Rich with history and social graces, the Southern part of the United States could be viewed as an entirely different world within the country. Noted for its charm and slower-paced, relaxed-speaking culture, you're sure to find adventures you've never experienced before.
The South is known for its beautiful sunshine and breezy weather. Depending on the time of year, you could experience comfortable, mild weather or you could experience skin-scorching, brutal heat. The best way to protect yourself from the harmful rays is to bring along a hat. You may need many different types for the various events you partake in.
What is more versatile than a good ol', worn-in ball cap? You can pack up your favorite sports team cap or that old hat with a logo of your first workplace that you've had for years. These are sure to keep the sun out of your eyes and keep your face from turning apple red.
If you happen to be lucky enough to relax on the Outer Banks of North Carolina or soak up the sun from America's Sunshine State of Florida, you are sure to need a sun hat to make for a more comfortable visit. These are great for lying on the sprawling sands or even to accompany you for your dinner out. Opt for a big and floppy one, those are the best.
Once a year, most of the country celebrates a two-minute horse race that takes place in Louisville, Kentucky, a fellow southern state. Girls don their best dresses and largest, most elegant floppy hats while the men suit up and get as dapper as can be. The onlookers drink mint juleps and nibble on the famous Kentucky Hot Brown while cheering on their favorite horse, which may just make them significantly wealthier in just two minutes. If you are lucky enough to be attending the race, you'll want to look your absolute best. However, even if you are in another state at the time, you can be sure that somewhere will be celebrating. Catch the spirit and decorate a big hat just for kicks.
Nothing says "The South" quite like a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. The bigger the better. You can find all types from the classics to ones featuring your favorite colors. Grab a cowboy hat and go have yourself a Corona beer. After all, you are in The South.
This may sound like a no-brainer but until you have experienced the southern states for yourself, you may not understand quite how much you will need sunblock and mozzie spray. The sunblock is for all the areas that your sun hat doesn't cover and the mozzie spray, well, many areas are notorious for mosquitoes the size of golf balls. You'll want to protect from them, especially in wetter areas such as the swampy areas of Florida and Louisiana.
Most areas of the south offer a beach if you are visiting along the coast or the Gulf of Mexico. Even if you aren't headed directly for a beach, you may still find yourself in a place with a lake or river where exciting water sports can combat the heat. A lot of cities also have exciting amusement parks with a fun water park of its own. At the very least, your hotel will likely have a pool or hot tub that will be ideal for relaxing after a long day of sight-seeing or shopping. Take a few options of bikinis or swim trunks and if you are going to the beach, double your original amount.
The BBQ Bib and Wet Napkins will likely be provided at your choice restaurant, but in all seriousness, you may want to opt for more "stretchy" outfits while you dine in the southern states. Between the slow-cooked barbecue, the homemade apple pies and all of the soul food from the south, you can expect to gain a few pounds from your trip. No one does home-cooking like the southern states. If you want to truly enjoy your meal, avoid any calorie-conscious restaurants as the south is best-known for comfort food made with all the tasty, fattening ingredients.
With all of the beautiful landscapes in the Southern states, you will find yourself outdoors far more than indoors. Whether you are headed out on the Appalachian Trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains or just spending the day in the outlet malls, you will want to pack many comfortable options for an enjoyable trip.
Don't forget the cowboy boots! The more worn-in your boots are, the more you'll fit right in. Take those boots out to a local line dance and boot, scoot, and boogey the night away.
Do yourself a huge favor, stop at the local super-store as soon as you get in town and buy a football jersey, football t-shirt, football anything. Even if you don't know the teams, just pick one. American Football is a way of life in the South. The SEC, or South Eastern Conference, for college football run in southerners' blood. You won't find anyone doing much else on a Saturday than cheering for their college. For Professional Football, you will be invited to a stranger's house for Sunday supper just for striking up a conversation about the Miami, Florida Dolphins, the Dallas, Texas Cowboys or the Tampa Bay, Florida Buccaneers. If you have time, it may even be worth your while to grab tickets to a college or pro football game.
When visiting the South, you may need a bottle or two of extra-strength aspirin seeing as how, along with football and Sunday Supper, drinking is a celebrated way of life here. Try the local whiskey or bourbon, head off on a vineyard tour, or shoot over to a local brewery to taste the fresh samplings. Kentucky is famous for the bourbons with Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, Jim Beam among others. You can head out on the whiskey trail and get a free t-shirt for visiting them all.
Virginia, though more in the North, is still considered a southern state and has a beautiful wine trail where you can try the tastings that all of the local grapes have to offer.
Don't make the mistake of over-packing because you will need at least half of your suitcase for all of the exciting goodies you will find to bring home with you. You'll want to stock up on Southern blown glass, mini bottles of whiskey and quirky home signs from stores with rocking chairs out front.
Now that you know what to pack so you are perfectly prepared for a holiday in USA's southern states, you'll want to protect your precious cargo. Tailor your cover to increase your lost luggage allowances and more depending on what you're bringing with you and what needs a little extra attention.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Michael Cote