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Building Your Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Your Five-Step Plan!

a traveler dancing in front of a river

Is it your dream to never check a bag on a flight again? I hear you. Delays at check in, standing around waiting at baggage carousels, and worrying about lost luggage are absolutely not how I want to be spending my precious travel time!

But the hardest part of packing just in a carry on? Getting your wardrobe to fit in your bags. It’s so easy to overpack when you’re leaving home. How do you narrow down what you need? And how to get it all to fit in your bag?

The solution? Build yourself a travel capsule wardrobe that you can flex for every possible trip! And best of all, you can do it with the clothes you already own!

Ready? Here’s your Five Step Plan!

a traveler in front of a painting

Step 1 - Nail Down a Color Scheme

Pick a theme and stick with it! The easiest way to not overpack is to make sure that everything you bring matches each other. You’ll want your base colors to be the kind of hues that absolutely proliferate your closet. This will be different for every traveler depending on what colors you wear in your day-to-day. 

My core colors are usually either black and white, or navy blue and brown. And I don’t cross the streams. If I’m packing with a black and white palette, those clashing browns and dark blues don’t make it into the suitcase.

Step 2 - Pick Good Bases

a traveler in front of a fountain

Now that you’ve got your core colors chosen, it’s time to choose your base pieces. These bases are going to be the key items that you wear multiple times over the course of your trip, like the pairs of pants or shorts, or outerwear like sweaters, jackets, and cardigans. Make these items neutrals or core colors that match a lot of things, and make sure they’ll stand up to multiple wears.

Step 3 - Add Your Daily Wears

Now that you’ve got your bases, it’s time to choose your single-wear items. Pick a top for each day of your trip. This is also where you can add full-body pieces like dresses or jumpsuits or rompers. You can deviate from your core colors here, but make sure each piece matches your bases! Make sure your tops don’t clash with your bottoms, or with your cardigans and sweaters! This is also where you should pack your extras like socks and pajamas.

a traveler in a rainbow hat

Step 4 - Accessorize with Color

Finally, it’s time to go wild! When you’ve got your travel wardrobe all laid out, start adding scarves, jewelry, hats, and whatever else you love when it comes to accessories. This is the perfect time to add pops of glorious, off-the-wall colors. The less space it takes up in your luggage, the less it needs to match everything else.

Step 5 - Wear the Bulky Stuff on the Plane

But Andi, this doesn’t all fit in my carry on!!

It will if you wear the bulkiest stuff on the plane! Set aside your sturdiest pants, your heaviest sweater and jacket, your bulkiest pair of shoes, and any extras like hats and scarves, and plan to wear those out of the house on departure day. Set them aside somewhere obvious so you don’t forget anything, and watch everything else magically fit right into your luggage!

 mirror selfie of a traveler with carry on luggage

This Strategy Can Help You Build a Capsule Travel Wardrobe for any Destination!

Give this a try on your next trip! It’s endlessly customizable to fit whatever destination you’re visiting.

Need a printable to help keep your packing on track? Subscribe to the blog today and you'll receive a FREE Packing Light List: the ultimate guide to packing everything you need and nothing you don't!

Love and Shenanigans,


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