As a personal stylist, trip packing is one of my most popular services. It's not hard to understand why--figuring out what to bring, what to leave behind, and what to wear each day in an unfamiliar place is a daunting task. It's one of those sneaky chores that seems simple, yet is actually quite challenging. If you over-pack, you have to deal with overweight luggage at the airport and you can't fit any souvenirs in your suitcase. If you under-pack, you end up wasting money (and time) on things you don't want during your trip. Fortunately, the key to proper packing is simply being intentional.
Research the Location
The first step to successfully planning your wardrobe for a summer trip is to research your destination. This is actually my favorite part of the process. I love learning about the weather, reading tips from expats who may live there, and seeing local street style photos. One key thing to determine during your summer trip research is whether or not the location embraces the heat or pumps up the AC. For example, if I'm traveling to Vegas, I always pack jackets and scarves even in the 110 degree weather because every casino, store, hotel and restaurant keeps it a cool 68 degrees. It is important to know ahead of time if you have access to laundry facilities--and be realistic with yourself if you will actually use them. If you don't want to do chores while vacationing, or don't have access to a washer and dryer, you will need to pack a few more outfits than someone who does.
Plan Outfits around Activities
After you've determined the weather and local eccentricities, it's time to look at your agenda. Even if you have a less structured plan, know what activities you might be enjoying. Are you going to be mostly relaxing by the pool? Be sure to bring a few different swimsuits. Are you going to be sightseeing for hours everyday? It's best to bring at least two pairs of comfortable shoes. Are you fitting in a seminar or a business meeting during your trip? You'll need to bring a professional outfit too.
When I work with clients, I take photos of their outfits. I even do this for myself, especially if I'm feeling particularly great that day. You don't want to forget the combinations. Save them as photos on your phone and make an "outfit album". This is especially important when you're on vacation as you're already out of your element and prone to forgetting basic things--like where you put your phone. Plan your outfits and take photos of them. You can try them on, or lay them out and take a photo of the combination. This works best if you've already worn the outfit. Personally, I like to try on and photograph, as I get a better feel for the proportions and how I feel in the ensemble.
Create a Packing List
If you like to be prepared, you can plan your wardrobe weeks ahead of your vacation. If you follow the above steps, you can easily make a packing list of the items you'll need, based on your photos. Look at the photos and diligently list out all the things in them, including shoes, accessories, and watches. If you're truly overwhelmed, I have a sample packing list below.
Summer Vacation Packing List
Savvy, minimalist readers may realize this packing list also serves as a perfect summer capsule wardrobe. Use what you have or buy what you need and this list can easily get you through summer. If you'd like this in PDF checklist format, email me and I will send one over. Happy travels!
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. My style blog features practical fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.