With airline fees climbing and suitcase space at a premium, every item I pack has to do double duty. Here are the indispensable travel items in my suitcase for a recent trip to the island of Providenciales in Turks and Caicos. And for this trip, I found a few new ways to be more efficient in my packing and to squeeze just a few more things into my suitcase. But the truth is for a tropical vacation like this one, you don't need much. Bathing suits and flip flops are the order of the days and evenings are casual.
Brooks Women's PureGrit 3
For this trip I needed a shoe that would perform three functions: beach running, road running and the occasional workout in an air conditioned gym. The completely redesigned PureGrit 3 trail running shoe for women is that shoe. It's light weight makes it a natural choice for when packing light is a necessity.
Here is what the folks at Brooks Running have to say about some of the technical features of the shoe: "The outsole is peppered with hex lugs delivers maximum grip, while a ballistic rock shield protects your foot from rocks and roots on the trail. A toe guard provides protection and added traction when the trail gets steep." Well there is nothing steep about Beautiful Grace Bay Beach, but the grip in the sand is what sold me on this shoe. And it wasn't just a powdery, white sand. Tropical Storm Cristobal dumped nearly 12 inches of rain on Turks and Caicos leaving the sand heavy and wet. It was no problem for the PureGrit3.
Ziploc® Space Bag®
Ziploc® Space Bag uses a turbo vacuum seal valve and double zipper to store your clothes nice and compact; they're airtight and waterproof so they are great for traveling. The set I tested contained 5 suitcase size (18" x 22 1/2") and 6 carry-on bag size (13 1/2" x 19 1/2) plastic zipper bags for packing. No vacuum hose is needed. You neatly insert your garments into the bag (I use the rolling method) up to the designated line, seal the zipper, roll the air out of the bag and stack the bags on top of one another in your suitcase or bag.
The bags helped keep me organized too. T-shirts in one, bathing suits in another, dress clothes in another. When it was time to come home, I corralled all the dirty laundry in the larger bags, squeezed the air out and packed them up. This was an excellent way to keep clean and dirty laundry separated. And for a beach vacation, it helped keep items that were sandy and wet separated from dry clothing. I even found an unintended use for the bags: to protect snorkel masks that are easily-scratched from other items in our carry-on.
Incidentally, you can never have too many Ziploc® bags in every size when you travel. I found the snack size bag to be perfect for storing cotton swabs, bandaids and cotton balls. Of course, the quart bags are commonly used to store liquids in for TSA 3-1-1 (always bring extra) and the sandwich bags come in handy for so many things: snacks, leftovers. Plus, did you know that clean and dry Ziploc® bags are recyclable?
Moving Comfort Switch it Up Dress
This dress does triple duty as a swimsuit cover-up (it offers 50 UPF), an exercise dress and for an evening out with a cardigan thrown over it and a piece of statement jewelry. It rolls up tight and packs like a dream - not a single wrinkle after nearly a weekly in a tightly packed suitcase. The dress reverses from a black-on-black print to a solid black for even more versatility. The A-Line silhouette with flutter hem flatters most figures; dress is fitted, so size up if you prefer a roomier fit.
Has it earned a spot in my carry on for my next trip? You bet!
EC Adventure 4-Wheeled Upright 22
The gate agent stares me down as I approach the podium to board the aircraft. I know she has her eye on me. Well, not really on me but rather my oversize carry on bag. I just know when I get up to the gate she is going to tell me my bag is too big to fit in the overhead bin and I'll be doomed to the land of checked luggage. Checked for free to my final destination or perhaps to no destination at all.
It's a recurring dream I have over and over. Every time I fly. But not this time! This time my bag IS regulation carry on size. It meets all the dimension requirements of every major US carrier. And with features galore!
I don't know what feature I like best about this suitcase: its actual size which seems compact compared to other 22 inch carry ons, it's external compression straps or the 4 effortless spinner wheels.
Here is what the folks at Eagle Creek have to say about the Eagle Creek Adventure 4-Wheeled Upright 22: "Built Tough for Every Journey™, this 4 wheel luggage features expandability, two-way lockable zippers, and maximum packing space. Plus, an attached piggyback clip, multiple pockets for organization, interior compression wings and a travel tested wheel and handle system."
I was delighted to drag this bag through airports, up and down jetways, thorough hotel walkways and hallways, even up and down stairs. It glides along on hard floors with barely the push of a finger. It exhibits a little more drag on carpet, but it's still by far the best wheeled suitcase I've ever had the privilege to travel with. If I could change one thing about this bag, it would be the orientation of the zipper on the interior compartment. When the bag is on the luggage rack, the contents fall out of the zippered compartment when the zipper is open. You can get around this by standing the bag on its side rather than laying it flat. Used in conjunction with Eagle Creeks' Pack-It Cubes, I was the most organized I've ever been.
This suitcase was so much fun to push around that my son and I often disputed who would be the traveler lucky enough to move it from place to place. He pushed it through the airport like a toy and we had a lot of laughs about moms' new bag.
Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter™ Cube Set
What the folks at Eagle Creek have to say about the Pack-It Specter™ Cube Set: "Three silnylon cubes that weigh less than 2.2 oz cumulatively, so that you can keep your clothing organized without worrying about weight. This translucent fabric is the same fabric used for lightweight tents and backpacks, it is super-durable, and stain and water-resistant."
I used the Pack-It Cubes in three sizes: full cubes, half cubes and quarter cubes. The full cubes were great for larger items like sun dresses and shorts. The half cubes were great for t-shirts and swim suits. The 1/4 cubes were perfect for undergarments. The packing cubes helped me stay organized and keep like-items corralled. This was especially important because we moved hotels every two nights. I assigned a different color to each family member. I always knew that the pink full cube contained my clothes for evening and the blue half cube contained my sons T-shirts. It was easy. breezy packing.
OOFOS OOriginal - Women's
This is the second tropical vacation I've brought my OOFOS on. I first discovered on Puerto Rico's north coast that they are the ideal resort footwear. They're perfect for wandering city streets, as poolside footwear, at the spa and around the hotel room. And because they are made of high quality foam rubber material, they rinse off easily for beach use. The weigh almost nothing - perfect for packing light.
I arrived on the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Island as a tropical depression was being upgraded to Tropical Storm Cristobal. For two days, a drenching wet rain fell and there were puddles and flooding everywhere. My OOFOS were the perfect shoes to tromp around the rain in. The construction is so solid that even when I walked through water or heavy, wet sand I never worried that the toe post would become detached from the footbed thanks to the integrated design.
With arch support, impact absorption and at a price point of about $40, you'll want more than one pair. Other than my athletic footwear, it's the only shoe I wore on my entire vacation.