Do you suffer from overpacking syndrome? Are there outfits you pack for a trip that you don’t even wear? I used to be guilty of trying to cram my suitcases full of unnecessary clothing I thought I might need. Eventually, I became tired of lugging around large suitcases and tried the travel capsule wardrobe packing method for my trips. What a difference that has made in my packing plans! The advantages of using the travel capsule wardrobe method are many. Learn how to plan your own travel capsule wardrobe and find out how to access your own customizable travel capsule wardrobe planner right here.
***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.***
Table of Contents
What is a travel capsule wardrobe?
Basically, a travel capsule wardrobe is a minimalist approach to clothing you take on a trip. It’s combining a few items of clothing to make many combinations. With just a little mix and match magic, you can get many different outfits out of just a few strategically chosen pieces.
Take the Stress Out of Packing
One advantage to using a travel capsule wardrobe is you can use a smaller suitcase. You might even be able to use a backpack. If you have thought out your wardrobe pieces ahead of time, you may be able to pack in a very brief time. You can avoid the hassle of checking luggage at the airport. A lot less stress!
Different Looks from Basic Pieces
One of the main ideas behind travel capsule wardrobe packing is choosing pieces that can be dressed up or down. A pair of capri pants can be paired with a variety of tops for entirely different looks. The same thought is true for a pair of pants. This is where your creativity can really shine. Versatility is the key to putting together a successful travel capsule wardrobe.
Since you are going to be spending a lot of time in your travel capsule wardrobe clothing, you need to choose quality pieces that will not wear out. This is especially true for shoes. When I travel, I do a lot of walking, so a quality pair of comfortable walking shoes is a must. A well-fitting pair of shoes is well worth the price.
Fabric is Important
The last thing you want to be wearing after a long flight or road trip is wrinkled clothing. The good news is there are plenty of fabrics that are wrinkle-resistant and comfortable. When I looked at the labels on my favorite travel pieces in my closet just now, I noticed that they are made of a soft, smooth combination of polyester and spandex. I could literally wad these items of clothing into a tight ball, shake them out, and have no wrinkles. My grandmother used to extol the virtues of polyester, but it was usually the scratchy kind. Be sure you find a blend that is comfortable for you.
Finding the Basics
If you can’t afford to buy new, check out the second-hand stores in your area. I am a super picky shopper, and I usually go alone. I can’t bear to put anyone else through the painstakingly slow process of actually finding something I like. My clothing has to be comfortable, fit well, look good with other items I already own and be reasonably-priced. Hence, my need for second-hand stores. Some of my favorite travel basics were great finds on second-hand shopping expeditions. If you want to see a list of online second-hand options, check out my review of three places to find fabulous clothes at amazing prices. Outlet malls are also a great place to find bargains.
What are the Best Travel Clothing Brands?
The Layering Strategy
The reason so many different looks are possible with just a few simple pieces of clothing is because of layering. Pairing a lightweight cardigan with a top gives an outfit a dressier touch.
Pairing the same top with a lightweight windbreaker jacket offers a more casual option.
How do you pack a capsule wardrobe for travel?
Is it better to fold clothes or roll them when packing a suitcase? This might surprise you, but it makes no difference. If you are packing a travel capsule wardrobe, you won’t need a large suitcase. You should have room to either fold or roll your clothes. I tend to fold mine, although I could roll them since they are wrinkle resistant. I fold mine out of habit. You could always experiment to see which works best for you. No matter which method you choose, you should have plenty of room for your travel capsule wardrobe in a suitcase like this, which will fit nicely in an overhead luggage compartment on an airplane.
How many clothes should be in a capsule travel wardrobe?
This will vary, depending upon the length of your trip, but for one week, my general rule is 4 tops, 3 bottoms, 2 lightweight outer layers, and 2 pairs of shoes. It’s important to note that my travel packing philosophy is that flip flops for wearing in the shower count as an accessory, not a pair of shoes. These flip flops are accessories in my book.
Shoes are my Downfall
I struggle when narrowing down my shoe selection for travel. Usually, my trips involve a lot of walking, so my shoes need to be comfortable, sturdy, yet stylish. My choice of footwear for a camping trip is entirely different than my footwear for an overseas tour. For camping, I usually pack my trusty Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars along with hiking boots. If we go out to eat somewhere, the Chuck Taylors add a touch of carefree style to a casual outfit.
For a more formal travel experience, such as an overseas trip, my all-purpose choice are a Mary Jane style with a strap. I have gone through about three pairs of shoes similar to these. They are comfortable and can be dressed up for an evening out.
My other pair of shoes on a foreign trip is usually a pair of running shoes. I like to work out if there is an exercise room. Also, sometimes my walks take me a bit off the beaten path and I end up climbing over fence stiles in pastures. My favorite running shoes are made by Brooks and have served me well.
Does a Travel Capsule Wardrobe Need to be All One Color?
In other words, does a travel capsule wardrobe need to be boring? No, and here’s why. Although it’s good to have a coordinating base color for a lot of your pieces, your tops do not have to be dull. I find it’s easier for me to work with black as my base color, but my mom prefers brown. Neutral colors like gray and beige would also work well. That does not mean that everything in your travel capsule wardrobe has to be that color.
Go-To Tops to Pack
As mentioned earlier, the material your tops are made of is very important. My tops are mainly a soft blend of polyester and spandex. Some of the tops I bring are solid, some have patterns. One of my tops actually received a compliment from a woman I passed by on a street in Paris. To me, that is high praise. Parisian women seem to take their fashion very seriously. For my two layers, I pack a lightweight cardigan and a lightweight, packable, waterproof windbreaker with a hood.
Never-Fail Bottoms to Bring
The bottom pieces I choose for my travel capsule wardrobe are usually solid in color. Depending on your destination, you could choose a pair of capri pants, a skirt, a pair of dress pants, or walking shorts. For a camping trip, I pack a pair of jeans, but when I go overseas I usually leave the jeans behind. They are heavy and take up a lot of room in my suitcase. I’d rather save room for shoes.
Remember Those Accessories
Accessories will definitely give your wardrobe more versatility. A well-chosen scarf can provide just the right touch to complete an ensemble.
Let’s not forget about the essential handbag. My favorite travel handbag is the Travelon Anti-Theft Cross-Body Bucket Bag, (I prefer the black one) and I have witnessed firsthand its effectiveness. I have been on multiple trips with this all-purpose, very secure and sturdy crossbody bag. I appreciate the way each side has a mesh expandable pocket to hold a water bottle.
Another important feature of the bag is its expandable top, which unfolds to add extra height if needed. I actually carried an iPad around in this handbag for a few days while traveling in a foreign country. I hope this handbag never wears out, but if it does, I know where to find a replacement.
What are the best clothes to fly in?
If you know you are going to be sitting on an airplane for a long flight, wear something comfortable and wrinkle-resistant. If your pants, skirt or capris have a bit of stretch in them, that is ideal. These pants from Columbia look very comfortable and may be dressed up or down to fit your travel situation.
I always, always bring a lightweight cardigan or jacket with me on an airplane. Even if it’s extremely hot outside, the climate-controlled atmosphere in the airport may be chilly. The recirculated air on the airplane may be chilly as well.
Unmentionables or “Basics”
Before concluding, I must mention a few tips about…underclothes. The number of pairs of underwear is up to you. I do usually take at least one comfortable camisole, which is a great little extra layer.
I classify the camisole as a Basic, not as a top. Swimsuits are also included on my list under the Basics category.
Other Travel Essentials
Keep track of all of your belongings (even your kids) with Apple air tags. These handy devices come with a battery and are even water-resistant. Just use a simple one-step process to connect the tag to your iPhone or iPad, then use the Find My app to locate your item. Get a 4-pack and use for tracking luggage, pets, and more.
Whether you are camping or staying in a hotel, be safe with a portable carbon monoxide detector. This one has an AC-adaptor with battery backup. It’s only 2.75 by 1.5 by 4.5 inches, and could save your life.
Free Customizable Capsule Travel Wardrobe Packing List
Need some help planning your travel capsule wardrobe? Use this customizable, editable, and printable packing list. It’s free to subscribers, and you can save new digital copies anytime you need to pack for a new adventure.
Wherever your journeys take you, I hope you make wonderful memories. Thanks for visiting the Fluxing Well site. Happy travels!
- 20 Amazing Things to do on a Trip to Wallowa Lake
- Fun Beach Towns: Scenic Newport on the Oregon Coast
- Redlands: An Amazing Southern California Destination
- 21 Reasons to Visit the Northern Oregon Coast
- Timberline Lodge: A Year-Round Iconic Oregon Getaway
- The Oregon Garden Resort: A Relaxing Destination
- Glacier National Park: 10 Essential Tips for First-Timers