Whenever I travel, I like to have options with my wardrobe just as I would at home. However, I hate feeling burdened by my own luggage. Getting through an airport and to your destination is stressful enough on its own, navigating with bulky baggage in tow can have you hating your vacation before it even starts.
So over the years I have learned to scale back, and I see it as an accomplishment when I return home with only one or two (or better yet zero) items that were packed and never worn.
When hubby and I spent five days in Mazatlan earlier this year, it was easy to fit everything in a small, single bag–we were going to be spending most of our time lounging by the pool or beach in our swimsuits. For a recent trip to Las Vegas though, I new it wasn’t going to be as easy. We were going with friends and were going to be out every night. I pretty much needed two outfits for every day. But I was determined to get there with just a carry-on even though I can check a bag for free through my Alaska Air Mileage Plan, it just saves so much time.
How did I do it? First of all, it takes planning. There’s no way this can be done last minute and done well. I always check the weather for my destination and start coordinating outfits from there. And don’t forget to look at overnight temps if you’re likely to be out at night.
Then think about what pieces can to double duty. This works especially well for bottoms. Someone might notice a top being worn twice, but basic jeans, shorts, or even a plain skirt probably won’t garner as much attention as the super-cute top you’ve changed into.
Below are the evening outfits I decided on. The pink dress was the only piece that was a one-time only thing, while the others could be mixed up with other items.
Shoes are a little bit trickier if you love them as much as I do. This definitely requires a lot more thought on my part and I’m often adding, unpacking, or just swapping out pairs all the way up to the end. The best advice is to be realistic about what you’ll actually wear. Unless you’re traveling for a special event that demands a specific pair of shoes (being in a wedding for example) then you should only pack shoes that can go with at least two outfits.
That being said, I still went a little crazy with six pairs of shoes ending up with me in Vegas. And this was after I removed a couple pairs. The struggle is real! But I wore the largest shoes, the tan suede shoes, on the plane there and home so they didn’t have to take up precious space in my luggage. The flips slops, which take up very little space, were mostly for wearing by the pool. And all the heels could just as easily pair with jeans, thus giving my that magical thing…options.
Now comes the really hard part for some of us ladies… How to get all those beauty products carry-on approved. The solution is travel sized bottles and samples galore. I’m a Sephora Fanatic and I’ve accumulated a ton of samples over the years. So when I’m looking to travel light, I go digging through my stash to see what has just the perfect amount for those couple of days. And as a Beauty Insider, I rack up points that can be used to buy mini sets, which I snag whenever they’re offering my favorite products. When all else fails, buy a travel-sized bottle and fill it from your full-sized bottle, but try to use the smallest container you can. I was also able to do this with sunscreen as I knew we wouldn’t be spending that much time by the pool for this trip.
I opted to leave my hair dryer at home since I still need to invest in a quality travel one, but I knew I wasn’t going to be washing my hair that often so decided to settle for the hotel’s dryer. Instead I took my flat iron along with a curling iron. If you’ve mastered curling your hair with a flat iron, then that’s one less item you could drag along.
Another key item to invest in are the travel cubes. They really do help squeeze in more AND keep everything organized. I bought some of the Eagle Creek brand from REI and they’ve held up really well over the years. Last year my husband found some cheaper ones on Amazon that are doing okay so far. We’ll see if they stand the test of time. But the cost was low enough compared to Eagle Creek, that I already feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth.
And one last tip. I like to bring a larger purse to shove all the little odds and ends in that I want near my on the plane, but then I pack a smaller clutch or crossbody that I can use when I don’t want the bulk of the purse. Plus if your travel companion is like mine and wants you to hold all his crap, then you’ll be glad for the extra space.
I hope this helps if you’ve been wondering how you can travel lighter. I’m always looking for more tips, so let me know if you have any that you’ve found especially helpful.
Next week I’ll be dashing into NYC for a whopping twenty-five hours! Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I document my mini-adventure!
Until next time…