July 21st, 2014

Summer Vacation Packing Tips

By the time you read this, I will be cruising at 30,000 feet on my way to Thailand by way of Tokyo, Japan. I am off for a month (a month!) visiting my family in Thailand, and I am so excited I could cry. But I couldn’t go on a trip without doing a post on packing. This month I have been busy creating outfits and packing clients for trips out West, down South, Italy, and more. I have clients who will not wear clothing twice during a trip and I have clients who want to pack as little as possible. We always make it work.

I did a packing blog post way back when — for Disney World. My packing strategy generally stays the same, though.

The questions I ask myself are:
- Any dressy events? (I do those first.)
- Can I do laundry?
- What is weather like and can I wear the same thing twice (non-sweaty climate where clothing will get soiled easily)?
- Will I be walking a lot (and related, what is the terrain like)?
- Will I be swimming?

After I ask myself these questions, I then start putting together outfits in this order:

1. Color. Pick 1-3 color stories, depending on the length of your trip (1-2 “stories” for a week-long vacation; I am gone a month so I am doing four color stories). What the heck is a color story you ask? I could give you the long, fashion-y, mood-board answer, but for our purposes, a color story is a group of colors that work together and can be mixed and matched easily. So for example, for this trip, I picked red, white and blue (patriotic); olive, black and cream (safari); and grey, lavender and denim blue. Within each color story, I then mixed and matched several different outfits, which brings us to…

2. Bottoms. I decide on bottoms first. I don’t typically pack bottoms for every single day I am going to be away. This trip I know I can do laundry so I am packing about 10 days worth of bottoms. I know I will re-use a pair of jeans or dark shorts and wear a new top. However, this is personal preference. If you are going to be doing activities that will get you hot, sweaty and dirty then you’d want to bring a bottom for each day you are away. If you can re-use, I suggest packing half the number of days you are going to be away (i.e., four bottoms for a week-long trip).

3. Tops. I do bring a top for each day, plus several extra in case of spills,etc. I usually have the bottom within that color story and then do several tops for the same bottom, plus one layering piece, just i case.

4. One-pieces. I always throw in a couple casual dresses, rompers, etc. If  you have specific dressier events on your trip, though, I  recommend putting together and fully accessorizing those specific looks separately.

5. Shoes. I then put one pair of shoes for each color story. Sometimes the same shoes work for all color stories. I always struggle with wanting to bring LOTS of shoes, but I usually limit it to 4 pairs, particularly when I am dealing with cutting it close on luggage weight limits (50 lbs per bag for international) — shoes are heavy! I do always bring one random pair of fun, snazzy heels even if I don’t think I am going to wear them. It’s easy to throw on a pair of fun heels and big earrings with a very simple monochromatic outfit for an impromptu night out.

6. Jewelry. I don’t bring much. I always tell my clients it’s great to have that “signature” necklace that goes with everything. Nothing huge or fancy, but has unique character and is endlessly versatile. For me, it’s this Alexis Bittar horseshoe necklace. Goes with everything and is just the right mix of bling and everyday effortless. I always bring the basics/essentials like my Michael Kors watch, and maybe just a few added special pieces (sparkly big earrings just in case I end up going out at night). Again, if you have specific dressier events on your trip, though, I  recommend putting together and fully accessorizing those specific looks separately.

7. Layering pieces. Bring a neutral vneck cardigan or if you want color, melon, to throw on over any outfit if you get chilly. I also bring a lightweight anorak, just in case, and carry it on the plane.

8. Specialty pieces. You may need bathing suits, hats, etc. Packing hats kinda drives me nuts. I just get way to nervous about ruining them. But you’ll find a bazillion videos on You Tube on how to properly pack your hat.

9. Underwear. Pack enough to last you not just the entire trip but then a week more. You’ll thank me later.

Finally - the most important part of your packing is when you have all the stuff laid out and ready to go in the suitcase. Take a look and get real. As in with yourself. For example, flip-flops are what people wear everyday in Thailand. Am I truly going to wear those strappy wedge sandals that would be way too cute with my silk printed pants? Nope. Gentle cycle does not seem to exist with laundry machines in Thailand so do I want to bring that adorable hand-wash only silky top? Nope. Remove those extraneous items that you know you won’t wear.

Then fold or roll items in your suitcase. Honestly, I have done both and don’t find that either method strongly surpasses the other on saving space or remedying wrinkles.

Depending on where you are traveling sometimes it does make sense to pack more and then sometimes it makes more sense to pack less. Each trip is a different, but if you follow these general guidelines, promise you will get everything you need in your bag without busting the zipper.

Have a great rest of the summer everyone! If you want to keep up with my style and family adventures abroad, feel free to follow me on Instagram (@dcstylefactory). I look forward to seeing you this fall!

Leave a Reply