well this is clever…

posted in: Accessories, Health | 17
fitbit bracelet
Tory Burch wrap bracelet for Fitbit

If you’re using a Fitbit to help monitor and increase your activity levels* but would love to have a more stylish option than a rubber bracelet, Tory Burch is now offering a leather wrap bracelet that works with your Fitbit tracker. It’s available in a few colors, and there’s also an all metal version.

*several of my co-workers are using these and track not only their own activity but that of their “team” and find it very motivating. I’m tempted, especially now that this attractive option is available.

Do you use a Fitbit or other activity tracking app?
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carry-on: pros and cons

posted in: Accessories, Bags, Travel | 39
vintage luggage
“those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end…”

I’m occasionally asked why I bother with light packing and traveling with carry-on only luggage. I recognize that this isn’t necessarily the best choice for everyone, and even though it’s my preference, definitely has its tradeoffs.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that when we began traveling to Europe, we over-packed horrendously the first couple of trips. I soon realized that I frequently wore the same few items over and over, and most of my “just in case” pieces never left the hotel room. Another wake-up call was when le Monsieur’s primary checked bag never showed up on the conveyor belt at our destination and was only delivered to our hotel two days later. Had we not been staying in the same location for several days, this could have been more than an inconvenience.

Since then, I’ve been reading up and studying how others manage it and have traveled “carry-on” for the last four years. I’ve never regretted making the switch. I’m not as hard-core as some; I don’t invest in a separate travel wardrobe, I stick to clothing styles I’d feel comfortable in at home, I use a “spinner” wheeled carry-on bag to save my neck, back and shoulders, and if we’ve purchased liquids along the way (wines, olive oils, skincare, some of those lovely mustards from the Maille boutique in Paris) I’ll check a bag on the way home and cross my fingers.

Being able to easily navigate up and down stairs, through turnstiles and on and off trains and buses unassisted has been one of the biggest payoffs of packing this way. Traveling light allows for greater mobility, and the ability to change plans when flights or trains get cancelled or delayed. And in small hotel rooms, carry-on sized bags occupy less of that precious space.

Carry-on only travel might make sense for you if:

  • You are traveling to multiple destinations, and relying at least in part on trains, buses or other public transportation. (Another note, on many trains there is limited room for luggage, and the racks that can accommodate large bags may not be near your seats.)
  • You like to change travel plans on the fly, or be able to adjust for flight or other transportation interruptions.
  • You hate the idea of paying checked baggage fees. (Though be sure and check with your airline; some discount and other carriers have begun charging for bags carried on as well.)
  • The thought of your luggage going missing makes you break out in a cold sweat.
  • You like to avoid complication whenever possible.
  • You don’t mind either doing some hand washing of clothing or visiting a laundromat or paying to have laundry done if necessary.

However, some people prefer to have more options, don’t want to have to worry about laundry, or have special wardrobe requirements. Carry-on travel may be more hassle than it’s worth for you if:

  • You are traveling to a single destination or will have access to a car in between destinations.
  • Your travel plans include activities that require special equipment (e.g. skiing, rock climbing, music retreats) or have one or more “special occasion” events on the agenda (e.g. destination weddings, formal dinners, costume parties).
  • You either don’t mind the baggage fees or are part of an airline loyalty program that waives them once you hit a certain status.
  • The thought of not having a lot of variety in your wardrobe makes you break out in a cold sweat.
  • Hey, lost luggage is a great excuse to go shopping! ;-)

Either way, you want your luggage and what you bring to be a help, not a hindrance.

My carry-on bag is this 22″ spinner from Lipault Paris. I call it The Little Bag That Could. It holds a LOT, yet still fits easily in overhead bins. As my “Personal Item” that fits underneath the seat, I use this Lipault Paris 19″ Weekender. Lots of pockets for organizing, and slips over the handle of the wheeled bag.

I’ve also updated my SHOP page with some of my favorite travel clothing, accessories and equipment.

travel clothing and gear

You can see all HERE, and I’ll be adding new items over the next few weeks, in addition to sharing some travel-friendly finds in upcoming posts.

How about you…do you prefer carry-on travel or having more options?
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in praise of: little black pants…

travel wardrobe essentials
left: earrings | top | bracelet (similar) | bracelet | bag | pants | shoes
right: earrings | top | bag | cuff (similar) | pants | shoes

…or little navy pants, if that’s your preference.

If you’re trying to pack light and/or travel with just a carry-on, there are few pieces that are more versatile than a pair of (comfortable) black pants. (I’m a pants wearer…for those of you who prefer skirts, just substitute a simple dark skirt for the pants mentioned.) They dress up or down, and even a knit pair will rise to the occasion of “smart casual” with the right top.

I’m an adherent to the concept of “tabletop dressing” especially when traveling. Keep the bottom half simple, and focus energy (and variety) on the top half and accessories. Why black pants (or navy)? Simple: they don’t show dirt, reducing the need for laundering and/or additional items in the suitcase. Plus, black reads as “dressy” more easily than lighter colors.

For mild-to-warm weather travel, I really like these slim ankle pants from Eileen Fisher. I’ve worn them from temple hopping in Phuket, Thailand (very warm and humid conditions) to fine dining back in the States. They can be hand-washed and will usually line dry overnight. But if something more tailored is your preference, go for a lightweight wool with a little stretch, like these from Vince. (They’ll require dry-cleaning, but often wool can be spot or brush cleaned.) For cooler climates, consider ponte knits. You might even be able to get by with a pair of black denim jeans, but be warned that they will be heavier and not as easily laundered.

I find that slim pants are easier to style and more versatile, but if straight or wide legs fit better with your style silhouette, here’s a good option.

Do you have a favorite Little Black Pant?

MORE TRAVEL-FRIENDLY PANTS:

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las vegas confidential

posted in: Entertainment, Travel | 28
Bellagio Conservatory Las Vegas
Spring display at Bellagio Conservatory

I’ll be completely honest: Las Vegas is more le Monsieur’s thing than mine. But even for those who don’t come for the gambling, there’s still plenty to enjoy. The food, for one. While the cheap buffets are mostly a thing of the past unless you get away from the Strip, there are many excellent restaurants to try. And shows. There are multiple Cirque du Soleil productions at any given time, and others such as Blue Man Group, major musical acts and various musical tributes. We don’t see a show very often, but had heard good things about “Absinthe” and as we were celebrating a special occasion (our 20th wedding anniversary) thought, why not?

If Cirque du Soleil, a classic burlesque show and HBO’s “Carnivale” had a threesome, “Absinthe” would be the resulting offspring. It was SO much fun! Raunchy, offensive in an equal-opportunity way, funny and featuring some truly amazing acrobatic acts, it delivered entertainment you probably won’t see anywhere else. It’s staged in a smallish circus tent, so you are very close to the performers. (Word of warning: don’t get seats in the front row unless you’re willing to be part of the entertainment, and those with delicate sensibilities might want to skip altogether.)

Bellagio Las Vegas Conservatory

Bellagio Las Vegas conservatory

Bellagio Las Vegas

One of my favorite activities is strolling through the Conservatory at the Bellagio, which always includes some fantastical floral displays. This Spring’s theme is “Cherry Blossoms.”

Las Vegas Bellagio Conservatory

Best time to visit is early in the morning when crowds are lighter.

Did I mention food? In addition to the mind-blowing meal we enjoyed at Joel Robuchon, le Monsieur had also asked the hotel concierge to see if we could get dinner reservations at Picasso at the Bellagio. Not only did she get us reservations…

Bellagio fountains Las Vegas

but one of the best tables in the house, on the patio right next to the Bellagio fountains! It was truly special. Again, I resisted taking food pictures until dessert arrived…

dessert at Picasso restaurant
Earl Grey Tea Cheesecake

Truly magnifique!

We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental in City Center, which I loved, mostly because it has no casino attached, and so is very low-key. And no smoke!

Mandarin Oriental Las VegasThe view was quite nice, especially at night…

Vegas view

the room was spacious and comfortable, and the staff very attentive.

And yes, we played some games. A bit of blackjack at the cheap tables, mostly poker and blackjack on the 25 cent machines. I look at gambling as just another form of entertainment. I decide how much I’m willing to spend (i.e. “lose”) and try to make that much last as long as possible. If I lose less before I get tired of the smoke and the noise, I consider that a win. ;-)

There’s also plenty of shopping, from tourist tat to highest end and everything in between. (Only in Hong Kong did I see more Chanel boutiques per square mile.) Yes we did a little shopping, though mostly of the “just looking, thanks” variety.

But we did stop on the way home to pick up a tee shirt for jeune homme at the Alien Fresh Jerky place…

Alien Fresh Jerky

Have you visited Las Vegas recently? What’s your favorite thing to do there?

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