I am an ardent supporter of the one-bag-travel movement, which my immediate family finds odd, because I am not a backpacker™. My obsession with traveling light is born out of a dislike of transport hubs and of my need to move quickly when in transit. Sure, I can linger in bed for days on end if left to my own devices, but I will sprint at full speed to catch an earlier train to arrive 5 minutes ahead of schedule (you will be surprised by how many parking tickets I’ve been issued for parking just outside of lines in haste).
As I’ve put a lot of thought into eliminating potential inconveniences and roadblocks to travel, I feel uniquely qualified to offer my thoughts on travel packing. The 14 items in my current travel wardrobe are pieces that I wear in everyday life, but are well-suited for life on the road as well.
When packing for travel, ease of care–accounting for how washable and wrinkle-prone an item is–and packed volume–because five satin camisoles take up less space than a stiff cotton t-shirt–are the two main considerations. And, as always, choosing a simple color scheme (and adhering to it) ensures greater use of each piece.
Ease of care is perhaps the most important factor in determining whether or not to pack an item. I will choose a satin camisole that is 100% polyester and machine/hand washable over one that is 100% silk and requires dry cleaning. I also prefer wool/polyester items with at least 3-5% spandex in their composition, as they tend to be more wrinkle resistant than ones without elastic synthetic fibers.
And only slightly inferior in significance to ease of care is volume. Sure, it’s nice to have five pairs of shoes at your disposal, but shoes are rigid and will fill up a bag quickly. The truth is, when taking a leisure trip, you do not need more than 3 pairs of shoes: a pair of sneakers chic enough for sightseeing and supportive enough for athletic activities; heeled shoes (choose a height that is comfortable for you) that are dressy but not impractical; and a pair of flip flops to wear to the beach/pool, or to a communal shower/bathroom.
I am currently loving maxi dresses and skirts for travel. Sure, the length can be challenging and you should only pack pieces that will work for all of the footwear options available to you. But generally speaking maxis require little thought and are so effortless.
And finally, the real test: do they fit in my Osprey Porter 30-Liter Travel Duffel Bag? Yes, easily. (Below: The shoes are housed in travel shoe bags, the clothes fit nicely into a medium, a small, and a slim eBags packing cube, and the crossbody in its dust bag.) There remains ample room for toiletries, undergarments, and electronics.
I also like to bring a small day pack, which makes exploring easy. (I own the Longchamp Le Pliage Backpack and Prada Vela Two-Pocket Backpack, and use them for day hikes and sightseeing; they are perfect for both activities.)
If you are taking a longer trip, you may want to add a pair of jeans, additional jersey pants, and extra t-shirts to your packing list. They don’t take up too much extra room, but will extend the length between laundry days in a meaningful way.
▪ The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe: Basics
▪ The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe: Work
▪ The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe: Casual Infusion
▪ The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe: Fall Update
▪ The Ultimate Capsule Wardrobe: Spring