There is nothing more exciting than picking up your suitcase and heading to the airport for your next travel adventure. But, have you ever got to your final destination and started flinging clothes all over the room realizing you have nothing to wear? It’s hard to know how that is even possible since you packed nearly your entire closet from home! 

If there is one struggle we have all experienced when traveling it is definitely trying to figure out what to pack for clothes. That’s why mastering the art of the travel capsule wardrobe is the answer. 

But what is a travel capsule wardrobe and how do we do it?

What Is a Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Before we can start packing our favorite sandals for the beach, let’s talk about what a travel capsule wardrobe actually is. Essentially, if you were to throw a few clothing items that were easy to match and functional in a time capsule and open it up 10 years later, the clothes would still work for the occasion. 

These are timeless and basic pieces that can easily mix and match with the rest of your wardrobe. The idea is when you have a few staple pieces like this, you don’t need to bring a lot of clothes because you can create so many combinations with what you already have! It will all fit into your carry-on! 

No more getting upset that your tie-dye shorts don’t match any of your leopard going out tops! Your clothes should also have a quality aspect because you’ll get way more use of them than you would out of that fedora you used one-time in the Bahamas. Don’t worry we also love accessories.  If you know you need clothes for just one trip that you will likely not wear again I highly recommend renting clothes for your trip!


Tips for Packing the Ultimate Travel Capsule Wardrobe

So, now that we know what a travel capsule wardrobe is, how do we do it? Let’s focus on what the general standards and rules of thumb are to follow when it comes to this type of packing. 

1. Focus On Neutrals 

When it comes to staple pieces you want to focus on neutrals because they are going to be able to mix and match the easiest. For those who don’t wear black every day don’t stress because you can always accessorize it with color. You can also bring just one or two clothing items that bring color to your bottom half or top half. As long as most of your options are neutral the concept still works! 

2. Functionality Is the Priority

Understand that your clothes need to work for the occasion. If you are going to spend most of the time in an active setting then you want your wardrobe to reflect that. You don’t need three different bikinis if you are only going to the pool once or twice. And the best part, you can apply the concept to your bikinis too. Bring two mix-and-match options to create more combos and looks. 

Here is the checklist for functionality that you want to ask yourself before packing it!

  • How many times will I wear this piece and for what occasion? 
  • Is this piece of clothing comfortable to wear for long periods of time?
  • Is it quality material that will hold up after multiple uses? 

3. Understand Where You Are Going

Knowing the weather and climate is key to freeing up space in your wardrobe. Many of us default to bringing jackets and sweaters because where we are leaving from is cold. Sometimes we overpack the wrong things for this reason. There are a few ways to combat this. 

First pack a repeatable plane outfit. If you are leaving from cold weather and returning to the cold you can wear this twice. Second, since you will only be cold for your departure, bring a jacket or clothes that keep you warm but also are a middle ground for mild climates. If you do a spring capsule wardrobe this might be a good fit depending on where you are traveling too. 

That way you can wear your sweater or light jacket in multiple settings without it getting uncomfortable. The opposite can be applied if you are headed for a cold destination from a warm one! 

Tip: Pay attention to what the locals wear. Certain parts of the world may be less apt to show some skin even in hot climates. This is a good thing to quickly research before packing. 

4. Carry On or Bust

You know you’ve done the travel capsule wardrobe right when everything fits into a carry-on. At first, this sounds scary but soon when you get the process down pat, you will realize how much easier it is to grab your bag and go! 

You can also bring an oversized tote or backpack on the plane that still fits under the seat in front of you. When you fit everything in a travel backpack like your accessories, wallet, and airplane essentials, you can free up space in your carry-on! 


Top Ultimate Travel Capsule Wardrobe Outfit Ideas

Ok so we understand how it works but you may be feeling uneasy still about leaving all your favorite shoes behind. No worries because these travel capsule wardrobe outfit ideas are going to show you how it’s done and why it’s so great. 

Tanks For the Win

A comfortable tank top can be dressed up or down in so many different ways. If you bring your neutrals then you can use these for athletic adventures and nice evenings out. By pairing it with a skirt or some colorful jewelry you have a completely different outfit for different use. 

I also like to bring a variety of tank styles. Here are some examples.

This is because showing off the neckline differently really changes the look. You can also incorporate different fabrics and materials and make them more or less dressy as long as you keep most of them neutral. One with a pattern or color is OK because you’ll have enough bottoms to work with it.  

Comfortable Good Looking Sneakers

Neutral white or black sneakers that are both comfortable and trendy is a win-win. I love to walk around in lifestyle Nike or Adidas shoes because they go with all my outfits, look great, and I can spend the whole day in them without needing to take walking breaks. This is great for tourism activities that are active without being physical. 

For those going on trips that will bring them to the rainforest or climates that will have a lot of hiking and exercising make sure to bring a pair of actual sneakers that fit well and you’ve worn before along with some other must pack items in your luggage. 

When it comes to sandals or a pair of high heels you can bring one to dress up for the occasion. Since your outfits are mostly neutral you can likely get away with a more eye-popping color that works with multiple outfits. 

Your Variety of Bottoms

When it comes to bottoms it’s a great idea to bring a variety of styles. This is the easiest way to make several outfits work. Try not to bring more than one of each thing unless it’s active clothes that will need washing. Obviously, not everyone wears leggings and skirts, so change it up accordingly. Check this list out for your inspiration. 

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 pair of leggings
  • 2 pairs of shorts, 1 jeans and 1 dressy

You may not even need the jeans if you are going to a super hot climate. Adjust this list to match the weather and functionality needs!

Underwear and Bras

No need for a crazy explanation on this one. Just bring a pair of underwear for each day and the same amount of socks. One or two bras bra with the exception of a strapless also works! 

Shoes and Accessories: What to Do?

Since you will be packing super light you can leave a little extra room for some staple pieces that can dress up your outfit. It’s still important to remember you want to try to bring pieces that go with more than one outfit. 

Hats and sunglasses are two things that work best when you keep them functional and neutral. But necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry are where you can bring different colors and patterns into the mix. 



Up Up and Away We Go!

With a little inspiration and some thought behind the process, packing a travel capsule wardrobe is easier than we think. It’s a foolproof way to ensure you look your best and feel your best on your vacation and saves us the time waiting for delayed baggage! 

If there is one thing to keep in mind it is definitely keeping the concept of mix-and-match that fits inside your carry-on. Staple pieces are what allow you to bring on a few fun accessories and an extra pair of shoes. 

After taking hundreds of trips using just a carry on I am an expert packer. I’ve utilized a travel capsule wardrobe to make things easier. 

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