I’m gonna assume I’m not generalizing when I say that it is very difficult for girls to cut down in clothing. In order to whittle down the amount of things I’m putting in storage, I had to also seriously re-assess my (overflowing) closet. I admit I did have a hard time donating/selling most of my clothes. And I’m having an even harder time coming to grips with the fact that some of my most beloved clothing items (like that shimmery little black dress, or bright yellow peacoat) no longer fits into my new lifestyle.
The most difficult still is narrowing my closet down to just a few key pieces of clothing that will accompany me on my 3-month stint in South America. On top of this, I’m also anticipating a wide range of temperature… from hot sunny Santiago afternoons, to windy chilly Montevideo evenings.
How do I pack for a such a trip where I am limited to a carry-on, must be prepared for a wide temperature range, and want to look stylish?
It’s funny because up til a couple of months ago, I couldn’t imagine living off of only a few items of clothing and wearing the same 5 outfits over and over. How dreadfully boring! And surely I don’t want to be wearing the same thing in all the pictures either! But then again, the thought of waiting at baggage claim and having to drag around heavy luggage is enough to motivate me to pack light and be creative. While the number of clothing items need to be limited, repetitive and boring outfits may be avoided by properly mixing and matching key pieces.
Here is my final list of clothing items (yes, these all fit into a 50L carry-on), as well as some light packing tips and ideas for mix-n-matching.
1 – denim shorts
1- dark blue skinnies
1- black skinnies
1 – leggings
1 – casual dress
2 – athletic tanks
3 – fashion tanks
3 – casual tees
1 – nicer top
1 – sweater
The good thing about being a girl is that our tops are so small! So yes, my tops may seem like overkill, but they hardly take up space and I like options!
1 – chambray shirt
1 – moto hoodie
1 – mid-weight jacket
1 – rain shell
1 – Converse Chuck-Taylors
1 – flat short boots
1 – scarf
Below I put together a few very different outfits that can be styled with just 1 tank, 1 sweater, 1 dress, 1 pair of shorts, 1 pair of black skinnies, 2 pairs of shoes, and outerwear.
That’s 6 outfits with only 11 pieces of clothing items, including shoes! I only chose a few pieces to show how many different outfits can be put together even with limited options. Throw in a few more shirts to mix+match and a pair of blue jeans and the options can be (practically) endless!
For more on packing light, here are my top tips:
Tip #1: Layering is key
Layerable pieces are ideal when it comes to needing to pack for a wide temperature range. At a minimum, bring one of each: base layer, mid layer, and outer layer. Even though I am anticipating temperatures down to the 40’s in Montevideo, I’m not bringing a thick jacket and will just layer. If you are encountering extreme temperatures below 40F, then it may be a wise choice to invest in a light puffer that easily packs into its own pocket.
Tip #2: Wear your largest/heaviest items on the plane
This one is obvious! I will be wearing the boots, jeans, and jacket on the plane. The extra effort it takes to get through TSA is worth not having to carry that on your back or take up space in the backpack. I usually pack more comfortable clothing (i.e. leggings and tank, and even flip flops) into a small day pack, and change into them on the plane.
Tip #3: Neutrals are your best friend
I’m aware that most of what I’m bringing are pretty drab in color, which is pretty contradictory to my usual style of bright cheery colors. But neutrals are the best for being able to mix and match. Bring an assortment of neutrals (blacks, greys, whites) and a few colored items for a pop of color.
Tip #4: Roll everything burrito style
I used to fold all my clothes and pack them stacked on top of each other… until I discovered rolling. Rolling the clothes is absolutely your best bet for saving space. I find that it usually frees up at least 30% more space. Rolled clothes can also easily fit into the nooks and crannies of a luggage.
Now that I have shared my packing list for my first 3-months trip, what are your travel clothing must-haves? Do you have any more tips for packing light?
Come back for more packing tips! I will probably do a separate post talking about other packing/travel necessities, and the backpack I am bringing.