Hi Frugalistas! I’ve written a lot about the mistakes people make with their packing. So now I’m sharing what I take when I’m travelling. This list is my basic packing list that will do all, for one bag travel that lasts for a week plus, and can be adapted to any situation from a winter trek through Europe to a 10 day tropical resort chill out.
My one bag packing list basics
1. I don’t normally pack shorts. Unless it’s to a resort. I just don’t like them for every day wear, and prefer to wear a skirt or dress if I want to have bare legs in the city. In Europe they are occasionally worn by locals, but tend to be the wardrobe of visitors.
2. Two pairs of shoes – I know everyone is going to groan on this one, but really, if you can discipline yourself to do it, your life will never be the same again. Shoes take up so much space in my bag – space I would rather fill with shopping, or increasing my choice of clothing…..My only exception is thongs/flipflops/jandals for resorts and if you are using shared bathrooms. Then it is a health and hygiene necessity.
3. Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise. I take costume jewelery, scarves, and a couple of belts to make my outfits look and feel different.
4. Consistent colour palette so any article of clothing goes with anything else. Think black, grey, white, purple, livened up with red, blue and any other colour of your choosing! The concept of making sure every item of clothing goes with every other item of clothing can be difficult to grasp. But this is the key to packing light, and still having plenty of choices. Forget outfits of clothes, and think “everything goes with everything else” and you will never run out of combinations to take out of your bag.
5. More tops than bottoms. You can get away with fewer bottoms (pants/skirts/shorts) as the basis for your wardrobe, and make room for more tops. This will make it seem like you’ve got more choice.
So, here is the frugal first class travel guaranteed to fit in one bag packing list:
(Including what I wear on the plane……)
3-4 singlet tops or Tshirts
3-4 long sleeved tops suitable for the climate – can be cut down to 1-2 for guaranteed hot weather
2-3 bottoms – skirts and pants. Shorts if you insist……
1 dress – for dressing up or down as required
3-4 sets underwear and tights (again, forget the tights in guaranteed hot weather)
A couple of scarves and a couple of costume necklaces (personally I leave all my good stuff at home, but feel free to pack the tiara if you want to)
2 pairs of shoes, appropriate for the climate and what I’m doing. In reality, this means ankle boots for winter, a pair of really comfy flats for almost all the rest of the time, and a pair of sandals for the heat. And the thongs/flipflops/jandals for when I need them.
A coat – except for the tropics. I take a leather jacket or trench most of the year round, and a down coat for the winter. To be worn rather than packed.
Thermals – a necessity for many winter locations, but I often take a thermal top for extra laying without bulk if the weather is perhaps unpredictable (like going to Europe in Spring and late Autumn).
Night attire for bed, but leave the dressing gown and slippers at home…….
Swimming costume – only if it is likely I am going to need it. The reality is that unless you staying somewhere with a pool and it is the right time of the year you just aren’t going to wear it.
A microfibre towel – to be used as an extra towel if needed in the hotel, a picnic rug, a wrap for draughts.
Toiletries. I put them into a plastic ziploc bag even if I am planning on checking luggage. It’s just a good discipline to be in, and it means you don’t waste space on things you won’t need – you do not need to pack a whole bottle of shampoo. I love Go Toobs to pack my liquids in.
A folding umbrella. The smallest, lightest one you can find.
I pack everything in packing cubes. If you haven’t used packing cubes, I promise they will change your life. You can read my packing cubes review here.
Australian and New Zealand readers should check out my favorite packing cubes right here.
Add in your guide book, copies of documents and you’re good to go – in just one carry on bag!