Travel Capsule Wardrobe
How to pack a capsule wardrobe for your next trip
by Cindy Charles
When it comes to travelling I absolutely LOATHE lugging around a giant suitcase.
This is because most of the time I have a long layover before boarding an international flight and generally have to drag my suitcase around an airport for a few hours before checking in.
On every trip I try to pack as light as possible by using a capsule wardrobe.
A capsule is perfect for travel because it is made up of pieces that have a purpose and literally go with everything (or almost everything).
Every top you pack, goes with every bottom, every dress can be paired with an extra layer if necessary, every shoe can be paired with every outfit. You get the picture…
Who really has (or wants) time to spend figuring out the perfect outfit when there are 1200 temples to see?! Or $2 cocktails to be drinking? The answer should be nobody.
So what are the benefits of a capsule wardrobe?
Less luggage- Hey, you can even get it down to carry on size and skip the lines!
More time! With Less time spent worrying about what to wear/what matches/what’s clean, you will have more time to get out there and explore.
Appropriate, well thought out pieces- The key is to make sure that almost every item works together in colour, cut and style.
Clothes that suit you- If you’re packing pieces that you have really thought about, that you love and know go well together, you can head out every day knowing that you don’t look like a complete shambles. Win!
It’s easier to keep track of your items- If you only have 15 items, it is easy to notice when that white shirt didn’t come back from the laundry!
You can fit your bag in a locker! I must say, when I was in Venice and everyone else was spending 10 minutes every morning repacking their clothes and locking up their suitcases (after sitting on them and fussing with the zip of course). I was just shoving my bag in my locker and throwing a padlock on it- I felt like I was the smartest person alive.
You can carry it- With less stuff it’s much easier to deal with your bag if you have to walk somewhere or get around. Nobody likes climbing stairs with a giant suitcase. And not all hotels have elevators. And sometimes, you can’t get a car right to your hotel and you may have to walk. Being able to carry your stuff is super important, especially for avoiding road/market sludge, rubbish and who knows what else (it’s best not to know). You DO NOT want to wheel your giant suitcase through that!
Do’s and Don'ts
Do your research, really. Check out local customs and see what is appropriate for where you are going. If you are going to religious sites, don’t pack 15 Tank tops. If you are spending 7 days at temples and need to cover up, miniskirts are an absolute waste of space.
Do think about the climate. If you’re going somewhere tropical and want to avoid the sweat patches (if that’s your deal) pack white, dark or patterns, stripes are a win! Obviously if you’re going to get dirty you might want to avoid the white. If you burn easily, light weight long sleeve shirts or long pants can save you hours of sunscreen application.
Do choose quality fabrics. Quality cotton t-shirts are the best, they are super comfy, can easily be washed in the bathroom sink and they breath so they won’t leave you stinking like someone who’s been living in a tent for 8 years.
Don’t pack items that can only be worn with one other thing. Got sunscreen all over your black T-shirt? Switch it for the grey one and move on. No need to change your whole outfit.
Don’t pack ridiculous items. Do not pack that beach kaftan you bought 5 years ago after seeing it on Instagram, the one that in reality you have never worn because it makes you look like a potato. Even if it goes perfectly with your bikini/denim shorts/new sandals. If you don’t wear it at home, DON’T PACK IT.
What do I pack?
On my most recent trip to Cambodia I packed a total of 15 items:
5 Tops- One grey Tshirt, One White Graphic Tshirt and One Blue and White stripe Tshirt. A long sleeve (quality) plain white shirt and a grey and white long sleeve tshirt
4 Bottoms- One pair of light denim shorts, a pair of black lightweight pants, a black maxi -skirt and a colourful floral-patterned skirt.
3 Dresses- One navy dress that could be used for going out, one navy basic singlet dress and one patterned long sleeve dress.
2 Bikini’s- To be honest this was overkill. One would have been enough. Lesson learned.
1 Sweater (Navy Marle)
Shoe wise I packed a pair of black Havaiana’s, a pair of gold/bronze sandals and a pair of light grey canvas shoes for walking around. For the most part my shoes went with everything else with the only exception being the gold sandals with the floral skirt.
If I was going somewhere cold the shorts and pants could easily be swapped out with something warmer and a couple of the t-shirts and dresses could be swapped for sweaters/long sleeve thermals.
Less stuff definitely equals more time. Not wasting the limited time we have on choosing what to wear gives you the chance to spend your day doing what you love. Get out into the world and see more!
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