I am a believer in packing light. I have packed all sorts of ways and I've decided that packing less leaves me less stressed, I have less to carry and fewer things to deal with. I almost never come home with items that were never worn, because I pack carefully and with intention, so everything goes with everything else and I can mix and match each piece I bring along.
If you are worried that not packing outfits per day and matching shoes for each one is going to be your downfall, think of how much happier you'll be when you aren't lugging that 58 lb bag that you also have to check and waste $25+ each way on. I like making my life easier and only having a handful of items in my bag definitely makes it simple to find something to wear each morning and gets me out of the door faster. I make a list before I start packing of what I will need and then choose a few of my favorite pieces and go from there.
We live in Oregon, so we tend to own quite a bit of Columbia clothing. It's long-lasting, feels great and is perfect for packing, because it's lightweight and moisture-wicking. I have several key pieces that work for most climates.
Columbia can be spendy, but I recommend buying on sale. You may also want to check out REI, Backcountry, ExOfficio, Lucy (for women) or Anatomie (also for women). Items made with soy or bamboo are great for warmer climates, because they are odor resistant. You might also like linen for the breathability. There are lots of great travel brands out there and many don't even look like they are, so you don't stick out as a tourist, but are still comfortable in the heat (or the cold, depending on when you travel).
I also am a layer-er. I always travel with a scarf/wrap a lightweight jacket and a cardigan or two. This way I'm covered if it gets cooler at our destination and for the chills on the plane. It may seem silly, but on the plane I wear a pair of stretchy jeans, comfortable slip-on shoes, a t-shirt, a cardigan and a scarf. If it gets warm, I can shed some layers, but if it's cold, I'm set. I have this awesome HappyLuxe wrap that I can also use as a blanket. In fact, I can wear it as a scarf while also covering my lap if my legs are cold.
Layering also gives you the ability to wear part of your travel outfit at your destination, so I always dress with that in mind. I work with three bottoms and four-five tops total. When they all go together, you have 12-15 different outfits. You can see how I've made different looks with each of these tops and bottom combinations.
I usually toss in an easy dress that can work for day and night, then go with just two pair of shoes. Both should be great for walking and at least one of them should work for your dress. These are the shoes I took on our trip to New Orleans: a pair of ballet flats and a pair of walking sandals. Both pair went with everything I packed, so I mixed it up each day depending on how I was feeling.
I try not to pack shoes that might be too constrictive, because then if my feet swell, I'm SOL and uncomfortable. Of course, I bring a pair of compression socks to wear while I'm hanging out in my room, but that doesn't do me any good if it's hot and my shoes don't work with socks.
Throw some accessories in your bag to give you some other options. This sunhat works for when I'm somewhere with a lot of sun and I'd like to keep my face from turning into a lobster (even with sunscreen this can happen pretty easily). A good piece of jewelry can literally turn a day dress into a nighttime one, especially if it's a cute little black dress, which is what I take with me everywhere. It's a wrap dress my Lucy Activewear, so it's breathable and sporty feeling, but can be dressed up a bit for a nice dinner. Easy!
Now all your clothes fit in a carry-on. You know where all your things are. You don't have to wait at the carousel for your luggage. You don't have to pay baggage fees. You don't have to break your back trying to get your bag up stairs. Now, you just need to get working on making your toiletries lighter.
What are your biggest issues with packing light?
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