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Packing for trips is something a lot of women struggle with. We get it, you’re tired of bringing everything but the kitchen sink, but never having the right things to wear.  This week, I’m sharing 6 vacation packing tips that will help you pack smarter for your trips this summer.  I’m sharing one thing lots of women forget to bring, and the things I think you should leave at home.  Plus, I’ve created a Vacation Packing template that’s available in our resource library.

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Read the Full Transcript Below

Hi Friends! Every Spring, I start getting questions about packing for Vacations–and the questions trickle in all summer long from women who are tired of overpacking for trips, and others who feel like no matter how much they bring, their vacation style is never what they want it to be.  I got a few questions in early March last year as people started getting ready for spring break, and I actually had this topic on my calendar for the first week of April 2020. I think we all know how that went. I’ve tried on this show to stay topical, and not do shows that are tone-deaf, and talking about what you should wear on a vacation when most of us weren’t even seeing friends or family didn’t sit right. There were no travel questions last summer, so I put this topic on the shelf, figuring we’d get to it at some point. 

This spring, in late February, early March, I started getting lots of questions about vacation packing, and thought, well, let’s put it on the schedule!  With that said, I understand some of you don’t feel comfortable traveling yet, and I understand that some of you have been traveling all over the place. If you’re in that first group, and not comfortable hitting the road just yet–no worries. I’ve been teaching these same tips for years, so they’ll still be here when you’re ready. 

Let’s get right to it!

Research Your Trip

Like I said before, packing challenges usually come in two varieties. Women who are frustrated that they pack everything under the sun, and want to bring less stuff, and women who struggle to put together a vacation wardrobe they love, regardless of how much they bring.  While each scenario has slightly different solutions, my rules for packing can apply to everyone. 

The first and most important thing you can do to pack smart is to research your trip. 

One of the biggest pitfalls of vacation packing is the contingency clothes. Those are the things you didn’t plan on bringing, but when you’re filling your suitcase, you think, well, what if I need this? I’ll throw it in, just in case.  All of a sudden, your suitcase is ready for every weather situation, an art gallery opening, and a Tough Mudder race.  My tip here is to get real and admit that the wardrobe apocalypse you’re planning for isn’t going to happen in the 7 days you’ll be away. Your vacation is probably going to go exactly how you think it’s going to go.  By doing a little bit of research, you can cut out most of your contingency clothes.

The first thing you should research is the weather. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many Linda’s I’ve packed for trips who didn’t start with this. is your friend.  If it’s not going to get below 90 during your entire trip, you can probably leave the jeans and sweatshirt at home. If it looks like it’s going to rain every day, you can make better shoe choices.

The second thing you should research is what you’re actually going to be doing. By looking at the kind of vacation you’re taking, and being realistic with yourself, you can cut out a lot of the stuff you know you’re not going to use. For example, this summer, my family is heading for some parks out west. I’ve looked at the activities we’ll be doing, and restaurants around where we’ll be staying–and I can say with 100% confidence, I can leave my dressy things at home.  It’s just not that kind of trip. If you’re not someone who plans every hour of every day, that’s ok, but you need to get a general idea of what you will, and won’t be doing on your trip

Another thing you should research is what your laundry facilities are like. On trips when we’ve rented a beach house or stayed with family, I know we can all pack a lot less because we can do laundry while we’re there.  On a hotel or resort vacation, it can be difficult or costly to do laundry often, so you’ll want to bring more.  

The last thing you should research is any wardrobe requirements or restrictions in the places you go.  If your travels are taking you to any cultural or religious sites, hit up the google machine to make sure you bring what you need. Chances are, you won’t find any surprises, but better safe than sorry. 

Remember the old adage–when in doubt, leave it out.  Start your packing with the things you know you absolutely need, and want, to bring. The clothes you love and feel good in. The functional accessories you know you’re going to use.  Chances are you could stop there and be perfectly fine for your whole trip.  When you start throwing extras in, because “maybe” you “might” need it, make a conscious effort to remind yourself that you’re trying to pack better and smarter.

Do your research so you can bring the right things, and keep telling yourself that your vacation is going to go as planned–you don’t need contingency clothes.

Limit Your Color Scheme

My next tip is to base your vacation wardrobe on one dark neutral and one light neutral.  This is kind of a mini capsule concept, but when you limit your colors, and base everything around one or 2 neutrals, everything goes together better, you need less stuff and you look more put together. Doing this makes shoes, bags, and accessories easier to coordinate as well.

So don’t bring a navy dress, black shorts, an ivory skirt, and white pants. Stick to one dark neutral, one light neutral, and a few accent colors. Limiting your color scheme will do wonders for stretching your vacation wardrobe.

Minimize Accessories

Tip Number 3- Minimize accessories. Accessories can take up a lot of space and add a lot of weight, and be kind of fussy to travel with. My advice is to keep your accessories neutral and somewhat minimal. If you need functional accessories, like a hat for the beach, by all means, bring it, but don’t start lugging multiple handbags, extra shoes, and lots of statement jewelry. These things are usually underutilized, so leave them at home

Speaking of shoes, never pack new shoes. Every pair of shoes that goes on vacation with you should be road tested–at home–for days first. When it comes to shoes and vacation, you’ve got to go for function before fashion. Nothing is worse than trying to enjoy a stroll through a new town or a hike in the woods when every step is excruciating.  You can have cute vacation shoes, but this is a time where you have to choose comfort and utility first. 

Honor Your Style

My next tip is to remember who you are, style-wise. You’re not going to magically become a different person because you’re in a new location, so bring clothes and outfit formulas you like to wear. For example, if you prefer dresses, bring dresses.  Even on a super outdoorsy vacation, you can honor your style.  There are companies that make great hiking and travel dresses. You’ll feel more like you, and you’ll wear these things again, and not waste money on one-off clothing. If you’re a person who hates dresses, don’t pack 5 sundresses for your trip to the beach. That’s aspirational wardrobing and what will happen is you’ll get there and not have anything you want to wear.  Pack dressier shorts and tops if that’s your style, but don’t try to be someone you’re not.  If you don’t know what your style is, take our wardrobe personality quiz–I’ll link to it in the show notes

Don’t Forget Downtime

Tip Number 5 is don’t forget downtime.  We think a lot about what we want to wear during the day, and we remember to pack pajamas, but on lots of vacations, there’s this in-between time that most people don’t pack for, and then you have nothing appropriate and comfortable to wear when you’re just hanging out in the hotel or the beach house. Make sure you pack some cute loungewear that you don’t mind being seen in, and slippers you can walk around the hotel room in. A few months ago, we had Joane Jarret on the show, talking about starting her clothing line, Shelfie Shoppe which is loungewear she calls street-legal pajamas. Friends, I love this stuff. It’s so crazy comfortable, but I don’t feel exposed if I have to answer the door, or my kids have friends over.  I’ll link to her shop in the show notes, but a couple of pieces from her line are a great addition to any vacation packing list.

Focus on Versatility

My last tip is to think in terms of whole outfits and versatility.  Put everything you want to bring on your bed, and start making outfits. Each top should go with at least 2 bottoms. The more outfits you can make with each piece, the better. If you can only wear something one way, unless it’s a dress, leave it out. Those one-off pieces are how you end up with a bulging suitcase and nothing to wear. Along with that, look for items that can do double duty.  For example, if you’re bringing a denim jacket to wear over a sundress and a cardigan to wear over a tank and shorts, could one of them do both jobs?  Try to leave out functional duplicates as much as possible. The more you can focus on mix and match, the lighter your suitcase, and the better your vacation style, will be.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, except– I’ve made a vacation packing template for you that you can print. You’ll find it in the free resource library. The link to get access to the library is in the show notes, or you can just head over to  In there, you’ll also find The Ultimate Swimwear Guide which will help you find the best swimsuit for your body type–if you’re taking a vacation that involves the water, you’ll want to check that one out for sure.

We’ll be back next week with a conversation with a vacation planner who’ll be sharing her tips for planning the right vacation, based on your travel style. It’s a good one you won’t want to miss~ Have a great week everybody and I’ll see you next time!

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