In the early summer of 2014, the MagoGuide Team is going to be visiting World War I locations in France in honor of the 100th anniversary of the breakout of that war. We have good friends who are going to join us and we were recently asked for advice on what to pack by the fine lady of the couple. Since Morgan is the one with the fashion sense, we let him take on the task of answering her questions. I liked the exchange so well, though, that I decided to share Morgan’s answers on MagoGuide. Here it is. Words of wisdom for any European traveler. Enjoy.
Mighty Princess – the Destroyer,
It has fallen to your humble servant to advise you as to couture for the coming Grand Tour 2014. Let me begin by saying that in addition to writing steamy and violent historical fiction, incisive hotel and restaurant reviews, and slavishly catering to Princess Patircia the Code Slayer’s every wish, I have discovered a heretofore unknown publication by Nicolo Machiavelli entitled “The Princess” from whose time-honored pages I draw the following advice.
The most important thing is comfort, so you should pack a pair of broken-in but sturdy walking shoes, no matter the weather we will be walking around a great deal. As to the weather: it is possible that it will be cold and rainy, glorious spring time, or hot as Hades (probably all three over the course of the trip). You will definitely want rain gear. Princess Patti prefers a water proof (i.e., Goretex or equivalent) wind breaker that allows for layering in the event of inclement cold weather. Thus at least one sweater, long sleeve shirt, and short sleeve shirts will cover all the bases. But your real friend for layering against the cold is Thinsulate stuff like vests and jackets which deliver a lot of warmth for minimal packing volume.
If you are sun averse as Patti and I are (all that Troll blood from my side of the family) you may want a hat to keep the sun off. We like the Tilly brand because they breathe and you can roll them up and stuff them in your luggage without much long lasting damage and they wash well. If you are susceptible to cold, the lightest and most bang for the buck and small space accoutrement is a knit or Thinsulate ski hat that will go nicely with your layered approach.
As to pants, I wear convertible cargo pants that turn into shorts fairly easily, but as Princess Patti constantly reminds me, the fairer sex has an aversion to clothing that puts major bulges in all the wrong places. Princess Patti wears jeans or kakis. Pack a couple favorite pairs that do not show much dirt one light weight one a bit heavier. We will be dining in all manner of establishments and staying at a rather broad range of accommodations, so I am sure that you will want to bring one nice but low maintenance outfit. Here I will follow Princess Patti’s admonition that “Every time I put on a dress I feel like a Hillbilly!!” She prefers nice pants with a couple nice top combinations, one for colder weather (like a nice sweater), one for warmer (like silk or silk blend or nice synthetic). Of course your walking shoes will not go with this outfit so you will need female dress shoes of some sort, but here I will urge you to go for the most comfortable pair of nice shoes that you have, because although you will not be walking very far in them you will have probably walked a decent distance during the day before the evening couture is required. I would suggest that you check out some travel clothing sites for stuff that wicks away moisture and drys rapidly. Our current fave is:
This site and others you can Google up will give you options for chic-friendly couture that has lots of pockets in the right places and stuff that travels well but dresses up nicely.
As to packing itself, here is our trick: we get out everything we are going to take and put it in one place on the floor. Then we try very hard to cut that pile in half. As you pack remember that you will have at least one shot at a washing machine roughly half way through the trip and that a lot of things, especially stuff designed for the purpose, can be washed in a hotel sink, especially since we are staying multiple nights at multiple hotels affording greater drying time between moves.
Also, I remember last time we traveled together I showed off my little pouch that I use to safeguard passports, currency, etc. You should purchase some type of pouch or other safety device for important docs and filthy lucre. One last thing, pack some non-Deet insect repellent because we will be in the country side for much or our trip and the combination of rain followed by sun can bring out the mosquitoes in droves. A lot of the hotels we are staying at do not have air conditioning and that means opening windows on hot nights, which lets the devils in to feast on your royal bloodline. About the best thing you can do at that point is to anoint yourself bug repellant in order to get a good night’s sleep. Or do as Princess Patti does and slather it all over your male bed warmer and let him establish a no fly zone over the royal bed.
Finally, let me assure that the purchase of adequate rain and inclement weather gear seems to have an almost supernatural impact on subsequent travel. By spending hundreds of dollars in rain gear in London last summer we personally ushered in the longest period of high temperatures and zero precipitation in British postwar history. So do not stint on that Goretex.
If you have any questions about the above or something I failed to cover, please do not hesitate to ask.