A built-in perk of soft adventure travel is that you can avoid the need to bring along all of the bulky, specialized equipment necessary for specialized activities like hard-core mountain climbing or scuba diving. A few easy-to-pack essentials will keep you ready for action.
Storage: Having a casual bag to take on the plane and around town makes it much simpler to transition between activities and relaxation. Large women's totes made from woven, natural fibers are available at a variety of discount department stores, and allow you to easily carry everything from cosmetics and a cardigan to a wrap dress and heels, along with newly-purchased souvenirs and an extra clutch purse. Men can get similar travel mileage from a casual messenger bag, which allow stylish storage of such things as a clean T-shirt, mid-day shaving supplies, camera gear and a tablet device.
Clothing: While a great active-wear swimsuit is a given, other clothing items can be just as critical. When I need something I can throw on in a jiffy, dresses made of a wrinkle-free jersey fabric are my first choice. They can roll up for easy carrying in my travel tote, and are usually available at retailers like Dillards, Ross, Macy's and Marshalls. Another great item to include for both men and women is a water-resistant jacket such as a windbreaker, preferably the type that folds up into a package the size of a small, flat pillow.
Incidentals: Small, incidental items can make all the difference for activity and weather transitions. Small umbrellas take up less space than the full-sized version and hair sticks allow for a quick off-the-neck hair style while taking up no more room than a pencil in your purse. A flat foot file is also a great tool to have on hand after a day of pounding the pavement between museum tours and café coffee hours. They take up minimal luggage room and allow for a bit of touching up before slipping on those strappy sandals for an evening out.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.