While some dread the task, I LIVE for the excitement that comes with packing (and shopping) for an upcoming trip. And with potentially two international getaways planned for the spring, I’ve already begun the outfit-coordination process out of sheer anticipation. To get the ball rolling, I’ve decided to look back at some of the items I’ve taken on previous trips, many of which have now become my go-to travel necessities. Everything on my list falls under three important categories: Comfort, versatility and of course, trendiness. If you find your packing experience to be somewhat less magical than mine, scroll down for a few tips and suggestions.
The first items on my packing list are typically one or two comfortable, flowing dresses of the midi and maxi variety. While I often struggle to find an opportunity to break out the floor-length dresses at home in Connecticut, regardless of how casual they are, I have no problem throwing a couple in my suitcase. They’re simply a must when it comes to exotic travel not only for their photogenic air and loose fit, but also for their conservative vibe, as maintaining a level of respect in countries where women tend to dress more modestly is an important factor to keep in mind. In the photos above I’m wearing Urban Outfitters’ “Kimchi Blue Joclyn Smocked Bodice Midi Dress.” Although I’ll admit that this particular dress does expose my shoulders and upper-back (keep reading for an easy fix to this dilemma), it was a great outfit for an afternoon of twirling around the Taj.
If you’re embarking on a tropical escape and you’re feeling a bit brave, I recommend packing a “statement” bathing suit—something unique and out of the ordinary. Although I suppose one-pieces are now old news (yet still SO cool in my opinion), I packed this black American Apparel suit in preparation for my trip to Thailand last March. Leggy, high-cut swimwear has to be one of the best trends to come out of the 80s and—as someone who desperately attempts to replicate the decade’s high hair and even higher -waisted jeans look—this says a lot coming from me. Luckily all of these trends have made a comeback. As for swimwear, lately I’ve been really into retro high-waisted bottoms in funky colors like dusky purple and apricot orange. Stay tuned for photos come spring.
Right, now back to the midis and maxis. Long, flowing skirts are another great addition to your vacation wardrobe. Any travel experience is sure to be infinitely more enjoyable as long as you feel free and unconfined both mentally and physically—and what you choose to wear on your trip can impact both tremendously. Personally, wearing maxi and midi skirts in countries like India and Myanmar not only kept me cool in the excessive heat, but also helped me remain reverential of local culture and tradition. I purchased the lightweight, rust-colored skirt photographed above online at Forever21.
Beach destinations require a floppy sun hat. Non-negotiable. Looking back, it’s clear that the Southeast Asian sun did a number on my skin, especially on my forehead and around my eyes. While the deep-set tan seemed worth it at the time, in retrospect I regret not making room in my tiny Osprey backpack for the sunhat photographed above in Westerly, Rhode Island. The hat in my own photos was purchased at Marshall’s a couple summers ago, although you can find Toast’s Wide Brim Straw Hat (pictured above) here.
Whether or not you’ll bring workout attire on your trip of course depends on your itinerary, your destination, and your motivation (although I recommend it nonetheless). In preparation for my four-day hiking excursion throughout Munnar’s tea plantations in Kerala, India, I wore a pair of Nordstrom’s Beyond Yoga “Take Me Higher” Leggings, an H&M t-shirt, and a strappy, low-impact sports bra from Forever21. The great thing about each of these items is that, again, all three are multifaceted in terms of purpose and style. Teamed with a supportive pair of Nike sneaks, this ensemble fully prepared me for an intense few days of trekking, while each item individually has the ability to creative an entirely different look.
I love to mix up the tired high-waisted shorts look by substituting a denim mini skirt. Although still super casual, denim skirts have the ability to elevate your leisurely site-seeing travel outfit to the next level. Dress it up or down with sandals or wedges—totally your call. As seen in the photographs above, I chose to run around Nantucket wearing a dark blue denim mini skirt from H&M, a simple white tee, and a pair of leather Birkenstocks. If you’re interested in purchasing a denim skirt of your own, check out the newest selections at Topshop, Revolve, Forever21, and Urban Outfitters—you won’t be disappointed.
I couldn’t possibly make a travel/style post without stressing the importance of packing one of these: A pashmina, shawl, scarf—call it what you will, it will become your best friend. I purchased this Tobi scarf on sale for about $5 before my trip to Thailand, although my friend Emily is photographed here wearing a beautiful pashmina she had bought in Krabi—the capital of Thailand’s southern providence. Functioning as a blanket on long flights, a pillow on overnight bus rides, a headscarf or skirt during religious site-seeing (remember the Urban midi dress dilemma above?), or simply a fashionable accessory for a day out, the pashmina is the ultimate travel necessity.
My final piece of advice: Never underestimate the power of the plain white t-shirt. It’s a versatile and timeless item that instantly solves the inevitable over-packing problem we all tend to struggle with. I brought this H&M tee on my three-and-a-half-month trip to Southeast Asia and wore it until the dirt/sweat stains became a little too embarrassing. I loved this shirt for the obvious reason—it paired nicely with everything, regardless of whether I was dressing up or down. In the photo on the left I wore this top with a pair of H&M high-waisted shorts and chunky heels, while the photo on the right (thankfully) omits the much more casual and equally stained pants I had been sweating through at the time the photo had been taken.
As I pack for my upcoming trips this year I’ll be sure to throw different versions of many—if not most—of these items in my suitcase. That being said, I’m always on the lookout for a few additional pieces to toss in the pile. Lately I’ve been drawing my travel style inspiration from a few great fashion bloggers, including Julie Sariñana of Sincerely Jules and Lucy Williams of Fashion Me Now, both of whom wear and collaborate with the ultimate vacation brand, Faithful. To see where my head’s at this season in terms of travel ensembles, give my Pinterest board a quick peek!