Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Master Packing List for Traveling Light

Last year Rico and I traveled to Brazil for nearly 3 weeks with only a small carry-on suitcase each. This year, we have traveled with a bit more stuff (a lot more, really, in my case). My big, not-at-all-surprising revelation has been that I would have been just as happy with half the clothes and knick-knacks. I could have easily gone carry-on only for this trip as well, and have really learned what is essential and what is not.

In the spirit of creating the perfect minimalist packing list for our next trip (and for you to use, too) I offer the following guide. This list is geared for a destination that has a moderate climate that is somewhat unpredictable (e.g. San Francisco Bay Area in the summer, Rio de Janeiro in the winter), so the clothing choices are layering-friendly. Also, there isn't anything for really cold weather, although in my experience you could easily throw in a heavy jacket and boots and tailor things as necessary for chilly climates. This list should get you through 1-3 weeks of travel, with the occasional need for washing underwear/socks/exercise wear. Here are my suggestions:

- 1 pair black trousers
- 1 pair dark jeans
- 1 pair cargo or khaki pants
- 1 casual skirt
- 1 pair shorts
- 1 pair leggings
- 1 pair lounge pants

- 1 lightweight jacket
- 1 zip-up hoodie sweatshirt
- 1 cashmere sweater
- 3 long-sleeved tops
- 5 short-sleeved tops (some fancy, some casual)
- 5 tank tops (some fancy, some casual)
- 3 dresses (1 beachy, 1 casual, 1 fancy)

- 3 sets workout clothes (+ sports bras, socks)
- 3 pairs regular socks
- 1 bikini
- 8 pairs underwear/3 bras
- 1 belt
- 1 pashmina scarf
- 1 lightweight scarf
- 1 kanga/capulana/pareo
- 1 baseball cap or sun hat

- 1 pair mary jane-style high heels
- 1 pair ballet flats
- 1 pair leather sandals
- 1 pair havaianas flip flops
- 1 pair running shoes or canvas sneakers

- complete set of travel-sized toiletries
- sunscreen
- makeup
- jewelry
- reading material
- cell phone
- camera + charger
- wallet + passport
- a laptop or ipad
- glasses and sunglasses
- empty water bottle
- breath mints or gum

I've found that I have a few "warrior pieces" that are super versatile and can easily be dressed up, dressed down or layered. These include a lightweight navy blue jacket from Pilè ou Face that can go effortlessly with a fancy dress or a pair of jeans; a pair of dark stretch jeans in a slim bootcut from Adriano Goldschmeid; a sailor-inspired striped top that goes with everything; a long-sleeved black lace top from Victoria's Secret catalog; and a black shift dress that is appropriate for an afternoon with friends or an elegant evening dinner. I also swear by my high-heeled mary janes from Clark's Indigo. They are super comfortable and instantly dress up any outfit.

Do you have any "warrior pieces" to recommend?

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