I love to get out of town; even if it is only for a night or just the weekend.  Every time I travel, I tell myself I will pack sensibly and not over-pack.  And, every time I get to the airport, my heart starts beating fast when my baggage is weighed…wondering if I’ve hit the weight requirement.

Inevitably, when I get to my destination, something amazing happens…I tend to wear the same kind of outfits I wear at home.  I don’t bring out the ‘once in a lifetime’ outfit that I take with me everywhere, and have never worn; and my 20-minute shoes always stay in the suitcase.  Now, why in the world would I bring a pair of shoes that I know I can only wear without severe pain for 20 minutes?  Makes no sense!

Well, my years of over-packing came to a screeching halt when my husband and I began to travel overseas in our quest to adopt a child from Russia.  We needed room in our suitcases for food (in Siberia, there is no Martin’s Supermarkets!), gifts, toys, clothes for our little girl and souvenirs.   Maybe it was my maternal instincts that kicked in, but it became more important that I travel with new clothes for the little girl we hoped to adopt than how stylish I appeared to people ½ way around the world.

The smartest packer should create a capsule wardrobe for their vacation.  A capsule wardrobe takes the ‘less is more’ philosophy into action.  To create a wardrobe capsule, first choose 3 complimentary colors – for example, red, white and blue (or blue, khaki and red).  Then choose 9-12 pieces of clothing.  One rule-of-thumb says 2 + 2 + 5 = 30.  2 jackets/sweaters, 2 bottoms (shorts, pants or skirts) and 5 tops.  If you take into account each of these items falls within your color scheme, you can create at least 30 different outfits using these pieces.  Adding in pieces might include a dress, bathing suit, caftan or tunic (that can be worn as a bathing suit cover up or a dress) or other specific wardrobe item.  Add in 2 bags (small handbag and a larger tote), 3 shoes (heels, something comfortable for walking and a sandal for the beach or pool) and key accessories – and you are packed!

As you put everything together, if you need an item or two to complete your capsule wardrobe, you can then browse Goodwill for the specific colors and pieces you need.  The best part is, you'll look good and pack efficiently... all without ruining your vacation budget!

If this all seems a little overwhelming, chart it out.  Yes, I actually use this tool when I am packing – and it really helps me plan what I am going to wear, and leaves me confident I haven’t forgotten anything.  Here are the steps to take when planning your vacation wardrobe:

  1. Chart what days you are going to be gone
  2. Remember travel days count on your vacation packing plan.  You can re-wear what you travel in!
  3. Determine what clothing you will need on your trip.  Create a color palate to your travel wardrobe so that you can create different outfits from a few pieces.
  4. Don’t forget a Tide stick or some kind of easy packable stain remover.
  5. Pack this list in your carry on bag.  It will remind you of what you planned on wearing, and if your bag gets lost by the airline, you will have an excellent record of what you had in the bag.

 Good luck, have a great trip...and happy packing!