One carry-on suitcase.
That’s all I take, regardless of destination or length of trip.
You can do it, really you can. Don’t be tempted to take a larger suitcase…you’ll have to check it, and risk it being lost in transit. You’ll also have to heave-ho it onto trains, up stairs, down cobblestone streets…trust me, it’s just more manageable to have one small suitcase, on wheels, with a carry-on that sits on top.
So how do I do it? First rule: Don’t pack anything you wouldn’t normally wear. Then, as long as you stick to basics that can mix and match, it’s simple.
Here’s my list for the girls. There’s a list for the guys, too—just click and download.
(The photos shown here are simply for illustrative purposes, not to recommend a specific brand.)
Wear on the plane.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing more comfortable than leggings to wear on a transatlantic flight. As long as you wear something over them that covers your bum, go for it.
Jeans. 3 prs.
Wardrobe staple. Black, blue, and white. (If you’re not traveling to a white jeans-worthy destination, take two blue.)
Fold all pants in half lengthwise, so legs are together. Lay top of pants in bottom of suitcase, with legs draped over the side. (The legs will later be folded over the top of other clothing, and thereby prevent pants from being creased.)
Lightweight and able to be dressed up or down, and layered under sweaters or jackets.
A word about black clothes.
You just can’t go wrong with basic pieces in black. They can be combined with anything else, and you’ll always look put together. Add pops of color with accessories.
Fold each shirt so they fit into individual gallon-size ziploc bags. This saves on space and keeps everything neat and tidy because you can take each one out as needed, without disturbing everything else and making a jumble of your well-ordered packing.
Bring a couple if you’re traveling to cold weather. As lightweight as possible. Lightweight cashmere or merino are my personal favorites. V-necks and cardigans are best because you can layer over shirts and tees.
T-shirts, long and/or short sleeve.
Essential, either for layering or wearing on their own. Bring 3 or 4, of varying colors that go with everything else.
Rain jacket or coat.
Lightest weight rain jacket or coat you can find. Bring it even if you don’t think you’ll need it. (Because if you don’t have it, you’ll need it. Murphy’s Law.)
Pajamas, underwear, socks, and tights.
Just pack the bare minimum. Pack pajamas that are comfortable to hang around the hotel room in.
Shoes/boots/sandals. Depending on weather.
Two words: rubber soles. Sore feet can really put a damper on a trip (I speak from experience) so I will always advocate for rubber soles.
If you’re bringing boots, wear them on the plane to save suitcase space. (Then you’ll have room to slip in a pair of dressier shoes or sandals.)
These foldable flats from Yosi Samra are a celebrity fave, and you can’t beat them for plane travel.
Another version, from Spain (I found them in Barcelona), Swaps by Audley. They come with their own chic little leather bag.
Scarf. Wear it on the plane.
Not only is a scarf useful for keeping your neck warm, it just looks good. (Take a cue from the effortlessly stylish Parisian woman.) Even if it’s summer, bring a silk or cotton scarf and throw it around your neck. It will make you look and feel less like a tourist.
If everything on this list is in the suitcase, and there’s still space, resist the urge to keep adding.
You’re going to want to buy things, and you’ll be glad for the extra space. Trust me.