrobe:

  • 16 pairs of shorts:  khaki, taupe, brown, white, bluejeans, navy, beige
  • 2 pairs dress pants: khaki, black
  • 1 sport coat (for dressy cruise nights)
  • 2 dress shirts + 3 ties (for dressy cruise nights)
  • 3 pairs jeans
  • 1 pair lightweight sweatpants & hoodie
  • 20 button down shirts:  solids, checks, Hawaiian print (Tommy Bahama)
  • 16 tee shirts: all solids
  • 4 swim trunks
  • 1 lightweight robe
  • 20 pair briefs (to avoid paying for laundry service on cruises)
  • 20 pairs white socks
  • 3 pair dress socks
  • 1 pair tennis shoes
  • 1 pair heavy duty sports shoes
  • 1 pair casual sandals
  • 1 pair dress shoes
  • 2 belts
  • 1 lightweight rain jacket
  • BugsAway clothing: 2 pair pants (pants to shorts via zipper), 2 long sleeve shirts, 2 tee shirts, 4 pairs socks, 1 baseball cap, 1 full coverage hat all treated with Permethrin, effective through 70 washings against, mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges.
Yes, 127 items seem overwhelming. However, they will fit into his two suitcases. We may have to pay for additional or overweight baggage.  But, Tom will have enough clothing to accommodate our longest cruises without paying for laundry service fees instead, waiting until we arrive at our next location at which time we will be able to do our own laundry for the cost of laundry soap.  

Based on Royal Caribbean’s attached laundry fee schedule, we would easily spend a combined $400 on laundry fees on each cruise.  With seven cruises booked thus far while awaiting four more to post, we could be looking at about $2800 in laundry fees.

After considerable research, it appears that most international flights will accept two bags each or may charge additional fees. At this point, we will take our chances and bring plenty of clothes, hand washing a few items as necessary along the way.

Our next post on Saturday, June 2 will be the dilemma of the other half of this packing equation: the clothing of a color coordinated freak, overly picky, somewhat fashion conscientious, moderately trendy, shoe loving, variety seeking individual who refuses to ever wear the same clothing two days in a row: ME!

Tire of traveling?…BugsAway clothing?…

The topic of tiring of traveling may become a frequent point of discussion, particularly once we are “on the road.”  We’ve frequently been asked this question by friends and family members.

Traveling for years, as opposed to the usual one or two weeks or, for a retired few, a month or more, may become tiresome after a while. With 949 days booked out from this upcoming Halloween, it is difficult to draw upon any prior experience to use as a reference as to how we will physically and emotionally handle moving from location to location all over the world.

Tom and I often discuss this topic, invariably easing our minds by this simple fact:  We will rarely stay in one location (except for the one week in Las Vegas next December) for less than one month, most often staying for two to three months or more.

After one month or more, we will have had the fine opportunity to become familiar with the area, made friends, forgotten about the burden of our bags (our biggest nemesis) and be excited to move on.  As we peruse our itinerary we can visualize a certain ease we will acquire as we anticipate an upcoming location with enthusiasm and childlike wonder, lessening the burden of packing up and moving on.

There are a few travel burdens that hover in my mind; the required three airplane trips to three of our locations:  Kenya (for three months), South Africa (for three months) and later, the island of Madeira, Portugal (for two and a half months).

We aren’t afraid of flying.  We simply have little tolerance for the commotion at an airport; the waiting, the crowds, the security check and most of all, the baggage restrictions.  
The cruise lines have minimal restrictions on the number of bags that a passenger may bring aboard.  Thus, we can take everything we need for the 949 days and then barely enough to get by, in the above referenced locations when we have no alternative but to fly: one checked bag and one carry-on each.  We are considering some storage options for these ten months to avoid the expense of excess baggage fees which can run upwards of $1000 extra per person, per bag.

Tiring of travel, while living in vacation homes is highly unlikely.  If we do give up along the way, it would most likely be a result of illness, the painstaking process of packing and hauling our bags, or the necessity of more air travel than we’d prefer which may be the final “deal killer.”   Of course, whatever happens, we will post it here.

Tom always reassures me by saying, “We won’t be on vacation. We’ll simply be living life, in a variety of locations.  What will we do if we tire of it?  Take a break for three months and relax??  We will be staying for three months in many locations, sometimes longer, with ample time to regroup and relax, preparing us for the next adventure.  

This morning, with little piles of mostly newly purchased clothes on my bed, I made an assessment of any additional items I may need. We had decided to bear the expense of purchasing new clothing for both of us.  Over the past several months, Tom has lost 25 pounds from our gluten free, sugar free, grain free, starch free and wheat free diet. Nothing fits him.  
There seemed little point in packing older, overly worn and overly washed items, knowing we’d be gone for this extended period. Since these may be the only items I will be wearing over the next three years, plus a few purchases along the way, puts an entirely different spin on  packing.
As an accomplished bargain hunter with little interest in shopping at large malls or strip mall stores, we make 90% of our purchases online, all brand names, quality clothing befitting our travels.  

Often, I will find items at the major retailers and then proceed to make the actual purchases at eBay, all new with tags, at less than half the price.  Whether bidding on items or purchasing with BUY IT NOW, the process is fun and rewarding. Tom and I are both easy to fit, making it a rarity to return an item.  

Most sellers are very willing to handle returns.  Reading the reviews and rankings from past purchasers is a good clue as to how the seller will handle any issues.  We tend to avoid sellers with less than a 95% satisfaction rating, clearly visible on the site.

Another website we have used for years is Amazon.com. In the past week, we purchased a replacement bulb for our LCD TV (wouldn’t you know?), retailing for $125 in local stores, $85 at most websites.  It was only $40 at Amazon with free SUPERSAVER shipping.  They stand behind all purchases offering an easy return policy.  The bulb arrived in two days.
Today it took two large rubber bins to hold my clothes until we actually begin the packing.  This will translate into two large suitcases. This is frightening. It’s time to get to work on Tom’s wardrobe next, an easier proposition.  

While writing this post, I heard a knock at the door.  The UPS driver handed me a large box from Sierra Trading Post. I placed an order with them last Thursday for the following items shown that arrived in the box: two BugsAway baseball caps, four pair BugsAway socks, one pair men’s BugsAway convertible pants (unzips to shorts) and one long (roll-up) sleeve BugsAway men’s shirt, all retailing for a total of $299.  

As shown in the receipt below, I paid $130.25 for everything!  That’s why it pays to search for great prices online.  Sierra Trading Post  included a 20% off coupon for my next purchase. That’s some fun online shopping!  

A start on Tom’s BugsAway clothing for Africa with 2 pairs of socks and a cap for me!
Receipt for $130.25 for all the above clothing, retailing for $299!
Next “buggie” night, Tom and I will put on our BugsAway caps, socks, pants and shirts and see if the mosquitoes will dine elsewhere.  Otherwise, back in the box with the included return shipping label!