More on the Southern California Road Trip and Some Packing Lessons

More on the Southern California Road Trip and Some Packing Lessons

This is a follow up post to “Southern California Road Trip”.

After our lovely and unforgettable evening with Tamera and her husband at their gorgeous home, we headed back to our hotel in San Clemente.

The next morning, we headed out to walk around town and check out the area near the San Clemente pier.

The dogs had to come along, too, of course.

It was Daisy’s 9th birthday, after all!

We bought her a birthday dog cookie that I later broke.
I am pretty sure she didn’t care about that!

We were in San Clemente to visit a close college friend of mine who grew up there, and her family. She and I used to spend time with her family in San Clemente every now and then on long weekends during the school year and even after graduating.

Bill and I met my friend, her sister and their mother for dinner one evening. It was great fun to catch up and though we haven’t seen each other in several years, we picked up right where we left off.

My friend is on the far right, her sister is to my right
and their beautiful mother on my left.

The sunset from the deck of the restaurant wasn’t bad either!

The next morning, the last day of vacation, we drove half way home and stopped at Harris Ranch off Interstate 5 for the night. We swam in the pool, enjoyed a steak dinner, and had a great night’s sleep before finally heading home the following morning.

My husband, the fish!

What a terrific trip! Meeting new friends, bonding with existing friends and reigniting decades-old friendships. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better road trip….

…except I could’ve packed a little smarter.

In my packing post, I laid out several outfits I’d planned on wearing during the week long trip. While I think it helped me in terms of making sure I had actual outfits to wear, it did not help me pack light.  I crave choice when I travel which is why I consistently overpack.

Here are some packing lessons I learned on this trip:

1) Spend more time coordinating outfits with fewer pieces. Work with a smaller selection of clothes and rely more on accessories and basics like tee shirts to create multiple outfits.

2) Leave anything on the tight side at home. While my J. Crew Matchstick jeans fit fine before I left, they were too snug by the time I reached LA. Sitting for too long, eating restaurant food and consuming more food and drinks than I normally do always add a bit of weight.

3) Similar to #2, focus on comfort. Is that dress sort of fussy? Do those heels bother your lower back? Are those earrings heavy? Leave them all at home and wear them when you know they won’t bug you as much…or get rid of them all together.

4) Dress to fly under the radar. Maybe I am alone in this but when I travel, I don’t like to stand out too much. I would rather observe than be observed, blend in. So items like my Panama hat, which makes me feel more visible than I usually do, isn’t something I want to wear on vacation unless I am going somewhere tropical.

5) Build the contents of your suitcase around the things you really love and leave the lesser loved pieces at home. If I don’t wear in my everyday life, why would I wear it on vacation?

For some of you, this is basic Packing 101. But if you’re like me, even though you know these rules, you still don’t get it right when it comes to actually packing for a trip. The desire to have choice overrides my desire to pack light. But I am working on changing that!

Here are the things that really worked for me on this trip. They are all items I love, that don’t run tight, don’t make me stand out too much, and are very comfortable.

Gap leopard maxi dress, black 3/4 sleeve single-button blazer, denim jacket, Gap white oxford.

Also smart choices were my Banana Republic black trouser shorts, olive green broken-in khakis from Gap, sexy distressed boyfriend jeans from Gap and red skinnies, also from Gap.

I grabbed these things at the last minute and I am so glad I did. I wore them all frequently.
Gap denim shorts, Nine West denim button-down shirt, Gap off-white jacket.

The accessories that I wore were few. All I needed were my Michael Kors sandals, Mulberry bag, Banana Republic ballets and a black leather tote from COS.  I also wore two belts on the trip, one black and one cognac.

Here’s what I should have left behind. These items are either too loud, tight, uncomfortable or not worn often when I am home. This busy, loud silk blouse, neon shorts, Stones tank, and a sometimes fussy black high low dress will stay home next time.

As will these accessories – heels, Panama hat, black strappy sandals and a small cross body bag – which never left my suitcase.

What packing lessons have you learned from past trips?
Do you like to stand out or blend while on vacation?
xo, Adrienne



  1. August 7, 2013 / 1:41 pm

    Despite the boredom factor, I really do find that my simplest pieces are the ones I reach for over and over when we travel. If I need variety, I look for scarves (and often shop for these at our destination) and the occasional piece of jewelry. Most of all I want to be comfortable, so leave anything that *isn’t* behind.

    • August 7, 2013 / 7:15 pm

      It’s so true. It’s those things we want to wear when we travel that we feel most comfortable in at home. I should have learned that lesson by now but there are always those extra items screaming “bring me! You’ll wear me all the time even though you don’t wear me at home!” I need to stop listening!

  2. August 7, 2013 / 1:45 pm

    Adrienne, this looks like a wonderful adventure to a beautiful part of our country. My dogs go everywhere with me that is possible. I need them!
    And, your packing/wardrobe suggestions are spot on.
    I did a major post showing a perfect travel wardrobe a few months ago. It’s a favorite for everyone. Love the leopard dress!

    • August 7, 2013 / 7:16 pm

      I love to travel with my dogs. I have more fun that way because I am not constantly worrying about them being at home.
      I will have to check out your travel post. I have a trip coming up this fall that I want to pack well for.

  3. August 7, 2013 / 2:57 pm

    Best “vacation” packing advice I’ve ever read. So true about clothing that’s already tight, that’s a bit outside your normal box etc. I’ve never worn heels on vacation, yet I usually bring a pair – crazy. The whole point is to “vacate” my life, and that includes worrying too much about what I look like!

    • August 7, 2013 / 7:17 pm

      Tight clothes do not get worn. I learned that last time we were in Paris. I wore snug skinnies on the plane, then never again the whole time we were there. By the time we landed, they were skin tight on me and I couldn’t bear to put them on again!

  4. August 7, 2013 / 3:48 pm

    Oh my gosh, this looks like you had an amazinng time and great packing tips too! – Cat @

    • August 7, 2013 / 7:17 pm

      It was a great trip – really wonderful memories made. A pretty relaxing vacation too!

  5. August 7, 2013 / 3:57 pm

    Hi Adrienne! I love the post of your evening with Tamera~what lovely photos of you both. As for the joy of packing you share some great advice here. I always end up using the same ‘go to’ pieces of jewelry, shoes and bags on a trip. I’m learning to select only 1 or 2 items for a special night out rather than 5 sparkly necklaces, bracelets and the like. Planning ahead is the key. On my trip to the Dominican Republic, earlier this summer, we ended up being without luggage for 4 1/2 days. I learned to create makeup out of essentials in my purse and how to make a cocktail dress out of a bra and a sarong. I think a sarong ended up being my tropical essential. 😉
    Great post!
    xx, Heather @ Stylemindchic

    • August 7, 2013 / 7:19 pm

      Heather, I must learn to rely more heavily on a few accessories – accessories that I love and wear a lot while I am home. I will get it one of these days! It will make my husband so happy if I can master light packing.

  6. August 7, 2013 / 4:49 pm

    Looks like a fabulous trip
    I love all of California
    Husband and son2 just got back from San Diego
    They both were like…there is a reason people live there!!

    • August 7, 2013 / 7:20 pm

      I haven’t been to San Diego in, well since I was a kid! I love Orange County, which isn’t too far. The beaches are gorgeous, the people are friendly, and there is so much to do.
      Thank you for stopping by!

  7. August 7, 2013 / 8:30 pm

    Hope that you are on the mend…thought a lot about you in the past few days thinking how being sick in the summer must be more tedious than in the winter.
    I always pack too many clothes and admire seasoned travellers who can live out of a carry on for 3 weeks!
    Take care,

    • August 8, 2013 / 7:44 am


      I am slowly on the mend. Developed a secondary infection and am now on some antibiotics that have come with their own set of issues. I am so glad that they are only infections and not something scarier. It’s been a bit gloomy here lately so it almost feels like fall or winter – more suitable for a chest infection than bright sunny days!

      I don’t think I will ever be that person who packs a carry on for a 3 week vacation. I would be so sick of my clothes I would want to abandon them along the way!

  8. August 8, 2013 / 12:26 am

    I no longer take fancier “going out” clothing with me….and I keep to a fairly neutral selection of clothing that can easily be interchanged. However I have no intentions of ever travelling light!That would give me a headache before I even started. Even so I usually forget something but I enjoy buying a replacement in a different location, so maybe I “forget” on purpose?I love your little black jacket.

    • August 8, 2013 / 7:47 am

      I don’t take fancy things with me either. And my husband leaves his dress pants and ties at home, too – unless we’re going away for a wedding or some special event. We love to be casual on vacation no matter where we are.
      While I like to shop on vacation, my husband loathes it. I did zero shopping on our LA trip and that was fine with me. It was about seeing friends anyway so I was fine with not buying anything.
      Paris is a different story though. How can you not shop while visiting Paris?

  9. August 8, 2013 / 12:53 am

    What a good dog Daisy is, my dogs could never pose with a biscuit like that, they would pounce on it.

    Beautiful images from what looks like a beautiful vacation. Xx

    • August 8, 2013 / 7:48 am

      Isn’t she a good girl? She is very patient when she has to be.
      It was a wonderful vacation….every moment of it.

  10. August 8, 2013 / 1:42 am

    I don’t do too badly these days, I try to only roll with a black theme- well mostly black on black with maybe a bit of dark denim thrown in! I just find it easier as it doesn’t look as grubby as colours – things like coats, shoes/boots, bags all black. I usually throw the colour punch in with scarves. and load up the gold jewellery and some chunky necklaces that are black and grey! Boring but easy and a bit chic. Plus I will always try to buy things wherever I go as well! But they will probably be black as well ha ha!

    • August 8, 2013 / 7:52 am

      Black with denim is a smart combination. I think because it was summer I wanted to add some color. I should have gone with denim, white and cognac instead. I could have lived in the white oxford with either shorts or jeans.

      No shopping for me on this trip. Surprisingly, i didn’t feel like it! It was all about relaxing and seeing friends. I would love to go back though with a big wad of cash and do a little shopping damage 🙂

  11. August 8, 2013 / 1:44 am

    have to mention as well that black jersey is the bomb! I always fly in jersey! AND support hose hahaha!

    • August 8, 2013 / 7:52 am

      Also smart. I need to travel in something with more give! Hate to feel constricted by jeans and fitted clothes.

  12. August 8, 2013 / 5:17 am

    Great advice here. So true about the tight clothes! Also agree about anything fussy and that you don’t wear in everyday life. Isn’t that funny though that you usually reach for those items when packing? I think we see ourselves wearing the more glamorous items on travels, but it never happens. I need to keep this post as a reminder! I will pin this to my Pinterest Travel Style board so others can read this!

    Our last trip was a packing disaster because I was here in 95 degree heat packing and put mostly Summer clothes in my bag. I couldn’t even fathom being cold. Last time I traveled to England in Summer it was very warm. Of course I froze the first 7 days in Europe. One item I have brought on my last 4 trips and keep bringing because it works is a lightweight safari type of jacket. Amazingly doesn’t show the dirt and is good in all weather though I have to admit to wanting to burn it after wearing it non-stop for 9 days. :/ I was so mad at myself for having a suitcase full of sandals and dresses. I felt like I had my whole wardrobe and just wanted to be light and free. I only needed more basics that were comfy and scarves that are soft.

    Our friends just got back and had the opposite experience in Europe and brought coats and pants and were sweltering only a few weeks later. They actually shipped a bunch of their clothes home!

    I do like shopping and adding more pieces while I’m away too!

    Your trip looks so fun. San Clemente is one of my favorite stops in So. Cal. Daisy is precious. What a sweet girl she is.


    • August 8, 2013 / 8:03 am

      Oh no! It was chilly there that time of year? Strange. Weather is so unpredictable anymore.
      I know what you mean about wanting to burn the clothes you wear constantly on vacation. I have a pair of Joe’s Jeans black skinnies that I wore almost every day in Paris last March. They were literally falling apart by the time I got home and I was so sick of them! But they were my warmest pants and my most forgiven (thank you, 2% Lycra!)

      Isn’t San Clemente a great town? It’s so laid back, I always feel so relaxed there.
      xo, A

  13. August 8, 2013 / 5:58 am

    I always seem to overpack unless I pack outfits. Then I can usually get it right unless I’m going somewhere with unpredictable weather.

    When I travel I like to be dressed up at night. Often times I take quite a few items that I don’t wear regularly at home simply because I know when I’m on vacation I’ll have the opportunity to wear them.

    It also depends on the trip though. If it is a road trip I would pack differently.


    • August 8, 2013 / 8:22 am

      So your thinking and mine are the same but there is one big difference….you actually wear those dressier things that you pack whereas mine sit in my suitcase. Always!

      Road trips are different especially in that you can pretty much bring as much as you want – which is a problem! One summer, my husband and I did a 31 day road trip in an RV and I brought about 85% of my wardrobe. It was ridiculous! And it took forever to unpack when we finally got home. I would guess that I only wore 20% of what I brought, at best.

  14. August 8, 2013 / 9:59 am

    I have travelled so much and yet I still never get it right; never have what I need and have too many “just-in-case” outfits that never see the light of day! I thought you packed perfectly when you did your packing post 😉 I think maybe it’s also quite different packing for a road trip rather than watching your bag board the plane with you.
    All your outfits looked gorgeous x

    • August 9, 2013 / 8:22 am


      You sound exactly like me! I have the “just in case” mentality, too.
      The outfit method definitely helped me as far as outfit coordination goes. My problem is I packed way too many outfits!

  15. August 8, 2013 / 1:02 pm

    Fellow Northern California blogger here (Bay Area)! Found your blog through Laura Wyatt and happy to be a follower!

    • August 9, 2013 / 8:25 am

      Hi Laura!
      So funny because Laura Wyatt and I were just communicating yesterday – she made a few changes on my blog for me. Isn’t she the best?
      Are you in the North Bay? I will have to pop over and check out your blog.
      Thank you for stopping by and following. I will do the same.

  16. August 13, 2013 / 1:00 am

    Great post! Glad you had such a wonderful time and I so agree with your packing lessons – they’re pretty much what I learnt last year too 🙂 I also crave choice and I really tried to achieve that without taking half my closet – it’s a challenge! And taking stuff I don’t wear at home and expecting to wear it away, so true it doesn’t work either. I’m referencing your post next week, thanks for sharing!

  17. August 13, 2013 / 7:48 pm

    Love this post. I have found taking dresses away with me works. When I went away this year, I didn’t even reach my luggage allowance as my dresses were quite light.

    I tried to mix and match outfits and sandals so I didn’t end up taking things I wouldn’t wear 🙂

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