This past May, my husband & I went on an epic trip. I had been dreaming of a Paris vacation for years, and last January we finally decided to pull the trigger. We booked two weeks in Paris in May, and then a couple of weeks later, added a week in Amsterdam. Three weeks in Europe was an amazing coup in my book, and I had 5 months to strategically plan, not only our itinerary, but also my wardrobe.
I had just started reading about capsule wardrobes, and was eager to incorporate a system in my own closet. That led me to thinking about mainstreaming my approach to packing and making life easier during travel. We’ve all heard the horror stories about lost luggage, lines and crowds at baggage claim, and because many of the buildings are old in Europe, dragging heavy, cumbersome luggage up narrow flights of stairs.
When I declared my intent to people, the reaction was mixed. Many agreed and confessed that they too only traveled with carry-on luggage. Many others thought I was crazy and there was no way it could be done.
I should note that we were renting an apartment in both destinations (the only way to travel, in my opinion is to rent an apartment. It’s so much easier!). The Paris apartment had a washing machine, and the Amsterdam apartment was in very close proximity to a Laundromat.
Here’s how we went about it (yes, we! Husband was in agreement!):
- Choose a color theme – for me, that’s easy, it’s neutrals in black, white, beige. My husband packed in the same color scheme as well.
- I packed 2 pairs of pants (dark wash jeans & black jeans); 4 tee shirts; 1 dressy blouse; 1 long sleeve stripped tee shirt; 1 chambray shirt; 1 cardigan; 1 blazer; 1 leather jacket; 1 dress; 1 skirt; 2 tanks (I slept in one); 1 pair heels; 1 pair flats; 1 pair fold up flats; underwear; socks
- While traveling, I wore a pair of black moto-jeans; 1 of the tanks above; 1 v-neck sweater; booties.
The hardest part was whittling down my toiletries into a quart size bag. I found this one online, and thanks to the gusset, had additional space. I only brought what liquids I would need for the first couple of days, and we purchased necessities upon arrival at our destination. Remember, only liquids need to be in this bag! Solids, including deodorant sticks, powder or compact makeup & pencils do not.
Our packing strategy worked well! We breezed through security, and when everyone else was waiting for their bags, we were already on our way to our destination.
The key is to make sure everything is interchangeable and works with everything else. Mix and match is your friend in this situation, and I really didn’t get bored with my selections.
In fact, there’s very little I would change in the future, but mainly, I would bring LESS. Yes! There were items I only wore once or twice (the heels, the dress, the skirt). There were items I didn’t wear at all (both pairs of flats, the trench coat). I lived in my booties and leather jacket. Of course, it all depends on where you are going, and what you are planning to do there. Next time, I’ll bring a knit skirt and a dressy pair of shoes. And the only thing I wished for was a pair of leggings for lounging around in. That’s it!
I use this packing strategy whenever we travel, even for weekend trips. It’s so much less stressful, and with the way travel is nowadays, anything you can do to minimize your stress is worth it! If you’re looking for more ideas, a great blog that has helpful packing ideas, strategies & sources is Hitha on the Go. Also, Pinterest is my go-to search engine these days for more ideas.
What’s your packing strategy? Are you a carry-on? Or a carry-everything?!