The sunhat is essential to avoid sunstroke – and to mask and flatten frizzy hair.

The sunhat is essential to avoid sunstroke – and to hide and flatten frizzy hair.

Happy new year! I am back, with stories to tell.

First up: my packing issues. I did it again. For a supposed fashion pro, I am the worst packer in the world. I just read EnRoute magazine’s profiles of packing pros – they all take from two to 20 minutes to pack. My packing for a two-week sojourn in Costa Rica ate up something like 18 hours – and the unpacking was almost worse.

Yet I packed ALL the wrong things, except for three bathing suits, two sarongs, one long white T-shirt as a coverup, three tubes of sunscreen, plus for my face, SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defence (SPF 50) , a large tube of aftersun cream, Esthederm sun oil (not sure how its sun rating works, so I doubled up on coverage with Anthelios SPF 60), two sunhats and flipflops.

At least I packed flipflops. Here they are on Pelada Beach, near Nosara, Costa Rica.

At least I packed flipflops. Here they are on Pelada Beach, near Nosara, Costa Rica.

Oh, and probiotic tablets, but that’s another story.

My luggage weighed in just below the 23–kilo limit, laden with I AM NOT SURE WHAT, but nothing to wear.  There were at least 10 little cases and bags: two wallets, two small purses, two makeup cases, plus additional leather and cloth bags for jewelry, sunscreen, first aid and more. That’s not including my carry-on bag, a knapsack (Hyba and really light and right for this kind of trip), beach bag, and enormous cases for makeup and hair care products.

BUT I DID NOT BRING ENOUGH HAIR CONDITIONER, leaving me looking like Bozo with straw hair in the mornings and sending me off through the hot dusty roads of Nosara – a yoga and surf town – in search of coconut oil or conditioner. I settled on coconut conditioner at I think about $20 U.S., which was okay, and I used half the bottle in about three days. Despite a plethora of hair potions and oils at home, I did not bring anything but tiny tubes of after-dye conditioner and a tiny bottle of exquisitely scented hair oil – the scent so sweet and fragrant that I was a magnet for mosquitoes.

On the clothing front, the situation was even worse. It was hot, very hot, day and night, yet I did not bring a sundress or skirt, just silk dhotis from Lolë – I would probably go around naked if I did not own these pants – and a few tank tops, plus two cardigans, a kimono coverup – heavy cotton ikat, bought at Anthropologie just before leaving. And I packed two dresses with sleeves – heavy black cotton from Véronique Miljkovitch, bought a few days before departure, and unwearable in that climate, though cute, and an Aritzia raw linen sack dress, which was actually not a bad choice as it covered me up in the sun. But it was also warm and sack dresses are not exactly a Costa Rica sort of thing. Italy, yes, perhaps.

And despite Nosara being yoga central, I did not bring yoga pants, so on a visit to the Bodhi Tree Yoga Resort for a sunset flow class, I bought yoga pants. The place is amazing – as you approach, there’s an imposing stairway to heaven.

Here’s a story from my trip to Portugal in the summer of 2014, titled How not to pack for your vacation, when I also packed all the wrong stuff. That time it was too cold, and a few of those little white dresses might have served me well in Costa Rica.

Well, maybe one day I will get it right.

I think the trick might be one of the really right thing, rather than several of the almost right. Shopping will be on order for my next trip.