Travel Guides & Tips

Guilty of overpacking? Here’s how to put together the perfect travel capsule wardrobe.

You’ve probably heard about the capsule wardrobe – plenty of famous, successful people like Mark Zuckerberg and Drew Barrymore have adopted the practice, and it’s all the rage among lifestyle bloggers and fashionistas.

Simplifying your life by keeping a minimalist wardrobe? Count me in!

Besides making your day-to-day life easier, you can also adapt your capsule wardrobe for traveling, especially if you’re looking to keep to a tight budget and want to avoid check-in baggage fees.

Whether you’re going away for a short weekend getaway or a long trip to multiple destinations, having a go-to capsule wardrobe will make packing a breeze.

Here are six handy tips to keep in mind as you build your travel capsule wardrobe:

1. Choose clothes based on comfort

Comfortable clothes

You know that saying, “No beauty without pain”? Doesn’t apply here. Leave behind those gorgeous heels that have you grimacing in pain as you totter around. And those tight-fitting clothes you can barely breathe in? As amazing as you look in them, they should stay at home.

You’ll want to pack clothes that are comfortable, meaning that you can and will want to wear them in any situation as you travel. Before you add any item of clothing to your capsule wardrobe, ask yourself this: “Do I really love wearing this?”


2. The lighter, the better

Be sure to pick items that are lightweight. This is even more important to consider if you’re going to travel with only carry-on baggage. Heavy, bulky items will take up more space in your bag, and will also weigh you down.

Switch out a thick wool sweater for a thin cardigan, or choose tops made of thin material. If you’re traveling to someplace with a cool climate, rather than an oversized jacket, opt for a smaller, lighter one that can still do the job.


3. Pack for the weather

Light jacket

Do your research ahead of time and find out what the weather will be like at the place(s) you’re going to visit.

If it’s going to be warm, pack t-shirts and shorts (and don’t forget sunblock!); if it’s going to be cold, bring along things you can easily layer together.

If you’re going someplace with lower temperatures, it can be tricky to pack light, as you’ll be worried about keeping warm. In this case, consider scarves, sweaters, leggings, and light long johns, which will definitely help keep you cozy, yet won’t take up much space.  


4. Pick items that can multi-task

It’s all about versatility. Choosing items that can cover multiple functions will save you from overpacking.

A favorite among frequent travelers, hoodies will go a long way – they’re great if you’re feeling chilly, but if it gets too warm, you can roll up the sleeves or tie the them around your waist. Did you know that you can even turn them into a DIY laptop bag?

Get a lightweight, waterproof jacket that will not only protect you from the cold, but the rain as well. And a pashmina can be used as a shawl or as a scarf; while a silk scarf can even be used as a belt.


5. Limit your shoes and accessories


When traveling, you don’t exactly want to call unwanted attention to yourself by flashing too much bling, so keep your accessories simple and subtle.

If you plan on checking out the bar and partying scene, you can bring one piece of statement jewelry, like a necklace or earrings, to go with a black top or dress.

As for shoes, all you really need is a pair of walking shoes, such as flats or sneakers. If you’re going somewhere cold, boots are a good choice. Or if you’re traveling to someplace with a beach, then flip-flops are a must. All in all, I wouldn’t recommend bringing along more than three pairs of shoes.


6. Keep to a color scheme

You’ll want to bring along basic items in neutral colors – such as black, white, or navy – which will be easy to mix and match with other items of clothing.

The perennial favorite is, of course, jeans, which practically go with anything. Or camisole tops in black and white that can go under anything, from long-sleeved flannel shirts to see-through tops.

Tan, gray, and army green are also nice alternatives. While a dark color scheme is usually recommended, choose colors based on what look best on you!


To give you some idea of a travel capsule wardrobe, here’s a sample list of what I would pack for a week-long trip:

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 2 camisole tops (1 black and 1 white)
  • 3 light, see-through tops
  • 2 cotton t-shirts
  • 1 sundress
  • 1 zip-up hoodie
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 pair of ballet flats

If you’re going on a long trip that lasts for more than one week, you should definitely plan to do laundry. It’s fairly easy to find laundromats in most cities, or at hostels.

And that’s it! If you have any questions or additional tips for the perfect travel capsule wardrobe, be sure to leave a comment.

A storyteller with an insatiable sense of curiosity. Travel junkie. Card-carrying member of many fandoms. Heavily dependent on caffeine. Loyal cat servant. Former journalist at the New Straits Times and Hybrid News.