By guest writer Kathrine Garshol
Do you feel like you always pack too much when travelling? Do you pack for “just in case” and “what if” scenarios? I know it can be tempting to pack a completely new outfit for each day, or bring all your accessories, but it just isn’t practical. And, if you pack light you can end up saving money because you don’t need to check any luggage.
Putting together the perfect travel wardrobe may seem like a daunting task, but I’m going to teach you how to do it. We’ll look at the how-to of it, and I’ll give you a few suggestions on what pieces make up a practical and versatile travel wardrobe.
I will teach you how to pack a versatile travel wardrobe that can take you from strolling around the city in the day to going to a fancy restaurant at night.
What will you be doing?
I assume that’s maybe the first thing you’re wondering about. And, there is no set answer. The number of pieces you need may vary and depends on how long your trip will be. However, the goal is to get all of it to fit in a carry-on. Another important thing to remember is to pack for the season and the types of activities you’ll be doing.
To make a perfect travel wardrobe you want to pack versatile pieces you can mix and match. To achieve this, I recommend that you go about packing as if you were designing a capsule wardrobe. The very concept of a capsule wardrobe is to have pieces that go together. Packing with this in mind significantly reduces the number of pieces you’ll need to make different outfits.
How to build a travel wardrobe
The first thing you need to decide is the base color of your wardrobe. What I recommend is to choose either black OR navy, as these colors go well with most other colors. If you don’t like to wear black or navy, you can also choose a darker shade of brown as your base.
Choose your neutral colored essentials. By essentials I mean tops and bottoms in classic styles in solid colors. These pieces can be a white button up, a grey t-shirt, a black skirt or other classic pieces. These coordinating essentials should be in black, navy, white, grey, chambray or beige. You do not need to use all of these colors if you don’t like them, but they are a guideline for what to pack.
Just remember: if you choose black or navy as one of your neutrals, you should choose the same as what you picked as your base color. Black on black or navy on navy looks good, but it is generally not a good idea to mix the two as it can look a little odd.
Add an accent color or two. This is where you can make you travel wardrobe stand out and feel more personal. Add some tops or bottoms, or even an accessory in your accent colors. The accent colors can be anything you like, but try to make them match well with your base color and your neutral pieces. Take a look at the chart below and get some inspiration.
Add a few patterned pieces. In addition to solid colored pieces, any travel wardrobe can benefit from a few patterned pieces. I would recommend going with a classic striped top, a polka dot shirt or a floral top or bottom. If you choose a floral pattern, make sure that the colors match with your accent and base colors.
Add your accessories. For your travel wardrobe I would recommend 2-3 pairs of shoes. As an absolute minimum you should have a pair of shoes that are good to walk in, and one lighter shoe that can be dressed up or down. A nice pair of flats or sandals works well for this. Your shoes should preferably be in your base color. If you think you will do a lot of working out or hiking in rougher terrain, you should also add shoes suitable for this.
As for other accessories, I would add a crossbody bag for the daytime, a smaller evening bag, and a canvas bag. The canvas bag can be stored in your crossbody bag for easy access in case you need it. Add a statement necklace and a scarf in your accent color, and that should get you through your holiday.
Suggestions on what to pack in your travel wardrobe
For this, I will recommend pieces you should put in your travel wardrobe for a 10-day trip. For this I would recommend packing 3 tops, 3 bottoms and 1 dress. By mixing and matching, these items alone will give you 10 different outfit options. If you add layers and accessories, you can get even more outfits out of this.
For bottoms I would recommend bringing 1 pair of dark jeans, 1 pair of dressier trousers and 1 pair of shorts or leggings, depending on your destination and the time of year. For tops I would go with a classic white or black t-shirt, a striped top and a dressier top. For the dress I would recommend going with something that can go from day to night by switching out or adding accessories. Add a light sweater or cardigan and you have more variety, and you can stay warmer. With shoes, a statement necklace and a scarf you can get even further.
Seeing as every trip is different, it is hard to recommend a certain type of jacket to bring. However, as a general tip, I would recommend wearing your “main” jacket on the plane so it doesn’t take up space in your carry-on. If you are traveling to a warmer place, it will probably be enough to take a light jacket or a denim jacket, but you can also a pack a poncho or a light rain jacket in your luggage. For trips in the colder seasons you should definitely wear your thick winter coat when traveling.
What to do on longer trips
I know a lot of you may think that this is all well and good for shorter trips, but you can make this type of travel wardrobe work on longer trips as well. For trips longer than 10 days I would recommend packing 1-2 more bottoms and tops. The more pieces you have that go together, the more outfits you can create.
Also, you have to remember that you will be wearing one outfit, so that is one less outfit to fit in your carry-on. That’s especially practical for shoes, as that’s one of the bigger items to pack.
Taking care of your travel wardrobe
For longer trips I would also check out what possibilities you have to wash clothes. Depending on your accommodation there may even be a washing machine available, but if not you can also wash clothes in the bathroom sink if you’re in a pinch.
However, most clothes will be fine to wear 2-3 times, depending on the climate. To make your clothes last as long as possible, you should hang them after wearing them, so they can “air out”. Unless there are any obvious stains or smells, the pieces are fine to wear multiple times.
So, remember this: pack for versatility, and take care of your clothes. In that way, you’ll make your travel wardrobe last longer.
I hope you found this article helpful. If so, feel free to follow my travel blog and also share this article with someone else who might like it, too.
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Are you in a place where you want so badly to travel the world, but you find it impossible to make it happen right now?
I know the feeling! It was like that for me for so many years, and even now, when I've decided to make this one of my main activities in life, there are periods when I just can't do it. The reasons can be many, but time and money seems to be the issue more often than not, and that can be really frustrating.
So what do I do in those periods?
Well, it's really very simple. I do mainly these 3 things:
1) I decide where and when I want to go next, and why
2) I try to find out as much as possible about the destination I've chosen
3) I plan my trip
Let me elaborate:
Action # 1) Deciding where to go
Picture by fotografierende from Pexels.
Like so many others, I have a bucket list of places in the world that I want to see, and very specific reasons why I want to see them, so it's only natural that they are the ones that first come to mind whenever I'm thinking about making another trip. However, the time and money at my disposal might not always match the time and money that are needed to go to any of those places. So because I really do want to travel, I often find myself choosing totally different destinations.
For example, I recieve frequent emails from one of the airlines that I've traveled with on a regular basis, with their latest offers, like reduced prices on certain flights to attractive destinations, and then I might decide to take them up on one of those offers. This will most likely be flights to the bigger cities in Europe. I live in Norway, so Europe is more easily accessed for me than any other continent, especially if the time I have at my disposal is limited.
Often there are also reduced hotel prices offered for the selected destinations, so a full "weekend package" doesn't have to be very expensive. If you travel with a carry-on only, you don't have to pay anything extra for your luggage, either. (Check out the guest post written by my daughter on How to pack light with a perfect travel wardrobe.)
Another thing that can spark my interest in a destination and have importance for my decision, is a notification from one of the Housesitting organisations that I'm a member of, like House Carers (you can sign up as a paying member or get a free memberships, so do yourself a favor and check it out anyways). If there's a house sitting opportunity available in a place that I'd like to visit, and at a time when I'm available, that's a very good reason for choosing that destination, for sure! That's actually how I ended up in Venice for a week in August 2018, which was a great experience.
Naturally, my choice of destination will also be affected by what time of the year it is. A winter in Norway can be a challenge in many ways and often feel like it's going to last forever, so going somewhere warm will definitly be something I consider at that time of year! For example, The Canary Islands are very popular with Norwegians during the winter, because they're easily accessible from where we live, but I myself haven't been there yet. Maybe that will be my next destination? Time will show...
Picture by Fabian Wiktor from Pexels.
Action # 2) Finding out as much as possible about the chosen destination
Perhaps you prefer to NOT plan ahead when you go to new places, because you just want to explore and be surprised...?
I get that. I like that, too! But I've found that it's actually a better chance of getting the most out of a trip if I at least make a few basic preparations. Not to take the excitement out of the trip, but for me, it's important to be both time- and cost effective. That's why I try to find out as much about a destination as possible before I go.
- What is there to see and do?
- Are there any activities that are unique to that place?
- What type of accommodation is available?
- Are there any good restaurants that serve local specialities?
- Are there any special events going on during the time I want to visit?
- Are there any activities I can do for free?
If not: What will it cost me to take part in the activitites available that
are of interest to me?
- Will it be easy to get around the place on foot, on a bike, by car ... or what
options are there?
- What's the weather like there at this time of the year? What will I need
to bring with me, and what can I do without?
And so on. You get the picture.
Doing research like that before you go, can save you a lot of time and money AND frustration. That doesn't mean you have to plan every hour of your trip in detail. Just make sure you have an idea of what to expect and what you can possibly do while you're there. Find out if your available budget is realistic so you can do the things you're most interested in doing while you're there. You don't want to spend a lot of money to go there and then find out that you have to pay extra for this and extra for that, and that all your money just goes down the drain before you've even started on your real adventure and what you really came there for. Right?
That's why I think you should always do SOME planning before you go on a trip. When you're in a period where you want to travel but you can't, doing some research about the place you want to go next, can be both inspiring and exciting. It will also help you get a realistic idea of how much money you'll need to save up for the trip in order to be able to do all the things that you want to do.
If you need tips on how you can save up money to travel more, I suggest you read the article I wrote about that earlier, called How to manage your money in 4 easy steps so you can travel more.
Action # 3) Planning the trip
Picture by Lum3n.com from Pexels.
There are few basic things you'll need to plan before you can make your trip come true. For example:
1) How will you get there, and what will it cost you?
Check out your preferred means of transportation and what it will cost you to get there at the preferred time. Are there any tickets available at all? Can you get reduced rates? Will you be going in your own car, or maybe rent a car? Will you need extra insurance? Especially if you're planning to travel by car, things like insurance and what it covers, is of vital importance. You don't want any surprises in that area, for sure...!
2) Where are you planning to stay?
Do you want to stay in a hotel, or do you prefer an Airbnb or a holiday apartment or -house? Will you need to book accommodation in advance, and will you have to pay for it up front or on arrival? Will you have to make a deposit? If so: How much will that be?
3) How much money will you need to save up to be able to make the trip, and how much pocket money would you prefer to have available?
4) How will you find the money for your trip?
5) What about travel insurance?
6) Are you on any regular medication? If so: Will you need to make special preparations or arrangments for you trip?
Bring your prescriptions and a list of what medicine you need, especially if you travel by air and need to go through any security check points.
These are only a few suggestions. But to make sure your next journey goes as smoothly as possible, I've created a complete packing list that you can get for FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. I suggest you do that NOW, in order to make it easy peasy for you to plan your next trip.
I also suggest that you go to your local library and borrow some guide books for your destination, as well as doing searches on the Internet. There's something special about holding that book in your hand and being able to sit down in a comfortable armchair in your home, maybe with a cup of tea, and study a nice book about your destination and get really inspired. But maybe that's just me. I simply love books!
Voilà! Your next trip might happen sooner than you think!
So this is what I do in periods when I can't travel. The result?
42 % bigger chance that my trip will happen sooner, rather than later!
And that's why you should follow the 3 action steps I've just told you about. Because when you set a goal and write it down, the probability that you'll actually see it happen, is so much more likely than if you just think about it and leave it at that. I've just written a blog post about goal setting on my lifestyle blog, La Vie Adorable, so I suggest you read more about it there.
When it comes to planning your trip, I just want to wind this up by saying that if you should ever decide that you want to visit Norway, and my county Møre og Romsdal in particular, you should check out my articles Visit Norway, part one: Molde and the Atlantic Road and Visit Norway, part two: The Rauma Valley and The Troll Path. You can read both articles in the June 2018 digital issue of The Passionate Globetrotter Magazine. These will be useful if you're planning a trip to that area. There's also plenty of more information to be found about it on my Resources page. So check that out, too, if Norway is something you're interested in!
I hope this blog post has been of value to you! I would love your feedback, so please feel free to leave a comment below. I would also be happy if you'd share this with someone else who might be interested in reading it.
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See you soon!
I'm Else Kosberg, author, life designer and passionate globetrotter. I want to share with you my travel tips & experiences and hope-fully inspire you to travel more and maybe also start exploring the roads less travelled.