Want all this in your inbox?
Get the Refinery29 Newsletter
You're in for a treat...
Thanks for signing up!
Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.
Whether it’s a layering piece for business, club-hopping, or outdoor pursuits, is it durable enough to multi-task? A silky cami can work beneath a sheer blouse or blazer, or even function as sleepwear; cotton tanks are ideal for more casual trips. If I’m headed somewhere seriously cold, I also bring a merino version like Woolies camis and racerbacks by Ibex, which are cute, comfy, stink-proof, quick-drying, indestructible, and equipped with built-in bras.
I'm a sucker for shoes, so this is always my biggest challenge. But I start by thinking about the climate and planned activities, and then I let the length of my trip and space constraints dictate what to pack. The right shoe can dress up any look, from super distressed jeans or cut-offs to urban exercise-wear.
My go-to down-time shoe for major backpacking trips are inexpensive cloth Mary Janes from Urban Outfitters or whatever Chinatown I happen to be passing through. I can tuck them into my day pack if I need to transition from day to evening, and while they’re not ideal for all-day walking excursions, you can slip in a pair of arch supports or liners to amp up the support factor. Bonus: Ditch them at trip’s end, and make more room for souvenirs.
Other reliable picks include lightweight street sneakers (like Keds), ballet flats, and flat-heeled booties. I’ve been known to go out dancing in my hiking boots on a tropical beach, but I don’t recommend it.
If you never wear a particular item when it's hanging in your closet, then what makes you think you would wear it on a trip? Part of my packing strategy — besides practicality — is to limit myself to items that I feel like myself in. Travel (especially when it’s of the long-term and/or backpacking variety) can take its toll on your psyche, no matter how much fun you’re having. If you don’t feel comfortable and confident, it can affect your whole mindset; you don't want to be bogged down by that while you're trying to experience a new place. The better you feel, the more powerful you are, even if you’re not dressed to the nines.
If you're going to, say, a destination wedding, you probably have a good idea of what activities you'll be doing and what garments they'll require. But even without a firm itinerary, think about travel logistics and what you enjoy doing, which is a good indicator of what you'll be inclined to do at your destination. Then, make sure the item in question can multitask. I’m a big fan of black T-shirts. I usually bring a tank, a “working” shirt, and a sexy, more fitted version. Substitute your item of choice, but remember that having a few dark, solid-colored pieces is always smart, as minor stains won't render them useless.
Yes, it’s comforting to have a beloved pair of jeans or your favorite flannel on the road, but it's also a good idea to temper that impulse with how devastated you'll be if they don’t make it home. Any item that you couldn't stand to lose — whether it's a true investment piece or it's just loaded with sentimental value — might be safer at home. If you plan to check your luggage, the risk of loss (or theft) is inherently greater; if you're traveling with a carry-on and staying in five-star hotels in safe areas, you may not need to worry as much. Pack a couple of well-worn items, just make sure they’re not your besties.