How to Plan a Travel Wardrobe

Only bring clothing that fits you comfortably.
Only bring clothing that fits you comfortably. (Image: lzf/iStock/Getty Images)

Preparing for sightseeing jaunts, long travel days and the rest of your trip is hard enough before factoring in airline baggage limits. Lugging multiple suitcases behind you makes travel a hassle, especially when flying. Your wardrobe should fit comfortably into one suitcase for most trips when everything you pack is flexible and neutral. Gathering these perfect items isn't a last-minute job. Start planning a week before the trip, and then make last-minute tweaks the day before you take off.

Research the Weather

Don’t rely on assumptions or past visits to a locale when considering weather-appropriate gear. The tropical island where you plan to sunbathe by day may turn chilly at night, and you’ll swelter if you fill your bag with sweaters for a trip to a ski resort going through a warm spell. Check your destination’s average daily and nightly temperatures and precipitation averages when you start to choose pieces of clothing. The day before your trip, check the upcoming forecast and adjust accordingly.

Pick Proper Fabrics

You’ll lose precious sightseeing time if you’re hunched over the hotel room ironing board. Rule out any garments that wrinkle easily, such as linen and silk, and opt instead for fabrics that are advertised as wrinkle-resistant. Knits and synthetic fabrics like nylon and rayon typically travel well. Sift through your wardrobe staples looking for pieces that are darker in color; these items won’t show stains or wrinkles vividly, allowing you to rewear them if need be.

Include Clothes for Excursions

With most types of travel, casual wear is appropriate for much -- but not all -- of the time. In addition to picking staples like jeans and T-shirts, think your trip itinerary through day by day and consider specific clothing needs. You may spend most of the week in a city, but if you’re eying nearby hiking trails, pack long lightweight pants and bring hiking boots instead of sneakers. Visiting a formal restaurant or sacred site may require more upscale or demure clothing, like a skirt that hits at the knee or a coat and tie.

Visualize Everything

Before anything goes into your suitcase, lay out the pants, shorts or skirts you’re considering packing on your bed. Hold all your shirt and sweater options next to each bottom. Every item that makes the cut should pair well with at least a few others, allowing you to create multiple ensembles with a few pieces and saving room in your suitcase. You may only need three bottoms and four or five tops for a weeklong trip. Next, choose a few pairs of shoes that will go with multiple outfits – for instance, sneakers and dressy sandals for a beach trip -- and then pack enough socks and undergarments for the duration.

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