A Traveler’s Guide to Building a Capsule Travel Wardrobe

I recently went on my first long holiday, where I spent four months on the road across Europe and Africa with nothing but my 35lb backpack. Yes – everything I needed weighed less than the carry-on limits for most airlines!

Clearly, when packing for such a long-term travel, it was very important to optimize every square inch available. One of the most important contents was my “travel capsule wardrobe.”

What is a travel capsule wardrobe? It’s a jargon used to describe what clothes and essentials to pack when you’re going to be on the road for an extended period of time.

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Now, there are a significant number of resources online – and you could spend hours researching what to include in your travel capsule wardrobe – but I’m going to quickly streamline that process for you. This is the ONLY article you’ll ever have to read!

I’ve not only done the research but I’ve experienced first-hand what works, and what doesn’t, what you actually need, and what will end up just being extra weight, etc. I’m not going to give you detailed lists or links to products, but rather provide you with the framework and concepts that will enable you to assemble the ideal, efficient capsule wardrobe for your next trip.

Let’s start with my golden rule: aim to keep things as SIMPLE as possible!

How much do I pack?

The sweet spot is to target one week’s worth of travel outfits. Any less and you’ll be stuck doing laundry too frequently, which is something you want to avoid when exploring a new destination. Any more is really unnecessary, as it will increase total weight and take up too much space. If you’re uncertain whether you should include something or not – don’t include it! It’s easy to pick up anything you missed along the way. 

What do I bring?

There are a few important factors at play here. Firstly, where and when you are traveling is crucial. For example, if it’s going to be cold, you’ll need warmer, larger products such as a jacket, boots, and long-sleeve shirts. The key is to bring things you can layer – they’ll take up less space and last longer. Whereas during summer, you’ll need a swimsuit and sandals.

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Secondly, think about what’s important to you. There’s no exact formula of capsule wardrobe essentials so I’m not going to tell you to bring 5-7 t-shirts, 2 pants, 8 pairs of underwear, and a dress shirt (although that would be a good start!). Remember, what you need to do is think long and hard about what you will need to wear in an average week, and pack that! If you prefer to wear polo shirts over t-shirts, bring more polos! You get the idea.

Lastly, when it comes to how to pack for a trip, there is the never-ending debate of style vs comfort that you will have to consider. Again, this is totally up to your personal preferences. I brought too many nice dress shirts, and didn’t wear them nearly as much as I thought I would. The trick is to bring durable attire that you can easily mix and match (and comfortable).

My last bit of advice: don’t stress! When you’re actually on the road, the last thing you’re going to be thinking about is what you’re wearing – you’ll be immersed in all your exciting, fascinating experiences!

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Now that you’ve got the ideas of how to create a capsule wardrobe for your trip, you might want to consider getting an anti-theft luggage like the new Vibe 40 Anti-theft 40L backpack. Pair it with RFIDsafe™ V200 RFID blocking travel organiser to keep all your travel documents with you on your new adventure!

Ian Ellis

Ian Ellis-Jones left a cushy job to embark on an epic journey around the world. Join him as he begins his amazing adventures on Escaping Expectations.

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