Staying Smart and Chic: 5 Tips to Travel Light and Dress Well at the Same Time

You’re finally going on your dream travel trip, and the packing is almost done. You open your closet for the last-minute clothes packing, and your travel suits stare back at you from the closet. What do you do? Make room in your suitcase or ignore them?

Travel is one of the few things that can make you truly happy. The thrill of seeing all the new places, meeting new people, and, let’s not forget, the best part– tasting fresh food is enough to make you swoon. You can, of course, drop everything and set out to travel around the world (and there are good reasons why you should do just that), but what you should never forget is looking chic when you’re on the road.

Looking chic and classy when traveling can be tough because of the storage shortage. Things would’ve been much easier if you could carry your closet inside the suitcase like Harry Potter, but unfortunately, we don’t have that kind of magic yet. Your best option is packing strategically so you can keep it light but don’t go through a wardrobe crisis. But how? Well, that’s what we’re here to tell you.

Here are 5 tips to help you dress well without carrying your closet around.

5 Tips to Travel Light and Dress Well at the Same Time

1. Pack for Your Schedule

Your trips won’t always be for fun and personal reasons. Sometimes you’ll have to travel for work reasons. Sometimes it will be something else like a wedding. As you can see, these options are entirely different from one another.

So your chances of blindly packing a bag and still hitting the travel outfit’s jackpot are slim. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to overflow your luggage.

The first strategy you should start with is packing based on what kind of trip you’re going on. Your schedule will differ for different types of trips, and sometimes you may not even have a schedule. You’ll be well off with casual and more relaxed clothes from your closet if it is a vacation. If it is more formal, go for more “put-together” booking clothes.

It’s just an outline, of course, you can’t always predict what you’ll do. You might have time for exploring, even on a business trip. Or you may be on a casual vacation with one formal event planned. You need to pack according to what you’ll be doing for most of your time there.

2. Go for Color Coordination

No need to snort, we know it sounds like too much effort. But hear us out. Color coordinating your luggage items will help you for a pretty long time. You don’t have to stick with any strict color palette. Pick three colors and try to stay within that limit. This way, eliminating things will be easier, and you won’t be suffocating the luggage with “just-in-case” stuff.

Color coordinating your clothes will give you more room for versatility. Let’s say you’re packing three T-shirts and three bottoms. If they’re all color-coordinated, you can make 3×3 = 9 outfits from what you packed. 9 outfits will nicely get you through the week. See how easy it is?

As for the colors, you won’t have to go overboard. Experts like Kate Young believe you should stick with three colors. Three colors won’t be too tough to coordinate, but it won’t be lackluster either. As for what color you should be packing, there is a cheat sheet for that too.

Pick the colors based on your destination. If you’re going to a European city like Paris, then going with colors like black, charcoal, navy, and white is safe to bet. You can pick any three based on what pieces you have in your closet.

If you’re going to sunny places like the beach or African and Middle Eastern cities, try picking the brighter colors and at least one muted color. Royal blue, yellow, orange, red, and pink paired with off-white, white, and khakis look gorgeous in photos.

3. Hold Back on the Shoes

Shoes are one of the most versatile things in your closet, and they’re the toughest items to pack. It is always “do I pack the heels,” “what if I want to go for a run,” and 50 other questions you shouldn’t be thinking about in the first place. But since we’re here, let us tell you a trick– go for less.

You don’t need to pair shoes with every outfit you will put together. That will take up more than half of your luggage pace since shoes are bulkier than clothes. Go for basic pairs instead, and don’t pack more than three pairs. Pack one pair for running or walking around (think sandals and flats), one low boots or fancier flat shoes, and one pair of heels or something your schedule specifically calls for.

Wear the bulkiest pair to the airport. You won’t have to worry about making room in your luggage. Another essential thing is shoe wrappers. Don’t go for bulky, separate shoe wrappers– use shower caps instead.

4. Go Bold with Accessories

Your accessories can make or break an outfit. It’s even more true when you’re packing. Accessories can tone an outfit down or highlight it. They can also make the mix-and-match outfits look more natural and seamless. So yes, pack some bold jewelry to pair with your outfits. But make sure you aren’t going overboard.

Pick things like statement earrings or necklaces, scarves (or if you want something lighter, then a Sarang), and make sure to go for a classy purse. The right purse will lift the whole look and bind everything together. If you want to make things easier, pick a purse that can double as a makeup and accessories bag.

If you aren’t one of the jewelry types, pack some fun patterned socks. It will add some personality to your outfits.

5. Layers, Not Bulk

It’s more applicable for winter essentials. Some places are icy, so you might be thinking about packing a bigger coat, but trust us, not the better option if you’re trying to keep it light. Instead of packing one bulky outerwear, go for multiple thinner options.

Bulky outerwear takes up more space and isn’t always the most fashionable option. Packing clothes you can layer up or down will keep you warm and stylish. You can layer up as much as you want and throw a cardigan or jacket to tie it all together. And there you go, that’s one chic outfit!

If you feel like a bigger jacket is necessary for your trip, wear it on you instead of packing it in.


Balancing style and convenience when traveling is like packing for yourself and the children. But just like traveling with children can be easier, staying chic can be too. Make sure you’re striking with precision when packing your bags, and you’ll be all set.

Juan Medina

Juan Medina, holding a Master's in Psychology from the University of Washington, has been sharing his insights and guidance through writing for over 10 years. He became a part of our team as a freelancer in 2021, offering readers practical and compassionate advice. Before this, Juan worked as a counselor helping individuals navigate life's challenges. He is an avid traveler, using his experiences to enrich his understanding of diverse cultures and human behavior.

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