Travel Packing List for the Not So Minimalist Packer
It’s no secret that I am not a capsule wardrobe packer. What I am is a woman who packs for both comfort and style in the most efficient way possible… for me. A decent travel packing list is essential, even if you aren’t a minimalist packer.
Let’s just admit it—sometimes packing light is really hard. We all can’t travel carry on bag only.
I like to accessorize, mix and match, and need everything to hold up, even my undergarments for hours at a time while I run around photographing historic sites, delectable dishes at restaurants and street carts, the city streets of Paris, Bedouin women weaving tents, and sitting on a train for hours at a time catching up on work.
K.I.S.S. packing list
I actually abhor a packing checklist on principal, mainly because they were forced on me as a kid. Now that I have my own children, I understand the necessity of them, but the best list is still in my head. This is probably why I get so annoyed with my family when we are packing up, even for weekend trips.
When it comes to your own travel packing list, K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) is the way to go. You don’t need EVERYTHING. In fact, if you tend to overpack, you probably need half of what is in your suitcase right now. Cut your trousers/pants and tops in half. Just do it. Right now.
Prioritize your undergarments
Bras and undies are always a tough one for me. Undergarments are the first contact with your skin. You want them to be clean and comfortable. It’s the first way we love our bodies each day.
However, you really should only bring enough underwear for the days you will be gone if you can’t stomach washing undies in a sink. If you are OK doing laundry in the sink, bring half the number of underwear that you think you will need.
As for bras, stick to neutrals that will work with all of your clothing. Now is not the time to go uber sexy. You want to be comfortable. Long hours in the air is not the time to have a cheap underwire digging into your ribcage. Trust me—been there, done that.
After having two boys that kicked out my rib cage from a 32 to a 36A (borderline 38!), shopping for comfortable bras is next to impossible. Cacique Intimates, a fully-inclusive lingerie line, new brand ethos rooted in self-love, inclusivity and femininity across their brand is catering to women with bra sizes 32-50, cup sizes A-K. I’m pretty much guaranteed something that will fit me. Even better, if it doesn’t, I can return to any Lane Bryant store for free, and place a new order at no shipping cost in store. After all, curves, no matter how big or small, should be celebrated, not hidden ladies.
Grab a skin tone and black Cacique Multi-Way Boost strapless bra that can go under maxi dresses, jumpsuits and tank tops. The extra support means even those that aren’t as blessed as others can still hold up their girls without wires digging into their ribs. Pack up one skin tone t-shirt bra, like the Cacique Simply Wire Free Lightly Lined T-Shirt Bra, for underneath shirts with sleeves and you will be good to go.
Shoes will make or break your suitcase
You can bring two pairs of shoes. And maybe a pair of thin flip flops. Period. I know, I know. This is the hardest part, but that is why you have that giant checked bag plus two carry-on bags.
I used to pack five pairs of shoes. Why? Just in case. Yes, just in case something came up that I needed heels, those cute flats and a peep toe. You know what? Nothing ever came up. I wore the same two pairs of shoes (or types of shoes) that I always did, so I stopped packing for “just in case.”
Pack a pair of comfy shoes (street sneakers) and ankle boots in the winter, or sneakers and cute, comfortable sandals in the summer. There. You are done.
Bottoms take up way too much room
You don’t need many bottoms, when you can mix and match tops over them. Remember, these tend to take up the most room, so you want to take less.
Jeans and neutral bottoms hide the fact that you have been wearing the same pair of trousers, shorts or jeans for three days in a row. Bring a solid color skirt or three-way maxi dress/skirt that wears in multiple ways and you will be set for evening looks.
Tops and accessories have the most packing fun
When you want to have fun with your outfits and show off your style, your tops and accessories are the easiest place to do it. They pack up smaller, and still have a lot of flair. Think about earrings, big necklaces, scarves, brightly colored tops, tanks, flowy cardigans and kimonos.
All of these items can be mixed and matched together as you travel through your destination. Even when you are hiking through the mountains of Banff, you can mix and match your hiking wear to stay fresh in photos and for your friends. Not that anyone is judging you. Seriously, no one cares what you wear but you.
Our favorite products on our travel packing list
Now that we have why you are packing each category, you may be asking, “but what are the best products to actually pack up for my trip?” Well, after decades of travel, we’ve found a few things that we do like to travel with and can’t leave home without.
As I get older, I can’t stand to be uncomfortable. After giving birth to my boys, my body also changed in unexpected ways, which meant I had to find products to accommodate an expanded rib cage and feet that really didn’t want to wander in three-inch heels anymore, even for five blocks to a meeting. So, here’s what I’m packing in our suitcase these days.
Best Bras to Pack
We’ve all been there. Your bra quits on you halfway through the day, but when you are traveling, you can’t exactly let the girls go free while you are wandering through the streets of Rome, trekking across Jordan or taking the kids to the museums of Washington, D.C.
Society just doesn’t allow it.
As a gal with, shall we say, smaller proportions, I find bras even more uncomfortable to deal with. Wires often stick me in the ribs and the side, or they just don’t fit my expanded rib cage after my boys kicked them out while I was pregnant (raise your hand if you went up two sizes after being pregnant- not cup, just width).
No matter your size, Cacique Intimates has the right fit for you though. And in patterns, styles and fabrics that can breathe, are washable even in hotel sinks, and won’t leave you “hanging” for all the world to see.
Which bras work best for travel?
Wireless is always best if your size allows it, as it works for almost every outfit. If not, a bra that gives good support is your best bet. We are loving the Cacique Intimates collection right now, including:
- Simply Wire Free Lightly Lined T-Shirt Bra
- Unlined No-Wire Cooling Bra
- Multi-Way Boost Strapless Bra
- Max Boost Plunge Bra
Road Warrior Shoes
Did you hear about the woman who was hiking down into the Grand Canyon in flip flops? As if she didn’t understand that flip flops aren’t appropriate hiking footwear. Not only was it dangerous, but it was just dumb.
In a “perfect photo” age, I get that we want our feet to look just as cute as the rest of us, but sometimes you just have to sacrifice adorable for practical. We all need to figure out how to make our walking shoes look good with our outfit, without putting ourselves at risk when we are out and about. Or, if you really need to have those cute flip-flops on for photos, pack them in your day bag.
Our favorite hiking shoes come in a variety of colors, and actually allow your toes to splay out to give you better balance no matter where you are headed. They have a street sneaker I trek in all over the cities across the U.S. and Europe, too. But when I want sandals, I still think about what will give me support.
My sister, who I consider one of the more stylish women in this world, has been wearing heels for decades as she heads up a graduate school program in Philadelphia. Whether she is teaching a class, leading a symposium or just hauling it up a few flights up steps to her next meeting, her feet can’t quit on her. And she does it all in some of the cutest booties, wedges and sandals you can buy. And you would never think they are under $200.
Want to get your own? Here are both of our favorite shoes for travel:
Jeans, Pants and Trousers that Wear Well
Travel pants seem to cause women a lot of stress. I don’t know why we think we need a specific pair of trousers to travel in, but we do. I personally pack up the same clothing that I wear at home when I’m on the road.
If I’m headed into the jungle, I may bring a pair that has built in bug protection.. Other than that, my dresser is where I turn, not some travel clothing bin in storage.
However, I do have some favorites in my closet that always get thrown into my suitcase. These pants and capris hold up to multiple situations, look good, and some even wash well and dry overnight in hotel rooms.
- Capris: Cute and functional, whether you are walking the city streets or hiking up Mt. Rainier, a quality pair of hiking capris will hold up for years of travel near and far.
- Quality jeans: Just as my bra size is complicated, so too is my jean size. I have no bum, so these skinny jeans keep their shape thanks to a bit of spandex, but still look and feel like denim.
- Bug-resistent pants: : Find a pair of lightweight joggers that you feel great in, like these, , so when you are in the jungles of Brazil, or the Washington DC swamp in summer, they still stay cool and keep the mosquitos away.
Last Packing Tips
There are loads of tips for packing light out there, but not all of us can or want to do that. What you need to do is learn how to build a travel packing list that prioritizes what works for you. .
Yes, you need your credit card or debit card. No, you don’t need a money belt (probably), but you do need your toiletry bag. A travel pillow and eye mask are your call, but will take up more room in your carry-on bag. Absolutely bring your water bottle. But, when it comes to your clothes, you need to start paring down right now, even if you are using packing cubes or the roll method when you pack.
After all, you want room for souvenirs, right? I know I will need room for all of that Cinque Terre wine I’m bringing home from Italy.