Sunday, August 9, 2009

Traveling in Lolita: Packing

So, it's finally here: Vacation! Whether you had to request time off weeks in advance from work, or happen to be on Spring Break (or both, as is usually my luck), finally, you have a few days to get away from the daily grind &relocate to smoother sailing. You've chosen your destination, you've selected your mode of transportation, you've taken care of lodgings. Now, all that's left is one of the most daunting for a lolita: Packing.
First off, some required reading. Seasoned lolitas may remember the post by livejournal user tsu_ on the egl community, the Lolita Travel Guide. For those who do not or need a refresher, there's the link. The article is very helpful &covers all stages of your trip, from planning to disembarking, so I'm going to address you all as an audience who already knows the points she makes. Now, I'm going to go have a cup of tea & some cookies while you read that.
Okay, all set? Good. Some of the things I'm going to say may now sound slightly repetitious, but don't worry - if it's covered in detail by the other article, I won't bother here. However, packing was mostly left out, except for a very short but informative paragraph, mostly on proper petticoat packing &a few suggestions on what types of pieces to pack.
The equation provided in the article is a wonderful starting point, however the only example given is for a week's stay, &doesn't cover accessories or other things - including non-lolita items to bring! So, let's talk about that. Say, for example, you only plan on wearing lolita for two days. Your easiest option is: one skirt, two cutsews (blouses are fine too, but much more likely to wrinkle, and we all know how those hotel irons are), however, if you want a bit more variety, I suggest: One skirt, one JSK, and one cutsew, with accessories that would go with either. This will give you two distinct looks while still not taking up too much room. The skirt could also be swapped out for a OP &the blouse dumped for a day for a totally different look - if you choose a dress instead, I'd go for one without a built-in petti, to save room.
Now, onto choosing those pieces. Obviously, you know your closet better than anyone, so you'll know best what colors or motifs to lean towards, depending on your tastes & collection. My suggestion is to go for plainer base pieces, the pieces that will be present in both outfits - plain, lace-topped white socks, white hairbow, white shoes, white blouse or cutsew - then chose an interest piece - pintuck-and-pearls jumperskirt, or coveted print skirt - to set off & add more interest to both outfits. Also, if you're unfamiliar with the climate you'll be traveling to, layering is your friend- always have a nice cardigan or bolero in your carry-on, just in case. An example:
See how the interest piece in these outfits are the skirt and the jumperskirt, respectively? The blouse gives it a more mature, classic look, while the bow & shoes enhance the inherent sweetness. The shoes are also lightweight flats, which would fit more easily into luggage than heels and would take up less of the weight requirement.
A few more random tips:
  • If you have an organza pannier, now is the time to bring it. It won't get smooshed in your luggage like a regular tulle one will, and if you want to wear it on an airplane, it's easier to gather around yourself &can be piled under you and sat on if it's in the way of other passengers - really, though, it's best if you just pack it.
  • Packing anything delicate? A mini-crown or a piece of jewelry you don't want crushed? Wrap it lightly in your organza pannier. I also use mine stuffed into purses to keep their shape.
  • Organize your suitcase. Put all your socks in a quart-size ziplock bag, all your accessories in the inside pocket, etc. Also, if you've got quite a big of stuff, roll instead of fold.
  • If you're flying, wear a pair of comfortable flats. Passing through airline security is not the time to worry about unbuckling your Tea Party shoes! Also, your feet swell at high altitudes, so you'll be more comfortable if you just slip them off during your flight &then squeeze back into them once you've landed.
  • Bring at least one non-lolita outfit. Say you suddenly realize that an absolutely immaculate new nightclub opened up a block from your hotel, or you get asked out to fancy lolita-inappropriate dinner by a young heir. Trust me, if either of these things happen, or any other multitude of possibilities, you'll want a nice dress & heels. Or conversely, what if the people you're traveling with realize they want to take a bicycle tour of the historic district? Therefore you should also bring jeans &sneakers, because like I said, anything could happen.
  • Take lots of snacks in your purse! Bring an empty water bottle &fill it at a water fountain after you pass through security. Try to stay away from candy & other sugary treats - bring a granola bar or some dried fruit. Not really related to packing, but good to know - caffeine dehydrates you and makes it harder for you to adjust to jet lag, as does sugar, so stay away from coffee &soda on board if you're getting off in a different time zone.
  • If you're going somewhere loli-friendly - Japan, Paris, anywhere that has lolita stores - or even just anywhere with really good shopping, just bring a carry-on, and fold up a duffel bag or another medium-sized fabric suitcase to keep inside it. That way, if you buy a lot, you can just pack up the duffel and have it checked.
  • In the same vein, most airlines let you bring two bags with you: a purse and a carry-on, which gets stowed in the overhead compartment. If you're going on a longer trip &don't want to check a bag, bring small backpack or larger purse than you would usually use as well as your carry-on, with your normal purse folded up inside the latter. That way, once you get checked into your hotel, you can just transfer things to your smaller, more convenient purse, but still have enough room for everything you need without paying for the checked bag.
  • Getting an in-flight meal? Lucky you! However, in my experience, even if you don't have any dietary restrictions, opt for a restricted meal - vegetarian, kosher, etc. You will be served first & the food is usually healthier. Plus, who wants to eat airline meat anyway? Yuck!
Ladies &gentlemen, I write this article because I am about to embark on my first flight in almost two and a half years - gasp! My first time being on an airplane NOT headed for Tokyo in over six years! Instead, I'm headed for... Japantown, in San Francisco. Yeah, I'm still a loser.

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