Thursday, 26 November 2015

How to: Pack light for Travel

As many of you may be aware, I lead the glamorous life of a Travel Agent. So I frequently jet off on heavily discounted agent familiarisation trips, to learn about destinations so I can sell them with more knowledge and first hand experience. The dress code for these trips is nearly always business casual (with a few exceptions) so that is an added challenge to packing a light weight, wrinkle free, travel capsule wardrobe.

I think most people are aware of the principle of capsule wardrobes. The basic idea is to have a limited number of garments that all coordinate with each other to make a large range of outfits.

While I am endeavouring to sew my own vintage inspired travel capsule wardrobe, for the purposes of this post I will be focussing on simple store bought pieces already in my wardrobe that I already have. This size capsule wardrobe works for a small checked in bag, and is probably not small enough for just a carry on, which I will post about later on.

This is my "nice" dress for travelling. It cost me $2 from a
garage sale, and is knee length and made completely of knit fabric
This photo was from our lunch in the Eiffel tower
For most trips I find 1 black skirt, 1 pair of lightweight black pants and one pair of black leggings sufficient for bottoms, then I usually have 1 dress for going out in the evening, and anywhere from 5 to eight different tops. 3 pairs of shoes is enough, 1 pair of cute flats (dressy enough to go with my evening dress) a pair of comfy converse style sneakers and a pair of sandals. If you are trying to pack light, it's not worth bringing heels, as you will most likely only wear them once, and they take up quite a bit of room and weight in your bag.. Then of course all the extras (depending on destination) such as swimmers, cardigan, jacket/raincoat, hat and pajamas

When arriving at the airport, you should always attempt to dress in business appropriate attire, just in case you get a free business class upgrade (hey, it does happen, alright?) So I like to wear a dressy top with my black skirt and flats. I then have a change of clothes in my carry on to change into on the plane if I want to. Even if you don't plan to change into something comfier on the plane, packing a change of clothes in there (and a cardigan and clean undies) can be a life saver in case your luggage gets lost. I like to pack my leggings and a long knit top/tunic

I even created this on Polyvore, based on items in my
own wardrobe. This many items will see you through any
length trip.
Looking at the polyvore example above, you can see I stick mostly with neutrals with splashes of red, and little bits of leopard print/navy blue/florals. I also utilise mostly stretchy knit/jersey type fabrics that do not wrinkle when worn or squished into a tightly packed suitcase. A few exceptions are my lightweight pants, which are almost like cargo pants, but with not as many pockets, as they are made of a very lightweight fabric that dries very quickly if I need to wash them while away (which I did many times while away on my honeymoon) I also have 2 shirts (white button down with little anchors printed on it and a long sleeve leopard print top) made of non-stretch fabrics as well, but they are polyester blends, so don't crease too badly. Light fabrics that dry quickly are also an asset, meaning you can wash things in the shower with you at night, hang them up overnight and have them dry by morning. This is particularly helpful if you are away for a extended period of time and need to re-wear your clothes a lot.

Example Outfit with the braces. This shirt could also be worn
unbuttoned over another top for a layered look

Most of these items can be mixed and matched, I also like to throw in a pair of braces that I can wear with either the skirt or the pants, with nearly any shirt. This was a saviour on the honeymoon when I lost a bit of weight and my pants wouldn't stay up, and being a larger girl, it meant I didn't have a belt digging into me when I was sitting either. Most of the tops I would wear tucked into the skirt (with some, this actually gives the illusion of wearing a dress.

Available here

Another key thing to consider when trying to pack light is the bag you use. A Suitcase with wheels might be easiest to get around the airport, but can add quite a bit of weight to your packing, and can be very awkward to carry if you are going anywhere without perfectly smooth sidewalks (many older cites have very wonky paths) While a small soft cloth duffel bag is a great choice for a carry on bag as it is lightweight and you can squish it into your bigger bag later, A larger one as your main bag can get quite awrkard to carry for long distances. My husband and I chose to go with the good ol' classic backpacker's backpacks for our trip, and they certainly saved our backs when walking from the train station to the hotel. My one in particular is super lightweight with an aluminium frame and tent nylon type fabric, which I picked up some years ago for a few dollars from a garage sale. I really love how lightweight it it, and that it is the right size for my short height and petite shoulders. If you go the backpack route, make sure you get one that fits your frame well, otherwise it could do more harm then good. Although usually for my work trips I just stick with a small suitcase on wheels, as we generally have transfers or hire cars at every leg of our journey.

Available here

If you intend on staying in any hostel or camping, you will probably also want to pack a towel and sleeping bag. I spent I think around $4 each on ebay and got those super lightweight microfibre towels for my husband and I, and they worked a treat, and fold up to take hardly any space. I did make sure I bought the largest size I could find though, so if needed, they were big enough to wrap around ourselves. I'm sure there are plenty of super lightweight sleeping bags available these days, but I just took mine that I've had since high school, it has one of those awesome compression bags, so I can squish it down real small. Obviously, if you are staying in hotels, you wont need either of these.

Only pack your essential toiletries and minimise your make up and skin care routine. One Agent trip I went on, I shared a room with a girl who brought so many full sizes bottles of stuff, they probably would've filled my whole suitcase. This not only means you have to carry more weight around, it also increases the chance that the pressure changes in the aircraft's hold might make one or more of your bottles to burst or leak, ruining your clothes. To keep things super simple, I only take travel size shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap, toothpaste and hairspray which all fit into a sandwich size ziplock bag that I can pack into my carry on. I also really simplify my make up when travelling and don't bother with foundation or even powder, just mascara, eyeliner, 2 lipliners and 2 lipsticks. If you simply cannot live without extra items that won't fit in the carry-on liquid allowance, by all means pack them in your checked in luggage, but try to either buy travel size bottles or decant some of the product into travel size bottles (I bought my set from the reject shop) and please do remember to wrap them up in a plastic bag, just in case they leak.

All in all, if you want to pack light, really think about each and every item before you pack it. take less than you think you'll need. You can always buy things at your destination.

And now just because there is a bit of a Dirndl-mania happening because of Gertie's recent posts, here is a photo of me wearing my dirndl that I bought in Munich, drinking a beer at Oktoberfest.


P.S. I'm about half way through sewing my 6 piece travel capsule wardrobe, so I will hopefully be posting about it soon!

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