Family Vacation Packing -- For You!

Real Style on 08.22.11
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Photo: Stella & Dot

Let's get one thing clear up front: any trip you take with the kids is not a "vacation," at least not in the way travel magazines would have you believe. Sure, you're away from home, but you're still the mom, and unless you're schlepping the nanny along with you, you'll need to be packing for full days on the go with the family (i.e., the kids).

The urge when we pack for vacation is to pull out all the pieces that we never get around to wearing on a normal day at home. But if that cute skirt won't work for a day of romping at the neighborhood park, it won't work for a day of hiking at a national park. So how do you know what to take?

Instead of standing in your closet staring at all the cute things you wish you could wear, start by looking at the laundry. What are you really wearing? Those are the pieces you want to pack for vacation. I know, that sounds so depressing -- this is a vacation, not another day with the kids! But honestly, this is another day with the kids, just in a new location.

Pack for the weather at your destination and for the events you have planned with the kids. This means choosing pragmatic, fuss-free clothes that you can put on and spend the day in, without fussing or fixing. The focus of your vacation should be relaxing with your family, not adjusting your dress, but you also want to look great in those family photos, so skip the ratty tees and schlepy shorts. Pull out the cutest pieces from your everyday closet, the tees and shorts that fit well and look good and make you happy to wear. Don't have any casual everyday clothes that fit right? Go shopping! Because if you can't find anything to wear for your week of vacation, you're probably not wearing the right things on a normal Tuesday.

What pieces should you have in your closet, for vacation and every day? Chino shorts and basic tees that fit your figure, simple day dresses in light jersey or woven cotton, thin sweaters (cardis or pullovers) for cool mornings and air conditioned spaces, and espadrilles or strappy sandals for running around.

While you should not pack things you wouldn't normally wear, vacation packing is an opportunity to make your everyday mom clothes a little more fun. Accessories are a simple way to up the ante on even the most basic shorts-and-tee outfit. A simple necklace or a pretty pair of earrings can dress up your casual look without being over-the-top. A bright string of beads or a pair of chandelier earrings make even the most basic kid-friendly cothes a little more festive and fun. Stella & Dot's La Coco beads (pictured above) are the perfect getaway option; they're one long strand that can be worn in a variety of ways ($59 at Stella & Dot).