Traveling light can be a challenge, but it definitely has its perks! Taking a trip with only a carry-on or a backpack saves you airline luggage check-in fees and allows you to keep your bag in sight at all times. Without a heavy suitcase bogging you down, you’ll move around much more easily, especially on cobbled streets, crowded trains or steep staircases. You might not even mind so much if you have to wait an hour or two to check in to your accommodation when you arrive. Plus, you’ll save time packing, unpacking and deciding what to wear, so you can spend your precious vacation time on things that really matter!
But how to fit a whole trip’s worth of clothes and accessories into one carry-on bag?
If it sounds like an impossible magic trick, don’t worry. In this post, I’m sharing my tips on packing like a pro to travel lighter…and smarter!
1. Create a capsule wardrobe
Umm, a what? A capsule wardrobe is a thoughtfully chosen selection of versatile clothes in styles and colors that can easily be mixed and matched.
Plan your clothes and accessories based on your destination, the activities you’ll do there, and the climate. I know, it’s not always easy to imagine how you’ll feel and what you’ll feel like wearing that day based on the weather and your mood. The key is to bring pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different looks. If you can only wear an item once, leave it behind. Pack the must-haves, not the maybes. If you’re not sure about it, it’s a telling sign that it’s not essential—skip it!
3. Wear your heaviest items on the plane
Remember the time when Joey wore ALL of Chandler’s clothes on Friends? You get the idea! Wear your heaviest items on the plane, including your heaviest shoes. Flip-flops are easier to pack than sneakers. Wearing your bulkier items frees up valuable space in your carry-on while also keeping you toasty warm on the plane. If you have to take a scarfor jacket on your trip, wear those too. In general, try to pack lightweight clothing and opt for layers instead of heavier sweaters.
4. Choose lightweight fabrics
A softshell suitcase is an excellent choice because the empty bag itself is lighter than a hardshell case. When creating your minimalist wardrobe, choose quality materials that are not only lightweight but also more breathable and easier to keep fresh, like bamboo rayon, merino wool or linen. Merino wool is also highly versatile; it keeps you warm when it’s cold, keeps you cool when it’s hot, and dries much faster than cotton.
5. Bring your best basics
Pick your most multifunctional items, both in terms of clothes and toiletries. Ask yourself if the items you’re packing are suitable for most of the activities you plan to do. If the answer is no, you’ve got some work to do! Pick colors that fit your environment and that pair well together. Choosing versatile items especially helps when the weather is uncertain. For example, our soft and stretchy reversible Roundtrip camisole works perfectly under warm layers or under a blouse or tunicin hot weather.
Reversible clothing is a serious life hack that helps you double your outfits without the extra space. Try our reversible tops and dresses and fall in love with their practicality! Similar to reversible clothing, two-in-one toiletries (e.g. a shampoo that doubles as a body soap) helps you do more with less.
It’s tempting to bring as many outfits as days spent traveling (and some extra ones for good measure?) but it’s usually overkill. Regardless of your trip’s length, it’s usually a good strategy to bring fewer clothes but wash them more often. Pack items that can easily be handwashed if you don’t have access to a washing machine.
7. Set rules
Before you start gathering your belongings and filling your suitcase to the brim, it helps to be strategic in your approach. Make yourself a quick packing list and set rules for how many shoes, sweaters and scarves you’re allowed to take. One scarf should be enough, no? Rethink your shoes if you need more than 3 pairs! Are you really going to get through 3 books? *skeptical face* Well, then, consider packing the e-book or audio version. Remember to leave empty space to bring little treasures back.
8. Don’t leave it to the last minute
Packing takes refining. Start early with your list and your first attempt, then pair it down. Allow yourself time to remember the things you forgot about and to rethink some of your choices.
9. Optimize space
It’s all about maximizing the corners and sucking out all the air! Use packing cubes and roll your clothes to get as much air out as possible. Store items in the empty spaces in your shoes or in your extra purse. Get creative and have fun (just don’t forget where you put things).
Hi! I am the designer and founder of Clothes & Roads, I love tea, succulent plants, yoga, chocolate and baby animals.
Between designing new clothes for my brand, managing my social accounts, the production and the business finances, I like to share on the blog a diversity of subjects like slow fashion, travel, zero waste, local products, minimalism and vanlife! 🚐
Being zero waste in the fashion industry is hard. It requires brands to rethink their production processes, to choose sustainably sourced materials and to make choices within the limits of our geographical and industry resources. It’s not mission impossible, but it sure does pose many challenges. Not only do the items need to be packaged eco-consciously, either for merchandizing, shipping or retail, but the cutting and production process itself is a huge challenge.
How does your wardrobe make you feel? Is it cluttered and overwhelming? Do you find yourself uninspired by your clothes or mentally exhausted when trying to decide what to pack? If this sounds like you, then a capsule wardrobe may help simplify your life! In this post, I walk you through the concept of a capsule wardrobe and its many benefits.
The clothes we choose to wear are a form of self-expression and a source of comfort as we go about our daily routine and milestone moments in our lives. But what if we could do more with our wardrobe—for the planet and for our communities—simply by being intentional in our choices