Spring Travel Ideas and What to Pack

spring travel ideas with a carry-on

There’s nothing better than a spring getaway to lift your spirits after the long winter we’ve had, and it’s a great time to travel: airfares to Europe are generally cheaper than during the high summer season, beautiful beach cottages can be rented at substantially lower rates, and a few days (or weeks!) of strolling through the first flowers of the season can offer a remarkably peaceful reset after months of cold and snow.

I love to think of spring trips like everything else that comes with warmer weather: If you’re packing away your bulky jackets, why bother traveling with bulky luggage? Take advantage of a proper spring retreat by travelling with just a simple carry-on. Without the bother of checking luggage, you can check your winter blues at the departure gate and save money on airline baggage fees.

Time to Stop Hibernating

Time to Stop Hibernating

There’s nothing better than a spring getaway to lift your spirits after the long winter we’ve had, and it’s a great time to travel: airfares to Europe are generally cheaper than during the high summer season, beautiful beach cottages can be rented at substantially lower rates, and a few days (or weeks!) of strolling through the first flowers of the season can offer a remarkably peaceful reset after months of cold and snow.

I love to think of spring trips like everything else that comes with warmer weather: If you’re packing away your bulky jackets, why bother traveling with bulky luggage? Take advantage of a proper spring retreat by travelling with just a simple carry-on. Without the bother of checking luggage, you can check your winter blues at the departure gate and save money on airline baggage fees.

Beat the Beach Rush

Beat the Beach Rush

Whether it’s the Hamptons or the Outer Banks, take advantage of lower beach house rental rates and avoid the high summer-season traffic and packed restaurants and attractions. While it may be too chilly for a swim, you can still enjoy the sunshine while relaxing on the beach with a good book.

The plan: A casual, comfortable wardrobe that covers sunny beach days and chillier evenings.

Pack: A simple T-shirt style dress, leggings or yoga pants with a streamlined sweatshirt or hoodie, tank tops with built-in support and lightweight shirts that keep you warm, a gorgeous beach cover-up, a large heavy scarf or pashmina, a packable sun hat, bathing suit (for hot tubbing and brave ocean dips), a pretty pair of inexpensive sandals, and, of course, flip-flops for the beach.

Wear on the plane: Khakis (or jeans for chillier evenings), a long-sleeve shirt and a favorite cardigan to keep you warm on the plane, a weather-proof jacket, and a heartier pair of shoes (whether it’s comfy shoes for shopping expeditions or sneakers for morning beach runs).

Why this works: T-shirt dresses with leggings are great for relaxing at the beach house and can be dolled up with scarves or jewelry for a night out, while a coverup and hat makes an elegant statement on the beach. A heavy wrap or pashmina is the perfect touch when the temperature dips while you’re enjoying beautiful sunsets and doubles as a lightweight blanket when you’re lounging outside. The jacket keeps you prepared for unexpected weather and wind, and you can take advantage of your jacket pockets to pack a camera, phone, sunglasses and other accessories you may not have room for in your carry-on.
 
Tip: If you have plenty of beach reading to do, consider loading up your magazines and books on an e-reader or iPad to reduce bulk. And don’t forget the sunscreen! Even though the sun may not feel as strong as in July or August, the UVA and UVB rays are still powerful enough to speed up unwanted sun damage. 

Go on a Power Trip

Go on a Power Trip

Ever notice that even your work calendar seems to go into hibernation mode during the dark days of winter? Come spring, there are conferences and expos to attend, clients fired up with new ideas and a fiscal year to close out. 

The plan: Make a powerful statement with a smart suit and accessories to take you from important meetings to evening networking events.
 
Pack: A suit jacket with matching skirt and pants (depending on your field of work, go with anything from pale yellow to navy blue, but stay away from dreary black), silky patterned blouses with a selection of jewelry and scarves, a lounging outfit (think yoga pants and a T-shirt) and work-appropriate heels.

Wear on the plane: A sheath dress with a shawl or wrap and a smart trench coat and classy ballet flats or sneakers.

Why this works: A three-piece suit selection enables you to carry on a variety of looks, while jewelry and colorful scarves can make a different statement every day. The sheath dress can be worn with the suit jacket as an additional outfit or dressed up with a pashmina for post-work cocktail parties and dinners. A lounging outfit is great to relax in while writing late-night memos in your hotel room, and also works for working out on the road.

Tip: A small travel steamer is ideal for de-wrinkling your suit and takes up little room in your carry-on. Use the space in your heels to pack stockings, socks and underwear in plastic bags.

Plan a European Spring Retreat

Plan a European Spring Retreat

Spring rates to Europe are generally cheaper than summer flights (especially if you travel before the end of May), and you’ll save even more money by not checking luggage. 

The plan: City-hop across Europe on its efficient, comprehensive train system with a light carry-on.
 
Pack: A black sheath dress with a smart cardigan, leggings with a long tunic or two, small travel umbrella, shawl or pashmina, an elegant packable hat and dressy ballet flats.
 
Wear on the plane: Lightweight travel pants with security features, a quick-dry, wrinkle free shirt and a jacket with plenty of pockets. If you’re planning on doing any outside excursions, wear hiking boots, otherwise a pair of travel shoes with good support are a smart choice.

Why this works: Lightweight pants and shirts and easy to wash in a hotel sink if necessary, and the security features of pants and plenty of interior pockets in your jacket can deter pickpockets, which are active in many European cities. Tunics with leggings are comfortable and attractive to wear with ballet flats or walking shoes during the day, while a black sheath dress (with the cardigan or shawl) is a lovely choice for the fancy, romantic dinners you may to splurge on.

Tip: If your mobile phone is a global (GSM) phone, unlock your phone before you leave. It’s easy to buy pay-as-you-go SIM cards in most countries, which will keep you connected with efficient data and voice connections.

See the Cherry Blossoms (and Other Flowery Jaunts)

See the Cherry Blossoms (and Other Flowery Jaunts)

Whether it’s desert poppies, Texas bluebonnets or cherry blossoms in the nation’s capital, some quality time with spring flowers is always a great way to jump-start the season. It’s easy to spend days or even weeks enjoying the great outdoors with some colorful, lightweight layers. Just don’t forget to pack your camera!

The plan: Be ready for aimless strolls and the occasional April shower.

Pack: A colorful crinkle skirt and cotton cardigan to pair with scoop-neck T-shirts; lightweight cotton pants and pastel ballet flats.

Wear on the plane: Leggings, a comfy tunic, walking shoes and wrinkle-free, weather-resistant coat.
 
Why this works: A reversible coat is lightweight enough to handle warmer days and stylish enough to take you through dressier dinners. Leggings are a smart solution under a dress or skirt if the temperature unexpectedly drops.
 
Tip: While cotton clothing can be prone to wrinkling during travel, it feels so nice in the springtime! To mitigate wrinkling, hang cotton clothes in the bathroom while you shower or pack a travel-size container of wrinkle releaser to smooth out the rough spots.

Relax at the Spa

Relax at the Spa

You survived the 2014 polar vortex, but you’re left with flaky, dried-out skin and some lingering post-winter malaise. It’s time to gather some friends and revive your body and spirit with a weekend spa trip. You can find discounts on spa packages at Spafinder.com.
 
The plan: While spa experiences can vary from soothing treatment-packed days to agendas of yoga and rigorous hiking, the goal is to look and feel great for any activity with minimal hassle. If preparing for a spa vacation is stressful, what’s the point?

Pack: A few colorful tunics or long tank dresses with a cardigan, a bathing suit with cover-up, and a few pairs of yoga pants and sports bras with T-shirts and a nice sweatshirt or hoodie.
 
Wear on the plane: A well-fitting pair of yoga pants with a smart top and sneakers and a jacket that’s appropriate for outside jaunts or runs.
 
Why this works: A spa weekend is all about comfort, and long tank dresses or elegant tunics keep you from looking schlubby when you’re not floating around in your robe. Workout clothes are easy to roll up and tuck in the corners of your carry-on.
 
Tip: Pack a water bottle: You may think it will take up space, but it’s easy to fill once you clear airport security (and saves you from buying bottles of grossly over-priced water at concourse shops), and you’ll appreciate staying properly hydrated with all of the massages, hot tub and sauna treatments you’ll be enjoying.
 
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