Category: Travel

Packing for a Weekend Trip

Last year I wrote a post on packing for a week-long vacation, which coincided with a jaunt out to the West coast; this year, my husband and I are taking a shorter road trip, sans toddler, which begs the question: how do I pack for a weekend getaway? Personally, I find that the shorter the travel time, the harder it is to pack, and the greater the tendency to overdo it.

This time around, I was able to get my packing list down to 11 items of clothing (not including unmentionables) and 3 pairs of shoes. As for the latter, that was probably one pair too many, but I will explain my justification in a moment. Here was my general approach:

Since we were traveling by car, without baby gear in tow, volume was not a huge concern; still, it was important to keep my travel wardrobe on the minimalist side to avoid the unnecessary wasting of time while on vacation trying to pick something to wear; too much choice often equals style paralysis. The middle ground was picking one (different) outfit per day of the trip. In addition, I also included one traveling outfit (chosen for comfort), and one evening outfit, as well as one “cold weather” option. The latter is cobbled together from pieces from the other outfits, layered together for maximum warmth and waterproof-ness.

My packing list looked something like this:

  • Leggings
  • Skinny jeans
  • Skirt
  • Tunic dress
  • “Dressy” dress
  • Sweater
  • Tank top
  • Blouse
  • Sweater coat
  • Military jacket
  • Light wool jacket
  • Pair of boots
  • Pair of flats
  • Pair of black pumps

Here are all my choices, laid out and ready to go:


weekend trip packing
The pile is deceptively big as it includes things I would wear while traveling

As for outfits, I had:

Traveling Outfit


weekend trip packing
Tunic, Marc by Marc Jacobs (consignment); sweater coat, H&M; leggings, maternity; shoes, Taryn Rose

Day Outfit #1

weekend trip packing
Jacket, Esprit (swap); skirt, Gap (thrifted); tank top, J. Crew Factory; blouse, American Apparel (consignment); necklace, J. Crew Factory; shoes, Taryn Rose

Day Outfit #2

weekend trip packing
Jeans, maternity; tank top, J. Crew Factory; blouse, American Apparel (consignment); necklace, H&M; shoes, Taryn Rose

Evening Outfit

weekend trip packing
Dress, BCBG (thrifted); jacket, Club Monaco (consignment); brooch, vintage; shoes, Stuart Weitzman

Cold Weather Outfit

weekend trip packing
Jeans, maternity; blouse, American Apparel (consignment); sweater, J. Crew Factory; jacket, Club Monaco (consignment); boots, Hunter

As always, the key is to pick items that can be mixed and matched fairly easily. Taken to the extreme, this would involve a travel bag full of black clothes, but I like to switch things up and aim for a compromise: some neutrals, some colours/prints.

Keep jackets and coats to a minimum number, and pick options that go well with skirts and pants (or whatever you choose to wear). Unless you are traveling in the dead of winter, a lighter, versatile coat is a good bet – you can add warmth (in the event of cold weather) by adding extra layers underneath. In my examples above, I can easily add the black sweater to my skirt outfit for additional warmth if the weather is cold but not rainy/wet.

It’s also a good idea to keep shoes to a minimum – they tend to eat up a lot of room, especially anything with heels. Generally, one pair of boots (for rain, cold weather, etc.) plus one pair of flats would be my go-to options for most temperate climate destinations … especially anywhere you plan on doing any amount of walking. Add one pair of heels if you are planning for some dressier outings, but try to pick a pair that is still fairly comfortable – you never know when you might end up dancing all night. After all, anything is possible when you’re on vacation!

Vancouver in February

I love to visit Vancouver (although I don’t think I could live there): it’s like a home away from from; all the comforts of home, without the stress. It helps that I have been visiting Vancouver regularly for 5 years now, and know my way around downtown blind-folded. I have favourite places to eat, to relax, to shop, to get a pedicure … what more does a woman need?

Vancouver in February
English Bay, a few blocks off Davie Street – one of my favourite areas in Van.

This was our second family trip to Vancouver, and Luka loved it! The city may just be the antidote (Kryptonite?) to his otherwise inexhaustible energy. An hour’s walk along the Sea Wall, some running around Stanley Park, and he’s down for the (nap) count without a murmur of protest. Here is our intrepid adventurer (and mom), neatly blending in with the landscape.

Vancouver in February
Look up – everything was already in bloom!

We didn’t have the benefit of amazing weather; it was sunny only on the day we arrived, and the day we left. But underneath the drizzle and grey skies, Vancouver in February was still practically tropical for these Albertans. The rain didn’t deter Luka (nothing does, really), so we had to keep up and soldier on.

Vancouver in February
That’s more like the Vancouver I know!

It what is becoming something of a family tradition, we took Luka back to the Aquarium, which he loved even more than the first time (back in May 2012). He was also interested in the fauna around Stanley Park, and we narrowly avoided having him end up with an impromptu bath. Brrr!!

Vancouver in February
The swans in Stanley Park

The mallard ducks were cute too. We were too intimidated to attempt to take pictures of the flocks of geese patrolling Stanley Park.

Vancouver in February
Stanley Park redux

Because we didn’t rent a car, and were hosted by friends in Yaletown, we stuck close to downtown, which suits us fine. We did make a trip to Kits, and though the bus ride tested the limits of everyone’s patience, it was worth it for the lovely family brunch at Aphrodite’s Pies – a cute vegan cafe we, literally, stumbled into.

Vancouver in February
Walking along the Sea Wall

One of my favourite new discoveries was the enjoyable Sea Wall promenade from English Bay to Yaletown – perfect for a leisurely, post-breakfast stroll. [Breakast is always at The Dish, quite simply one of the best things about the West Side.] Love the unexpected glimpses, like this mural underneath Burrad Bridge.

Vancouver in the Spring
Under Burrard Bridge

Till next time, Vancouver!

Stairway to heaven

My recent trek to Nordstrom Rack in Seattle was an epic tale of adversity and perseverance and, ultimately, disappointment. Here is how it all went down.

Last weekend, my fiancé and I were in Vancouver. Luckily for yours truly, my beloved is a man of infinite (or at least vast) patience who does not outright abhor shopping. With a minimal amount of persuasion, he fell in with my plans to spend a day across the border in the hunt for good bargains. The outlets at Tulalip are our usual destination, but this time round we decided to venture further afield. In fact, it was his suggestion that we go to Nordstrom Rack; to hear him speak of it, it was a sort of promised land of high end designer bargains. I was sold on the idea before he even finished describing his last visit – which took place roughly a decade ago. This, as it later turned out, was an important detail. To go on with the story …

In order to accomplish our mission, we had to rent a car in Vancouver. No big deal, right? Well … Much to our surprise, the car rental company announced that we had to pay a (daily) premium any time that we wanted to take the car out of the country. So much for unlimited kilometers. We’ve rented from other companies before without being told of any such requirement, so this came as an unpleasant surprise. It’s not like car rental companies don’t give you enough upsell as it is. Still, we were determined to persevere, so we bit the bullet and went (grumbling) on our way.

Sunday morning, we wake up bright and early. By that, I mean that I woke up at 6 am, and then spent the next 45 minutes trying to wake up my beloved. To give him his due, once he’s up he’s pretty efficient. By 7, we were on the road. A little before 8, we hit the border … and ran smack dab into a kilometer-long queue. So much for our head start. I now have infinite respect for people living in the great metropolises of the world who spend hours in traffic jams every day; I couldn’t do what they do and not lose my sanity. Anyway, about an hour later, we were finally on American soil.

It looked just the same as on the home side.

The distance from the border to Seattle is roughly the same as between Edmonton and Calgary. I’m not sure if this was a function of the imperial (vs metric) system, but the trip to Seattle seemed to take an awfully long time. It became particularly painful after we lost our Vancouver soft rock radio station. Yeah, that’s right, I said it: soft rock. We are officially old people. But I am not ashamed to admit that I love Adam Lambert, bless his soul. And, like, Eric Clapton and Sting. Not ashamed one bit.

Anyway, after a seemingly interminable period, we finally arrived on the outskirts of Seattle. My fiance had only a very general idea of the location of Nordstrom Rack, a fact of which he made me aware only then. Nevertheless we plunged on, the rumbling in our tummies a warning sign of impending doom. We were hungry, and thirsty, and in need of amenities. And, in short order, we were also lost. There are many pitfalls for a relationship – infidelity, distrust, arguments about money, snoring. Overlooked on the usual list is being lost in a foreign city. It’s the sort of predicament in which tempers fray quicker than silk and recriminations are thicker than smog. Somehow, we managed to keep our cool – it’s not for nothing that we’re pledging our eternity to each other – but it wasn’t an easy go. Finally, we stumbled upon the right place.

If you think our troubles were over, think again. We still had to find parking. Now, I’ve heard lots of people complain about downtown parking in Edmonton. Heck, I’ve complained about it plenty of times myself. Two bucks buys, what, an hour and a half at a meter? Well, let me tell you, we have it good. In downtown Seattle, parking can cost you as much as US$6 for the first half hour … and $5 per half hour after that. After twenty minutes of circling around, we finally found a parkade that charged an $8 flat rate.

At last, we were about to enter the famed Rack.

Inside was sheer madness. If you find Winners difficult to navigate, you would hate Nordstrom Rack. It’s like a madhouse version of Winners on four floors. Non-designer shoes are haphazardly stacked foot-deep (roughly according to size), which means that browsing requires a Zen-master’s level of focus and commitment. I gave up after 5 minutes. I had a bit more success finding my way around in the clothes department, only to discover that the deals were non-existent (at least for things I was interested in). A Nanette Lepore top I saw a few weeks ago at a local consignment store for $25 was selling for $99. A BCBG suit I own was selling for triple what I paid for it here … a year ago. [I’ve got the suit listed on Kijiji, if anyone is interested.] Everywhere, more of the same. Admittedly, they had designer jeans for $70-150 a pair, but I wasn’t in the market and skipped the whole section. This does show, however, that designer jeans are hideously overpriced in Canada.

In the end, I tried on a few things, half-heartedly and without any success, including a Dolce and Gabbana coral-and-gold jacquard suit. I can report that it did not appear to possess any magical abilities, though it did hug my butt in a rather flattering way – though not quite 700 dollars’ worth to be sure. I did not buy anything except a few bracelets, which were cute but by no means a phenomenal deal. I left Nordstrom Rack a disappointed, tired, still-hungry woman.

So was it all worth it?

No … and yes. My little adventure (temporarily) cured me of my inferiority complex. I no longer felt as though, by virtue of my citizenship, I was missing out on some amazing shopping bonanzas. In fact, based on this experience alone, I can honestly say that Edmonton has nothing to be ashamed of. It now gets a good 80-90% of the same (mainstream) stuff as the rest of North America, and the deals are as good (or better) than anywhere else. Plus, you can beat 5% GST.

Now, let’s work on getting Target and JCrew down here, and then we’ll be in business.