This is a full transcript of my packing presentation at the Women in Travel Summit in Chicago that took place March 16, 2014. Because I was very enthusiastic and animated, I’ve taken editorial liberty to better explain the thoughts I attempted to express. I’ve also provided a full product listing of items featured for your convenience.
You can watch the full video presentation here on YouTube.
Learn the Secret to Packing Light in 60 Minutes
Products Featured In Presentation
DELSEY Helium Shadow 2.0 19” International Carry-on hard suitcase, purple available on amazon.
- Adea Camisole Top in size 2, emerald
- Anatomie Skyler Travel Pants in small size, black
- 2 Packing Cubes in slim size, grey
- 1 TravelWise Packing Cube in small size, grey
- Braza Secret Stash Bra Pouch in nude
- Enchanted Hills Large Adjustable Hidden Bra Pouch in nude
- Icebreaker Women’s Arctic Long Sleeve Hoodie in size small, black
- Icebreaker Women’s Tech Long Sleeve Crewe Top in size small, black
- Clever Travel Companion underwear with secret pocket in size small, blue striped
- Pack Light Stylishly eBook
I’m recording this because my readers have asked me to record this session since they couldn’t be here – Hello Readers, I’m doing this for you.
Welcome to Packing Light: How to Choose Travel Clothing.
I’m Alex and I’m the editor and founder of TravelFashionGirl.com. If you’re not familiar with my site it is a packing website for women. Not only do you find out how to pack light; but also how to do it efficiently for any length of trip and how to do it with style.
A little background about me: I used to work in the fashion industry for 7 years. I had a corporate career – left the cubicle world and have now been traveling since 2008. I took what was a career break for 3 month – a longtime for Americans. I caught the travel bug and 3 months ended up turning into 6 years. I’m a full time traveler, I’ve been doing it ever since.
Travel Fashion Girl came about from my endless quest to pack light and do it carry-on only because…
This was me in my RTW trip in 2010. I look like a pregnant turtle. You have no idea how much weight I was carrying. This front pack held the capacity of a small carry-on size suitcase filled with travel souvenirs from Thailand and Southeast Asia – cool things I found along the way. (I don’t shop like this anymore.) This was the way I was traveling and this was not good for a number of reasons.
We’re all travelers, no matter how you travel and where you go, we all may do it differently, but we have one thing in common: we want to have the best time and to maximize our experience packing light really makes it more comfortable. If you guys are here, I don’t need to sell you on it.
The key to packing light is being selective with your clothing options. And one of the things that I show women is how to create a capsule wardrobe for travel.
If you’re wondering what exactly is a capsule wardrobe, it is basically a snippet of your closet. The best of the best. If you could only own 10-15 pieces – this is it.
So today, I’ve created a sample capsule wardrobe for you and I like to challenge myself so when Delsey USA offered to send me one of their really cute suitcases, I chose the smallest one: Delsey Shadow 2.0 19”.
I really wanted to challenge myself and show you that it is very doable to pack light. So here I have my “RTW” trip worth of clothing. This packing list is based on one of my universal ones called the Maximista, which is a 15 piece capsule wardrobe packing list.
I have a selection of clothing for summer, for winter, and you’ll see my combination of outfits I’ll show you in a bit, how you can use it to go around the globe, around the world, or if you have a multi-climate trip like I do right now. I’m in Chicago its freezing; but I’m going to Miami where it’s blazing hot.
I put all this clothing in this bag along with even more clothing because the items you see here are for my presentation but I also need clothing to wear myself.
As you can see it’s very doable even if you have a long trip it doesn’t mean you have to overpack.
There are five key factors that you have to consider when choosing clothing for a trip: Weather, Activities, Local Customs, Budget, and Trip Length.
5 Factors to Choose Travel Clothing
Weather is the easiest thing to check off your list and the factor that everyone tends to forget.
I did. I went to South Africa in their winter and figured it was warm year round. Needless to say I was completely unprepared as I showed up in Johannesberg without any warm clothing and there was ice on the ground. Big mistake. I was a rookie traveler and could have very easily avoided this mishap by just going on weather.com.
Moral of the story: check the weather.
Not only might the seasons be different but their “summer” might be less “summery” than you’re used to.
Make a list of the activities you plan to participate in. Even if you don’t want to plan everything in advance you still know the types of things that do interest you such as culture, fine dining, nightlife, nature, etc. This gives you insight on the type of travel you like.
Make a list of those interests to determine what clothing will work best for those activities.
I really encourage my readers to dress respectfully when they go to another country, research the local customs in the destination that you’re going. “Google” how to pack for India or what are the clothing guidelines for Egypt.
I’m going to share with you a rather unfortunate story that happened when I went to Egypt in 2008. I was on a group tour and one of the girls I met on the trip was beautiful and young 19 years old, new to traveling, and fair skinned with red hair.
She naturally will draw a lot of attention to herself when she’s traveling. In fact, all of us as tourists draw attention to ourselves because we naturally stand out.
The girl was also beautifully voluptuous and sometimes it’s not easy to cover up our natural assets. However, when traveling a conservative area such as Egypt you really have to make that extra effort.
We were shopping in an amazing market in Aswan and we ended up getting chased out by an angry mob of men after running away from a store owner that sexually groped her – this was so scary.
I’m not telling you this story to scare you away from traveling. This was an avoidable situation if she would have been dressed appropriately (she was wearing skin-tight jeans and a tank top). The general guidelines are to cover your shoulders and knees and to dress modestly.
The harassment wasn’t excused by her clothing, however, when you’re in another country, we’re on their turf and their rules apply. Please do your research.
Do you have money to invest in new travel gear or do you plan to shop in your own closet? I say shop in your own closet!
I’m going to show you how to pick and choose items you already own that work for your travels while complementing them with a few key investment pieces such as luggage, shoes, outerwear, and solid travel pants.
The general rule is to pack as much for one year as you would for one week. The only difference between these two trips is that you’ll have to do laundry every week or so for anything longer than a week. Just because your trip is longer doesn’t mean you have to pack more.
How many of you take fabric into consideration when you choose your travel clothing?
For me, it’s the ultimate thing – it’s what I obsess over. When I’ve worked with other travelers on the road, this is the part that they’ve found the most helpful. I’m sharing this with you today.
Let’s go shopping together in my little impromptu shopping area. Now, as I look through my clothing I go through a whole process. I’m going to use this top by Adea as an example because I really like its fabric properties.
When I pick up a clothing item, the first thing I do is determine its weight using my hands. Obviously, the lighter the item, the more ideal it is to travel because you want to put less weight in your bag.
So, if the item passes the weight test, then I determine how bulky it is- whether or not it will take too much space in my bag. I folded and rolled it up as small as it would, replicating what I would do when I pack it in my packing cube.
If an item can roll real small and weighs nothing like this top, I’d say, it’s a pretty good candidate for traveling.
But let’s look at the rest of its fabric properties to determine if it makes the cut.
Is it too sheer or transparent? Unfortunately, it seems like some of the best fabrics are a bit on the sheer side, especially when you put them in the sunlight. So ladies, always do a sunlight test when choosing your clothing because sometimes you can see a lot more in the direct sunlight.
Depending on where you’re going, that may be okay. If you’re walking in Chicago, nobody’s going to bat an eyelash, but if you’re going somewhere like India, you may want to reconsider that top.
And also, if you have to layer, that’s the second piece that you have to wear. So you want the one thing that you pack to be versatile and maximize your option. So try to stick to one piece that can do the job.
Is it appropriate for the weather? Regardless of thickness or bulk, just because it’s heavy, it doesn’t mean it’ll keep you warm. So you have to determine whether the fabric is appropriate for the weather. Is it going to keep me warm in Chicago when freezing? Is it going to keep me cool in the humidity of Indonesia? Ask yourself these types of questions.
One of the biggest misconceptions and a bit of controversy is with cotton. Cotton is a great fabric and very breathable but is ideal for warm climates when you’re on a short vacation when you’re not hand-washing or doing a laundry.
I prefer synthetics because they dry quickly and replicate the properties from technical travel clothing without the price tag. And you can go into your own closet without spending a hundred and fifty bucks on a travel top, for example. You can figure out which clothing has similar properties to something you will pay a lot more money for.
Merino wool is an excellent fabric for travel. If you do want to invest wisely on a fabric that will keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold, this type of fabric is definitely the way to go. It’s worth that investment if you travel constantly or travel to cold destinations.
I actually got this Icebreaker hooded jacket to bring to Chicago and also to test it out for TFG. It’s one of those items that you do want to invest in an outer wear. You don’t want to pack all these big layers so the outer wear you do take, you want to make it count.
The price tag for this particular Merino wool jacket was more than I would prefer to pay for a hoodie but when I’m traveling and my warmth is at stake, it is essential that the two pieces of outerwear you take can provide maximum warmth.
I always recommend two quality pieces of outerwear for most trips. With such minimal quantities then it is really important that these fabrics are the best. Merino wool is good for this and synthetics which also tend to dry quicker.
Quick dry abilities are important for two reasons.
1) In the heat, even if you’re not hand-washing, if you’re walking around wearing cotton which absorbs moisture then you might feel sticky, sweaty and uncomfortable.
2) If it’s in the cold, you don’t want cottons to be your base layer because likewise, it will absorb moisture while synthetic fabrics will wick it away.
If you’re wearing a base layer that absorbs moisture then it’s not going to let the other top layers insulate you and keep you warm. So even if you have the best top layers, if you’re moist inside, that’s not going to work. You will be cold and that’s not healthy at all.
So that’s how you determine whether an item is appropriate for the weather.
Next, Is the fabric durable?
I really like to test out fabrics and rough them up. When I write a review, I want to have thoroughly tested out an item and it’s durability before I tell my readers that a product is good.Replicate the abuse that a clothing item that will take in a trip because you’ll be wearing it constantly and using for all these different scenarios; you really want to make sure it lasts.
Determine if it’s going to fall apart. If you’ve bought something at a budget retailer like Forever 21, for example, this may not be the best idea for a long term or business trip while it’s okay for a short vacation where you can have more flexibility with your clothing. The last thing you want to have happen in the middle of a business presentation is to have your button come undone because you have a cheaply made blouse. You want quality items for trips that require it.
Now that we’ve gone over the technical aspect of fabrics, it’s time to try things on and play a little bit and talk more about how to put this capsule wardrobe together.
Each piece of clothing should mix and match with every other item. Some people say, make sure that one item matches with 2 other pieces or even with three. I say make sure it matches with everything. If you really want to make this happen, make it work and get the most out of your travel wardrobe, you’ve got to mix and match everything.
Take a look. These are only some of the outfits I have created with these wardrobes. You can see 25 outfits in this collage including winter, transitional and summer pieces using this example of a 15 piece packing list for multi-climates.
That’s not a lot of stuff and you can go well over 3 weeks with just a small sampling of clothing having unique outfits every day. That’s way more than enough for a week , or a year and you can even get more creative and make more outfits with this capsule wardrobe.
Rules about creating this capsule wardrobe
1. You have to make sure each piece can be worn in various settings. A black dress may be a great idea and you may want a cocktail dress just in case you get invited to a wedding or you meet a really handsome guy that invites you to a fancy meal, but the reality is that this might not happen so don’t pack a cocktail dress.
Audience: “It will happen!”
It’s going to happen, we want it to happen. Although in all fairness if I meet him traveling he’s probably not going to take me to a fancy dinner. I’m a budget traveler, so I’ll be lucky if he takes me to McDonalds!
So let’s forget the cocktail dress! You want your dress to be basic and versatile.
These pants I am wearing, for example, I talk about them all the time on my website. They’re from a brand called Anatomie and they’re awesome! Literally, I’m here, giving a presentation, but I’ve taken these hiking, I’ve played in the snow with them. I can take them from the boardroom to a mountain. So this is such a great, versatile piece. You want clothing that can do this.
And this top that I was showing you before, Adea travel wear, because of its fabric properties I can also wear this as a layer underneath the top, I can use it to go sightseeing or I can use it to go trekking. So you want those items that will work for different scenarios. And again, no “just in case I’m going to meet the guy of my dreams” dresses.
Oooh, just saw how fast I’m going. Sorry for talking so fast.
2. Mixing and Matching – As I showed you when you can’t mix and match your clothing items, you pack so much more than you actually need. And that’s a big problem for us women, we have huge closets with more than we actually need or use. I don’t know about you guys, but I had a massive closet before with thousands of clothing items I’ve now sold or donated. But you don’t need to have that much. If you have the right pieces, even in your everyday wardrobe, you really can make great outfits.
Let’s look at what we have going on over here. This is one of my favorite things actually – a summer dress that I found in Thailand. And it’s a great fabric for that weather as it is really light and I can scrunch it up without getting wrinkled.Also, choosing fabrics that don’t wrinkle is a huge bonus! I forgot to mention this earlier.
The great thing about this dress is that I can wear it as-is loose and comfortable in the heat or tailor it with a belt at the waist. One of my favorite things to do is to tuck it into my bottoms to make it into a top.
When you have less clothing it can make you more creative. You can’t get lazy and just throw anything on and wear it only once. You have to have fun with it.
Let’s have a look at these black jeans, – easy, you don’t have to wash them very often, goes with everything. Their very versatile.
Before, the traditional travel clothing rules claimed that you should never travel with jeans especially because they’re bulky and don’t dry quickly so they must be bad for travel. However, you hardly have to wash jeans so that’s not completely accurate.
Regardless, when you’re traveling especially for longer lengths of time, you get kinda of intimate with your clothing and start relying on a sniff test to determine how many times I can wear this before I actually have to wash it.
Jeans are great for this reason but they’re also ultra-versatile. They will mix and match with anything.
What I always tell my readers is that it’s not about being trendy or wearing the latest Fall 2014 trends. It’s about you wearing what you feel comfortable in.
Ultimately, you don’t have to pack like a stereotypical traveler to go traveling. You can look like yourself because when you’re happy and you feel comfortable, you are going to have an even better experience. That’s what I mean when I’m talking about style – I’m not referring to trends. So keep your own style and stay true to that.
3. Color – Another very important factor to consider in creating this minimal capsule wardrobe is color. Now, if you’re not great with color, then it’s probably best to stick to neutrals. I’m very simple with colors, I don’t use prints and I love wearing black. So for me, this part is fairly straightforward.
There’s mostly black in the capsule wardrobe I’ve created for you with hints of other colors such as a little bit of white, grays, blues. Generally speaking, you want to make sure that choose one color story so it’s easier to play around with it and create various outfits.
You can use a color wheel for ideas and help. If you look online, you can get lots of tutorials that will teach you how to mix and match different colors like primary vs. pastels and complementary colors that work together. I’m not going to bore you with the details right now, but definitely do research this. You can also find more information about colors in my ebook Capsule Wardrobe Essentials.
Again, if you’re not good with color then plan for half of your clothing to be in color and half of neutral. And neutral color is black, gray, white, brown, navy, ivory – colors that you can match with anything.These black pants can essentially be khaki but they’ll still match with everything else. Khaki is also neutral as you can match it with everything else.
Half of the clothing I’ve chosen is a color so even though I have this printed blouse here it can still be worn with everything else.
4. Weather – Another reason why you want your clothing to match with every other piece is if you are going on a trip with multi-climate.
The reason why I am using this specific scenario as an example is because that’s one of the most challenging trips to pack for. If it’s just one climate, it’s a bit easier to pack so I want to give you the most difficult example.
You want your clothing to be able to layer for cold weather. For example, I was wearing this top yesterday during the day and then I added this layer underneath at night because it was colder. If I needed an additional layer I would have also added this black merino wool long sleeve on top of the blouse or in the middle. Because the colors all go together, I can easily layer when needed.
If you decide to just choose individual clothing items because you like them but don’t consider how everything will possibly look together, then you can end up at your destination with a big mess and nothing to wear.
5. Style & Cut – The next thing that needs to be considered is the style and cut of a clothing item. I met a girl in Mexico who was traveling with just four pieces of clothing for a five month trip.
Audience: Sounds impossible.
That’s impressive on any level but she packed just four items for a trip that consisted of both beach and mountain activities.
At the time, I was in the middle of creating Travel Fashion Girl so I interviewed her; I studied her; I wanted to understand her process. She’s now inspired my 6 piece Minimalista Packing List.
Her theory was that if she needed anything she could just buy it along the way and she did. I spoke to her at the end of her trip and she added two additional pieces of clothing for the cold weather in Guatemala so she was still traveling with practically nothing.
It’s not as if she was just hanging out on the beach all day. She was an active traveler who liked trekking, visiting temples and small villages too so she had a list of criteria to determine which pieces were the best choice for her trip.
She chose a pair of convertible pants which she was able to wear as shorts at the beach and to go trekking; a sleeveless top; and button up blouse that could double up as a light layer; and a skirt. Everything she chose made sense but she committed one big mistake: she didn’t try anything on before she left so she was unhappy with the visual outcome of her clothing choices.
That’s one thing I’ve also been guilty of – not testing things out. You not only need to try things on to see if clothing matches in color but also in their shapes and cuts.
Women especially have unique needs when it comes to their torsos and require varying lengths of tops. You want to ask yourself: Does this top look well with these pants? Does it need to be longer, shorter? Does the fabric go well when paired together? Fabric, cut, style, and how it matches are all key things to keep in mind when you try things on.
The final aspect is trying everything on which I just touched on.
See how things look on you – have a runway show.
I’m sure that at some point in your life you’ve stood in front of the mirror and had a model-like inspection of your outfit. Do it. Take a look at all the outfits. See how they look on.
Again, its not being a fashionable person but you do want to feel good. You don’t want to over think your outfits and waste time thinking about what to wear every morning. You want to sightsee and make the most of your time especially when you’re on a short trip – you’ve got to move.
Plan in advance. I have a new outfit planner I haven’t published yet but you can essentially jot down all your different looks for a month. This is great because you can reference your planned outfits in any sequence as an organized guideline of what to wear.
Now the biggest piece of advice with trying on your outfits is: don’t forget your shoes.
You can have all the best clothing but if you forget to test them out with your shoes then you can arrive somewhere with outfits that don’t make any sense….like I’ve done previously and all your hard work will go down the drain. Your shoes have to work well with your bottoms.
So try on your shoes which brings us to: TRAVEL SHOES – a woman’s favorite and most difficult topic.
My readers love talking about shoes because they’re so challenging. How do you pack the right quantity and style of shoes to go with all your outfits?
I have a formula based on three shoes:
2) function and
3) the wild card.
Let’s talk about shoes.
How to choose three pairs of shoes for travel.
I’ve packed as if I’m going on a RTW trip so I’ve chosen versatile shoes to work in various settings and for dual climates so it was fun and challenging. My three picks are my personal choice so they are not the most neutral choice for everyone but they’re not meant to be – it’s only one example. You can find more examples on this page: How to Choose Shoes for a RTW Trip.
2) Sandals and
Let’s start with the comfort shoes – the shoes you’re going to be doing the majority of your walking and sightseeing. They can be Birkenstocks, Merrell sandals, Crocs, Toms, even flip flops – whatever your comfort level requires. This is the shoe you’ll be using the most and you want that shoe to go with everything.
Your shoes don’t have to be a solid black they can be another neutral color. I prefer metallics like gold or silver because they’re both neutral yet dressy at the same time.
The second pair is your functional shoe – the ones you’re going to use for your special activity. Everyone has a different special activity. It can be trekking, fitness, dancing, fine dining, business, or you may have several.
The functional shoe is going to be for the activity that stands out and is more difficult to plan whether it’s a pair of hiking boots, high heels, workout trainers. They are more function than style although they can be both.
Then you have your wild card so this is completely dependent on your trip, the weather, and your activities. You might need a pair of boots for cold weather travel or strappy sandals for the beach. It’s up to you.
Now let’s assess the 6 different factors that you should consider when choosing these 3 pairs of shoes.
Support – do they offer you the support you need? Do you need arch support, do you have back problems, etc? Flip flops or flats may be okay for some people but others may require additional support to be more comfortable.
Comfort – can you walk in them for long hours? When you’re traveling you walk so much because it’s a great way to explore and get the most from your trip.
I took one of my friends to Thailand with me. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Los Angeles but we drive a lot. People from New York make fun of us and say that we’ll even drive just one block instead of walking which is true. Needless to say, my friend was shocked at all the walking we were doing instead of taking taxis or renting a car. She ended up losing 15lb in 3 weeks just because she was not used to the amount of walking that travel requires.
While many people do lose weight when they travel, unlike me who gains weight, it’s still important to pack clothing in the size that you are when you leave your trip instead of the size you think you’ll be at the end of it.
Audience: So if you do lose weight, what should you do?
Get a belt and enjoy.
Weight – are your shoes heavy? You want to pack carry-on but you also want to pack light. It’s very easy to have a small suitcase that weighs a ton of bricks.
If you’ve ever been to Europe or traveled with a suitcase using public transportation, you’ll know the importance of carrying a small but light bag. I went on a 12 day whirlwind vacation around Europe with one of my friends in 2007 where we spent 1-2 nights in each city and covered four countries: Italy, France, England, and Spain. This was not a good idea, don’t do this.
We didn’t go with a small carry-on size backpack or suitcase – in fact, my friend packed a massive suitcase along with a huge daypack like the one I was wearing in my “pregnant turtle” picture.
What ended up happening was that the handle broke on her suitcase. It was such a mess to lug this massive, heavy thing around running up and down stairs at train stations since we were on a tight schedule and the tiny staircases to our little rooms in Italy. It was horrible.
A heavy bag impacts much more than just airline restrictions – it can ruin your whole trip.
Even if you’re traveling on a package tour to Europe you should still limit your baggage. On a different occasion, I went on a 10 day coach bus and train tour to Europe with my grandmother. We packed a whole suitcase set (large, medium, and small luggage) which we then had to lug in and out of our bus every single night.
This was not comfortable for her or me because you move quickly on a pre-packaged tour and we were non-stop. We started leaving the big suitcase in the coach and just re-wore whatever was in the smaller bags because we couldn’t deal with the hassle of it all every night.
Durability – can the shoes handle the wear and tear from travel? If you’re going to be wearing the same pairs of shoes over and over the last thing you want is for them to fall apart.
I went on a last minute trip to England in the winter and bought some cheap heels in Thailand for the trip. My soles ended up falling apart in the rain as I walked into a super fancy restaurant for dinner. How embarrassing! Don’t make my mistakes.
Functional – we talked about this before. Your shoes are ideally functional for a variety of activities.
Style– do they match with your outfits?
If you have any questions about travel shoes, I have an upcoming series on my site. Stay tuned!
Audience: Alex, I have a question. So can you hike in those trainers if you want to go up a mountain one day?
Yes, definitely. I’m not sure about this particular shoe I have in my hands. They’re a new fitness shoe I’m reviewing so I don’t even know if they’ve been released yet. They’re the Slimtone Six by Reebok and help you work out while you walk. I’ll be testing them out in the trails in LA to see if I can take them around the world with me.
I normally use cross trainers or tennis shoes since I don’t do it all that often I can justify packing a pair of hiking boots I’ll only use once a year. I even hiked Machu Picchu twice wearing trainers.
Audience: Do you make fun of people that were Chacos?
Audience: I wear my Chacos even with a cute outfit so I can still be comfortable. I’ll just take pictures from the ankle up.
I don’t make fun of people that were Chacos (or convertible pants) because all that matters is that you feel good. If you feel happy or comfortable with what you’re wearing then that’s all that matters.
Audience: The reason I overpack is that I’m worried about staining my clothes or ripping them so I like to be prepared for everything. That’s my deal.
Let me ask you a question? How many times has that actually happened on a trip?
Audience: Not very many.
There you go 🙂
Audience: I have to remind myself that it’s okay not be prepared for everything because I don’t really want to buy clothing when I travel.
Here’s an idea. If you do rip something, you can pack a little hotel sewing kit and mend it if necessary.
Audience: I was also packing this oxyclean in case I stained my clothes because sometimes it’s unavoidable.
If you do stain something it’s usually a blouse and a few small spots. You can use a scarf to cover those up. Alternatively, you can just not use that particular clothing item for the rest of your trip and it’s only one less thing that you wear or you can layer it with something on top.
It’s not the end of the world unless it’s a piece of clothing that will impact your health such as cold weather gear that you can’t live without. In that case, you’ll need to replace it but if you’ve gone through the fabric criteria that we learned today, that shouldn’t happen. Just pack a small sewing kit and a pen size stain remover.
Audience: I previously worked with textiles and from what I understand, wool shrinks. If you wash it, then don’t you have to be careful with it?
Not merino wool; it’s different from regular wool which is itchy and does shrink. Merino wool is the ultimate fabric; it’s high performance. It keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat. This is a long sleeve top from Icebreaker and my “arctic” roommate and I were actually just having a conversation about this in the morning.
Audience: I buy stuff that 100% merino wool. I wash it I dry it and it never shrinks. It’s a little bit expensive but the best thing about it is that it never smells. It is all I wear for a multi-day skidoo trip. When I get back to my cabin, I sleep in my merino wools and the next day when I’m going skidooing again I just put all my layers on top and keep going. I use one leggings and top set for about 5 days.
That’s another really good point for merino wool – it doesn’t smell. I met a girl in Bali and she was just raving about her merino wool basic tee. She said she didn’t need to wash it during her 2 week trip and if she did it would wash and dry easily. It’s a super fabric which is great for traveling especially in the cold.
Audience: If she lives in LA and brought merino wool here and I live in the Canadian Arctic and I brought it too – it’s very versatile.
My readers love merino wool. They rave about it all the time. It’s definitely an essential.
Audience: Colombia clothing makes a lot of their clothing from merino wool because they know that travelers face varying climates and make their clothing accordingly.
I am pretty neutral with my clothing. For me it’s always been about the shoes and accessories.
Let’s look at a fashionista’s favorite accessories:
1. Hat – easy style but it also hides bad hair days making it easier for you to get up and go. It can also cover you from the elements.
2. Belt – I love traveling with this light, woven (imitation) leather belt that I can add to my pants or dresses for a little touch of style.
3. Costume Jewelry – I mention jewelry a lot because the girl I met in mexico who packed only 4 pieces of clothing attempted to be such a minimalist when she traveled that she even skipped out on packing earrings which she regretted later on. A pair of earrings wouldn’t take up any space and make the most impact since they are closest to your face where people tend to place their focus.
4. Crossbody Purse – this particular style is great for traveling and also helps you avoid theft. This is my travel purse which may not seem functional but it has cute embellishments which dress up my outfits a bit, it has a zippered closure with two front pockets, is soft imitation leather which packs well, and also a thick cross body strap which I’ve currently knotted to “transform” the purse into a shoulder bag style.
The reason why a crossbody purse is ideal for travel is because in some parts of the world purse snatching is prevalent. If you’re purse is slung loosely on your shoulder, there goes your bag. If it’s worn across your body and towards the front it’s less likely, not 100%, but less likely you would be victimized.
For additional ways to theft proof your belongings, I use bra pouches like these which snap on your bra underneath your clothing. They’re great for cards and a wad of cash. I brought the two that are available on Amazon: one from Enchanted Hills and one from Braza Stash. You can place them in the front or the side of your bra. I prefer the functionality of the Braza Stash to the Enchanted Hills design.
No mater which anti-theft device you choose, please do not go to pay for things and dig into your bra or lift up your blouse to look through your money belt and show the world where they can find your most valuable possessions.
I see travelers wearing their money belts outside of their clothing all the time like a fanny pack which completely defeats the purpose of wearing one and probably makes you an easier to target. Someone can very easily slice it off. You are supposed to hide your money underneath your clothing not put it on display.
You can also find travel underwear with pockets to hide your passport. There are many options to keep your belongings safe. Don’t forget to choose luggage or travel backpacks with zippers that lock!
5. Scarves – it’s a fashionista favorite that travelers love. There are many benefits to having a scarf including warmth and style and you can tie a scarf in many different ways. You can find tutorials for this online and soon to be Travel Fashion Girl as well.
They actually won’t even let you into Europe without wearing a scarf. It’s the law. (just kidding).
For me, I’m a lazy girl when it comes to style so I prefer the circle (or infinity) type of scarf. Yes you can tie in different ways but you can also just throw it on and you’re good to go.
Another reason why I prefer circle scarves is because I get hot easily in warm countries and don’t want to be disrespectful and show my shoulders when I shouldn’t. I still wear sleeveless tops but I just throw this scarf around my shoulders like a bolero sweater for extra coverage. In some places you should also cover your collar bone so you can just throw it over yourself like you would with a pashmina.
I bought this for about $7 at Primark in England but you can buy one anywhere it doesn’t have to be a particular brand and it’s a very easy accessory to wear. I found some similar ones here.
A Few Quick Tips of Toiletries
1. Pack only what you use. Sometimes the TSA friendly 3oz sizes are too much. You don’t need 10ml of foundation for a one week trip. Pay attention to how much shampoo you do use. I count the pumps and add however many I need for shorter trips. Any more than 3oz, buy along the way.
2. Solids and multi-use items are essential. Women love Lush solid shampoos and face wipes instead of liquid makeup remover, for example.
3. Test new products before your trip.
Oh, I forgot to mention, test your clothing out before your trip. Not just try it on but wash it then hang it in the bathroom to see how quickly it dries. If it dries in an hour – perfect! If it takes overnight, that’s okay. The quicker the better so you’re clothing isn’t still hanging wet when your bus arrives the next day at 8am and you’ve got to run.
4. For makeup, use one palette and play with the depth wearing lighter shades during the day and darker ones at night.
And the last and most important packing tip, LOVE WHAT YOU PACK!
When you’re happy and comfortable then you’ll have an easy stress-free trip so love everything that’s in your bag!
Audience: What type of laundry soap are you using? When I did a trek to Mt Blanc we were washing clothes every night and I was gone for 3 weeks?
I use whatever is at my disposal whether it’s shampoo or body soap. I especially like using soap to spot treat clothing. If I’m staying in one place for an extended period of time I buy a bag of local laundry detergent.
Audience: I use body soap. If it’s good enough for me, it’s good enough for my clothes.
If you’re not doing it forever only temporarily, then it’s okay your clothing can handle it.
Audience: I use Tide packets from the travel section of the drug store.
Audience: As a long term traveler there’s a philosophy called B.I.T. – Buy It There. If you’re going to be in a new country go to their grocery store and shop for local detergent then leave the soap behind when you go home.
In Guatemala, they had a bar of detergent to hand wash clothing instead of liquid or powder to throw in a washing machine which I found very convenient for travel. It’s fun to discover local products.
Audience: the girl that traveled with only 4 pieces of clothing, how much did her bag weigh? Did she ever tell you?
You know I’m not sure. I can probably look it up. She had a small “highschool” size Jansport backpack. She’s totally inspired my packing lists. Just understanding the process she underwent to choose her clothing changed my life.
I do have a packing demonstration for you but I know we’re running out of time. I’ll try to tell you really quickly but feel free to get up and leave as this is also available on my packing video tutorial.
I talk about packing cubes all day long on my site. People ask why cubes why not compressions sacks or packing folders but I choose cubes because that’s what’s worked for me and makes me happy. They work so well.
Remember to choose wrinkle resistant fabrics.
This is my packing formula: fold your clothing as much as you can then roll. Close the packing cubes, leaving only one side unzipped. This is where you’ll put in all your clothing.
I don’t use packing cubes to organize I use them to compress and maximize my space which is how I got all this clothing into the 19” Delsey carry-on.
Fold and roll as small as you can. You can even use hair ties to hold the rolls down and use them on your hair as well.
Audience: can you actually pack jeans in the packing cubes?
Yes, I pack jeans and even leather jackets.
Audience: and you can roll them up tight enough?
Yes because it compresses once you have the item in you can squeeze and close it up. All the 7 multi-climate tops shown here fit into one slim ebags packing cube.
Audience: what do you do about dirty laundry?
I place a plastic bag inside the packing cube to separate the clean from the dirty. I also put the packing cubes in the laundry machine so they get clean and they last. For only $20, they’re a great investment to help you pack light.
Now I’m going to show you how to pack this bulky item. I was a bit hesitant to travel with something of this thickness but since I was traveling to a very cold climate it was worth choosing this merino wool hoodie that I knew would do a great job at keeping me warm without many layers.
That’s the thing with bulky items. If you wear it all the time then the pros outweigh the cons. I originally didn’t want to pack this maxi dress for Southeast Asia because it felt bulky, but I wore it all the time and paired with a circle scarf around my shoulders, I was able to dress respectfully when needed.
Since we’re short on time, this will be a bit messier than it should be. This big hoodie fits into this small packing cube.
Once I’ve gotten the clothing items in, I push down as far as it will go. Depending on the space I might squeeze in additional little items in whatever space is available. Keep squeezing.
Pajamas are one of the things people ask me about all the time. I like to use active wear such as the green Adea top I was using earlier. It dries quickly and I can also use it to workout or in other settings.
Audience: Alex we have to finish up. IT is coming in to shut things down soon.
Okay, guys we have to run the giveaway and that’s it.
I’m sorry I spoke so quickly – I was really excited. Thank you very much for coming!
*The giveaway mentioned only applied to the attendees at the actual presentation.
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