Travel Packing Debrief – September 2016 Lake Tahoe and Bay Area Trip

I recently returned from a twelve day trip to Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay Area.  This was a tricky trip to pack for, as the weather forecast was different for both locations, plus it was the “cusp” season between summer and fall anyway.  I experienced some challenges in deciding what to pack and dealing with the repercussions of my decisions.  In today’s post, I share my insights in the hope that some of you may benefit from my mistakes and difficulties.  I highlight what I packed, what worked well, what didn’t work, and what I wore during my trip.

Packing for travel

Do you find it stressful and difficult to pack for travel?

What I Packed

The weekend before my trip, I spent some time in my closet planning my potential travel wardrobe.  At the time, the forecast called for summer temperatures, so I mostly looked at packing warm weather clothing with just a few cool weather options in case I needed them (Tahoe in particular is subject to wide temperature fluctuations).  However, as my departure date approached, the expected temperatures kept dipping lower and lower, such that my planned travel capsule was pretty much null and void.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of time to make adjustments in the few days before my flight, as my schedule was busy with appointments and tasks to get done.

What made things more difficult was that I hadn’t worn my cool weather items for several months and my weight had shifted somewhat in the interim (as I wrote about in this post).  Thus, I wasn’t exactly sure what would fit well and what I’d be comfortable wearing for lower temperatures.  While my jeans fit better than they had back in the late spring, I still wasn’t back to my ideal weight, plus I continue to experience regular water retention and bloating issues for reasons as yet unknown to me.  Optimally, I would have taken ample time to try things on and determine the travel outfits I’d feel attractive in and enjoy wearing, but I wasn’t able to do this.

Fast forward to my departure date…  In the hustle and bustle of the day, which included having to take my husband to the doctor (fortunately, he’s fine now), I didn’t leave myself much time for packing.  Thus, I made the all too common mistake of throwing too many pieces into my suitcase, especially when it came to tops.  Here’s a look at my travel wardrobe:

September 2016 Travel Capsule

These are the items I packed for my recent trip to Lake Tahoe and the SF Bay Area. 

By category, here’s what I opted to take with me on my trip:

  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt
  • 4 tops to pair with the skirt
  • 2 toppers for the skirt and dress (1 cardigan and 1 jacket)
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of athletic pants
  • 10 tops to wear with pants (6 short-sleeved, 4 long-sleeved)
  • 3 toppers for pants (1 parka, 1 jacket, 1 vest)
  • 3 pairs of shoes (boots, sandals, athletic shoes)
  • Pajamas (pants, short-sleeved top, long-sleeved top – not shown)
  • Lounge wear (Capri pants, short-sleeved top – not shown)

Issues with My Travel Wardrobe

Some of you probably noticed a few issues with my travel wardrobe.  I don’t pretend to be a wardrobe minimalist or a light packer and I probably will never be either of those things.  However, I do want to cultivate a more workable wardrobe and a better packing strategy and the travel debriefs that I’ve been doing (see earlier ones HERE, HERE, and HERE) help me learn what to do differently in the future. The following are what I see as the main issues with my travel capsule this time around:

  1. Too many workout and lounge items – I didn’t need so many items in these categories and could have gotten by with about half as many pieces as I brought with me. I didn’t end up going to the gym and only went on a few walks, so two tops in this category (one short-sleeved and one long-sleeved) would have been enough.  I also could have worn my pajamas for lounging instead of having additional items for that purpose.
  2. Too many tops and not enough bottoms – I wish I would have packed an additional skirt and that I would have substituted a pair of comfortable black pants for the boot-cut jeans. I also would have liked to have had another dress with me, but a second skirt would have been a more versatile choice.
  3. No mix and match capability between my skirt/dress and pants tops and topper options – This is an issue with my wardrobe at large, but it doesn’t impact me as much when I’m at home. I’m very particular about proportions and don’t tuck my tops in because I’m short-waisted and for comfort reasons.  Thus, the tops and toppers I wear with skirts and dresses are different from the ones I pair with pants in almost all instances.  In addition, I almost always wear alternate shoes with both types of bottoms. I think, however, that I can find ways to be less rigid about tops, toppers, and shoes and still feel that my outfits are flattering. This is something to experiment with in the coming months prior to my next “cusp” season trip when I want to pack both pants and skirts/dresses.

In a section below, I will highlight what I shouldn’t have packed and what I wish I would have packed, but the above is a good overview of my most obvious packing problems.  In light of these issues, however, I was still happy with most of the outfits I wore on my trip and I had appropriate clothes to wear for all of my activities.   Yes, I wish I would have packed less, but I wasn’t all that adversely affected by my lack of a perfect travel capsule wardrobe.

What I Wore

Although I feel that I packed too much for my trip, I did end up wearing many of my items multiple times.  These ten pieces were worn at least three times and the jeans, shoes, and purse saw many more wears than that:

Items worn 3 or more times

I wore these items worn 3 or more times during my trip. 

Five additional items were worn twice, which I think is a good number of times for a 12-day trip.   I feel good about having brought all of the below items along:

Travel capsule items worn twice

I wore these five items twice over the course of my trip. 

As I mentioned above, I packed too many tops and clearly could have gotten by with fewer options in this category.  I also wore my boot-cut jeans just once, so it would have been okay to have left them at home.  Since I hadn’t worn jeans in months, I didn’t realize this pair wasn’t nearly as comfortable as I thought they would be.   I did try them on prior to trip, but sometimes we can’t tell how we’ll feel in an item until we’ve worn it for an hour or more.   Here are the ten items that I only wore once during the trip:

Travel capsule items worn once

I only wore these ten items once while I was away. 

Finally, three short-sleeved shirts weren’t worn at all and clearly weren’t needed:

Travel capsule items not worn

I didn’t wear these three tops at all during my trip! 

I overestimated how often I would need casual t-shirts.   I didn’t end up working out at all during my trip, plus I preferred to wear my skirt or dress on warmer days rather than pants and tees.   In addition, the purple top in the center is a summer purchase that has yet to be worn at all.  It’s never a good idea to pack untested items for travel and I should have known better than to pack this garment.  It’s far better to go with “tried and true” pieces when traveling and to test out the new when we’re at home.

My Outfits

Here’s a look at my Tahoe and Bay Area outfits.  Since my “selfies” weren’t always clear and I’ve worn some of the ensembles previously, some of the photos shown are from earlier dates (which is why my hair looks different, although I continue to use the root cover-up powder to hide my gray hair – I will do an update on my transition process again soon).

September 2016 Travel Outfits

September 2016 Travel Outfits

September 2016 Travel Outfits

I was happy with pretty much everything I wore.  I didn’t love the outfit with the boot-cut jeans for comfort reasons, but I liked how it looked.  I was also physically comfortable in most of the outfits, although sitting all day in jeans was sometimes problematic due to my nerve pain issues.  In the future, I’m going to pack a pair of black “athleisure” pants that I can comfortably wear all day for occasions when I’m either bloated or experiencing increased pain (I never know when those days will be).

I did get creative with one ensemble (the outfit on the right in the first image) based upon a suggestion from an “End Closet Chaos” group member. I had lamented having packed only one dress and one skirt, so this woman recommended that I layer a top over the dress to create a separates look.  While this didn’t work with any of my tank top options, my cobalt and black print draped tee worked beautifully for this purpose and I was quite pleased with the end result.  I’m going to try this technique with other tops and dresses at home to incorporate more outfit versatility, especially for future travel.  Also recommended was knotting longer shirts so their proportions will work better worn with skirts or layered over dresses.

There are lots of creative ideas out there for maximizing one’s wardrobe for travel and otherwise.  If you have ideas to share, please do so in the comments section of this post.  Links to images of such looks are welcome, too (comments with two or more links will be moderated, but I will approve them as soon as I can).

What Else I Packed

In addition to the clothes I showed above, I also packed the following:

  • Undergarments (I usually pack a few extras)
  • Socks
  • Jewelry (probably 12 pairs of earrings, 3 bracelets, 2 watches, and 3 necklaces – I wore about 2/3 of these items)
  • iPad
  • iPod
  • Journal
  • A few articles to read
  • Reading glasses
  • Neck wrap and wrist pad (I have a lot of joint problems)
  • Flat iron
  • Lint brush
  • Toiletry items
  • Supplements and pills (I take LOTS of these! All packed in baggies and small containers, not original bottles)
  • Snacks (nuts, Lara Bars, crackers, Paleo cookies and bread – both homemade and delicious!)

I’ve gotten much better at not over-packing in this area and used virtually all of the above items.  I would like to get a wheeled carry-on bag, however, as my bag was too heavy for me to carry through the airport, particularly during my two-hour delay on my home-bound flight.   This will make a big difference for my travel comfort.  I’d also like to get a medium-sized suitcase, which will help me not to pack so much (my existing bag is large) and will be easier for me to maneuver.  I don’t travel that often, though, so these purchases are not high priorities, just “nice to have” items.

What I Should Have Packed

I alluded above to a few items I wish I would have brought with me on the trip, but here’s an itemized list of what I see as omissions.  A few of these items will need to be purchased (shown with an asterisk) prior to my next trip.

  • Slippers (mine are relatively lightweight and would be practical to pack)
  • My cobalt anorak (I could have used a lightweight, casual jacket and this one would take up very little space and weight)
  • Black “athleisure” pants (they are stretchy and comfortable and should have taken the place of the boot-cut jeans)
  • A second skirt and/or dress (of course, I would reduce what I pack in other categories to accommodate these additions)
  • A slip to wear under the dress (it wouldn’t be necessary with all dresses, but I would have appreciated the smoothing effect with the maxi-dress I wore on this last trip)
  • A make-up mirror * (I have a magnifying mirror at home and struggled to apply my make-up on the trip without this tool)
  • Travel hairdryer * (the one I packed was big and bulky and took up too much space and weight)

Yes, I know that a lot of hotel rooms include hairdryers, but my hair is very sensitive and temperamental, so the blow dryer I use makes a difference.  There are great lightweight but powerful hairdryers available now, so I think this would be a good addition to my travel arsenal.

What I Wish I’d Left at Home

I mostly just wish I had packed fewer tops, but I also could have gotten by with fewer jewelry pieces and fewer snacks.   I have already highlighted what I consider to be excessive items, but here’s a photo of the pieces that would have been better left at home:

Unneeded Items

While I wore half of these items, I could have left them all at home. 

I think it would be reasonable to aim to wear most of my clothes two or more times during a trip that’s a week or longer in length.  If I left the above pieces at home and packed an alternate pair of pants and maybe one additional skirt, I think I would have accomplished that goal.

Conclusion and Coming Attractions

I continue to improve upon my packing for travel, but this last trip was a setback in terms of over-packing.  I need to better plan my travel wardrobe, especially for trips during a cusp season.  Ideally, I will find more tops, toppers, and shoes that can do “double-duty” and be worn with both pants and skirts/dresses. I probably already own such pieces and simply need to shop my closet and experiment with various options.  I will refer back to this post well in advance of my next trip and learn from the insights I have captured here.  I’m probably not destined to become the best and most minimalist packer around, but I can definitely improve and intend to do so!

I hope you found this post interesting and perhaps helpful as well.  I know it’s just about my experience, but perhaps it made you think of things you might want to pack or leave at home.   If you have questions or comments for me or would like to share your experiences, please do so.  Some coming attractions for future posts include a follow-up guest post from someone who wrote a previous “Story of Recovery,” a photography interlude of photos from my trip, and the second half of my wardrobe and goals update.  I wish you all a wonderful weekend and I hope you enjoy the remaining days of summer (or winter for my friends “down under”)!


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Comments

  1. I’m curious as to how often you had the chance to wash your clothes during the trip. I often wear bottoms (pants or skirts) more than once, but have yet to wear a top twice without washing it. Thanks so much for letting us learn through your experience!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I was staying at my mom’s house for the first week of my trip, Angela, so I was able to do laundry there. That said, I often wear my tops more than once before washing them and toppers and bottoms can be worn more frequently. Of course, it all depends upon how hot it is and the types of activities I’m doing.

  2. This was really informative. Not packing tons of t-shirts seems counter-intuitive, but I found that I didn’t wear most of the ones I packed on my last few trips either. I think I pack them out of habit.

    I hope I remember to refer to this post for my next trip (in about two weeks). I’ve always intended to create some sort of checklist during my down time…if and when it ever happens. Now, I don’t need to!

    Thanks for penning such a comprehensive and detailed post about something I should have mastered in my twenties (but didn’t). : D

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you found this post helpful, Terri! I think having a checklist would be very helpful, so that’s something I’m going to put together. Of course, the list will vary based upon the type of trip it is and the season, but there will likely be a lot of overlap. I probably should have mastered packing in my 20’s, too, but it’s never too late for a confirmed over-packer to reform!

  3. Diane Schanz Miller says:

    Good question Angela. With Eucalan wipes and Febreeze I can wear tops twice but that’s my comfort limit. Athletic wear is usually very quick to dry and easy to pack if it fits your life style.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I have never heard of Eucalan wipes, Diane, but I plan to check into them. I’m sensitive to fragrance, so Febreeze is out for me. Depending upon climate, some things that are hand-washed will dry overnight. I have found that to be true during my trips to Lake Tahoe, where it is very dry.

  4. Awesome. I’ll be using your blog for guidelines whilst packing for Melbourne this week.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Glad this post was timely for you, Fiona. I hope you have a wonderful trip to Melbourne! That’s a place I would like to visit one day.

  5. Great write up, as always! I think you did pretty well considering you had a range of weather. We travel at least one a year, so I have gotten better over time. I think doing this analysis after a trip helps the next one be better. It is a lot of trial and error and what works for you. I think it was Barb that mentioned once about having packing lists for different climates and also types of trips. I think this is a good idea. If you keep the list from this trip but add the adjustments you wish to make, next time will be a breeze. I don’t think there is any problem only wearing an item once especially if it is a top and needs washing after one wear. If you have access to a washing machine and don’t mind doing it then you can take only enough for a week or so and then repeat. Trickier if the weather is changeable though. This works best with more consistant weather temps, or out of necessity, like when we travel in Europe for a month and didn’t want to carry too much. (That was 2 seasons as well.) You want to enjoy your time away. I think you packed quite well.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Ruth. The analyses have definitely helped me to refine my packing, but not giving myself enough time to pack this time set me back a bit. Yes, I love Barb’s idea to have alternate packing lists for different types of trips. I’m going to modify this one for a cusp season Tahoe trip and I’m sure I can use the list for similar vacations as well. I don’t have too many items that need to be washed after every wear unless the weather is very hot. I agree that it’s much easier to pack for trips in which the weather will be fairly constant. I would like my next trip to be to Hawaii! 🙂

  6. Very informative as usual, Debbie! I was also curious if you had access to laundry facilities. Since I don’t mine re-wearing the same outfits, I’d take far less clothes and just do laundry. I’ve become fairly minimalistic when traveling and only use a carry-on plus personal bag when flying. I used to enjoy a backpack but recently switched to a rolling carry-on. I LOVE it! It’s super lightweight and easy to lift even when stuffed full. Lots of well thought out pockets/compartments too. I have the Summit Blue and it’s so easy to spot on the conveyor belt. Here’s a link: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00RZV38RE/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=G7U8UU5A68G8&coliid=I1E01DWK5GX5UO&psc=1

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I do have access to laundry facilities on most of my trips, Kim, as I usually am going to visit family and friends. It does help to be able to do laundry. My issue is trying to cover too many “What ifs?” which can be dangerous. Thanks for the link for the rolling carry-on bag. That looks like a very nice bag and I love the color! I think that if I traveled more often, I would learn to pack less. Believe it or not, I’m doing better than I used to, but this trip I reverted a bit to bad habits because I was scrambling to pack at the last minute and was worried about changeable weather.

  7. Very informative Debbie. (I am a chronic overpacker but have improved over the years, now that airlines have got more rigid with baggage allowance!) Welcome back. We missed you! Hope you had a lovely time in Tahoe.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      It’s nice to be missed, Jane! Yes, I did have a great time in Tahoe and the SF Bay Area, but it wasn’t a restful trip and I’ve needed some time to recover at home. I wasn’t aware of the airlines’ baggage allowance until my Texas trip, as I usually travel on Southwest and they still allow two bags to be checked for free. When I was forced to pay $25 each way for my bag in Texas, it bothered me, but I still think it would be hard for me to only pack a carry-on bag. Maybe if I traveled more often…

  8. Travel packing is one of my fortés as, living in Europe, I travel a lot – overnights, weekends, a few days to a couple of weeks throughout the year.

    With lots of trial and error and taking w-a-y too much on trips in the past, I’ve got it down to a fine art. Basically “less is more” as I don’t want to be weighed down by luggage. As the low cost airlines charge to check in baggage, most people opt for carry-on and that means less stuff.

    Of course, it depends where you are going. For a recent 4 day trip to the Atlantic coast near Bordeaux I took 3 dresses (2 beach dresses and 1 dressier ones for town), a swimsuit, a cardigan coverup, denim shorts + 2 tops and 2 items of footwear. I never take extra jewelry on trips except for what I wear daily. I’ve just come back from 8 days in England and so needed different and a few more things for the different things I was doing but it still fit into a carry-on.

    As a rule I always take the following:
    – Yoga pants and 1 T-shirt for lounging around, also doubles as pyjamas if needed
    – a silk slip to sleep in and a pair of very light velvet slippers
    – 1 wrap or scarf , i cardigan & 1 lightweight sweater
    – 1 casual day dress and 1 good dress for day that works for night
    – 1 denim (jeans or shorts depending) and tops for 1/2 the amount of days, ie 4 days = 2 tops
    – 1 pair black pants or jeans if it’s a city trip
    – 1 dressier top

    Of course if there is an event I take an event outfit and if it’s winter I take a coat, hat and gloves but my luggage is a variation on the above. To make it work I stick to denim, black and white with colored tops and cardigans/scarf or wrap that go with everything. I’ve found that dresses, rather than separates, are the most practical for me as they take so little room. If it’s winter I wear a dress with tights and boots and in summer with sandals. I’ve found you only need half the amount of tops you think you need. Plus, I like to leave enough space for purchases.

    Good luck with your next pack.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your packing expertise with us, Carolyn! What you shared is very helpful and I appreciate it. I can definitely tell that I need to consider more items that do “double duty” like the yoga pants and t-shirt combo you mentioned, as well as slip to wear under dresses or sleep in. Having a small color palette is helpful as well. I can see how packing dresses over separates could be easier and that’s something for me to consider. I’m wondering about shoes, though. I tend to wear different shoes with dresses/skirts versus pants, but it would be better to have shoes that mix and match with all of the clothing items. I will use your list for my next trip and see how I fare.

  9. With different and changeable weather you are bound to need to pack more, and if the weather had turned unexpectedly warmer it looks as though you would have been prepared. I think it’s always worth packing an extra dress it is such an easy outfit with no matching issues. I rarely find tops that go with skirts and dresses equally well. If you get to the end of a trip and have had something suitable for each kind of occasion and weather you have doe well. Although I keep a record of what I packed and how it worked out and what I’d change, but no two trips are the same so it’s more a reminder. Carolyn’s list sounds similar to my own although I would add a jacket , some colorful necklaces, a skirt rather than shorts, and make sure I had least 1 long sleeved top for layering.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I think I would have fared well if the weather had gotten warmer, Lynn. I wish it would have, as I love summer weather in Tahoe! I think you’re right about packing another dress. I know I would have worn a second dress if I had had one. I like the additions/substitutions you made to Carolyn’s list, as I wear skirts rather than shorts, too, and like jackets and long-sleeved tops. I did end up having something to wear for all of the occasions on my trip, so even though I packed too much, I still did okay.

  10. I’ve gotten super-efficient on packing, mostly due to this kind of de-briefing exercise – combined with my determination to always carry-on if possible. (4 weeks in China with carry-on!) I will say, however, that my husband has to vacate the bedroom when I pack because it requires my full, intense concentration! For a typical week away (business or pleasure), I always start with my shoes – 3 pairs – 1 each athletic, casual and ‘dressy’ (my slipper solution is slipper socks~). I choose a neutral (black) for two bottoms, plus one pair of jeans, plus one pair of athletic pants/shorts. 3-6 tops that coordinate with all bottoms, 1-2 cardigans one black, one ‘accent’ color. And I load up on scarves & costume jewelry, including one pashmina/’wrap type scarf for the cool nights/airplane. I use a tote bag for my purse & slip in a smaller bag in that one since I don’t want to carry that big tote when I’m walking long distances. Like Carolyn, I plan for the events I know are coming – I list each day with likely activities to be sure I’m thinking things through. So one of those tops might be very dressy – or I might eliminate one top and pack a neutral dress (usually black). I always wear my jeans on the plane – don’t want to pack heavy & don’t want to get cold. My tops are usually washable in hotel sinks – but I’m willing to wear them 2-3 times before washing if necessary.

    • I love the challenge of getting everything into carry-on & I also love only being able to choose clothes from a small selection – it’s so liberating. I only take clothes I love & feel comfortable so I’m always happy with what I’m wearing.
      I learned the art of minimal packing after trips when I was young where I struggled to get my case onto trains and buses and I always needed someone to help!!! Pulling a huge case up a cobble stone street and then up 3 flights of stairs in Italy was no fun either and the lesson was learnt.

    • I find that washing when travelling needs planning or you have to move on with soggy clothes or wear crinkled clothes. Normally I prefer natural fibres, but I am collecting a few polyester (mix) tops, blouses and dresses especially for travel which are very light, dry really quickly, and don’t need ironing. For bottoms and stains I pack a small microfibre cloth which when damp is really effective as a lint and stain remover and freshens up heavier fabrics. The shower gel provided by most hotels seems to work well as a travel wash. It’s worth packing an elasticated travel washing line.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I love the excellent packing suggestions people are contributing here. I’m impressed that you spent 4 weeks in China with just a carry-on, Sybil! I like the methodology you use for packing. I used something similar for my Texas trip, as I had a good idea of my activities there. This time, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would be doing, but I could have guessed and done okay. I’m wondering if any of the bottoms you pack are skirts, as you mentioned that all of your tops coordinate with all of your bottoms. I’m thinking that since I wear different tops with skirts and pants, I may be better off packing dresses instead of skirts if I’m packing pants, too. I do need to pack more scarves to switch things up more. I didn’t pack any for this last trip and certainly could have.

      Lynn, I appreciate your washing and stain removal tips. I especially love your suggestion to pack an elasticated travel washing line. I never would have thought of that!

  11. I travel a lot but for shorter trips – it’s a very long time since I have been away for more than about 6 days, and I suspect that long trips have their own challenges. I tend to pack about twice as many tops as bottoms, occasionally three times as many. I can see straight away that your ratio was a lot higher, and you found you had too many tops, so maybe that rule of thumb is not a bad guide.

    • Sorry, forgot to mention I don’t think it matters if some tops don’t work with some bottoms (i.e. your skirt tops not going with pants)I’ve given up on trying to make everything interchangeable, it’s just too hard! So long as most bottoms have a few tops that work with them, I find its enough, even for trips.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, I definitely packed too many tops, Alice! I think your 2 to 3 times ratio is a good one. It was waiting until the last minute that led me to just throw a lot of tops in without enough thought into narrowing them down. You’re probably right that I shouldn’t try to make everything interchangeable. I agree with you that having a few tops that work with each bottom is good enough for most of us.

  12. Every time I pack for a trip of any length, I always over pack shoes and tops! I usually have trouble figuring out what cardigans to pack that will look good with my dressier outfits and now I just pack a lovely scarf to drape over my shoulders instead. My most successful packing was for a two week trip to Europe in May. I limited myself to just 16 items of clothing and I still did not wear everything. I just got back from a one week trip to Hawaii and packed only 12 items and(you guessed it) still did not wear it all! I think it is fun to strive to pack the perfect travel wardrobe. Of course, it will never happen, but it is a fun challenge to try. Remember, layers are EVERYTHING!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I have the same packing challenges, Lori. I’ve gotten better with shoes, but still pack far too many tops – and I like to have a choice of toppers, too. Good idea about the scarf! I’m impressed with how well you packed for your Europe and Hawaii trips! You’re right that layering is very important. That’s something I need to work on! Since I live in a temperate climate, my usual idea of layering is a top and a jacket.

  13. My standard packing list (which I vary according to location and/or activity and/or climate/weather) is:
    1 pr. dressy black pants
    1 pr. casual pants (jean- like [5=pocket casual pants in a dark color or red) but generally not jeans unless I will be in a really casual environment); could be shorts or capris depending on location.
    1 black pencil skirt
    4-5 tops (sleeve length depends on weather/climate/environment) that work with all 3 bottom pieces ( 1 top is dressy-ish for dining out, theatre, ans so on. 1 top tends to be casual
    1 sweater or more formal sweater jacket for dressier environments
    1 jacket/raincoat
    1 swimsuit/cap/googles (my exercise of choice other than walking while on vacation).
    dressy shoes
    casual shoes, maybe sandals
    good flip flops (for slippers and for swimming)
    jammies and lightweight robe (depending on destination)
    undies and maybe a light l/s “undershirt” (like Cuddle Duds) to add a layer of warmth without bulk
    3-1-1 bag, small hair dryer (30 years old but dual voltage)
    small camera and smart phone
    A scarf or two, 1 watch with interchangeable straps, one bangle bracelet, 1-2 pair earrings, 1-2 lightweight necklaces
    Everything mixes and matches. Almost no prints — maybe one top
    Everything fits in a small non-wheeled carry-on. I don’t take more than 13 lbs including bag (which weighs 1 lb.) I generally wear everything I bring and plan to do laundry at least once a week or twice in a 2-week trip.

    This had worked well for me since 1985.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I appreciate your sharing your packing list, Dottie. It seems like you’ve gotten things down to a fine science! You must tuck your shirts in if they all work with the pants and the pencil skirt. It’s great that your shoes work with all of the bottoms, too. I wish I could see photos of your travel capsule, as well as some of the other ones shared here. Many of you have refined things far more than I have, but I haven’t traveled all that much (yet – I hope to). I had to look up what a 3-1-1 bag is… I learned something new today in addition to all of the great travel tips 🙂

    • Debbie Roes says:

      For others who are curious about what a 3-1-1 bag is, here’s a good post about it:

      https://www.smartertravel.com/2010/03/18/3-1-1-tip-how-to-carry-on-more-than-three-ounces/

  14. I’m with Alice on the top to bottom ratio. I also look for a bottom to days ratio. With a 12 day trip I’d have been aiming for 4-6 bottoms -skirts/pants/shorts total. If you aren’t where you have laundry facilities it gives you some leeway if you get something too dirty to wear.

    I usually only take one workout outfit -bottom/top/sports bra- on a trip that isn’t a sport-oriented trip. I hang it on a hanger in the closer or bathroom and let it dry out in between workouts.

    I have a travel-sized zippered jewelry case, got it at a Fossil store, and that limits what jewelry I bring. You never know what may go on in your motel room while you’re out, so I go easy on the jewelry, even though I don’t own anything particularly expensive.

    I’m not a minimal packer so it’s nice to read a packing account that didn’t squish everything into a carry-on bag. All the same, a suitcase shouldn’t ever be heavier than what you can lift enough to get on and off a rental car bus or hoist the thing into the trunk of your car.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      It seems like we are of a similar mindset when it comes to packing, Ginger. My posts on this topic are probably different than what other bloggers share, as I’m not trying to be a super minimalist. I’m learning as I go along and figure that my experience and lessons may be of value to others. I agree that we should easily be able to lift our luggage. My bag is older and too heavy, so I would eventually like to replace it. Good suggestions about top to bottom ratio and dealing with workout clothes!

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