Want to reduce your stress on your next trip? Pick a travel uniform and only pack within the parameters of that uniform.
Like many, I've eased back into travel since the start of the pandemic. A short trip here and there, but my latest trip was 18 days and complicated. I had to get everything into a single checked bag plus one carry-on. Historically, I've been a good packer, but I feel out of practice after so many years (decades?) of lockdown. What the trip reinforced or reminded me of is that having a uniform or dedicated ensembles for travel really does simplify your life.
If I evaluate how well packed based on the percentage of what I wore — I did pretty well. I wore all but three things and did laundry multiple times. The key to packing efficiently is the same as shopping sustainably, it's about getting more out of what you pack/own. Here's what I learned or remembered rather after this trip:
Pack to layer.
Layering is crucial if you are going somewhere with wide temperature swings, something I've found I need to do more and more as the weather is increasingly unpredictable. Packing to layer is also packing for versatility, something readers of this blog or if you follow Senza Tempo on social media is a bit of an obsession.
I wore the Carole silk pants most days throughout the trip. I was in the desert, so I wore cream pants and the white Debra tunic multiple times for touring during the day. For dinner, I wore the black Carole pants and rotated tops like the new Moonstone Debra tunic. If it was chilly, I threw my wrap over my shoulders or a scarf around my neck. There are all sorts of articles out there on the benefits of uniform dressing, and it really did make things easy. The other advantage is that silk is light and takes up very little space in your suitcase. I kept all four of these items (plus a few others) in my carry-on in case the airlines lost my luggage.
The Helen shirt-dress was another go-to. It's is a great transitional style and was something I wore at least three to four times on this trip — it's easy to swap your shoes and change your purse to go straight from a day of touring to dinner in this style. You can add a belt for a little polish. All of these items can be easily hand-washed if need be.
Set aside dedicated travel outfits — especially one for the return trip.
By the end of the trip, beyond exhausted and a little under the weather. I was relieved when I remembered that I had set aside the Marisa dress at the outset. The micromodal feels like pajamas and the Studio 54 Capsule has become my go-to travel ensemble (I wore the Pat tunic and Claire pants over). I rolled the Marisa into one of the cotton bags that come with every Senza tempo order, so at the end of the trip, all I had to do was fish it out of the bottom of my bag instead of frantically trying to find something clean and comfortable.
While I always advocate for finding ways to use every item as much as possible (versatility IS sustainability in my mind and fully utilizing every garment). Having dedicated travel outfits can make life easier. I love the Studio 54 Capsule for travel. The micromodal is stretchy, feels weightless on, and is easy to layer if the plane is cold. It's breathable, so if you leave from a cold location and fly into a warm location (or vice versa) — this capsule works with a little bit of layering.
Setting aside specific travel shoes is another way to streamline your suitcase. I packed two pairs of sneakers (a pair of red Keds and retro Nikes). It turned out, the Keds with their dream foam insole were so comfortable I could easily wear them all day touring. They are easier to slip on and off when going through security checkpoints, and were sturdy enough if you have to run and catch your flight. In the new HBO Max show Julia, Julia Child wears the same red pair for her exercise walk!
"If you can figure out your suitcase, you can figure out your life." — Diane Von Furstenberg
Source: Julia, HBO Max.
My advice: take the time to test drive your shoes to see how comfortable they are. I didn't and could have saved a decent a bit of space and weight in my bag. The same could be said for toiletries. I didn't think or prepare far enough ahead and could have packed far more efficiently than I did. I blame it on being out of travel practice, but it was really a lack of preparation.
My biggest takeaway: uniforms work to lighten your load while traveling and think about your go-to items. Traveling is stressful enough these days.
Below is the uniform I stuck with throughout the trip: shirting tunic, silk pants, shorts, and a shirt dress.
Featured Items: The Maggie tunic, Helen dress, Carole pants, Debra tunic and Grace II hoodie.