Thursday, May 30, 2013

When My Need to be Cute, Cool and Covered Clashed

Hello all you 2 Girls & a Bikini followers, “Other Girl” checking in for the very first time. Over the past few years, or should I say past few vacations, Angie has encouraged me to share my thoughts and experiences on our many adventures. But until now I didn’t feel I had anything to contribute, but our most recent trip to Dubai has inspired me, and now I have caught the writing bug also.

Packing for Dubai was the most challenging thing I’ve done in awhile. When trying to pick outfits, which adhere to a cultural standard, yet continue to represent my personal style, I ran into many a conundrum.  These problems were only multiplied by the al la carte travel industry we seem to be living in these days, where you practically pay for everything but air on your flight. So, I got to thinking.  How do I manage to pack “light”, dress comfortable for the weather, dress appropriate for an Islamic state, yet still be my Fabulous self?

Here are 5 ways I made it work, and all in one suitcase!

1.     5 outfits, just 1 pair of shoes!

If you are anything like me, I live for a pair of sexy high heels. Unfortunately six-inch stilettos are neither comfortable nor functional for exploring the streets of Dubai, Italy, Greece, or wherever your adventure takes you.  While I miss the days of no baggage fees and multiple suitcase travel (a girl needs options), it’s just not the world we live in today. So, it’s time to get creative. Pick a pair of shoes that are both cute and comfortable, especially if you plan to do a lot of walking, then start building from there. Wedges and Espadrilles staples in my travel wardrobe.  They are cute, go with multiple styles of dress and I can walk for hours in them before I have to sacrifice fashion for the sake of actually being able to walk.  They also satisfy my need for a high heeled shoe. I also love that these shoes are appropriate for a day of sight seeing in jeans and a Tee, chilling at the beach in a romper, or heading out for a nice dinner in a sundress. Pretty much making them my all-purpose travel shoe.

Not into to heels? How about the ballerina slipper or the gladiator sandal? They are both cute and comfortable, especially ones with some rhinestone or stud embellishments.

2.     Go from day to night!

To keep the luggage fees down and limit the shear amount of clothing you pack, pick items that easily transition from day to night. The maxi dress, harem pant, and pant jumper are all great options for this. You can easily transition any of these from day to night with a change of shoes, adding a jacket, or throwing on new accessories. Also, these items are typically pretty light weight so they don’t take up a lot of space in your suitcase.  Besides, these items are usually made out of jersey cotton material so they can be hand washed and hung to dry in the event you need to recycle outfits.

3.     Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize!

Belts, necklaces, and rings! Oh, My! Accessories are a great way to change up your outfit without adding a lot of bulk to your suitcase. And as I mentioned above, you can take any outfit from day to night with just a change in necklace or adding a belt.

4.     Just buy it at the mall!

Shopping? Yes please! Sometimes I embark on a vacation knowing there will be lots of opportunities for shopping. In these events, why pack your old clothes? Use this as an opportunity to buy new ones. Instead of trying to project what mood you will be in to go to the club in 7 days, just buy an outfit on the day of that suits what you are feeling and won’t make you a spectacle at the club. Then you know you will feel confident in a foreign setting. Just be sure to leave space in that suitcase to get all your fabulous new purchases home.

5.     Leggings are our friend!

Like many fashionistas, I did not consider plain leggings haute couture (unless they were literally haute couture). But I have learned that the legging is my travel friend, especially in Dubai. Leggings, like the maxi dress, are lightweight, comfortable, and very versatile.  All while keeping everything covered. I found it super easy to continue to wear many of my normal vacation sun dresses, rompers, and wedges, by just adding a pair of plain leggings to match.

Hope you found some of these tips helpful.  Here’s wishing you happy and fashionable travels.

To view all of our pictures from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Oman, please click here!

2 Girls & a Bikini

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why I Travel

When I was first asked that question, my initial response was “Why Not?” But since that wouldn’t make for a very interesting blog, I gave the question some additional thought. That is when I began to notice that all of my fondest memories from my childhood involved travel.

You see my Mom was a traveler. She loved to go. So she made sure that every summer, if not more often, we went. Of course, Florida was a favorite destination, but we also enjoyed time in Wisconsin Dells, Atlanta, St. Louis, Chicago (we lived in Detroit then) New Orleans, California and Washington DC. My childhood was filled with family trips and family meant sisters, brothers, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, neighbors and anyone else who said “Can I go?”

As a child, I loved this family tradition and couldn’t wait to see what kind of trouble I could get into. Here are just a few of my memories:
  • Almost giving my Aunt a heart-attack when I brought a frog from the pool into the room.
  • Learning that I really couldn’t swim by jumping into the deep end of the pool and being rescued by the life guard (My Aunt immediately enrolled me into swimming lessons when we got home so that we wouldn’t have this problem again with her “little fish”).
  • Swiping the tips left on the table for the waitress every time we left a restaurant (What? I didn’t know why change was constantly being left behind!).
Ahhhhh yes. Those were the good old days!

Recently I read a study conducted on behalf of the U.S. Travel Association and I realized that my Mom was on to something. According to the study:
  • Adults remember vacations from a young age: the majority of adults surveyed (62%) say their earliest memories were of family vacations taken when they were between ages 5 and 10.
  • Half (49%) of adults describe their memories of childhood family vacations as “very vivid.” These memories are significantly stronger than their memories of school events or birthday celebrations (34% and 31%).
  • Travel experiences are not only remembered, but also passed on to younger generations: 77% of youth respondents report that their parents have told them stories about their childhood family vacations.
Who knew? Pssst – my Mom did!

Now that I have children of my own, I try to follow in my Mom’s footsteps by making sure we hit the road (well, the sky) at least once a year. And just like then, anyone is welcome to join us. Last year, I took my daughter, her friend, and my niece to New York for a long weekend. We also crashed my Uncle's family trip to Atlanta.  This year, my daughter and 2 friends are heading to Ft. Lauderdale with me. Three years ago, we embarked on a true family vacation with 2 Aunts, my Sister and her crew (2 daughters and 1 grand son), and a cousin. My kids still talk about that trip!

And there’s more! Not only does travel bring your family closer; it also strengthens the U.S. economy and puts us a step closer on the road to recovery. Check out these facts:
  • Since 2010, the travel industry created jobs at a pace nearly 16 percent faster than the rest of the economy, adding 296,000 American jobs (as of October 2012).
  • The total number of American jobs supported by travel is 14.4 million.
  • 4 million travel industry workers earn a middle‐class income or higher.
  • Traveler spending directly generates $124 billion in tax revenue for local, state and federal governments.
  • Direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.2 billion a day, $92.8 million an hour, $1.5 million a minute and $25,778 a second.

So get out there and do your part. Grab the spouse, the kids, Grandkids, Grand Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Neighbors and friends. Hit the open road. Sing some goofy songs. Take over half a plane and watch an in-flight movie. Get lost in a new place. Disconnect. Make some new friends (or re-connect with some old ones).

But most importantly, make some memories that will be talked about long after you’re gone.

That’s the Travel Effect!

*All statistical data provided by the The U.S. Travel Association. For more information, click here.