It’s that time of the year again when I’m writing this Packing Picks series for the third time in this year; this time for Russia. Team OneTimeFashionista has chosen Russia to be the destination for the third voyage du 2015. Since we can’t go to Pluto, we are off to Russia! Some of you may not know that the surface area of the Pluto is ”about the same surface area as Russia”. This is my funny take on the beautographer’s choice to travel to Russia as he argued since it’s the largest country on planet Earth, our voyage stories will have a huge coverage on the global map as far as size is concerned. To me, Russia still holds an alien place in my list of preferred destinations to see before I die. Having said that, there is so much beauty to see in the world. The desire to travel and experience the beauty of nature with your naked eyes is the best feeling in the world. To get up, close and sometimes personal to experience a different culture, climate, and meeting new people is a treasure of a lifetime. But planning a holiday can be so stressful that you will need a short break after your actual holiday! Conceptualising, planning and then packing can take so much time, and the expectations and excitements can make other things to take back seat. As you have been updated with glimpses of my wardrobe for Russia on Instagram and Facebook, I also have some handy tips for you to make things a little bit easier to pack for Russia that will take care of some of those little details we often forget before we embark on our voyage to this land of the Tsars.
After years of travelling to different destinations, I have managed to get my airport fashion game in place and it all depends on the length of the flight, what season it is and how I’m doing healthwise at that particular time of flying out. Those of us who are not celebrities and would be unable to carry off the Lady Gaga look even if we wanted to, but what we wear can still tell others a lot about us. The days of check-in staff upgrading smartly dressed travellers are all but over, but that is no excuse to abandon all sense of style. Worse still is the fact that our appearance and body language can also influence the judgement of airport officials at security when leaving the UK and passport control, immigration and customs on arrival especially if you happen to stand on the queue for Non-UK passport holders.
Our airport looks have always been styled keeping in mind wherever we are travelling to and whatever the purpose of the trip is. One thing remains the same, that the temperature in the cabin can be unpredictable so dressing up in layers is a must. If you need to take a coat or jacket with you, consider wearing it. Not only does it save you having to pack it in your luggage but it can also double up as a blanket. If you are headed to a destination where coats and jackets are definitely not required, then a stylish cardigan/jumper and pashmina will keep you warm and can also be tucked away easily if you are hot.
For Tanusree: I have opted for this breton jumper with suede leather elbow patch over a t-shirt and teamed it up with a distressed jeans. The holes in the knee area will be comfortable to bend my knees when I need to. One of the accessories in my wardrobe for Russia will be hats, so instead of having it occupy space in the suitcase, I’m wearing it while flying out. A pair of converse keeps the airport style comfortable yet chic after all we can’t ignore the long walk between the immigration to security check, then to duty free and finally your departure gate.
For Shehzaad: Usually, I take the responsibility for shopping for the beautographer’s wardrobe but I do not necessarily like to tell him everyday what to wear or not. This is why when Tanusree aka fashion-police is not around, he will be blindly copying my style- either wear the same color or pattern. Our airport styles for Russia were no exception to this trend. He chose a light-weight striped jumper with brown suede leather elbow patch after he saw what I am wearing! A loose-fit navy chinos and a pair of leather ankle boots have completed his smart yet laid-back airport look.
Hand luggage vs. check-in luggage:
As far as travel accessories go, the main thing to consider is a good carry-on case. With the spiralling costs of putting luggage in the hold it is more important than ever to have one that not only complies with the airline’s restrictions but will also contain everything we need for the holiday. Whenever we are travelling anywhere longer than a week, we decide to take at least one check-in luggage that will fit all the clothes, toiletries, essentials for both of us. Hand luggage is used to mainly carry electronics, valuables, in-flight essentials, books/magazines and a pair of outfits. This is my quick tip to be ultra careful in case of missing luggages or late baggage arrivals (God forbid!). I prefer to carry one set of sleepwear and at least one complete outfit in my carry-on case to be on the safe side so that you at least have something to wear in case of any of those two disasters happen to you.
Another useful tip is to put your shoes in transparent zip-lock bags and keep them in your carry-on case, this way shoes will be kept separately from the clothes to ensure good hygiene.
- For Tanusree: I have packed a wardrobe for Russia keeping the weather and activities-to-do in mind. September is Autumn in Russia, calling for a transitional wardrobe. So, I packed a few midi dresses as they are easiest to layer on and style. For travelling by inter-city trains, I also packed a pair of crop trousers to team up with long shirts. An extra pair of slim-fit ripped jeans and a high-low skirt paired with a pastel shirt will be my go-to outfit in case I run short of choices.
For Shehzaad: Printed t-shirts, soft jumpers with elbow patch, casual shirts with motif, waistcoat styled with plain t-shirt and denims, colored chinos are in the suitcase for the gentleman.
2. For Tanusree: Comfortable shoes are always a good idea when site-seeing, we always seem to walk for hours, and wouldn’t want a trip ruined by sore feet or blisters (trust me I have been there, done that too!). But comfortable footwear doesn’t mean spending your entire vacation in your gym sneakers. Packing stylish flat shoes, ankle boots(if colder) mid-heel sandals, ballet flats, gladiators are ways to stay comfortable in your shoes yet look glam-chic!
For Shehzaad: Pretty simple! Ankle leather boots in brown and colored loafers for the daytime looks. For special dinner date nights, black Oxford shoes with laces are his best bet.
3. For Tanusree: Cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg can get little chilly at night in September. So, I packed an all purpose faux-fur coat in navy to keep me warm in the evening. It is also in this trip when my desire to wear a Russian hat will be appropriate. Other than the fact that they will keep you warm, a matching Russian styled soft furry hat and a stole set will be quintessentially versatile to style with more than one look.
For Shehzaad: Give him a leather jacket and a couple of stoles, he is sorted!
For posh diners and casual dine-out:
I have gathered that people in the big cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg do tend to look dressier than in western Europe, but again like all big cities around the world, I observed that basically anything goes, so just wearing whatever I usually wear for dinner date night will be apt here as well. For the more upmarket restaurants, dressing up would be a good idea to “fit in”. I will probably keep wearing the same dress or outfit I planned to wear during the day, adding a pair of heels and a little sharper eye make-up e.g. smokey eye, dramatic winged eye liner. But it’s not really much of an issue. So packing whatever you are liking most this season and whatever you feel comfortable in is the best deal. Having said that, I have packed two special outfits for two special evenings that we have planned for this trip. No price for guessing, one for my birthday dinner and a river cruise in Moscow and the other is for an evening at the Opera-ballet show in St. Petersburg. Dressing up for the place and the occasion is a must, I keep emphasising on it. The beautographer too, love dressing up for formal occasions, you will see a black tie dinner look coming from him on this trip.
Essentials & Top Tips:
- I have gathered that when in Russia, always carry toilet paper with you wherever you go. It is the main essential item to take. Most public (and many private) places do not have it.
- Women should pack a scarf to cover their heads when entering any religious buildings. While this is not mandatory in most places, it is important to respect other cultures when travelling.
- Moscow and St. Petersburg are filled with amazing photo opportunities, so like all other voyages, we have packed our Seagate external drive to transfer the photos from the camera each night after returning to the hotel and empty the camera memory card to store more memories through photos next day when we go out. We also make sure that our camera battery is put in charge once we return to the hotel room after a day out sight-seeing and exploring new places, nothing worse than flat batteries at the wrong moment. The beautographer also packed our tripod, which is particularly good for those couple-shots in front of iconic places….just have to watch out for the palace guards and people in the authority who can be unnecessarily suspicious of your gadgets.
- Ensure you pack a good Russian to English (or whatever your language) phrase book, which shows not only translations, but also the words in Cyrillic letters. It can be slow going working out what things say in Russian…and helps if you are as language genius like the beautographer who knows 7 languages and already learnt the basics in Russian through podcasts for the last 2 months and claims that he can already read some of it(?)!
- Since we are going to visit Moscow in autumn, I’m taking the umbrella, like I do always in London!!! Because it’s raining often.
- Make sure you get yourself a couple of plugs suitable to use in Russia. Since language will be an issue, explaining to a staff at the store will give you hard time in case you plan to buy them after landing. Buying from your country of residence before travelling saves lot of time and energy.
Last but certainly not the least, take your passport and other travel documents in your purse if you are a woman, for men, they too should have a travel pouch either tied around the waist or simply hanging on the shoulder, keeping your hands free from important documents is important so that nothing goes missing when leaving in a hurry from the toilets or waiting lounge at the airport.
As always, we hope to return safe and sound with memories of a lifetime, truckload of photographs, a few video clips, new knowledge, experiences and a set of Matryoshka Doll as souvenir. Stay tuned, stay stunned!
Bon Voyage to the team OneTimeFashionista!