Hi Frugalistas! I love clothes – beautiful clothes. I have a lot of them, and I love wearing them. I love creating new looks and going out knowing I look good. When I travel it’s no different. I still want to look good. But I also love travelling light with just my one carry on bag when I go travelling. Having a great carry on bag wardrobe comes down to choices – what you choose to take and what you choose to leave at home. So, using my own real wardrobe, here are 5 things I never pack and things to pack instead, guaranteed to make one bag travel easier.
Things I never pack, and things to pack instead
1. A thick woollen overcoat
When you are travelling to cooler climates it is tempting to take a thick overcoat to rug up. But for me, a big woollen overcoat is a big no, no. Too big, too bulky and not helpful if it rains. If it’s seriously cold an overcoat is not warm enough, and trans seasonal it’s just too hot. Despite all my years of travelling with one carry on bag I’ve never worked out how to pack an overcoat into a carry on bag.
My preference is a classic cotton trench. In the wet it provides some protection, and in colder weather, I layer, layer, layer. If you don’t want to wear your trench it will pack down making it easier to carry.
A trench coat with some layers underneath is a much better option. In seriously cold weather go for a down coat and forget about bulky, heavy overcoats
2. A brown leather jacket
My brown leather jacket is a great piece. It’s my never fail go-to jacket for all sorts of occasions. It goes with jeans on the weekend and is perfect with a plain skirt for work. Given my love of versatile pieces you’d think I’d love to travel with this jacket. But I don’t. Firstly, the front is beaded and quite fragile, so that means it needs to worn and packed very carefully. Secondly, I don’t have enough options to make this part of my capsule travel wardrobe – the brown just doesn’t go with much of my preferred capsule pieces.
My preferred travel option is therefore a classic black cropped jacket. It goes with everything and packs down to nothing. It doesn’t crease. When I’m travelling I want to concentrate on enjoying myself, not worrying about whether I’m going to ruin my clothes…..
Leave items that need special care at home. You’ll spend more time worrying about your garment instead of having a good time. Stick to pieces that go with everything – the capsule wardrobe is king!
3. My trendy grey skirt
When I bought the skirt on the right I thought it would be a travel winner. It looked fabulous on, and was super light and comfortable. It packs down to nothing and doesn’t wrinkle. BUT……I don’t like how it looks with flat shoes (it really needs heels to look good) and needs grey, rather than my usual black tights.
So, disappointingly, it’s not going on my travels. That doesn’t mean you have to settle for a boring plain black skirt. Instead, I’m going for this stretchy patterned number. It goes perfectly with flats, and the colours fit perfectly with other items I like to take as part of my capsule wardrobe. I still feel great in it, and I know I’m not missing out looking good whenever I wear it.
No matter how great a piece looks on you, it’s not worth packing if it needs special accessories, shoes or other garments. Take something else that goes with everything, but still makes you feel special.
On the weekends I love my sneakers. I wear them with jeans, with skirts and with casual dresses. But I never travel with them. I like my shoes to multitask just like my clothes, and sneakers are just too limiting. They are casual and that is that.
In warmer climates I go for flat espadrilles. I can wear them all day, and then for a casual night out if I don’t want to get dressed up. They take up no more space in my bag, and just deliver far more bang for the buck!
When it’s cooler I wear my flat ankle boots. Again they go with everything. They are comfy and can be dressed up or down.
Your shoes should multitask too. Don’t take shoes that you can only wear with certain outfits or on certain occasions.
5. Classic black flats
My black patent leather flats (on the right) came from Paris. They are smart and stylish and perfect for European travels. They are comfortable and go with everything. I wear them with everything from jeans to smart dresses and skirts. Perfect for my one carry on bag, right? No, I don’t travel with them. They are very solid and quite rigid – meaning they take up a lot more room in my case. They also have quite a hard sole, so are not so forgiving on cobblestones and uneven surfaces.
My preferred option is therefore a pair of ultrasoft ballet flats. They pack down to nothing, and have a thick rubber sole that is far more forgiving on uneven surfaces.
Think about how much room your shoes will take up in your case. It’s also important to think about where you will be walking, and what you will be doing. Uncomfortable shoes can make your trip miserable, so it’s worthwhile paying extra attention to making sure you have the exact right pairs.
If my shoe choices aren’t your style, I’ve found some other great shoe options for travel.
Think about what you are packing. Lay out your choices and think hard about your options. Go for easy wearing, comfortable, multitasking pieces. Remember capsule is king – forget about “outfits”, and make sure everything you pack goes with everything else. Forget about boring – you can still pack, wear and enjoy fabulous clothes in your one carry on bag – just spend the time to get it right.
How do you decide what to pack? You can find a comprehensive list of absolutely everything you will ever need to pack here