A Traveler's Guide To Versatile Packing — So You Can Enjoy Your Trip Without Worrying About Your Clothes

I’ve spent the past few months in a haze of unexpected travel, half-packed boxes, and semi-formed plans, and although for the (very small) portion of me that enjoys spontaneity, it’s been a thrill, for the rest of me, this season of life scares me to death. There’s a certain beauty that comes with the unknown, but when it comes to travel, be it long term or otherwise, I’ve decided that I like things planned — neat and tidy.

You see, my husband and I are in the throes of acting on our collective dream (moving to a small mountain town and chasing after a slow paced life), but the practical steps it takes to sell a home, pack up one’s belongings, and arrange the millions of tiny details is generally stressful and overwhelming.

I’ve found solace in the simplicity and predictability of my wardrobe. It sounds silly, but I believe that clothes can empower in many ways.

In this busy phase of life, with so much unpredictability, I’ve found solace in the simplicity and predictability of my wardrobe. It sounds silly, but I believe that clothes can empower (in many ways) and as I prepare for our cross-state move and a few other actual vacations we’ve planned in celebration, I’ve learned how helpful a streamlined and versatile selection of clothing can be.

The same, I think, is true for others too. Whether you’re planning for a big move, live a nomadic lifestyle of constant going, or are wondering what to pack in your suitcase for your summer getaway, the clothes you bring along with you can either propel you in the right direction or slow you down.

Here are my best tricks for choosing pieces that will do the former and help you avoid the latter.

Stick to a color scheme

I know, rules are boring, but trust me, when you’re throwing outfits together to last you a few weeks, or months (or indefinitely), having a color scheme in place will save you oh-so-much time.

Try to stick to four or five colors, or three or four for shorter trips. I rely on neutrals like my life depends on it, but you don’t have to, as long as you feel like the majority of what you bring can be paired together to create a variety of outfits. There’s nothing worse than packing something that doesn’t match with anything else in your suitcase.

Rely on accessories

Even the most basic of outfits can be spiced up with fun accessories. If your “uniform” is a pair of denim mom shorts and a striped tee, pull out a straw fedora and lace up sandals one day and a statement necklace and a pair of heels for the next. Whoever said basic outfits were boring clearly didn’t know about the power of a few good accessories.

Outfit plan for real

For the longest time, I felt like planning my outfits for a trip automatically made me a grandma or someone who couldn’t be spontaneous. And while, believe it or not, I don’t really plan out every last detail of my life, outfits for trips is one area that I’ve fallen in love with planning. It truly takes the stress out of traveling.

Here’s what I do:

  • In a journal or on a sheet of paper, write a quick “calendar view” of the days you’re planning to pack for.

  • Look up the weather and write the forecast on the corresponding day.

  • Below that, write what you’re planning to do for that day.

  • Pull out “potential candidates” from your closet. It’s ok to pull more than you need, as long as you put back the “no’s” once you’ve pared them down.

  • Then, using the pieces you’ve pulled out for the trip, combine them into outfits that you can wear for each day or occasion and write the outfits down on the paper.

Simple and so effective.

Bring only your most versatile pieces

I harp on the importance of versatility all the time on my blog, but it’s especially important when you’re putting together looks for a vacation (or even when you’re considering what pieces to keep vs. donate when packing for a move).

In addition to color scheme, think of your suitcase like a mini-capsule wardrobe that can be worn for any occasion your trip throws at you. Bring pieces that can transfer from day to night, from warm to chilly, and that you know you’ll always “be in the mood” for.

The best clothes you can pack are the ones you don’t even have to think about when you’re off adventuring and living your dream.

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