Donna's Writings


The Traveller’s Wardrobe

The other day on Facebook, I asked, “What few pieces can I add to my one-carry-on-bag wardrobe to convert from summer to autumn?” Then I remembered a journal entry I made in June, and I realized that I prepared my travel wardrobe for summer and autumn, and I’ve already been through some chilly stretches in the north of England. So I don’t actually need anything to prepare my wardrobe for cooler weather, I am just looking for an excuse to buy a few new items. Here’s the journal entry followed by a list of what I’ve bought in Europe so far.

The traveller’s wardrobe is most important. If one carries too much, or too little, clothing an entire journey may be spoilt.

For a woman taking a 4-month trip in spring, summer, and autumn:

  • 1 pair of jeans (to be worn during travel)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 pairs of capris
  • 2 tank tops (to sleep in and to wear on very hot days)
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt or turtleneck
  • 3 short sleeve shirts
  • 3 t-shirts
  • 2 casual sleeveless dresses
  • 1 short sleeve cardigan
  • 1 long sleeve, but light weight, cardigan (to be worn during travel)
  • 2 light summer scarves
  • 1 warm but light shawl or stole
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of closed walking shoes (to be worn during travel)
  • 1 light rain jacket
  • 1 umbrella
  • Assorted tights, with and without feet
  • 3 pairs of socks
  • A week’s worth of panties and bras
  • 1 pair of slipper socks
  • 1 sun hat (baseball cap or floppy brim that can fold up in suitcase)
  • 1 swimsuit (optional)
  • 1 dressy dress (optional)
  • 1 pair of dressy sandals (optional)

The only thing that would make a trip perfect, but that could not possibly fit into a carry on bag along with several month’s worth of clothing is a plush terrycloth bath robe.

Except for anything made of linen, all should be wrinkle proof or permanently wrinkled as a design element.

All should be of  one or two color schemes with brights and darks so you can dress to match, or counter, your mood. Black is the best anchor color as it can be worn with everything else in the wardrobe and it does not show dirt. But a few light pieces are necessary, especially if you are travelling where it will be warm. If, by chance, you will be where it is very hot, avoid dark colors completely unless required for modesty in the local culture.

Your dresses must all be sleeveless and the type that may double as a skirt with a t-shirt or cardigan thrown over it. If you opt to bring a dressy outfit, it should also be comfortable so it can be worn in casual situations. My own dress and shoes are comfortable enough to wear on a long flight or a day at the zoo, and would look only mildly out of place at the latter, although perfectly suitable to wear to a wedding or cocktail party.

If you choose wisely, all of this will fit easily into one bag that qualifies as cabin baggage on Ryanair.

(If you have a lot of technology and/or knitting, you may require a travel backpack as a second bag. The backpack can double as a day bag, and it should be either light weight enough to fold up in your main bag or it should have wheels if you’ve got heavy tech in it. Don’t let yourself bring anything more than that or you’ll find yourself dragging big, heavy bags around on cobblestone streets, cursing at yourself in every language you know how to curse in. These things do not come with us to all of our locations.)

So, what have I bought since I’ve been in Europe?

  • 2 warmer scarves (not needed but souvenirs of Brittany and Scotland)
  • 1 pair of sweat pants (because I was freezing my butt off in Cumbria)
  • 1 pair of high heeled shoes (because I just had to have them even if I mail them home and wear them in the US)
  • 1 new pair of jeans (I will probably throw my old ones away before I go home because they are too big and falling apart)
  • Several pairs of wrist warmers

What I plan to buy, especially if it gets quite cold in Lithuania in October:

  • A warm jacket in a style that is hard to find in the US
  • A warm hat
  • A pair of boots

You can do it! If you feel the need to spruce up, a new haircut works as good as clothes and doesn’t take up room in the suitcase!

  1. Shannon, it’s all what is comfortable for you. I hate lugging around suitcases and I can live without so much “stuff”….. then after a while, I just want to go home and sink into my soft bed, cover myself with my down comforter, and know that in the morning I will have a whole closet of clothes to choose from!

  2. I’ve found myself getting a lot more “over-packy” as I get older. There once was a time when I could do three weeks in Europe with nothing more than a small backpack and be perfectly happy…now the rolling suitcases have infested me! I still have that small backpack, it’s Chinese army surplus tarted up with some stitchery I did, and not much bigger than say, an ordinary Jansport. Maybe I should challenge myself to just bring that the next time I travel!

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