As a lover of capsule wardrobes it should come as no surprise that I never check a bag when traveling. Instead, I prefer to only bring a carry-on. Even when traveling abroad, I find that a little planning and some strategy goes a long way in ensuring I have plenty of outfits to wear and don’t need to sacrifice style. Plus, I’m always amazed by how much I can actually fit into my carry-on - typically way more than I actually need. Today, I’m demonstrating my top tips and the steps I follow every time I pack. I’ve outlined these steps as they apply to real life and take you along with me as I pack for a week in London. I’ve outlined my top line steps below but also go into a lot more detail in the corresponding video that you can watch at the bottom. I’ve also put together a printable PDF of these steps so that you can try it on your own and like always thanks so much for stopping by!
Step 1: Check the weather, Your Activities & the local customs and dress codes
The first thing I always check when traveling is the weather. I do this on my weather app, weather.com and by googling average precipitation levels and temps. This helps me eliminate anything inappropriate from my overall wardrobe (i.e. sundresses for an autumn city vacation) and start with less overall.
Next I like to do some research about the local dress codes and general attire. Especially when traveling abroad, it’s so important to do your research about a place and try to get a feel for what the locals wear so that you’ll blend in more seamlessly and have a more immersive trip.
Step 2: Pick Your Color Palette
Just like a cohesive color palette helps your entire wardrobe go together, a strategic palette for travel does the same. I like to pick at least 2 base colors and 1 accent color for easy mixing and matching but you can do as many or as few as you like. Also, unless I’m heading on a beach vacation I like to air on the side of darker colors because in my experience they’re more travel friendly - they stain less easily and especially if you’re traveling to a city, they look fresher for longer
Step 3: Plan Your Outfits
Now for my favorite part! I like to try my clothes on and put together some outfits. This helps me narrow in on what I want to bring and also visualize how many outfits I can create using the same pair of pants for example.
When I love an outfit I’ve tried I’ll snap a photo with a phone and save in a folder specifically for that trip. This helps me keep track of what I want to pack but also have some outfit inspiration for when I’m feeling a little jet lagged upon arrival.
Also, when in doubt, pack more bottoms than tops. You can easily rewear jeans and pants a few times but tops are harder to do that with (plus, bottoms take up more space) so I recommend going light on the bottoms and heavier on the tops. I personally like to have at least 1 top for every day that I’m away and love to pack t-shirts because they’re so light, take up very little space in your suitcase and can layered up and down effortlessly.
Also, I love to bring at least one great jacket or blazer (preferably something that can be dressed up or down) and I like to wear that on the plane so it doesn’t take up valuable space in my suitcase
Last but not least, shoes take up a ton of space so I like to stick to only 2 pairs at most and I always wear my bulkier pair on the plane to save space
Step 4: Consider the extras like jewelry, accessories
Jewelry takes up so little space and especially when it comes to statement jewelry, it can be thrown on with the same little black dress but make the whole outfit look totally different. Likewise with lightweight scarves
Step 5: Pack Your Toiletries and Personal Bag
I love to have a capsule makeup collection and routine for this that makes it so easy to look and feel pulled together without having to bring your entire makeup collection. Typically when traveling I like to bring a base product that can be sheered out for light daytime coverage or built up for a fuller look at night. Also, a good concealer that can easily cover any pimples for dark circles that arise from traveling. A natural blush that goes with any lip and eye look. A daytime lip color, bolder lip color for night (this is also a great way to change up your look without having to bring more clothes).
For toiletries I like to depot and decant my products into smaller containers that take up less space and then I store all of my liquids in a reusable quart sized plastic bag. I go into a lot more detail on my toiletries and how I pack them all in the video below and also include a general outline of what you may want to bring in the PDF here.