8 Things Not to Pack to Sail the Greek Islands


High atop the island of Patmos, Greece.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, which is what I consider anyone not as fiercely connected to Facebook as this blogger, I just returned from a nine-day trip to Greece.

“What?” you’re thinking. “This would be coming as a total shock were it not for your non-stop posts about this trip over the past few weeks.”

I know, it’s probs getting annoying but please, indulge me, this is so out of my sandwich-making-laundry-folding box that it was kind of a big deal.

I spent some of yesterday dragged down by jet lag after returning late Sunday and a little bit of crying because of it (welcome to Crazytown) but rallied last night to finally unpack my giant suitcase and decided to share a list of things that might have been better off left at home.

  1. Hair Dryer – After the first day of sailing, you will no longer be worried about whether your hair is straight, much less frizzy.  Following a few days of gusty summer Greek wind and numerous dips in the salty Aegean, your hair will take on a nest-like quality, kind of textured and crunchy, much like the beach towel you brought from home that dries out each night pinned to the ship’s lines. Stick a clip in your hair in much the same fashion and move on.
  2. Eye shadow – It’s nice to think you’ll need your usual variety of eye makeup for tarting up to go out: a base, a darker one for contouring and another shimmery affair for highlighting and trying to perk those lids up a little, as we in the over-40 set sometimes need to do. In the end, some mascara and lip-gloss are all you’ll need to feel dressed up after your day out at sea. And besides, see #3.
  3. Sexy lingerie – Unless you’re interested in the heavily bearded taverna owner who takes your souvlaki order and then later plays the accordion while deftly clenching a cigarette between two fingers throughout an entire song, you are not hooking up on this trip. You will, however, be glad you got around to the bikini wax, as you’ll be spending a considerable part of the trip walking around in a bathing suit. Consider it a public service.
  4. Running Clothes – You might think that going for a quick run through the hills of a small Greek island would be the perfect way to start the day, but unless you set out when the roosters start crowing around dawn (and roosters always seem to be crowing at dawn), you will wither under the intensely hot Aegean sun. Not to mention you will spend much of your time picking your way through prickly brush on pebbly paths past curly-horned goats chewing on leaves and watching you go by. And you know they will be judging you. No, the most exercise you will get will be snorkeling through a cave or going below deck to grab yourself another beer. Your bathing suit will suffice for both endeavors.
  5. Travel-sized shaving cream – Yes, of course, you assume that onboard you’ll retain the same standards of personal hygiene that you keep at home and as such, will want to keep your legs smooth and stubble-free. But when faced with the reality of the contortions required to shave your legs using the hand-held sprayer pulled out from the sink in the tiny head (I’m getting all nautical) you’ve been assigned for the week, you start to reassess your priorities and reason that no one’s really looking at your shins or knees anyway (again, see #3). You’ll discover that it’s a remarkably quick jump between your usual high levels of personal maintenance and Lord of the Flies living.
  6. Your favorite straw beach hat – It’s a staple in your summer beach bag for a day on the beach in Jersey, the bucket shape fitting snugly on your head and fending off harmful rays from your sadly-aging face and heavily-processed hair. And while it’s perfect for sitting on your beach chair with your toes dug into American sand, that thing does not stand a chance against the strong August winds that blow in gusts across Greek beaches. And if you try to keep that chapeau on your head whilst sailing it will be floating in the Aegean within seconds. Go instead for the jaunty pirate look and tie a scarf on your head that will not only keep your hair from getting any more crazy blonde than it’s already become this summer but will help mold your locks into a shape that will be ready to be clipped for dinner out later that evening (See # 1).
  7. One-piece bathing suit – It’s super-cute — a black, strapless number from JCrew that screamed Mediterranean glamour when you ordered it — but in reality, no one, not even old dames (like, gals even older than yours truly) in Europe wears a one-piece bathing suit. And it’s really so hot sitting under the mid-afternoon sun that you begin to understand the desire to wear as little as possible. The suit will come in handy, however, when you finally get to Athens at the end of your trip and pull it on to sit and read at the hotel pool for a spell to cover up the incredible bloating brought on by more beer and bread than you’ve had in half a year. Your tummy — which has begun to resemble what it looked like while four months pregnant with your fourth child — will feel good, hiding under all that shirred Lycra.
  8. Trepidation – In theory, this all seemed like a great idea: going off on a grand adventure solo and gathering up lots of odds and ends to write about for months, maybe years, to come. But as the departure date looms closer, you’ll start to freak out a little and spend an inordinate amount of time talking and writing about your anxiety. Fuck that. Just go and have fun and embrace that you have been blessed at this moment with the opportunity to pick up and visit a far away place by yourself. Get in the goddamn arena – Teddy Roosevelt-style – and take it all in. And anyway, with all the other stuff you’re inevitably going to pack and not need, there won’t be any room for fear in that bag.

17 thoughts on “8 Things Not to Pack to Sail the Greek Islands

    • Mrs. Emily … it was everything and more, truly. And I must say, between Greece and our fun Chicago adventure, a brilliant way on my part to soften turning 47 this week. I highly recommend it if you ever become as old as me 🙂

  1. Funny, those are the same 8 things you don’t need for a 3-week camping trek across the US!! Similar reasoning applies.
    Hope it was a great trip.

    • A 3-week trip across the country? Did you just do that with the family? And lived to tell the tale? Or did you leave your children scattered in campsites around the U.S.?

      • haha!! 3 moms, 7 kids left and somehow 3 moms, 7 kids and a dad came home with us. They’re sneaky little buggers. They find you no matter how far away you go.

  2. Love that you had such a great time. I do remember the personal grooming taking a slide while I was there too. Welcome home!

    • Lori … At some point I need to come clean and write about how I simply Single White Femaled you on this trip. Right down to the luggage, for goddsakes! I really loved it and actually, because I don’t really love showering in the first place, adapted quite well to life on a small boat 🙂

  3. Brilliant! When I do go to Greece and I will, probably by myself because my husband has no desire to go and that doesn’t stop me, I will tell myself to shut up and put on the two – piece (for those of you who don’t beach with me – I haven’t worn a two piece since I was in my early 20s).

    • Susan … it’s bikini city, baby. Believe me, if I can expose a boat load of people to my bloated mid-section, there’s no stopping you from following suit. We need to be less American about such things 🙂

  4. Totally true! I just returned from Greece and I swear I didn’t wear a stitch of makeup or blow-dry my hair the entire time. As for the bathing suit – my husband and I were just talking about the fact that EVERYONE wears a two piece bathing suit which is kind of refreshing. No one cares how they look. I was the one getting the odd looks for my one piece! Hope you had a great trip. Greece is wonderful

    • Hi Connie! Where’d you go in Greece? I sailed around the Dodocanese Islands, in particular Samos, Arki, Patmos, Lipsi, Leros and Kalymnos. Wasn’t it amazing? And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one noticing all the bikinis! When in Rome, right?

    • Ellen! I’m so glad you chimed in because I needed to tell you how excited I was on the drive from the Athens airport to the city and saw a sign for Paraskevi! Enjoyed your home country and suggest you and Al get there ASAP! xo

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