How To: Travel Lightly

Why, hello!

This post was originally a guest post for the lovely Jessica of Jessica Who?  But since I have gotten a lot of feedback on my travels and such, I wanted to post it on my actual blog.  Here you go!


I’m here to talk about traveling lightly without compromising too much on style.

A bit of a background on me:

I recently got married and honeymooned to Hawaii.  It was awesome.  Both my husband and I have done quite a bit of traveling in our lives.  My mom and I share a love of new places, cultures, and experiences and my husband is an immigrant whose family is spread over four different continents.

My parents love to tell the tale of when we went on my first cruise and I brought “everything but the kitchen sink.”  Well, I was seven and when my parents told me our room would be “roomy,” I wanted to make it feel like home: so I brought a rug.  That’s right, a nice rug that I believe was in the shape of a flower.  I can’t believe my parents never checked a seven-year-old’s luggage.  Silly parents.

Since then, my mom and I have been to Europe a few times and our family has done a few cruises to different places.  Fortunately, I married someone who likes to travel and is pretty travel-smart like I have come to become: I no longer bring rugs on my vacations and I strive to only bring with me what I can carry on to the plane myself.

Last August, we went to visit his family in Europe, as well as do a few sightseeing of our own.  It was our first big trip together and ever.  I’d traveled by myself but never internationally before.

Now when I say big, I mean jam-packed intensity: nine different airports, about ten different flights, and five cities throughout Europe: Venice, Italy; Rome, Italy (including Vatican City); Palermo, Sicily, Italy; Campbeltown, Scotland; and Amsterdam, Holland all in fourteen days.  We were exhausted and couldn’t afford to carry more than what we really needed.  Checked bag charges really add up, friends.  $50 here, $17 here, etc.

But, I am perfecting the art of traveling lightly, friends!  I practiced it again when I went to NYC for a girls trip and then Oahu and the Big Island in Hawaii for our ten-day relaxation and adventure packed honeymoon:

#1.  One, one, one.

always pack one skirt that will go with most of my tops, one pair of pants that will go with most of my shirts, and one or two cardigans that will go with most of my shirts.  Getting the picture?

Skirts are breathable, comfortable, and can be good in cooler weather if you wear tights (like I do).

Cardigans are a fashion must even when I’m at home.  They can really add a lot to an outfit.  They can also cover up your ladies if you just want to pack a few tanks/camis to save some room in your bag, protect your shoulders from the hot sun, or warm you up if you’re on a tall piece of history/nature that has winds or just in a chilly place.

In Europe, I brought jeggings because I love jeggings.  They are breathable (because I gained a few bounds in Europe in spite of all the walking I did) and a darker pair can be dressed up at night.  In Hawaii, I brought a pair of grey cotton capris that were comfortable enough to tour in but also nice enough to wear

#2.  Wearing twice, just as nice.

Who cares if you wear the same outfit twice?  I definitely don’t.

#3.  You really only need three pairs of shoes.

Comfortable shoes you can tour around it is numero uno.  In my recent experience touring NYC, worn out TOMS do not do this.  I took brand new TOMS to Europe and they did just fine.  But they got so worn down it was like I was walking without shoes and support except that I had really constricting material around my feet.  Find shoes that are comfortable.  If you don’t want to wear sneakers, but can’t afford to keep buying new TOMS (or don’t have the problem I did), there are other options out there.

A pair of flats/heels that will go with your outfits for when you want to dress up.

A miscellaneous shoe: if you’re going to Scotland, something for the rain might be good.  But if you know you’re going to a warmer place, flip-flops are probably a great idea.

The only time I recommend adding a pair of shoes is if you are going from warm and sunny to cold and rainy like I did last August.

When I was in Paris for winter 2004, I packed: a pair of boots that I wore on the plane that matched most of my outfits and comfortable flats to be worn with nude color socks.

#4.  Accessories.

For Hawaii, I brought a cute sun hat.  Though some items aren’t practical because they take up space, other things, in moderation, don’t take up that much space and you can also change an outfit up with accessories just like any other outfit.

#5.  Pick items that will go with at least most everything else.

In Europe: I packed jeggings, a grey, skirt, and white capris as my bottoms.  I packed a fun lavender cardigan and a white cropped cardigan.  Most of those items went with the shirts I packed: a white tunic with a braided belt, a light striped top see in the picture of me in Rome, and a few different color camis/tank tops.  Yes, I packed one or two more clothing items, like a bathing suit and a casual dress, but I was essentially set for those busy two weeks in which the weather would vary from day-to-day.

#6.  Load up on underwear.  

No need to dig deep on this one, friends.  However, you can buy laundry detergent especially for travelers that you can do in the sink.  Personally, I don’t even do that, I just use soap and water for my underwears and hang them to dry.  If you know you’re going to be sweating a lot, I’d say pack a few more outfits and look into cleaning options.  But I wear clothes at least two times before I wash them at home anyways.

#7.  Go neutral with pops of color.

I really like the color grey as my neutral color.  So when I go on trips, I usually go for a grey skirt or pair of pants.  Grey is great for me because I’m not taking sides on the whole brown v. black issue.  Plus, it’s not a heavy color to be out in the sun.  In Europe it was a grey skirt that you’ve seen, it Hawaii it was a different grey skirt as well as a grey pair of capris.  I put on color tops and changed shoes to make different outfits without problems or commitments in the “does this match?” department.


Well, this ends a long post about traveling lightly.  These are simply my seven tips and tricks to avoiding checking bags, waiting to reclaim bags, and lugging around more luggage than you actually need while walking over a mile each way in the Venetian heat to get to and from your hotel (yes, true story).  Plus, in my experience, I still overpack sometimes.  I hope you find them somewhat helpful!