I’ve been getting a lot of questions on what to pack for travel, so wanted to share my “formula” for planning outfits while on the road! I’d follow the same train of thought for planning a capsule wardrobe, for those of you who’ve asked about that. In this post I’ve shared examples of pieces that can be re-styled and stretched into outfits for over 10 days – I can fit all of the above into my carry-on with room left over, which I usually fill with extra items just in case!
Packing Palette // Start by choosing a color palette for your travel outfits, including 2-3 neutrals, and if desired, 1-2 accent colors. Try to pack within this scheme, adding printed pieces in similar color families for interest. Planning and visualizing your wardrobe in categories (tops, bottoms, outer layers, shoes, bag) will make it super easy to mix-and-match the pieces…just choose one from each category to make a complete outfit!
Foundation Pieces – Bottoms // I usually start with bottoms, looking for my most comfortable and wrinkle-resistant bottoms that will work for the destination climate. Dark blue and black jeans are a safe bet, as well as navy ankle pants for a dressier look (love my BR sloan pants for travel!). Maxi skirts don’t get much love on “what to pack” lists but they are my favorite. Your legs are covered up but can still breathe, plus maxi skirts can be easily dressed up or down. Mine’s from ASOS petites (I closed up the leg slit a bit with safety pins).
Foundation Pieces – Tops & Dresses // A slouchy tee and striped shirt are wardrobe workhorses, as you guys have seen on this blog! I also like to add a “fun” top with an interesting detail or two, that can be worn either tucked in or untucked. Mixing a few fashion-forward pieces in a suitcase full of basics will prevent simple outfits from feeling drab. This off-shoulder top with bell sleeves has been perfect for dressing up my basics.
I’m a dress lover through and through, so I always pack a few with me personally…lace, prints, fit & flare, etc. If I had to just recommend one type for travel, it would be a stretchy knit swing dress for max comfort & versatility.
Outer Layers // This will vary based on where and when you’re traveling, but you can never be too prepared for fluctuating weather. For mid-spring, I packed a denim jacket, an oversized cardigan (I cut off the tassels), and a patterned scarf that can double as a wrap. Other outer layers I love for travel include knit blazers, my moto jacket and draped trench.
Accessories – Shoes // Figure out how much walking you’ll be doing on the trip, and plan shoes accordingly! Colors like cognac brown, tan, or blush are usually versatile and flattering against bare legs. I rely a lot on my Nike Free 5.0 sneakers (runs half size small) and BP blush pointy flats both pictured above – the flats I’ve mentioned are comfy for me but have no support, so size up if you want to add cushioned insoles.
Accessories – Bags // Being hands-free is important when sightseeing, so you can enjoy all those ice cream cones and take hundreds of photos. I like to bring at least a roomy tote (good for the airport, shopping, beach, etc), a medium cross-body bag for general use, and a dressier clutch bag that’s also convertible with a strap.
Other (not pictured, but don’t forget these!): sunglasses, jewelry, toiletries, undergarments, PJs
Here’s some examples of these pieces mixed & matched to create several outfits! Most of them are very practical for sightseeing, but I’ve noted a few for certain scenarios. As another tip, if I have time while packing, I’ll roughly lay out the possible outfit pairings and take a quick photo on my phone of each set. That way while on the road, I can just wake up and look through the “catalogue” of outfits on my phone and quickly choose one best suited for the day’s activities.
Below are two of my favorite pairings…giving me some outfit ideas for the rest of this week!
Lastly, here’s some past travel posts where I’m wearing variations of the above outfits:
Whew…I hope you guys enjoyed this post! How do you approach packing for long trips? What are some of your must-bring clothing, shoes or accessories?