How to pack for a two-month trip with one carry-on suitcase

You all are going to be seeing me in these clothes for a couple months. I did my best to incorporate some variety for the sake of the photos.

After thinking about this for months and coming up with one strategy, I learned they have convertible pants for women and changed my strategy. Yesterday I bought two pair of convertible pants at REI. These are pants that can have the legs zipped off to make shorts. They also are made with fabric that seems like it will dry quickly, so I can hand wash them in the hotel and hang them up to dry. Since we are staying at least 3 days in each hotel, I can wash one pair and let it dry the whole three days, if needed. The convertible pants form the core of my plan. I will wear them with various shirts.


Core sight-seeing outfits

Then I have a stack of polo shirts. One eggplant-colored long sleeved shirt that is in the upper right, a brown turtleneck with a scarf. The scarf also goes with the eggplant shirt. A blue turtleneck goes with the blue scarf. The little taupe pile next to the pants is a Chicos stretchy knit tank and a silky light jacket which I bought a couple years ago at Ross Dress for Less. Then that red tank, to which I also added a navy-blue cotton jacket made by Charters Club (not shown). Both of those came from Kohl’s a few years back. The pile of polo shirts are all hand-me downs! Handy…indeed.

Next, what to wear to dress up? I bought a nice outfit in New York many years ago at the discount store called Century 21. (If you get to Manhattan and want to shop, I highly recommend it.) The outfit has a pair of black lightweight pants and a long shimmery tunic. I added another tunic I just bought locally (the red and black striped one to the right of the pants), and then I had to have my favorite blouse, which I bought in New York at Filene’s Basement.  (Another recommended shopping spot!) That is the one on the right. It has little pictures of Paris landmarks. So this gives me three different outfits in case we eat dinner in a fancy hotel three nights in a row. I will look a little different each time.

Dressy outfits

Dressy outfits

I don’t know why I’m giving you all this shopping detail, except that this blog post has reawakened my love of clothes, something that has withered on the vine since I retired from my day job and became a full-time fiction writer (see: sweats).

Okay, next we have to deal with possible cold weather and rain. Also beach weather and workout clothes. The jacket on the left is, I believe, Patagonia. A hand-me down. Yes it’s nice being the youngest; even as an adult I get stuff! Then there is long underwear, a baby alpaca sweater that I bought in Peru, a thin bathing suit cover up from TravelSmith, some Tevo sandals, and a couple pair of workout shorts and tank tops.


Cold weather clothes, swimsuit cover up and workout clothes

I also packed a leather jacket I spent too much on but it is such high quality it has lasted 10 years so far and I wear it all the time in the winter. It is not shown, however you will see it in my travel photos.

It all had to fit in here.


Carry on bag

You can see I’m not a fashionista when it comes to luggage. Not that I don’t love beautiful luggage, but it’s not super important. Mostly I want practical and this travel-weary bag does the trick.

Carry on bag interior

Carry on bag interior

That’s a pink cube which is used for…who knows. I’ll explain in a minute. There’s a blue umbrella in there, a memento from a Paris tourist shop and a plastic bag. Hang in there, we’re coming to the great packing adventure.

Failed packing attempt

Failed packing attempt

I love the color of the pink cube. It seemed like a good idea to use it to separate out some of the clothes. But it was a space hog. The shoes, shown in those two plastic bags, didn’t fit.

My husband was watching all this and explained that the cube was forcing me into a certain configuration and not allowing me to use all the space. He also told me about rolling the clothes.


Rolled clothes in the suitcase

Even the shoes now fit!

Fully packed bag

Fully packed bag

You’ll notice on the left side there are a couple snaps. Turns out this bag has a separator there and that’s where I put the leather jacket.

On the plane, I’ll wear BCBG black sweats that have a pretty rhinestone flower on them, a polo shirt, my running shoes and a black hoody.

We don’t leave for a few weeks, but I’m packed. All I have to do is add the swimsuit, which I still need, and toiletries. A few other essentials and my computer and camera will go in my second carry-on, a backpack.


New York, Manhattan, Warwick, Bellvale and Greenwood Lake

I wasn’t in the city too much, but I did catch this shot of the George Washington Bridge on the way out.


I stayed with friends at Greenwood Lake outside the city. You don’t have to drive that far to be in a country setting. This shot is from Demarest Hill Winery in Warwick New York.

Demarest-wineryThe wine wasn’t to my liking, but they do appear to have good grappa and brandy, which I didn’t try. The scenery was stunning.

However, in the department of recommendations, I suggest The Creamery. Here you will get great views and fantastic ice cream!

The Creamery Ice Cream Cone Nia in front of The Creamery View from The Creamery

To burn off some of the ice cream, we went water skiing, or at least, my friends did. I used the opportunity to play with the Panasonic DMC-ZS40′s auto-focusing motor drive. It’s pretty easy to rack up about 300 photos in an hour that way! I liked that I could zoom in on the skier and then shoot continuously. For action shots you really have to shoot that way to get just the right shot. Here is my favorite of a friend of my friends.


Ochs Orchard in Warwick is a beautiful place to pick up some produce.

Ochs-farm FarmOverall, I had a great time with my friends. The meeting I had with Brenda Novak, her agent and one of her editors, Margaret Marbury, was very helpful to me. We had a good time and the conversation helped me sort some things out for myself about genre, direction, blogs, and commercial fiction.


Aussie novella, Heartland series book 2, a mystery

Thank you for the great support for Somewhere Far from Iris. John and I appreciate your interest and efforts.

The second installment in John Holland‘s Heartland series, a novella length mystery, is now available.


A lovely English governess goes missing from the homestead on a local cattle station in the Australian outback. The local people think the mysterious Min Min light has something to do with her disappearance. Senior Police Constable Mick Creedy doesn’t buy into paranormal explanations and is exploring foul play. However, when the young woman’s mother, Eveling, arrives from England wanting a full investigation, including the possibility of a paranormal event, Mick needs to balance his methods with a grieving parent’s needs. Eveling’s inclinations further complicate matters as they might lead her into a danger Mick does not yet understand. Pressure mounts as unexpected feelings for the victim’s mother raise the stakes in this case that seems to have no leads.

Editor’s note:

I suggested to John, “Hey, you should write a mystery.” We were on Google Hangout, so I could see his sly smile. A few days later he sent me The Light at the Bottom of the Garden. Once again I was drawn into his straightforward style and was delighted by finding John’s humor in the story. I still laugh every time I read the scene between Mick and Bessie.

We hope you enjoy the story! If you do get a chance to read this installment in the series, a review at your favorite online book review forum will help other readers discover John’s unique voice.

Nia Simone

You can read the first 20% of this fun book at these outlets.

Kindle electronic book: Amazon

and Smashwords (electronic book formats: epub, mobi, PDF, lrf)

You can also check out this nice interview with John at Smashwords. There’s another really good interview I just found out about here: Patti Roberts and Guests.