Packing light for a trip is no easy feat, especially when going to a fashion mecca like Paris. But I promise it’s totally possible to pack minimally and still look stylish enough to strut the streets of your city of choice!
If the idea of packing just one bag for a trip terrifies you, don’t worry! I haven’t always to be able to pack light and if you would’ve told me a year ago to pack for a four day trip in only a backpack, I likely would’ve laughed right in your face…
However, as I’ve started to understand the values of packing less, and experienced how much better traveling with minimal baggage is, I’ve developed a few strategies to pack minimally.
Here are my five pieces of advice for packing as lightly as possible:
1. As hard as it may be, stick to *one* color scheme.
To create the most outfits out of the least amount of pieces possible, try to work with one color palette made up of mostly neutrals. For this trip, I chose black and white pieces; I’m definitely a fan of color, but I wanted to keep it easy and simple while traveling. By sticking with mostly black, I could focus my time and energy on enjoying and exploring, not figuring out what to wear with what. It can be tempting to bring out fun pieces for your trip, but just remember that there are literally hundreds of other days and opportunities in the year to wear those pieces when they won’t be taking up space in your luggage.
2. Bring one (or two) statement pieces to elevate your straight-forward looks.
Packing minimally doesn’t have to be totally boring! Choosing a special statement piece or two can do wonders without taking up prime real estate in your bag.The ideal statement piece to pack is one that it goes with everything, so that you can add it in easily whichever day you decide to wear it. For my statement piece, I chose a fitted red skirt because the rest of my pieces were black and I love how red pairs with black! It ended up only being warm enough one day to wear the red skirt, but it was by far my favorite look, so I don’t regret the choice at all!
3. Stick to one pair of shoes.
Probably the top tip I have for anyone looking to pack for a trip in just a backpack is to stick to one pair of shoes. Shoes add quite a bit of weight to a bag, and if you want to save your back, try to eleminate packing extra footwear. The ideal situation is to wear the pair of shoes to your destination that also can go with every outfit while you’re at your destination. As much as I wanted to bring shoes just for my red skirt look on this trip, I restrained myself from bringing them, but was ultimately happy with my decision. I ended up deciding on my canvas Veja sneakers, since they could be very easily dressed up or down and the colors went with my chosen color scheme.
4. Pack pajamas that can double as clothes for emergency.
One of the most common reasons people overpack is to prepare for “just in case”situations. As a (often paranoid) over-thinker, this is definitely a worry on my mind too. To ease this concern, I always bring leggings and a casual top as pajamas so if the worst case scenario happens where literally all of my clothes are dirty (or unwearable for another reason), I have a backup outfit without packing extra! Another thing to keep in mind if you’re traveling to a city is that running out of outfits can be the perfect opportunity to explore some local thrift shops or flea markets!
5. Bring underwear that go with everything.
No, I’m not going to tell you to re-wear your dirty underwear. I mean that if you are packing even one slightly sheer top, bring a bra in that color, or if you are bringing one white dress or bottoms, bring nude underwear. In the case of this trip, I brought two black bras (though I would’ve been fine with just one) since the turtleneck was slightly sheer and I knew I would wear it at least twice on this trip.
Using these “rules”, I was able to create outfits for four days—with weather ranging form 50 degrees Fahrenheit and rainy, to 80 degrees and sunny, might I add—with only 8 pieces! Here were my four looks:
The 8 pieces in my backpack:
- 1 sweater (Everlane turtleneck thrifted from ThredUp)
- 1 peplum top (Alice + Olivia thrifted from Designer Resale Chicago)
- 1 coat (well-worn peacoat from high school, brand unkown)
- 1 faux leather jacket (well-worn jacket I bought in Florence a few years ago)
- 1 red skirt (St. John’s skirt thrifted from Designer Resale Chicago)
- 1 pair of jeans (Express skinny jeans bought secondhand)
- 1 pair of leggings (bought from a dancewear store in high school, brand unknown)
- 1 pair of canvas sneakers (Veja Wata sneakers)
Other items packed:
- Various essentials like socks, underwear, belt etc.
- Weather-proof essentials such as sunglasses and an umbrella
- + a camera of course!
What I didn’t pack
- Fancy shoes: as I said, shoes are usually among the heaviest things you can pack, so it’s wise to choose your shoes sparingly!
- Jewelry: honestly, I just completely forgot about bringing jewelry, but ended up not being a problem and less to fit in my bag.
Streamlining my packing list was undoubtedly a challenge at first,, but I was SO happy that I spent the time to figure out what I really needed so that I could focus on the important things when I was traveling.
Packing fewer things meant that I didn’t need to sort through a huge suitcase of unnecessary stuff or waste time trying on 5 different outfits to find one I liked.
In short, packing LESS freed me up to enjoy MORE while traveling!