Support TFG by using the links in our articles to shop. We receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) so we can continue to create helpful free content. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made on Amazon in addition to other retailers featured on the blog. Thank you, we appreciate your support!
If you’re planning long-term travels or want to learn new packing hacks for your vacation, read this post on how to choose travel clothing. It’s one part of a series:
- Packing Tips and Travel Clothing for Multi-Season Trips
- How to Pack for Multi-Season Trips based on Your Travel Itinerary
It’s guaranteed to be a game changer!
How to Choose Travel Clothing
Packing for a trip is not easy especially if your goal is to pack light. Each item of travel clothing you pack needs to be relevant to ensure that you take the right items on your trip and avoid overpacking.
If you are planning a trip with varied destinations, activities, and climates, follow these tips to determine what clothing makes the cut and pack light with TFG!
Carefully assess each item of clothing examining its fabric, cut, and style and ask yourself the following questions:
1) Does it work in different settings?
2) Can I use it on more than one occasion?
3) Is it good quality?
4) Will it take up a lot of space in my bag?
5) Will this take ages to dry?
6) Does it mix and match with the other travel clothing I’ve selected?
Activities: Does it work in different settings?
Part of the fun of traveling is exploring everything a city has to offer. From treks and temples to restaurants and nightlife, your clothing has to work in a variety of settings.
Err on the side of caution and choose travel clothing that is stylish but not overly revealing. A maxi dress can be worn practically anywhere but a low neckline can’t. A button up blouse is versatile but if it’s too sheer it might be too revealing. Short shorts are cute but how short is too short.
Always pack conservative options that can be worn when entering religious sites or traveling to less touristy areas. Check out this post featured on BlondeTraveler.com about Stylish Options for Respectful Dress.
Multi-purpose: Can I use it on more than one occasion?
Every item in your bag should have multiple uses. An item does not need to be a “convertible” piece for it to serve multi-purpose. Consider these examples:
Convertible pants may work great in theory – they’re a 2-in-1. Many times, though, they’re not very flattering which makes many girls not want to wear them. It’s better to find something functional and fashionable like these travel pants – they’re the best!
Why pack something if you don’t like it?
For outdoor adventures, these are a pair of convertible pants some girls actually like!
While a sexy cocktail dress would be great just in case you got invited somewhere really nice, pack a more versatile option that can be dressed up or down for optimum versatility. These are the best convertible travel dresses for travel!
Quality: Is it durable?
Consider the life cycle of a clothing item you use at home. Even inexpensive items can last years if you only wear them occasionally. When you travel, however, your clothing works extra hard due to constant use and washing methods so its life span can be limited.
It’s important to pack travel clothing that is durable but keep in mind that after you’re on the road for a while everyone gets tired of wearing the same thing over and over. Choose items that will not fall apart after a few washes but items with a price tag you are comfortable giving up.
Packing Light: Will this take up a lot of space in my bag?
Before you purchase an item or select one from your own closet, roll it up and see how much space it needs. If it’s very bulky, consider taking a more compact item. Even in colder climates the key is to layer your clothing.
However, if the item can be used frequently and can mix and match many of your other travel clothing choices it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t pack it. Jeans, for example, can be bulky and heavy but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
Read more about why Jeans Makes Great Travel Pants!
Packing organizers can help compress even bulky items like jeans and jackets but try to choose lighter pieces that you can layer if needed.
Watch this video tutorial about how to use packing cubes. It’s a game changer!
Quick Dry: Will this take ages to dry?
Clothing materials that dry quickly are beneficial because they tend to pack lighter and they’re also easy to wash when you’re constantly on the move.
Just because a label says it has “quick dry” fabric, doesn’t mean it works. Likewise, just because your regular clothing isn’t travel specific, doesn’t mean the fabric won’t dry quickly. You’d be surprised how much of the clothing you already own dries quickly.
Give it a test!
Travel Tip: Wash the clothing you want to take and let it dry indoors in the bathroom. If it takes longer than 24 hours, it may not be the best choice. For more info, read this article on Choosing the Best Fabrics for Travel for a basic guideline on materials.
As a general rule, if you plan on packing less than ten clothing items, you want to make sure the majority of your clothing can dry quickly because your options are more limited.
Follow the guidelines on how to create a capsule wardrobe for travel!
Mix and Match: Does it go well with the other travel clothing I’ve selected?
With limited clothing options, it’s important to maximize your travel wardrobe. Choose each item very carefully and plan clothing that’s interchangeable. Determine whether or not your clothing can mix and match and test out the different combinations that can be made with your choices.
By choosing complementary clothing and planning travel outfits in advance, you’re not only well prepared but you also avoid over packing, too.
This RTW Packing List example shows 15 clothing items in a variety of colors and styles that can be layered over each other in the cold and worn separately to make a variety of travel outfits:
Final words of advice
Don’t start your trip with clothing that’s already worn out. It will fall apart very quickly when you travel anyway.
Even though your intentions may be to give away your travel clothing at the end of your trip, your clothing will be more than ready to be tossed due to durability or by choice. You may love it right now but you might hate it after wearing it every day for weeks at a time.
It’s normal to have to or want to replace items after you’re on the road for a while but you don’t want this to happen immediately. Be prepared to buy a few new pieces here and there to freshen up your wardrobe.
If you pack travel clothing that doesn’t work…
Don’t forget, if you choose an item (or several) that you find were not the best choices, you can always replace them. It’s a good idea not to invest more money on clothing than you want to give away. If you pack clothing that doesn’t work you have a few options:
- Carry it around for your entire trip
- Pay to send it home if it’s worth the price of shipping.
- Donate it to a local or another traveler because one’s trash is another treasure!
I like option #3!
Need help creating a capsule wardrobe?
Savvy travelers know that a capsule wardrobe is the secret to traveling carry-on only. Pack Light Stylishly is our eBook that shows you exactly how to make a functional yet stylish capsule wardrobe for travel.
Learn more about Pack Light Stylishly here!
What are your best tips for how to choose travel clothing?
Please read the other tips in this series:
- Long Term Travel Packing List
- How to Choose the Best Travel Backpack
- What Travel Shoes to Pack for a RTW Trip?
- RTW Packing List: What Toiletries to Bring
LIKE THIS POST? PIN THIS PIC TO SAVE IT!
I absolutely love this post and it’s definitely aiding me in planning my trip for summer 2016! I would love to know what backpack is that in the picture?
Hi Thalia, the image is a stock photo so I don’t know the exact make but this is my favorite travel backpack: https://travelfashiongirl.com/farpoint-osprey-packs-the-best-travel-backpacks/
You might also find this link helpful: https://travelfashiongirl.com/packing-list-for-long-term-travel/
I’ll be publishing an ebook for backpackers soon, stay tuned!
Thanks for the great posts! I’ve been having a lot of fun reading your blog and getting excited about my upcoming trip.
What is the maxi skirt pictured in the “Stylish Options for Respectful Dress” image? Thanks!
Thanks! The skirt was from mango.com although I think it’s sold out by now…
Karis Abroad: hope you’re listening…saw that you just went to Myanmar. I’ll be going early Nov. Any clothing/shopping tips?
Good tips! I learned my lesson about the quick dry fabrics during a recent trip during Myanmar’s rainy season…it did not end well or dry! lol
oh no! what fabrics did you pack?
I’ve been on a multi-season trip for the past 7 months and find that I need less cold-weather clothing than is shown here. A warm jacket can be worn every day over a sweater or fleece for very cold weather. Then wear a t-shirt or undershirt underneath the sweater. Then the sweater/fleece can be worn several times before needing to wash it since you have been wearing a layer under it. Basically, IMO, you don’t need a coat, a fleece, a sweater, and 3 long-sleeve shirts! But I guess if you are spending a LOT of time in cold weather, that might be good….
Hi Kelly! This is only a guideline I’m sure everyone will adjust according to their unique itineraries as one size does not fit all 🙂 There’s only two outerwear pieces in this list: jacket and fleece with two long sleeves for cold, one light long sleeve for conservative areas in the heat, and one button up. I should probably explain each item shown – thanks for the idea!
This is a great blog post for any adventure travel. Just add “adventure specific” gear. When traveling for a sport that requires gear, it is critical to pack light for not sport clothes. This list is great for the travel we always do around the sport. Great post! Sharing A LOT! Thanks!
Thanks Dawn! Glad you liked it 🙂