Musings from A Seasoned Ruby Laner: Traveling Light?

At this time of year, when I can smell Spring in the air, my thoughts turn to travel. I love to travel, to visit other countries, learn what I can of their customs, take far too many photos (the joys of digital photography), try the interesting food....Yes, I did eat limpets in Madeira. They tasted, as described in the guide book, somewhere between shellfish and liver. I ate the whole plateful!

I even love airports. As a small child, I was taken on outings to the local airport to look at the planes. There was a special area surrounded by netting, through which we could poke our noses and look at the planes. If we were really lucky, during our picnic one would take off. The excitement has never left me.

I also like packing, and will start to prepare what I am taking with me weeks in advance. And this brings me to an interesting insight into my character. As with packing, so with my home. If I have a space, I will fill it. It's the 'pack rat' in me. I have learned to cheat myself. I have a small home, and a fairly small suitcase. I fill both :(

My travel wardrobe follows two main themes. For hot countries and hot months – white, turquoise and coral, with lots of lovely turquoise and coral jewelry from Ruby Lane. For out of season, natural tones (what my friend calls my favorite mud color) in natural fibers. Within these themes, I could pack probably seven articles of clothing and permutate them so that they would last for two weeks without boredom setting in. Out come the pieces from wardrobes and drawers. That looks so lovely with this...and this...and this...oh dear, the suitcase is bulging again.

I have a sneaky suitcase with an extension. Thank goodness my house doesn't have one of those. I can undo a zipper and make extra space for things purchased abroad. Thus far I have been fairly good and rarely used this facility.

Long ago, we used to go to London in November. For that I did manage to pack reasonably light.:
One pair of black trousers
One black skirt One black dress
Two cream shirts
A black cashmere sweater
Three brightly colored jackets
Scarves and jewelry
Shoes known by me as 'museum shoes' – in look and comfort like a loafer, but with a heel so I could wear them with a skirt.
Lots of fake pearls.

That was the old me. My look is softer now. As with clothes, I love travel equipment and gadgets, but I have too many. The whole point of a travel gadget is to be small, neat, light and ideally do several jobs. Two things I would never travel without – my old travel alarm clock and my packable sun hat, which rolls up and fits in my bag, but quickly bounces back into shape. Oh, and my sunglasses, which fit over my prescription glasses. Finally, the raw silk jacket, which has been everywhere with me for the last 25 years.

Hmm, and the camera, pocket-sized video camera and mini-binoculars. And my shocking-pink i-Pod. And one or two pashminas.

So why do I have:

Cute travel sizes of toiletries I never use at home.
Tea bags in a special box
A small battery-operated fan
An inflatable neck pillow (very occasionally, I have used this)
A microfiber towel – don't hotels supply towels?
Travel slippers

And why am I even contemplating a netbook and an e-book reader? So I don't have to carry three paperbacks? In the London days I used to carry my soap in a silver soap-box. I must still have that around somewhere. Maybe I was just born into the wrong age, and should have lived in the age of the fitted dressing-case. And someone to carry it.

This sudden attack of wanderlust was triggered, I think, by the sight on Ruby Lane of a darling little Van Cleef & Arpels 18K travel clock. I made an interesting 'Freudian typo' there – I initially typed 'Van Cleef $ Arpels'. Inspired, I typed 'travel' into Ruby Lane's search. Oh, what a wealth of delights! Clocks of every description, jewelry cases, sewing kits, a sterling silver collapsible cup, a mahogany cased chess set (when I travel with my Dad, Scrabble is the game of choice).

Oh look - a BOAC flight bag. British Overseas Airways Corporation. I never flew with them, only with the lowlier short-haul BEA (British European Airways). Incidentally, did you know that QANTAS (no U) stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd ? Australia is somewhere I have never been. There are older civilizations for me to explore first.

There are books, too, to inspire me. Old Baedekers for the countries of Europe. "En Route" , An Automobile Tour in Mercedes Benz through Europe 1908 (do I need a Mercedes?). Pleasures of the Japanese Bath..mmmm, sounds yummy.  'Two Years In Southern Seas' Pacific Islands Adventure .. Now that's more like it.

With my traveling self, as with my home, there's a minimalist inside screaming to get out. If I can once, just once, travel light, I have the feeling that, like a butterfly from a chrysalis, a new, free me will emerge.

**Pam serves as a Customer Support Consultant on the Ruby Lane team. She has been a Ruby Lane shop owner for ten years and a partner in her family Antiques business for forty years. She is based in the UK. If you have suggestions for topics you’d like to see her discuss send them to

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