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10 Essentials For Summer Travel: My Choices for Spain

by Lu Sobredo

Don’t you love it when Spring comes? Spring signals that time when summer travel plans are just about done. At least, that’s how I see the world. 

I see the world through a different prism since the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) five years ago when the disease overwhelmed my whole being. My treating RA doctor had said that the onset of the disease may have been five years prior to the time of diagnosis. Not surprising that my view of the world has changed; my view of life has changed. I now look more often for a chance to travel, keenly aware this RA afflicted body could betray me at anytime. Life with RA means my daily routine is pretty predictable. So is the pain. Thoughts of summer travel sparks the spirit, and helps overshadow RA pain. 

It doesn’t matter if the plan is to travel for two weeks or two months. And no matter how exhausting flights might feel, remember to look pulled together. 

I don’t know about you, but no matter how crappy I might feel from travel fatigue and/or fatigue and pain from my RA, I somehow feel better when dressed up. Dressed up just means putting summer wardrobe pieces together that easily mix and match. Fabric must be lightweight. Pieces should fit snugly in a carry-on luggage. The lighter the luggage, the better for my suffering hands and wrists.

Save money by checking what’s already in the closet. Splurge on a couple of new purchases, only if budget allows. It’s best to choose one color that serves as foundation for travel clothes. Whatever appeals to the senses! Look in your closet or shopping rack. Usually black works well as a base. This summer, update wardrobe and showcase neutral, light or muted colors in place of black or in addition to black. My go-to basic pieces in my closet are: black pants, brown-toned lightweight jacket, a print scarf in black, brown & white, and a roomy latte-toned bag.

Inflight Outfit in Black and Brown. ©Lu Sobredo

Since RA medications e.g. prednisone and other anti-inflammatory prescriptions have led to weight gain, I have learned to embrace the more-generously-fitting clothes. And I think, it’s all good. I smile as I speculate on the alternative: slender, yet in excruciating pain when not taking my meds. Clothes-size is not as important these days. I go for simplicity, including my choice of color palette. Black or any solid color makes wardrobe-building uncomplicated. 

These days, I consider myself a health/travel blogger, far from a fashionista or fashion blogger. This one time, I decided to  have fun pretending that I know a little about fashion. What could I possibly wear after RA medications led to weight-gain? We all know that building a travel wardrobe is a personal matter. Managing RA is stressful enough, why stress out over wardrobe for travel. This article is simply to remind myself and maybe others that just because the body feels lousy, no one has to look it. Looking pulled together somehow helps me feel radiant—code for feeling positive. Whether I actually look radiant or not is totally immaterial. 

Take a look at these 10 essential pieces; perfect for layering. It’s wise to layer for those temperature fluctuations: from the heat of outdoor summer sun to the breezy cold of air conditioned hotel lobbies or indoor restaurants.


  • Summer Skirt or Pants: I am leaning towards sage green. Why? Sage seems like a calming color reminiscent of nature but not overwhelming so. Some 2018 Spring Catalogues seem to feature it. Lightweight skirt or a pair of pants in sage serves as my starting point this year.
Sage Green Ankle-Length Skirt from my Closet. ©Lu Sobredo
  • A Top with Sleeves—Plain or Printed: One short sleeves or three quarters sleeves in black is a practical choice. It works well for casual day wear, but could be dressed up with tasteful accessories for evening wear. Bring a second top—one printed and preferably floral for a summer flair. It pairs wonderfully with the sage skirt or pants.
Floral Blouse from my Closet. ©Lu Sobredo
  • Sundress: Summer sun calls for a summer dress. Knee length or ankle length—whatever rocks your travel world. This summer, add a little whimsy with a chevron striped long linen dress in white and latte/beige color. It’s an unconventional rendition of a striped sundress. Linen does tend to wrinkle, but don’t let that stop you. Besides, the fresh crisp linen look just screams summer. And linen washes and hang-dries easily. The wrinkled look just emphasizes how much fun you’re having. 
Chevron Striped Ankle-Length Summer Dress. ©Lu Sobredo
  • Sweater: One hip-length lightweight sweater either in black, forest green or coffee brown would pair well with sage green skirt and pants; even with chevron striped white & latte summer dress. Keeping warm during flights or train rides could be annoying. A light cotton or wool blend is a practical solution. A sweater eases well into evening: maybe a dinner at an affordable yet high-end restaurant. See my blog post on the topic on where to eat: Affordable High-End Spanish Food: Dining at Narru.
Coffee Brown Sweater over a Sundress. ©Lu Sobredo
  • Black Pants: Can’t go wrong with a pair of black pants (see earlier photo). A blend of cotton, rayon and elastic material is a practical wear onboard airlines. A pair of black pants gives versatility to the summer wardrobe on the go. Wear a black top with black pants in both casual or slightly formal venue.

  • Shorts: Any color will do. Don’t be afraid to go for the basic black. You can’t go  wrong. A pair of shorts could double as sleep wear if needed. A cotton or linen blend is my choice. It’s lightweight and doesn’t show dirt easily. Why worry about a little dirt when sitting on sand or outdoor furniture when sipping cold drinks while watching the sun come down? Taking in the ambiance is much better for the senses.
Loose-Fitting Black Shorts. ©Lu Sobredo
  • T-Shirt: A lightweight cotton or cotton blend shirt has practical uses. Wear out while sightseeing or indoors while lounging. Even practical as sleepwear. The color is immaterial. Choose a solid color for a dressy look; printed for a more casual one. A black tee goes well with sage or black pants. 
Black Cotton T-Shirt. ©Lu Sobredo
  • A Short Summer Dress: Sundresses are fun to wear in  the summer. Floral prints exude a happy presence. I lean more to a linen blend knee-length dress. My choice is a toss up between floral or solid black in linen. As you can see, I just can’t stay away from pieces in solid black or linen. Have fun with your choice of color or prints.  A black or forest green sweater is a perfect cover if desired.
Linen Blend Knee-Length Summer Dress from My Closet. ©Lu Sobredo
  • Scarf or Pashmina: Never travel without some kind of scarf. They are a travel staple. If big enough, it works as cover over a bathing suit. It serves beautifully as a wrap in cooler weather. Use over a summer top or sundress. If large enough, it could work as a sarong for quick dressing to walk on the beach. Depending on material or color, it can dress up any outfit. My color choice for a generously sized scarf is pale pink, a nice complement to black and sage green pieces. It is a refreshing option to summer white.

Light Pink Pashmina/Shawl from my Closet (Gift from a Colleague). ©Lu Sobredo
  • Bathing Suit: A must now that I maintain my aqua exercise  even while on travel. Water therapy is especially critical for relieving  stiffness and pain from RA. Any bathing suit that is one piece/traditional could work. Even an elastic pair of shorts and top could fill the bill.
Charcoal/Black Swimwear. ©Lu Sobredo

As a disabled traveler afflicted with RA, I pay close attention on what to wear when traveling. I don’t want to be bothered with unnecessary inconveniences; thus the keen attention to travel wear ahead of time. I have enough on my mind, such as ensuring I take medications on time, watching how I move (with my walking cane) so as not to fall or injure myself, and staying mentally strong in dealing with unrelenting pain and stiffness on days my RA flares. Looking pulled together helps me exude positivity regardless how the body feels. Granted, my main concerns when traveling are safety and comfort of course. Looking pulled together, is secondary.

Counting the days toward summer. Aren’t you? Plan your summer travel now. Remember to save room in your suitcase for potential purchases to take home from your trip. And have a blissful experience. Bon Voyage!

©Lu Sobredo


DISCLAIMER: I am in no way endorsing a clothing line or brand by this post, nor do I get monetary incentive when mentioning my go-to stores. I tend to shop at JJill particularly since my weight-gain. But where I shop depends on my needs: REI for outer wear, Costco for everyday wear, the Loft for sweaters, and Macy's or Nordstrom for more formal wear. I am also drawn to Zara, Corte Ingles and small local boutiques when in Spain. 

About the Author 
Lu Sobredo is writer/publisher at Lu Travels Abroad, a blog dedicated to folks whose limitations do not hamper them from traveling. About a year into early retirement came the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Her world collapsed from under her as the disability rendered her nearly-immobile and wheelchair-bound for almost three years. Her family's life changed. Her total life changed, but she did not let RA define her. With much will & love from family, friends and an awesome doctor, she regained some functionality--her new normal. She will have RA all her life. And she now writes about life and travel with RA.


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