Lately I've been doing a lot of traveling! Mostly little trips here and there for work or to visit family. But this week I'm actually leaving for a MUCH needed two weeks vacation to Thailand with a girlfriend. Yay!
One thing that I almost never do, regardless of the length of the trip, is check a bag. Why the heck should it cost $50-100 to check a bag, anyways!? Well needless to say, I've become QUITE the expert at packing lightly for a carry on bag. Whether it be a two day work trip to Toronto or a two week vacation in Thailand, all you need can be squirreled away in a carry on bag if you pack it right.
Here are my 5 tips to packing light:
1. Pack multi-use pieces
You just got home from a trip and start unpacking, only to realize there are a dozen pieces of clothing you brought that you didn't even wear! Don't fall trap to packing non-essential and non-versatile pieces. Reduce the number of items you pack by choosing versatile pieces. For example, I recently went to Toronto and knew I had to dress up for a fancy event, a casual outing AND a work meeting. Instead of packing three tops for three events, pack one item that can do the work of three. The Frannie Wrap is a great option because it can be worn four or more different ways, and the fabric is easy to dress up. Another great option is a pant that is comfortable for the plane or lounge days, but that can also be dressed up for dinner out, such as the Friday Pant. Choosing versatile multi-use pieces - like a cozy scarf that doubles as both a travel blanket and wrap in a pinch, or a comfy jumpsuit you can wear to dinner but also use as pajamas - will help to declutter your bag. If a certain piece can only be worn one way, leave it at home.
2. Minimize Outwear and Shoes
The bulkiest items in a carry on bag are outerwear and shoes. If you're traveling to Vancouver in the winter you may be inclined to pack a rain coat and rain boots, a ski jacket and winter boots, a peacoat and heeled booties, and a light jacket and sneakers; weather in the PNW can be pretty unpredictable! But all those pieces of outerwear are awfully heavy and will take up the entire bag! Instead, wear a warm coat on the plane and pack a raincoat and lighter layering pieces like a long sleeve turtle neck and knit sweater. By setting yourself up for layering, you'll be able to come up with way more outfits and still stay warm and dry! As for shoes, prioritize comfort. Most often, we don't wear the cute but uncomfortable shoes we pack for vacations and trips. If you have a professional or fancy event, skip the pumps and opt for a versatile fancy but comfortable shoe, such as a chunky heeled boot or clog. This way you don't pack a shoe for just one evening, but instead pick a shoe that can take you through the entire trip.
3. Stay Neutral
One of the biggest gripes people often have with capsule wardrobes and ethical fashion is the emphasis on neutrals. People want seasonal colour and prints to keep things fun and interesting. I'm all for fun, but when it comes to packing light, just make it easy on yourself and stick with neutrals! I typically pack a lot of black and white when I travel, because guess what? They go perfectly together! Black pants, jumpsuits and tops are a must have. An all black ensemble instantly dresses up any outfit. And who can resist a classic white t-shirt? I'll stick with a black base and then add a striped top for layering, and a couple rich and warm colours to add depth and interest, such as a Golden Jaimee Tee or Berry Reese Wrap Pant. These rich colours pairs beautifully together and with neutrals, making them quite versatile. I typically say no to patterns (aside from a classic striped tee) because I like to rewear good outfits, and it becomes more obvious with a striking print. Decide on a colour mood for your trip and add those shades as a highlight to an otherwise neutral wardrobe.
4. Toiletries aren't important
If I had a dollar for everytime I overpacked toiletries. If you're going on a short trip (under a month), you are not going to use that face mask or nailpolish -stop overpacking toiletries! All you really need is a small bottle of shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and maybe a razer. If you prefer the hairless look, consider getting a wax before your trip so you can skip the razer all together! Depending on what you feel comfortable in, I'd also recommend minimizing your makeup. Skip the foundation and opt for a little concealer. Leave the eye shadow and lipstick, and bring the eyebrow pencel and mascara. Everyone has a different look they're going for - but can you pare down the make up you need to achieve it? And you know what? If you forget to pack something - whether it be make up or toiletries - you can buy it when you arrive. As a general rule of thumb, don't sweat the small stuff! Other than your passport, wallet, and maybe your phone, whatever essentials you forget to pack, you can buy when you are there if worst comes to worst. So don't stress. One thing I do recommend bringing is a little bottle of Dr Bronner's castile soap because it can be used as soap, makeup remover, body wash and even laundry detergent in a pinch.
5. Pre-plan your outfits
Once you have a good idea of what you'd like to pack, pull out each piece and create at least two outfits with each item. Go on and try on the outfits too! Sometimes we pack pieces that once we put them on, we realize that it doesn't fit the way it used to, or its not as comfortable as once remembered. Try on several outfits and make sure you feel fabulous in each one. Life is too short to wear outfits you don't feel amazing in - and your carry on bag is too small to store them anway! Feel free to take a few selfies of outfits you really like and want to remember to wear later. On those mornings that you just can't figure out what to wear, having a little photo reference will get you out of the hotel room much quicker and on with your travels.
Do you travel carry-on only? Any great tips that I missed?