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Traveling Lightly: Part Deux

Since shooting my video two weeks ago about how to travel with only a carry on, I cannot begin to tell you how many in-person comments and questions I have received. Clearly, traveling lightly is a topic that resonates with—and confounds—women everywhere. In listening to you, I don’t think I’ve heard a single concern that I myself have not experienced—we’re all in good company!

See if you can identify with any of last week’s most frequently heard comments/questions:

I’m going on a 6-week vacation—how can I realistically travel lightly for such an extended trip?

Such a long trip can pose a daunting challenge when it comes to packing! The old me would have followed the math: 6 weeks = 42 days = 42 outfits. You think I’m kidding! (You should have seen my host family’s faces when I showed up with the contents of an entire store for my 5-month study abroad stay in Austria in college!)

Thankfully, the more minimalist and practical me has discovered a “new math” when it comes to traveling on a extended vacation. Six weeks is the same as one week, six times. I know, it’s genius—lol! But, really, let’s be honest. You’re probably going to have to find access to a washing machine during a long trip, so why can’t you repeat your one-week capsule six times? I can sense some of you bristling at this, but if this is you, ask yourself what you’re hesitating over? If it’s being bored with this repetitious wardrobe, wouldn’t you rather have to wear the same shirt a handful of times than risk losing luggage and/or breaking your back from lugging multiple suitcases? If you’re worried about what those around you think when they see the reappearance of wardrobe items, trust me, that’s probably the last thing they’re noticing!

If you want to get more mileage out of a week’s travel capsule, add on accessories. Better to bring 3 extra scarves, than 3 more pairs of jeans. You’ll appreciate having several more statement necklaces, than several more outfits that require you to tote a whole extra suitcase.

I’ve spent the last month buying cute new pieces for my trip and I want to wear all of the adorable things in my wardrobe while I’m away!

Guess what? Those cute new pieces don’t have an expiration date! If you don’t wear them all on your trip, you can debut them the minute you get home. In fact, by leaving half of them behind, you have something to look forward to at the end of a fabulous vacation.

In the past, I used to take a good hour to unpack my suitcase whenever we arrived at our hotel. My family would be ready to rush out the door to check out our digs and begin the fun, and I would be scrambling to get 35 pieces of clothing hung up. Does this resonate with you? Liberate yourself! Leave at least half of what you want to take behind. Chances are, if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up buying new goodies to replace your other new goodies while on vacation!

My trip includes numerous evenings out, and I don’t know how to pack a capsule wardrobe that includes both daytime and evening looks.

Whether you’re going away on a work trip that includes some free time, or taking a vacation with your girlfriends or significant other and plan to visit your wild side at nighttime, there’s a way to pack small and still get multiple looks. It’s all about multitasking.

Suitcase clutter starts when we imagine that we need two separate wardrobes: one for daytime and one for evening. You want to approach your packing instead by building your capsule entirely on multifunctional wardrobe classics. Here are some great examples:

  • A boyfriend blazer (looks great with denim or even joggers during the day, and can be paired with show-stopping jewelry and tight leather pants at night)

  • High-quality black leggings (these can be dressed up for work or evening with a great tunic and scarf, and made ultra casual during down time with a knotted boyfriend tee or long tank)

  • A pencil skirt (this versatile piece is sexy at night with a flowy tank and statement earrings, sophisticated for work with a button-down pinstriped shirt, and laid-back with a lightweight tee and denim jacket)

  • A collared button-down shirt (ideal not only for work when paired with flared trousers, but chic during day or nighttime activities when half-tucked into skinny jeans and paired with bangles or a statement necklace)

  • A perfect-fitting jumpsuit (quite possibly my favorite wardrobe item, this can go sophisticated when paired with a long lightweight duster and scarf, and beachy-casual when you throw on a denim jacket and sneakers)

We are traveling between countries and climates, and it seems difficult to pack a small suitcase when I don’t know what the weather is going to be like.

My advice here is almost identical to what I suggest above. It’s time to ditch the belief that you need multiple wardrobe capsules just because your activities and/or climates will be varied. Instead, build an extremely versatile foundation, and add or take away layers as necessary.

Begin by laying your foundation with pieces that you wear all year when you’re at home (assuming you live in a climate with four seasons.) Here are a few of my favorite year-round basics:

  • Skinny jeans

  • Black leggings

  • Sleeveless jumpsuits

  • Blazers

  • Boyfriend tees

The beauty of these basics is that they all provide an easy base to build layers upon. I also suggest that you limit your layering pieces to those that are lightweight and washable, and keep them to a minimum. Most of your warmer-weather outfits can be turned into cool-climate outfits with the simple addition of a lightweight coat (and you only need one of these!) Include a denim jacket and boyfriend blazer in your capsule, and you’ve got all of the layering pieces, plus perhaps a couple of lightweight sweaters/sweatshirts, that you’ll need.

What about shoes for multiple climates? My advice here is exactly what it is when it comes to clothing. Bring only a few pairs, and limit your selection to those that can be worn in any climate. For me, that means ankle booties, sneakers and cowboy boots. If you’re worried about what to do in the sweltering heat, throw in a pair of waterproof flip flops that take up almost no suitcase space (I love Yosi Samra’s because they are very lightweight and can be dressed up or down.)

If you’re about to head out of town and have additional questions, please feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to address them. If you need some hands-on help, email me at to schedule your individual travel-capsule planning session.

Cheers and happy travels!

Lisa Berry

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