These Minimalistic Travel Packing Tips Will Convince You to Go Light

a woman carrying a rolling suitcase

Raise your hand if you're an over-packer. While we all want to look chic when traveling—especially when vacation selfies are involved—there's something to be said for being a more conscious packer. After all, no one likes to shlep a monstrously big suitcase around or pay extra baggage fees for an overweight bag. And while we love singing the virtues of traveling with only a carry-on bag, we know it's easier said than done. Mind you, it always starts with the best of intentions—but 12 pairs of shoes later, all common sense is thrown out the window, and your extra-large suitcase is bursting at the seams.

"As a serial over-packer, I can say this with confidence—those extra items you throw in your suitcase because you are convinced you'll wear them to that one place for that one photo… you won't," says Who What Wear Associate Editor Lauren Eggertsen. "Save yourself the extra space and weight in your luggage, and stick to pieces that are versatile. Now, versatile doesn't have to mean boring. Some of the most versatile vacation items can range from a printed wrap skirt to a statement off-the-shoulder top. With the right counterparts, a few standout items can go a long way. A few items I personally would never travel without would be a great pair of vintage Levi's, a white T-shirt, block-heel sandals, sneakers, a statement top, one dress I can dress up or down, and a one-piece swimsuit (which I often will wear as a bodysuit)."

How do you edit down your vacation wardrobe to just a few key pieces? The secret is to pack a variety of separates to mix and match. Forget your large collection of summer dresses—skirts and pants are where it's at. With just a few tops and bottoms, you can create over 16 outfits—and that number gets larger once you add in your shoes. Retire your checked luggage and pack these vacation-worthy separates instead.

T by Alexander Wang Criss-Cross Raglan Top
T by Alexander Wang Criss-Cross Raglan Top $275

A navy crop top will fit a variety of outfits, from high-waisted linen flares to gingham skirts, making it a traveling must-have.

J.Crew New vintage cotton T-shirt
J.Crew New Vintage Cotton T-Shirt $33 $20

A white tee is a perfect staple to dress down anything from a pair of high-waisted vintage denim shorts to a red satin slip dress. 

Rachel Comey Crush cotton-seersucker cropped top
Rachel Comey Crush Cotton-Seersucker Cropped Top $253

Conversely, an off-the-shoulder top will dress up any skirt, pair of pants, or shorts. Wear it with flats in the daytime, and low heels at night.

Zara Floral Print Wrap Blouse
Zara Floral Print Wrap Blouse $70

Dress this blouse down with a pair of denim cutoffs, or dress it up with linen pants and heels.

Three Graces London Rosalinda Linen And Cotton-blend Wide-leg Pants
Three Graces London Rosalinda Linen and Cotton-Blend Wide-Leg Pants $725

The perfect pair of traveling pants are light and wrinkle-free. Pair these striped linen pants with a white tee, a navy crop, or a frilly off-the-shoulder number for three entirely different looks.

Re/Done Denim Shorts
Re/Done Denim Shorts $196

No vacation is complete without the perfect pair of denim cutoffs to take you from the beach to the bar.

Miguelina Gingham Cotton Wrap Maxi Skirt
Miguelina Gingham Cotton Wrap Maxi Skirt $430

A simple wrap skirt can be paired with simple slides and a tee during the day and dressed up with an off-the-shoulder crop and heels at night.

Asceno Scoop-Neck Sandwashed-Silk Nightdress
Asceno Scoop-Neck Sandwashed-Silk Nightdress $234

A slip dress is the perfect date-night outfit, but if you pair it with a white tee and a pair of sneakers, you'll be ready to go play tourist.

Loeffler Randall Vera Ruffle Slide Sandal
Loeffler Randall Loeffler Randall Vera Ruffle Slide Sandal $325 $198

Pick shoes that are comfortable and versatile. A pair of low block-heel mules won't take up too much space in your suitcase, but they'll elevate any outfit instantly.

Gucci Princetown leather slipper
Gucci Princetown Leather Slipper $650

Gucci loafers are the ideal traveling shoes. Breeze through security and walk around for hours—they're endlessly comfortable.

Zara Satin Bow Slides
Zara Satin Bow Slides $40 $30

A cute pair of low-maintenance slides will suit the beach as much as they will a casual dinner.

Anya Hindmarch Wink low-top leather trainers
Anya Hindmarch Wink Low-Top Leather Trainers $306

Simple white sneakers are a must—especially if you're walking around a lot. 

Mansur Gavriel Mini Bucket in Blush
Mansur Gavriel Mini Bucket in Blush $610

Don't pack your collection of handbags. A mini bucket bag will look just as appropriate in the daytime or evening.

Céline Audrey cat-eye acetate sunglasses
Céline Audrey Cat-Eye Acetate Sunglasses $238

These pink cat-eye sunglasses scream summer.

Karla Colletto Iris Lace-up Swimsuit
Karla Colletto Iris Lace-Up Swimsuit $365

No vacation is complete without the perfect bathing suit—we love this lace-up number from Karla Colletto.

And now, four easy airport outfits frequent flyers swear by.

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