Vacation Packing Tips

I’m happy to share my best tips for packing a casual late summer vacation wardrobe. I always take pieces for travel that can be mixed and matched or layered as needed. Check the weather for your destination the day before leaving. Consider your planned activities and then pack accordingly. My recent trip to Rhode Island centered around casual daytime activities.

On my packing list were three bottoms, one tank top, four shirts, two knit tops, one light jacket, and one blazer. I took three bras, undies, and pajamas. Accessories included a lightweight scarf, three pairs of shoes, a packable hat, a black tote bag, and a small shoulder bag. I streamline my cosmetics and skincare as well as my jewelry when I travel. Don’t forget the sunscreen and sunglasses! My beauty routine is always low maintenance, but I reduce it even further when traveling. All of the items fit into the Calpac rolling carry-on bag or my tote bag.

I wore the light jacket, white tank, and stretchy black jeggings to fly. I carried my navy blazer over my arm. It is often too cold on the plane, so I had the option to slip the blazer on over the light jacket when I needed it. My items are rarely new, so I share links to similar current items. Referral and affiliate links in my posts may result in a small commission for me at no additional cost to you.

Jean JacketBlazerTankJeggingsShoesTote

When traveling, I wear inexpensive neutral jewelry that goes with everything.

Bangle braceletsHoop EarringsWatchSunglasses

I planned to walk many miles, so comfortable shoes were necessary. LoafersBoat ShoesSneakersNo-Show Socks (Active-X Mid-Cut Reinforced Antibacterial Modal)

I always take a packable hat, and that tote bag has flown thousands of miles in its thirty-plus years with me. Hat (Color: Black Multi) – Shoulder Bag (Color: Bordeaux) – ToteScarfPajamas

Another option for a BlazerAnkle Jeans

White Simple Long Sleeve Tee

Three-Quarter-Sleeve Shirts

I’ve mentioned in the past that I don’t care for white shoes, but these white leather sneakers have changed my mind.

Black Simple Long Sleeve TopWhite Jeans

Three-Quarter-Sleeve Shirt

Denim Shirt

I’ve included a few ways to wear the pieces here, but there are many more possible combos. I hope this post helps you to pack successfully for your next trip.

The principles defined in this post also apply to my full wardrobe, and the images reflect the way I dress on most mild weather days. The magic happens when you discover what colors, proportions, and textures look best on you.

Happy travels!

  1. Hi Susan, perfect packing approach! i travel alot for business (mostly for just a few days), and seem to always overpack, because i dont spend the time to organize. Your approach and philosophy will help me in the future. My next step is to figure out which proportions & colors are best for me & my size. I need a patient Mr. Mickey for photos & brutally honest, (but kind) friend to tell me what does & doesnt work. 🙂

  2. Very nice combos Susan. Yes, I can see these pieces carrying you through the week of activities. After many years in nursing shoes, my retirement “requires” comfy good looking white athletic shoes for my feet. Again, very nice attractive oufits for a trip.

    1. I put the shoes in a plastic bag (one shoe per bag) and fit them in between the clothing. I stack all the tops and then fold the arms across the body. Next, I roll them up and place the roll in the luggage — stack and roll jeans in the same way. I wear the bulkiest items. You can also use packing cubes. I found mine on Amazon, but I don’t always use them because the rolling method allows me to take more items, and the clothing doesn’t wrinkle as much when I roll it.

  3. Great packing tips. I also have cool coloring, but have never found a denim shirt that is s strong enough color for me. Love the look, though.
    On a travel note, we recently returned from a trip to Hilton Head Island. We spent one night in Asheville, and dined at the Red Stag, per your recommendation on the blog. It was delightful! I kept an eye out for you & Mr. Mickey, but it turns out that you traveled to Cashiers for that weekend. Would haven fun to meet you!

  4. Thanks for your packing tips. They are very helpful and your travel choices look nicely put together and comfortable.

  5. Thanks for all the traveling tips. I find when I travel my toiletry bag takes up too much space. Can you show us what you carry and how you back it. Thanks

    1. I took mascara, one gray eyeshadow, lipstick, eyeliner pencil, and eyebrow pencil. I decant some toner and moisturizer to take with me or take travel sizes, and remover wipes. Sunscreen, a toothbrush and paste, and a hairbrush round out my toiletries. I use the hairdryer, shampoo, conditioner, and lotion supplied by the hotel. All of it fit into a small black pouch which I put in the tote bag.

  6. I love all these combos! And I have just about everything shown here! That’s even better. It’s good to see someone put the combos together and reinforces how GREAT they look when you wear them. Good to see your posts again.

  7. Thank you for showing all these looks. I’m packing for a trip and these tips will certainly come in handy. I’ve stayed away from white sneakers too, but after seeing how they look with your outfits, I think you may have changed my mind as well.

  8. Loving the white sneaks! So glad to see you come on board with that Very youthful….. but not ridiculous! (if that makes sense!) I say that because, generally speaking, my goal has been to stay relevant to the trends but not ridiculous, given my age!! ) But they looked great on you and perfect for the environment you were in!

  9. Susan, I noticed the watch you wore had a narrow band and a smaller face than the ones we’ve been seeing in recent years. I don’t often wear a watch, so I did not invest in the larger men’s-style watch. I would be happy if my watch with a narrow band is back in style. Thanks.

  10. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I LOVE that you don’t wear distressed jeans! This post is very helpful, and you look wonderfully chic in every outfit.

  11. I went to Newport. Last month too. I had two very large suitcases, a carryon and a tote-bag. My husband keeps telling me to pack light, but I never do. I want to trot out all my favorite clothes. We had to include clothing for a big wedding also, , so a cocktail dress and evening gown and a suit. I truly admire the way you pack. I also admire Jennifer Scott and her 10 item wardrobe. But there’s a world of space between admiring and accomplishing. Maybe someday.
    I’m sorry I didn’t run into you in Newport. That would have been a treat.

  12. As always casual but elegant. I really struggle with the way people present themselves nowadays. (I sound sooo old) A scarf, a piece of jewelry add so much to finish even a simple outfit. You are a perfect role model. Great ideas. Thanks.

  13. Great travel packing tips, Thankyou so much for your constant good advice. May I ask how have you managed to keep the black tote bag in such fabulous condition. I have lovely old leather bags but the colours are slightly cloudy, I’d really appreciate taking care of your bags advice, it could be another topic? I’ll eagerly look forward to your suggestions. Many thanks and have a fabulous weekend.

    Joon in the UK

      1. Thank you for another wonderful post. You look awesome & provide us with the most wonderful advice. I always learn something new from your posts & feel very inspired.
        Do you have a recommendation on the best product to use on leather. (I, too, have some gorgeous leather bags that I want to keep in good shape.) Thanks!

  14. What weight loss plan did you use when you lost all that weight? Do you do regular exercises at a facility besides walking? You look Fabulous and I love your blog- I too am changing my eating and dress. I am 74 – soon to be 75 and want to feel and look my best and am wanting to loose 45-50 lbs. I am 5’5” tall. Any information on what plan ( if any) you used would be appreciated. My closet apparel is very similar to yours with the exception of leggings that I can’t wear because I have heavy ankles and heavy knees so I opt for straight leg or slightly boot cut. You are an inspiration and love to read your articles!! Virginia

    1. Thank you, Virginia. I cut down on the amount of food. I rarely have dinner, and when I eat breakfast and lunch, it is mostly fresh organic berries, apples, nuts, coconut “yogurt,” goat cheese, and steamed or roasted vegetables. I do some strength and balance exercises, but I do not go to a gym. I still enjoy wild-caught fish, lobster, organic free-range chicken, pasta, cheese, chocolate, and wine, but not every day.

  15. Thank you – great post as always. I am 80, and always want to dress in this same simple
    and chic way. The only thing I might add is one of the very popular “swingy” T-shirt dresses
    for dinner out. Thanks for all the time you take in presenting your lovely posts and ideas.


  16. I save your pics to a folder in my photos and just love it when you add different looks in a row. It’s quicker to save and I can go back later to see them again. I appreciate it so much. This small capsule of clothes with so many looks just proves we all have too many clothes in our closet. I need to pare it down again to what I really wear.

  17. Really appreciated that you modelled a number of outfits from your travel wardrobe. That method really helps me when packing, especially because my trips are often 3+ weeks long. It’s one thing for a blogger to lay out the clothes they take travelling, but your modelled method is much more useful. I’m a hat person and I’m so glad that you packed one. My packable, reversible hat was made by a lovely lady in Iceland ( what an amazing country!!) and it goes everywhere with me. Thanks, too, for your helpful videos, Susan. The one about folding a large scarf has saved me so much grief and now more of these scarves are being used instead of hanging about in my closet.
    PS – my husband & I spent our honeymoon in Newport. What a gorgeous place!

  18. Did you use a tour group company for your Newport visit? I live in Arizona, would be traveling solo and would prefer someone else do the planning for me!

  19. Wow! I am impressed with how combining your items in different ways create such different looks! Thanks for this post!

  20. Thank you for sharing such helpful information. Susan, I am curious – did you rent a vehicle or use public transportation. Looking ahead wrt personal travel.

  21. Susan, I am almost 69 yrs. Old. I enjoy your videos and blog so much. You have changed the way I dress. No more tee shirts and Jean’s every day. When I can’t decide what to wear I watch one of your videos to help me decide. I joined a weight loss group called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) and will add to my wardrobe as a reward for losing weight. My goal is 45 pounds. Thank you so much for your videos.

  22. Hi Susan!

    Thank you for all of your wonderful posts.

    I will be taking my dream trip, a 30 day cruise to the South Pacific and I’m stressing as to what I should bring. Do you have any tips on how many pieces to take? I know there are 4 formal nights and I want to make sure I have enough casual outfits when I am off the ship for a day trip. Since the weather will be warm (with possible intermittent showers), I have to be sure I have washable pieces.

    Thank you ,

    1. Take lightweight and light colors of simple basic pieces that you can mix and match. Fabrics such as cotton and linen will serve you well. Accessories such as hats and fun, colorful jewelry and totes can add pizzaz.

  23. Somehow it never occurred to me to pack my shoes separately. Makes so much sense! Glad you had a great vacation.

  24. I’m trying to modernize a bit and get on the white sneaker wagon. How were your Adidas for walking? Did they feel supportive?

  25. enjoying your writing. A while ago you said you would “never” wear leggings and tight pants. I guess things change. Do you think your weight loss contributed to this acceptance? I worry about the ever dreaded ice cream cone look.

    1. Since my hip and thighs are my smallest section, slim-fitting pants are my best option. I only wear leggings with long tunics that require a very fitted leg to create a visual balance. I try not to say “never” because style is a moving target. If we get too hung up on rules, we may look outdated and possibly older than we are.

  26. I notice you take blouses on vacation. Do you iron them when in the hotel? Mine would be totally wrinkled. Would love to take one or two, but they never look like they do when wearing at home. Your advice greatly appreciated!

  27. Thank you for the traveling capsule. I have used one of your capsules when I went to see my daughter for 5 days. It made my 5 days so much easier to be able to put together outfits quickly. My daughter retired from the USMC and several of her friends gave me compliments on how nice my outfits looked. I did give them the name of I got so many compliments. Thank you, Sandy

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I share tips and inspiration for using what you already have in contemporary ways. Defining words include effortless, classic, refined, discreet, and elegant. My style is chic, minimal, and timeless with a bit of edge.