I really impressed my husband on our vacation this summer. We were gone for three weeks, and I only needed a single suitcase! You see, we’re getting ready to meet our baby girl this fall. And knowing that traveling with a baby means traveling with even more luggage, I’ve spent the last few months honing my travel packing skills.
Admittedly, this is not a minimalist packing guide for those who want to hike across Europe with a single backpack, wearing the same pair of zip-off pants/shorts for months at a time. I also don’t like long-sleeve, button-down shirts, vests, fanny packs, or backpacks. Instead, I tend to maintain my skincare regimen and personal sense of style while traveling, and I make sure I have weekly access to a washing machine.
So here you’ll find my travel essentials list – everything here fits inside one standard size suitcase. I don’t count on packing much into a carry-on, since I usually fill it with food and magazines. Plus on the way home, that’s where I stash any souvenirs. I also try to wear the heavier/bulkier items on the plane – like my sneakers and coat – and one of my two purses counts as my “personal item”.
These are my wardrobe travel essentials. What are yours?
Undergarments – I exercise most when on vacation, and wash/dry gym clothes in the shower. While I do bring a slip to keep my dress from sticking to my legs in hot weather, I keep everything else pretty basic.
- 2 under-wire bras, black and beige, easily concealed under any top
- 2 sports bras
- 2 gym socks
- 7 pairs underwear
- 1 slip
Shoes – 6 pairs of shoes is my minimum for travel, allowing for a variety of experiences!
- 2 pairs of cute but casual shoes that combine with all of my outfits (I packed gold and brown flats)
- 1 pair of dressy shoes (I prefer nude pumps like these)
- 1 pair of sneakers
- 1 pair of flip flops
- 1 pair of house slippers (so my feet don’t actually have to touch that nasty hotel carpeting)
Clothing – Mostly casual clothing with a variety of combinations with one formal outfit for a dressy occasion.
- 4 casual dresses
- 1 jean skirt
- 1 pair of jeans
- 3 tops to combine with the skirt and pants
- 1 formal dress
- 3 cardigans
- Swimsuit and coverup
- 1 trench coat
Accessories – I usually wear one scarf on the plane, then the other two stow away easily in my bag. All other accessories purposely combine with planned outfits.
- 3 pashmina scarves
- 3-5 casual necklaces
- 3-5 casual earrings
- 3-5 casual bracelets
- 1 watch (so helpful when changing time zones!)
- 1 formal jewelry set to match your dress
- 1 small travel umbrella
- Sun hat
- 1 casual purse (I prefer gold as it matches everything)
- 1 purse to match your formal dress
Skin and hair-care - I really keep things to a minimum when traveling, nixing eye cream and most serums, as well as my hair straightener or curling iron. If you take your time with a quality blow dryer (and I usually do have more time on vacation), you can really accomplish quite a bit.
- Burt’s Bees Facial Wipes for use as a cleanser, makeup remover (even eye makeup) and toner all in one – and no liquids! (Keep this in your carry-on)
- Daytime facial moisturizer with SPF
- Body lotion with SPF
- Night cream
- Pressed powder with SPF
- 2 eye shadow palettes (for my coloring, I bring a brown/gold, and a green/beige) with accompanying brushes/applicators
- Blush compact with brush
- Black eye liner
- Black mascara
- Chap-stick with SPF
- Lip liner and lip gloss (the lip liner helps the gloss last longer)
- Blow Dryer (This one’s not small, but so worth it for the time saved blow-drying and the space saved replacing other hair-care products)
- 2 hair clips / hair ties
- Nail clippers
Toiletries and medicine – I bring anything I don’t expect to find easily or cheaply while traveling.
- Body splash
- Glasses / contact lenses / contact lens solution
- Travel-size soap, shampoo, conditioner
- Daily vitamins
- Prescription drugs
- Hand sanitizer
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Travel sewing kit