I’ve not always been an expert in the packing department – and I’m far from a minimalist packer. I do love having wardrobe and beauty options when I travel.
What I am is a reformed over-packer. I developed a 10-step process to take the stress out of each trip. It’s a process that you can truly apply to any travel you may be doing, from overnight to a longer overseas holiday.
Step 1: Check the weather
I use the weather app for this and find that it rarely steers me off course, even working a week in advance. I’ll start tracking the destination a couple of weeks out to suss out any trends. By the time I’m packing, the app usually shows the initial days I’ll be at my destination. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable but mostly the app gets it correct. I look at the temperatures and translate that back to when I might experience those temperatures at home. This was particularly useful for travelling to England in June where the summer temperatures were the same as a Queensland winter. I knew not to pack my beachwear!
Step 2: Consider what you’ll be doing at your destination
If you’ll be doing the same thing most days – sightseeing or lounging by the pool – this is simple and your suitcase will be filled with clothes that work for those activities. But if your planned escape includes a night at the theatre, dinner at a fine dining restaurant or even a business meeting, then you’ll need to include clothes and accessories that work for those times.
Step 3: Create a travel capsule wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is one that includes a set number of pieces that work back with each other to create a multitude of outfits. Creating a capsule specific to your travel destination is the key to keeping your luggage to a minimum and always having something to wear. Depending on the length of travel, it will also rely on having access to laundry facilities. At its most basic, I create a 15-piece capsule wardrobe, which generally consists of:
- 2 dresses
- 3 tops
- 3 bottoms
- 1 jacket
- 3 pairs of shoes
- 3 accessories/bags
Step 4: Write down possible outfit combinations
Once you’ve created your travel capsule, write down all the possible outfit combinations from that capsule, ensuring you cover off on outfits for all planned activities. I use the notes function on my phone. The beauty of doing this is that I can refer to it when travelling if I forget the combinations I’d planned at home.
Step 5: Put all proposed outfits on display
I use a combination of my bed and a small portable clothes rack. Consider it like a jigsaw puzzle. Can you cut out one or more pair of shoes because you have two pairs that go with all your outfit combinations? Can you take one pair of jeans to mix and match for day or evening with different tops or accessories? Can one jacket work with all outfit combinations in case it gets cool? This is where I find I can cull down what I’ve packed and create a capsule that just works.
Step 6: Keep to neutral colours and one accent colour
I stick mostly with black, white and stone with a bit of blue and denim thrown in. It all works. Yes, it’s not the same variety as I would wear at home but my suitcase isn’t groaning and I’m feeling quite smug. Just call me Queen Capsule. The blue is my accent colour because that’s my favourite. Your favourite might be red, green or purple … incorporate that accent colour with neutrals that work for you.
Step 7: Pack lightweight, easy-care clothes
Who wants to iron while away? Not me.
Step 8: Add a couple of extra black or white tops
If you have the pants or jeans and accessories sorted, then these are all you need to extend your travel wardrobe. They are also blank canvases for any souvenir scarf or jewellery shopping you may happen to do.
Step 9: Roll your clothes for packing
I think you’re either a roller or a flat packer. Me, I’m a roller. You can fit a whole lot more into a bag when you roll. Better still, roll the clothes into packing cubes by clothing type, so you maximise space and are also organised at your destination.
Step 10: Pack your items in a lightweight suitcase
Choose as suitcase that offers a combination of strength and durability but without the weight. I always use Samsonite suitcases on short and long-haul trips. They withstand any being taken on and off planes as well as in baggage collection and they offer maximum space but without eating into your luggage limit.