I don’t plan my holidays and I don’t plan my travel wardrobe
I just pack a suitcase and go. I’m telling you this as a warning, in case you expected some sort of detailed graph showing how to make multiple outfits out of a few pieces. I’m not that girl, and I have neither time nor patience for trying on clothes and putting together outfits in advance.
But I don’t just throw random things into a suitcase, either. So, I guess we could say there is a system… A system that takes me about 30 minutes to pack and seems to work well enough.
But first, let’s define ‘travel’: I’m now talking about a holiday (vacation for my American readers) involving a stay at a hotel, whether for a weekend or a week or longer, as opposed to ‘commuting’ between Finland and the U.K. (i.e. travelling between ‘homebases’, when there is no need to pack toiletries, sleepwear, gym wear, laptop etc since I have all of this in both homes…)
For starters, I usually take a suitcase with me
It’s just easier: I often take my gym wear with me, and I might do some shopping (OK, lots of shopping…). So, it doesn’t matter if the suitcase is half-empty. It might be stuffed to the brim on the way back…
For my recent trip to Prague I packed gym shoes and exercise wear for both myself and hubby, so taking a suitcase was the only choice.
Aren’t I worried about my suitcase getting lost? Well, no. As I am a frequent traveller, my suitcase is often tagged as ‘priority’ and thus taken very good care of. Of course, my luggage can still be ‘misplaced’ during transit, which is exactly what an unnamed airline did last year as I was changing planes in Lisbon… And this is why I also have a little gizmo called Trakdot, which can tell me where my suitcase is, in case it gets left behind.
How do I decide what to pack?
As I said, I don’t plan my holiday in advance. Life is stressful enough as it is, a holiday should be an opportunity to relax a bit, with no plans, no obligations, and some room for surprise. However, this means I can’t decide what to take with me based on activities because I don’t know what I’ll be doing…
That being said, it is very unlikely I’d be doing something totally out of character, so I just need a good selection of my seasonally appropriate everyday clothes that I can then mix and match as I see fit.
Weather is an important factor
when deciding what to pack, of course. However, experience has though me not to pay too much attention to weather forecasts. A weather forecast is a starting point, for sure, but I like to be prepared for the unexpected, too. So, if the temperature is supposed to be around 15 °C / 59°F, I pack clothes that are also appropriate for slightly colder and slighly warmer weather: 10-20 °C / 50-68°F. This would include something with long sleeves (a t-shirt or a cardican), some socks and a light coat.
I always start with a coat and shoes
The coat determines the colour palette; it has to go with everything else. And I need good walking shoes for the inevitable sightseeing / shopping / just-wandering-around-aimlessly. Obviously, the coat and the shoes should go together.
And what about another pair of shoes, for going out? Sure, why not. I never wear heels, so my going-out shoes is just a slightly more polished version of the walking shoes, or maybe sandals (though not on this trip).
The coat should be warm enough, in case the weather suddenly turns colder, but light-weight, so I can carry it folded over my arm without looking like I’m carrying a winter coat.
The rest is easy:
Now I just add a couple of t-shirts and trousers / skirts, all within the same colour palette so they can be mixed and matched, and a big scarf. I might throw a jacket into the mix, and two pairs of sunglasses. Finally, I add some jewellery: a statement necklace is always good as it dresses up a simple t-shirt.
And then all I need is 2 bags
One to use as cabin luggage: so, with enough room for a bottle of water, magazines and whatever electronics I plan to take with me (e.g. a camera, iPad etc.). And another, smaller bag for sightseeing and shopping. Ideally, this bag should be as small and light as possible, and preferably cross-body (to keep my valuables out of reach of pickpockets).
So, do I ever forget to pack something?
Or pack the wrong clothes? Of course I do, all the time. And that’s why the first thing I do when I arrive in a new place is find a good department store or a shopping centre. Whatever I forgot (shampoo, allergy medication, a cardigan, you name it) can be replaced, and shopping centres in particular save a lot of time as you can find everything under the same roof.
But these days I make it a rule to always take with me both short-sleeved and long-sleeved t-shirts, extra underwear and an umbrella. Why? Because if I don’t, then that’s what I will need for sure…
Do I ever overpack?
Always, and on purpose. I’m rather impulsive when it comes to getting dressed. I may plan an outfit the night before, then change my mind at the last minute and wear something completely different. So, it’s good to have a few options. And I take the suitcase, remember? A couple of extra t-shirts don’t take up that much space in a suitcase, and even if I fail to wear them, so what? And I know from past experience that if I don’t ‘overpack’, I end up needing whatever it is that I left out…
So, there is no big secret to my travel capsule wardrobe: I’m afraid I’m just lazy or too busy to care. Or maybe I have learned that less really is more, at least when you have to drag your belongings with you all the time…
Do you plan your travel wardrobe?
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