Susan Dromey Heeter's Budget Vogue: Time for a vintage vacation, real or imagined

SUSAN DROMEY HEETER February 08. 2014 12:09AM

"One of life's greatest pleasures is packing a suitcase."

- Poet James Longenbach

Oh, but that this "Budget Vogue" fashionista were packing for a quick jaunt to Hawaii, to Aruba, to Miami... What would I pack? A great book, new pajamas, a tea cup, khaki shorts, a T-shirt. There - I'd be done.

Ah, just in the idea of packing, there is so much pleasure. Simply imagining a towel on the beach, gloveless hands, the sound of warm surf - that alone makes this February a bit lighter, this winter a little less harsh.

Alas, my suitcase is staying put, remaining zipped, left only with the empty shampoo container from my last journey to, well, Scituate, Mass. I have, however, recently been given the opportunity to help with the décor of St. Mary Academy's annual auction, the theme of which just happens to be "Travel."

Make that "Vintage Travel," to be precise. Next month, the Regatta Ballroom in Eliot, Maine, will be transformed into a place of travel of yesteryear. And, yes, because my reputation as owner and scavenger of vintage accessories precedes me, I am on the decoration committee. And, of course, I am loving every second. So far, I've put together some of my own vintage travel goods - an estate-found suitcase complete with someone else's initials, white leather gloves I scored recently from Fair Tide in Kittery, Maine, and several travel clocks.

I do love those travel clocks. Nothing like a good Timex by your bedside, ticking away in your unfamiliar digs. A cell phone just isn't the same, and the way those travel clocks just curl up and close so neatly in their leather homes? Exquisite. They're the perfect traveling companion - those old hands ticking, leisurely, as if they, too, are on vacation. And so what if the time isn't accurate? We're on island time, baby.

When I think of travel, I'm reminded of a friend who told me that when she traveled in the 1960s, it was always in white gloves and a pill box hat. I love the idea of dressing for the journey. It's part of the thrill, part of the pleasure, part of the escape.

Hats are always fun for travel. I love the thought of a good watch cap or sun hat to hide a plethora of matted hair. Not only that, I can feign fame and make an attempt to hide from the paparazzi.

I once wore a vintage cowboy hat on the entire ride from Michigan back to New England. Somehow it gave me the essence of Marlboro Man. And I was no longer the mom trying to ignore her children in the back of the van; I was, instead, the cowgirl on the plains, alone with her horse by the campfire.

Travel takes us out of ourselves physically, emotionally - and, yes, financially. On that same journey to Michigan, one of my favorite hikes was to the ever-fabulous NuWay thrift shop in Kalamazoo. It was there I scored two hooded Michigan sweatshirts for my lovely daughters. My budget for souvenirs remained intact.

Thrift shops are simply the best for local goods and such a part of the exploration of local fare. "Here, look! I found you something vintage!" Works every time.

May you, dear "Budget Vogue" readers, stay safe in all your travels - whether to Spain, Florida or the local Market Basket. Pack what brings you warmth, what keeps you safe, what makes you breathe a little easier - the glow of an Andalusian sunset, the lapping of the Gulf surf or the aroma of the baked chickens.

Bon voyage from Budget Vogue.

Susan Dromey Heeter's "Budget Vogue" appears the first full week of each month in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Her other column, "Down to Earth," appears the third Tuesday of the month in the Union Leader's At Home section. Email Susan Dromey Heeter at

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