Your Travel Packing Survival Guide
With summer just around the corner, I’m sure many of you have plans for a vacation at some point in the coming months. Here at Urban Darling, we wanted to kick off this exciting season with a series of posts on travel packing. As a professional wardrobe stylist (and frequent traveler) I know a thing or two about packing. I’ve honed my skills over many years and look forward to packing for trips short and long. Although I’m aware of various strategies and techniques, I’d like to share my personal foolproof guide, because I really do believe it makes packing a breeze. (And no one likes to stress leading up to a trip.) I’ve employed this method for years and also use it when packing for clients – a service we happily offer so feel free to get in touch if you need extra help! The point of this guide is to avoid overpacking while still covering all your bases…
- Know Your Destination: When I say this, it’s not like, know where you’re going. What I mean is really do some research. Have a clear idea of weather at your destination, and the types of activities you’ll be participating in. Also think about how the locals tend to dress. Not that you need to dress exactly like them, but some degree of blending in is a better than sticking out like a sore thumb, unless you’re dying to highlight the fact that you’re a tourist (not always a good thing depending on where you’re headed). All of this information will guarantee that you’re better equipped for the trip ahead.
- Pick A Theme: The second step stems from the first. If I’m headed to a tropical island, I like to look beachy. If I’m off to Europe for a few weeks, I prefer to dress more European. For me the theme is based entirely on the vibe at my destination, as well as practical considerations like weather. From there, I’ll build my travel wardrobe around said theme, which prevents a bunch of random items that don’t really go together.
- Create A Color Story: Again, there’s a logical progression to this method, as the theme informs the color story. For my tropical getaway I’d favor brights with a few key neutrals. For Europe, I’d focus on classics and neutrals with just a pop of color. Your color story should be limited to about five hues to ensure easy blending of items.
- Focus On Mix & Match Pieces: Once I have my theme and color story down this bit is easy, because the items I choose are most likely to go together. But it’s also important to bring the right types of pieces. This is especially true for separates, as you want several tops that can pair with various bottoms – for example a classic tee or button-up that you can wear casually with jeans or tuck into a skirt for a more dressed up look. Choosing items with maximum versatility means you’ll end up packing less, but you’ll still get plenty of value.
- Count The Days: I don’t like to overpack, but I also don’t like to under pack. Hence I always count exactly how many outfits I’ll need to make sure I’m covered. I tend to plan an outfit a day, plus a max of two extras (for a night out or a backup, etc). This doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to pack for a different outfit everyday, because I can wear the same jeans or the same skirt twice (though I’ll wear them with a different blouse). It’s all about mixing and matching, but the point is, make sure you bring enough to cover the length of the trip.
- Bring (Mostly) Neutral Accessories: This makes everything easier, as more versatile accessories means you can pack less. Typically I’d bring two bags and three pairs of shoes for an approx. two week trip. Most of those would be neutrals with maybe one colorful bag and one bright pair of shoes. (Classics like black and white stripes or leopard print fall into the neutral category and accent nearly any look.) Regarding jewelry, pick a few favorites that you tend to wear with everything and that should suffice.
- Go Light On Makeup & Toiletries: When it comes to makeup, I have a travel regime that I have down to a T. I don’t wear as much makeup when I’m traveling as I might for a party or a blog shoot, mostly because I don’t want to spend my morning in front of the mirror when I could be out exploring. I bring a few key products that I know work for me, because in the past when I’ve overpacked makeup, I’ve wound up not using most of it. So avoid carting your whole arsenal and stick to your staples. Same goes for toiletries. I try to avoid packing items that are readily available and just focus on the items I’m particular about (usually skincare). I’m picky about my facial cleanser and moisturizer, but would never pack body wash because I know that hotels provide it.
- Pack Sensibly: One thing I don’t do (or recommend if you can help it) is sharing suitcases. If you’re traveling with family or friends, it’s reasonable to assume a suitcase each. You don’t want belongings getting jumbled up and disorganized, especially when you’ve made all this effort. As a rule of thumb, for longer trips (2+ weeks) I tend to bring two suitcases. Anything less and I can manage with one large suitcase (or one small if it’s a weekend trip). When it comes to physically packing, I’m a fan of the rolling method – i.e. roll your clothes don’t fold them. I prefer this method for two reasons: 1. It prevents wrinkles 2. It really is space saving. However, what I don’t like is rolling up multiple garments at once. While this method may help you fit more into a smaller space, it makes accessing garments difficult, and you’re more likely to run into problems with wrinkles and creasing. I roll each garment individually and lay heavier items (like jeans) at the bottom to avoid crushing more delicate items. As for shoes and bags, I always pack them in dust bags to minimize the risk of scuffing. Makeup and toiletries are packed in corresponding makeup bags, where products won’t leak out if there’s an issue. I like everything neat and organized, because it makes finding what I need super easy when I arrive at my destination.
If you found this post helpful, that’s great, because it’s the first in a series of travel posts to kick off summer and help get you ready for an awesome vacation! Be sure to check back on Thursday for the next post, which will be destination specific. We’ll be tackling five destinations in total…can you guess what they might be? They’re all classic vacation choices, so I’m sure you’ll benefit from following along. Happy Memorial Day and TTYS! Xoxo, Luisa