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Babcia and Yia Yia!, Notes on Planning and Packing, Study Hall: Essays On Travel

Your Travel Wardrobe Is In Your Closet. Right Now.

You hear it all the time! Create a capsule wardrobe to be a successful traveler. It makes any potential packer think that they need to order and buy specialty clothes to only use when there’s a suitcase at hand. Not so fast! We, here at Babcia and YiaYia, think that you might be selling yourself and your closet a little short. That’s right, we think you probably have far more than you think to complete the perfect travel wardrobe.


In fact, we think that you probably have clothes that you love to wear that could be the foundation for that super elusive capsule wardrobe that all the rage. But where do you even start? We’ve got some easy steps to help!

a woman in white shirt holding a hanger with dress
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Weed out what won’t pack well.

You already know all of the things in your closet that are high maintenance They wrinkle fast and never wash well. You probably pull them out once or twice a year. They probably won’t pack very well anyway. Additionally, you probably know what kind of weather your head toward so out of season stuff is not part of your packing equation.


Choose a color.

You know the color. It’s your favorite one and you pair it with black and white all the time. Ours is blue. It goes with our complexions and never fails to photograph well. You probably have this color weaving in and out of every rack in your closet anyway.

a girls standing in the closet
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Set out your neutrals.

Black. White. Denim. The gang’s all here! These are the pieces that go with pretty much anything. These wardrobe basics are the foundation to your mix and match packing style.


Edit out the cliche items.

It’s time to do a double take. Is there anything in your potential packing pile that screams tourist? Message tees? Super bold colors that scream “pick my pockets”? Shoes that say “I have no idea how to travel comfortably with style”? Now is the time to edit those items out of your capsule concept.

unrecognizable female in room with clothes collection
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Start to mix and match.

Now that you’ve got yourself focused. It’s time to start pairing items together so that everything you take pulls a double shift. We start with the amount of days from take off to laundry. Do you have seven days until laundry? Then you need 5 bottoms in cool weather and 6 bottoms in hot weather. (Why six? Try sweating all day and then trying to look refreshed for dinner.) Seven days also needs 6-7 tops. There are many people who will give you different numbers but sweat doesn’t lie. Match them together. Make those outfits. Then make sure each top has a different bottom that will make a new look.


Minus one for dresses.

If you like dresses, simply subtract one for every dress you plan to pack. Just remember that every dress you take needs to pack well. It also needs to be useful. Dresses for a rafting trip won’t do you much good but an easy to use maxi dress might be just perfect for evenings in Paris.

woman girl morning clothes
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Weave in the layers.

No matter what the weather, we always pack a wrap, a cardigan, and a scarf. Sounds like overkill? Well, we find that we use every single item every single time. Wraps are perfect as a double for plane blanket or pillow. Cardigans cover up if it gets a little too breezy. Scarves can cover bare shoulders or shorts in a pinch if you need to cover up at a particular site like a church or mosque. The most important thing about these pieces is that they go with every single outfit we bring.


Finish off with three pairs of shoes.

You are definitely going to need walking shoes. These will most likely be your bulkiest shoes and you will most likely wear them on the plane just like us. Additionally, you are going to want a pair of shoes that turns all of your outfits into a smarter look for evening. This may be a pair of flats or sandals. The point is, they elevate your look somehow to give you a little oomph. Lastly, you may want to add in beachy flip flops or a second pair of walkers depending on your needs. The most important thing about any pair of shoes you choose is that they go with every outfit you just made for your travel capsule wardrobe.

person wearing pink nike low top sneakers stepping on stone surrounded by flower
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Take it for a test drive.

Now, weeks before your trip, take all of those picks and pack them up. Zip that suitcase closed and put it in the corner. Try not to open it for three or four days. Then, take it all out and decide if it’s a keeper. We promise you probably only need to change out a few items. You’re ready to make a shopping list of the very few things that may be missing.

a woman wearing a sun hat packing clothes in a suitcase
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We bet you feel a lot better!

We told you! You DO have a lot of items to contribute to a great travel capsule wardrobe. While you may want to add in a few last items, your closet is already full of great pieces to travel with. One last tip: take things that you love but may be expiring soon. If you need to ditch them for a little extra packing space on the way back home, it won’t hurt too much. Happy travels!


Notes on Planning and Packing

The Great Packing List

As we all take a pause to dream about travel, I hope we are thinking about all of the different facets that make travel so exciting. Much like an artist approaching a blank canvas, travelers approach a blank itinerary and to-do list. The anticipation of travel is, sometimes, more complex than the act itself. Moreover, preparing for travel with a packing list can be quite cathartic. Even packing your bag can be a ceremonial start to a trip. I think I may need a little of those cathartic, ceremonial feelings in these grounded times. I think I need to think about planning….

What’s in your bag?

There are two modes of packing: the “everything in” trip and the “carry-on” trip. I mean, let’s face it, you can take everything you want for a road trip or that extra bag that’s included in a cruise package. Conversely, practically every other type of trip you are taking has you shrink wrapping your things to fit in a plane-sized carry-on. Additionally, I don’t want my trip to be overwhelmed by my belongings. It’s important to me that, and I bet for you too, to keep my eyes on the travel and not the distractions. After all, I’m traveling to be globally literate, not to be a bag handler! I want to easily get my packing list in my bag and out the door with minimal fuss regardless of where I am. So, how do you pare down smartly for easy travel?

I have a confession.

I do not follow the masses of people who insist that the only way to travel is to lug their carry-on for the 17 miles it takes to get in and out of an airport. It seems that we all have to worry about so many things when we carry-on! Weight, liquids, battling for overhead space, check ins, oh my! Additionally, I’m plus sized.

Let me break down what that means. My bathing suit does not take up the space of a Christmas ornament. In fact, it probably takes up the space of a pair of shoes. Five of my tops do not fit in the same amount of space as a pair of shoes, in fact they take up about one quarter of a standard sized carry-on suitcase because I also use tank tops to layer. The list goes on. However, I’ve learned to adapt and overcome and pack into one suitcase (with a little room to spare). Over the years, I have narrowed down my packing method to create a balance between being prepared and not over packing. So how does one not over pack?

The Necessities…

1. I use several pieces to gather my things. For example, like a hard shell suitcase, a small, under the seat carry on, a good purse that holds my electronics well, and packing cubes. I am a true believer in the check in and I don’t fight the overhead bins. My purse does double duty as a secure spot for my electronics and I use packing cubes to corral things like swim wear, formal clothing and unmentionables. This makes it easier to sift through my luggage daily.

2. Laundry supplies… if I’m going for more than 7 days. I bring a tiny bag with a tide stick, some downy spray, a few pods, a laundry bag and some dryer sheets. Where ever I will be on day 6 is the spot I look for a decent laundry place. Usually, the hotel knows of just the right spot. This little baggie goes right in a packing cube and is out of sight and out of mind until needed. If my trip is less than 5 days, I just pack enough to get there and back with a laundry bag and don’t worry about any laundry supplies. One way or another, I’ll have clean clothes. I’m a little obsessed with the travel laundry situation.

3. Electronics. That includes my iPad, my travel adapter, cords, a portable charger and my phone. This normally all fits in my purse. And it covers all of my translation, travel, and communication needs. Check out this article on great apps to get tips on really helpful picks.

4. Travel extras. Things like my travel guides that can’t be digitized, a journal, my travel wallet, a reusable bag that folds down. I admit it, I try to digitize as much as I can but sometimes a book is just that much easier! So, I take exactly what I need to make my trip successful.

5. Clothes. I don’t believe there is any one piece of advice that works for every traveler. Pack what you think you need for the events that you plan just don’t pack more than what can fit in your suitcase. I take flats, sneakers, sandals that go with maxi dresses, and jeans. For most travel, I settle on one or two dressy things and casual mix and match.

6. Care products include a travel curling iron, hair and skin care. I have been taking stuff that’s almost done so I can ditch the bulk before I come home. But I am turning my attention to plastic free beauty bars. Hair bands because it will never last, light makeup, a bit of jewelry that won’t break my heart if it gets lost.

Share the load…

One of my first conversations with my fellow travelers is “Who has the laundry stuff? I’ll bring the curling iron! Do you have the travel guides covered?” While I need these things, it is far easier to collectively share and lessen the load. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Lessening the load? No one says, “gee! I wish I had lugged more stuff with me during my trip! It would have made it so much better!”

My list is for a typical trip that’s a few weeks long. There is no doubt at all that if you were headed to an African Safari or Game Drive or to a South Pacific Island, your list would be quite different. Just check out this post about my trip to Zambia! But, for most of us, the standard packing list is just enough. Note that some of the links below are affiliate links. I only recommend products & brands I love and that I think you would love, too!

Notes on Planning and Packing

Subscription Boxes for Travelers

Have you tried them? Have you jumped on board the subscription box bandwagon? I’ve got to admit, I’m a fan!!! From great gifts to dependable travel gear, I’m a sucker for a good travel subscription box. Here are some of my favorites…

Universal Yums

Each month, a box arrives chock full of fabulous, junkie treats from a selected country around the world. This is a great box to gift a teen or tween.

Globe In

With plenty to choose from, this box allows you to pick from a variety of small cottage industry vendors from around the world. Treat yourself while sending a little TLC to the rest world.

The Wordy Traveler

Book lover? Traveler? This one is for you!

Atlas Coffee Club

Attention caffeine fans! The Atlas Coffee Club is interested in giving you a tour of the world via your coffee mug.

Little Passports

Perfect for all the aspiring gypsies in your life, Little Passports does a great job of introducing the world to young minds through play and projects. Simple to use and fun to learn with, this box delights the young set easily.

Escape the Crate

Let the mystery come to you once a month with this escape room in a box

Explore Local Box

Dia Box

My travel go to box for all the clothes I need to create a capsule wardrobe, I am a true Dia fan. Being a plus sized traveler makes me put a little more thought into my clothing choices. I have literally turned my travel wardrobe into my entire wardrobe thanks to careful picks from the stylists at Dia.

There are tons of international food and spice boxes that are too subjective and numerous to mention. Just know that whatever your food tastes, there is a box for you! The best place to start is cratebox.com

A quick note: TGC doesn’t get any commission on these boxes (and we’ll update this notice if that changes), we just want you to have the best travel experience that you can!