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Marti from A String of Pearls Blog sure knows how to pack a sophisticated yet casual travel wardrobe. I loved reading Marti’s packing post about her recent trip to Egypt and she’s been kind enough to elaborate on her choices and also share her tips with you. Even though this list is about her 8 day trip, it would work just as well on an 8 month trip, too! Read on to learn how she chose the pieces to her perfect travel wardrobe:
Packing for Your Trip – In 4 Simple Steps!
by Marti Gutwein
Look in the below product descriptions, to find out where to buy the items shown!
Step #1: Start with Shoes
Two rules to remember, 1) they must be comfortable and 2) only three pairs.[quote_right]Two rules to remember, 1) they must be comfortable and 2) only three pairs.[/quote_right]The shoes pictured below have proven to be a perfect combination. In the middle, Merrells, light hikers. I have taken these, or a earlier version of these, on every trip I can remember. Comfortable for hiking on a trail, or hiking around the ctiy. They are a bit bulky, so these get worn on the plane, but the bungee ties make them easy on and off at security.
My second pair is a pair of Gap flip flops with a bit of bling. A necessity at the beach or pool, and in hotel rooms so you don’t have to walk on the icky carpeting. With the bit of bling, they can be paired with a skirt or pants for dinner in the evening.
The third pair can vary. Here I show a pair of Dansko walking sandals. They look nice with pants, shorts, or a skirt, and provide good support for long days of walking. The chunky heel handles cobblestone streets with ease. But, depending on the season and locale, you may sub out the walking sandals for a pair of boots or comfy ballet flats.
Step #2: Bottoms
After picking shoes, I turn my attention to the bottoms. For a 1-2 week trip, I would pack 4 bottoms. (TFG: same for a trip of longer length, too!) Your choice will again depend on the season and locale, but I often pack a pair of straight leg jeans, and if so, I will wear these on the plane. I wear jeans a lot at home, and I wear jeans a lot when I travel. They’re easy.
The second choice might be something like my Athleta Dipper Pant. They can be dressed up or down, and when I needed to spot clean them in the hotel sink, they easily dried overnight.
For my third bottom option, I might pick a pair of black leggings to be paired with a colorful t-shirt dress, or a pair of black yoga pants in which case I would wear them on the plane and pack the jeans.
Finally, I would pick a gray knit skirt or a sleeveless black dress with a bit of stretch. I like either the Athleta Strata Skirt on the left, or the silk and cotton jersey maxi skirt from Eileen Fisher on the right (trust me, it’s much cuter in real life!). Either one will pair with any of your tops. If you go with the black dress option, you can top it with a cardigan or scarf for evening, or wear it solo with a some colorful jewelry for daytime sightseeing.
Versatility is key to a travel capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
Athleta Strata Skirt / Eileen Fisher
Step #3 Tops & Scarves
For a basic 1-2 week trip, I pack 2-3 button up shirts, 3-4 tees, one long sleeve tee and one white tank. (TFG: Again, this also works for a trip of longer length, too! See Maximista Packing List.) If you are going to a cooler locale, throw in a cardigan and a quarter zip pullover.[quote_left]When you choose your tops, think color and style, along with comfort.[/quote_left] And this is the time to think about style and color. When we talked about shoes and bottoms, it was all about being comfortable. When you choose your tops, think color and style, along with comfort…because you’ll be taking lots of pictures! You are going to be showing your trip pics to a lot of friends and family, so you want to look your best! Don’t be afraid of bright colors – they look nice in photographs!
For the button-up shirts, one of them should be a bit longer, maybe a tunic, maybe not, but at least a little bit longer. Then you can use this as your swimming suit cover-up. Another versatile option is a light weight chambray or denim – looks good with the gray skirt, khaki pants or over a black dress or pants, and nice for layering over a tee.
The key to traveling light is to use slim packing cubes to save space in your suitcase and travel carry-on only.
For tees, pick your favorites, with a bit of style – maybe a graphic design, or some side ruching, to make them a little more interesting. Then throw in a thin long sleeve black tee. I have an old NIKE Women’s Dri-Fit Long Sleeve that gets packed on most trips. I can layer it over a tee, under a tee, under a shirt, or wear it with my jeans and some dangly earrings for a nice dinner in the evening. So versatile!
And don’t forget a white tank. It takes up very little space, looks nice layered under a button up shirt, pairs with the leggings or yoga pants for working out or lounging around. I have never regretted packing a white tank, and when I haven’t packed it, I usually wished I would have.
When traveling in the spring or fall, add a cardigan to your suitcase, one in a pretty color than coordinates with most of your tees. I like a merino wool “boyfriend” cardigan, a bit longer and just the right amount of warmth.
I also pack a quarter zip athletic style top, such as the C9 by Champion premium quarter zip shown below. So comfortable, and so easy to wear on the plane with either jeans or yoga pants, and works great as a layer over the tank, tees or the long sleeve Nike t-shirt. (I confess that I like this top so much, I have it in three colors! I wear it all the time, at home and on the road.)
C9 by Champion premium quarter zip
When you travel, scarves are your best friends!
After you’ve picked out your shirts and tops, pick out a couple of colorful scarves to coordinate with them. On my last trip to Egypt, I lost count of the ways I used my scarves… for covering my head in the mosque, for covering the headrest in the train, for covering my arms in the sun, for covering my mouth to keep out the blowing sand, for using the corner to wipe the sand off my face, then using another corner to wipe the sweat off, for dabbing at a bit of water spilled on the plane, for wrapping around my arms like a shawl in the cool evenings, and finally, as a cute and colorful fashion accessory.
Step #4 The Extras
In this category I include things like jackets, socks, and swimsuits.
Below is a picture of my favorite jackets for packing. It took a lot of trial and error, but I can testify to this combination. On the left is a black Northface soft shell, and on the right, a white Northface hooded rain jacket.
Together they are perfect. If it’s just a little cold, wear the black softshell. If it’s not too cold, but rainy, wear the white raincoat. If it’s not too cold but windy, wear the white raincoat. If it’s cold, cold and rainy, or cold and windy, don’t let the bad weather slow you down, just layer the softshell under the rain jacket and keep on going. This combination has served me well in the Swiss Alps, along the Chilean coast on the Carrera Austral, and in the Patagonia area of Argentina.
Please understand than I am not out for extended backpacking adventures, but for general travel and light outdoor adventures, this combo works great! In the pocket of my white rain shell is a Brooks black head band to cover my ears – I keep it in there all the time, ready to go. Pull on the head band and a pair of gloves, and I’m ready for almost any weather.
A few other odds and ends include a swimsuit, because even if your plans don’t include the beach, you never know when you might be by a pool or hot thermal springs. And really, a swimsuit doesn’t take up much room and it’s just too hard to find one you like.
It’s not my usual style, but I tried it and I loved it. For my last trip a friend suggested a short t-shirt dress with leggings. So cute, so comfortable! It was especially nice for our overnight train, but also so easy to wear just walking around during the day. I actually got more comments on my outfit than on the scenery in this picture below!
Short T-Shirt Dress + Leggings Combo = easy travel outfit
And finally, don’t forget your socks… Smartwool socks! They are the best! They last forever and by some magical quality, don’t stink at the end of a long day. Pack a couple of pair and wash them out in the sink when you need to.
Finally, add your bras and panties, something to sleep in (or just use a tee and leggings), and some inexpensive jewelry – nothing too nice in case it gets lost or stolen – basic rhinestone studs and a pair of dangly earrings and maybe a necklace or two – and you should be set for a comfortable and stylish vacation.
Step #5 – Take a deep breath, step back, and admire your work
In my opinion, a good packing list is a thing of beauty. Below you see everything I packed, minus my bra and panties, sunglasses and toiletries, for a 8 day trip to Egypt. I followed the steps above, eliminating the jackets and cardigan as we were traveling to Egypt and the forecast was for hot and dry weather. I wore everything I packed, but didn’t wish for something I hadn’t packed. Mission accomplished!
Packing List Summary
Jeans and khakis on the left, skirt and leggings along the right. Three button up shirts, orange (longer length), white and chambray are spread across the top. Folded and layered are 4 t-shirts, then the white tank, long sleeve black T and the purple dress. Swim suit and socks are clustered by the skirt and scarves in a poof near the top. And in the center, the stars of the show, my shoes.
TFG recommends: Check out the Travel Fashion Girl Universal Packing Lists for more great packing tips and travel wardrobe ideas!
Thanks Marti for sharing your awesome packing choices with us! Don’t forget to check out her travel blog: A String of Pearls.
What are your best packing tips?
For more ideas, please read:
- Capsule Wardrobe Essentials
- Egypt Travel Packing List: Essentials
- Dressing in Conservative Countries
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