Top Packing Tips For Middle-Aged Women Travelers

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In 14 years of traveling together we have developed some useful packing tips for female Baby Boomers. Our tips are for women who like comfortable, attractive clothes and shoes not purchased solely for travel.

We rarely buy clothes without thinking if they will be useful for the types of travel we do. This year alone we will go to six U.S. states and 12 foreign countries. We will be going places to snorkel, to spend time in international cities and to tour the countryside. And, like most women, we each need to draw on one closet to meet all of our needs. Here's our combined wisdom (yes, we snorted when we wrote that).

Basic packing tips

Tasteful, practical, but not memory-searing, clothes

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It's extra credit if the clothes you bring can be laundered and don't need to be ironed. On long trips it's a waste of space to take things you can only wear once. (One exception might be if you're the bride and insisting on taking your gown.) At least take underwear that in a pinch you can launder in the sink with some shampoo and hang to dry in the shower. And remember that sometimes paying for something to be washed or dry cleaned while traveling can still be a better choice than packing (or buying) additional clothes.

This is basic but can be hard to enforce; take things that are easy to mix and not overly memorable. For this rule Blonde wears a lot of Eileen Fisher clothing (the outfit above is that brand). Pick a brand that has classic styles (and good sales), fits you comfortably and doesn't depend on you always being the exact same size as that day in 2009 when, for a couple hours, you were the weight and in the shape that you thought you'd be forever.

A brand we just discovered (the dress in the picture below), Marie Hell, offers good quality, washable dresses that can be worn in a lot of different settings. (Plus we really like saying we're going to hell for our clothes.)

We don't think that as female Baby Boomers you have to get overweight and out of shape. However, we do recognize that fluctuations occur and that gravity grows more aggressive with each passing year. We don't want people thinking we have geriatric "baby bumps" so we give ourselves a little grace room.

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It's extra credit if the clothes you bring can be laundered and don't need to be ironed. On long trips it's a waste of space to take things you can only wear once. (One exception might be if you're the bride and insisting on taking your gown.) At least take underwear that in a pinch you can launder in the sink with some shampoo and hang to dry in the shower. And remember that sometimes paying for something to be washed or dry cleaned while traveling can still be a better choice than packing (or buying) additional clothes.

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Be ready to deal with wardrobe malfunctions or specific needs

Even though most female Baby Boomers probably had to take sewing in high school that doesn't mean we travel with sewing kits. We are at a point in life where we view sewing a button back on something as being as daunting a task as attempting amateur brain surgery. But we can summon the energy to use a piece of double-backed tape to patch a drooping hem or keep a bosom-gaping blouse closed. (The product above was purchased at a Jo-Ann Fabric shop but it can be found lots of other places too.)

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Bring things that make life easier and suitcases lighter

The very packable slippers above can make it possible to pack one thing smaller than three pairs of footwear but can serve as all 3 kinds. Win win.

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Other less obvious things can be a long cardigan that you pretend is a robe (over a nightgown, on its own it could lead to unintended consequences). SPF tops that can be worn swimming or sightseeing are another favorite item for us. Above is Brunette in an SPF 30 shirt from Land's End protecting her from rays in Fiji. It would also look good with white pants in a city.

A fun packing tip for female Baby Boomers is shop where you are.

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We often buy something to wear when we're traveling. Sometimes the prices are better for good quality, the shop will alter it quickly if it needs it and clothes from trips make fun, practical souvenirs. And chances are you won't see any of your friends wearing the same thing (if you haven't outgrown this fear).

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Don't make shoe compromises

Brunette may not like seeing her shoes here but they're a good example of smart packing. She has feet that have chosen every means of rebellion known to podiatrists. One result is that she wears orthotics that serve her best worn in New Balance walkers. If she chooses cute shoes over comfortable ones she will end up miserable after walking around a city all day (even ice cream won't be able to get her to smile). She takes more stylish options for other activities but knows comfort is paramount. No one is happy when their dogs are barking.

Blonde is wearing BeautiFeel sandals -- a brand she has become increasingly reliant on for comfort for long walks. It's hard to find cute and comfortable shoes but it's getting easier. Some brands we like are Naot, Mephisto, Ecco, Hotter, AGL and Gabor.

The bad news is that attractive, comfortable walking shoes are usually expensive. We like to buy them from Zappos or Nordstrom as they not only have free shipping but they accept returns (also for free). Blonde has been walking a new pair of BeautiFeel loafers around her condo for a week to be sure they're good for an upcoming trip. If they aren't she can send them back with no questions asked, something few shoe stores will allow.

We hope you've found our packing tips for female Baby Boomers to be helpful and would welcome any suggestions you might want to leave in the comments.

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