Up until about three years ago, I was an international travel maniac – and consequently, a self-proclaimed packing genius. Impulsive and adventurous, I could be found slurping noodles in humid Hong Kong alleyways, thrashing my way through a Swedish metal festival in the rain, or profusely apologizing for myself in mangled Korean because my metro pass malfunctioned in the station once again. Silly little mishaps got in my way, but extra baggage rarely did.
My return to the States meant swapping out global sojourns for more road trips and domestic treks. It also meant the luxury of bringing whatever I darn well pleased, because the space in a car is wayyy more forgiving than suitcase weight limits and schlepping it all through terminals and public transit. However, I became overburdened with stuff. I lost my way. Packing prowess: gone.
Or was it? After reading “stuff ruins trips”, I’ve decided to get back to my essentials-only travel roots. Making the most of suitcase space by curating versatile and locale-specific outfits makes time for stumbling through a new language or really exploring the surroundings. Below are some perfect foundational packing options for whatever summer travels plans may arise!
Cozy Cabin Getaway
Maybe it’s just me, but nothing says “I’m spending time in the woods” quite like a cotton anorak. Between its protective hood and roomy pockets for storing hiking trail treasures, this jacket exemplifies essential. Plus, it layers super easily over a swingy jersey knit tee and high-waisted leggings – both of which are prime picks for a casual hike or lounging around the fireplace. As for the sneakers? They meet the must-pack criteria of being incredibly comfortable and superbly versatile.
Spontaneous Beach Weekend
Repurposing swimwear (mainly tops and one pieces) as day-to-day garments is something I experimented with pretty recently and I am in love. It’s like having this strange little secret – only you know that you’re rocking a bathing suit out to dinner because with the right supplemental pieces, it looks so, so good. Plus, that’s one less top you’ve gotta pack! Pair it up with bottoms made from fuss-free fabric (like the navy number above) because you should never have to choose between steaming clothes you had to pack at the last minute or making sandcastles. The shades are an obvious choice, and as for the strappy sandals? They’re a cinch to kick off when you hit the sand and simple to slip back on so you don’t get all splintered up from the boardwalk.
I used to get the worst wardrobe envy when exploring a new city. Suddenly, everything I packed felt obsolete and ensemble anxiety wracked my brain. To combat this frightening fashion phenomenon, I’ve taken to playing up the basics. A trusty moto jacket looks good with almost all clothing on earth (a hyperbole I stand by for life), especially feminine-leaning dresses. As for where the patterned button-up comes into frame, that’s where the real fun happens. Reinventing a staple dress is as simple as layering a top like this as a second bodice, having its collar peek through the frock’s neckline for a touch of color, or just rockin’ it open as a vest. So many looks, so much less packing to do. Also, I highly recommend flat kicks with easy-to-clean uppers. I’ve stepped in enough mystery sidewalk messes to accept anything else as a terrible mistake. Also, loafers are one of the easiest ways to look and feel really put together. I have yet to meet anyone wearing loafers that appeared totally lost in life.
Wishing light luggage, abundant memories, and very safe travels to you this summer!
+What are your top suitcase essentials?