What to pack for any trip is one of the top stressors for the solo traveler. Throughout my forty plus years of travel, I have struggled with how to pack wisely. For each trip I have to consider the weather, my activities and likewise, the destination's culture when deciding my travel wardrobe. After years of experience with getting packing incorrect by either bringing too many or inevitably, the wrong clothes, I have developed a packing philosophy, KEEP IT SIMPLE!
Select a Base Color
First, for each trip I decide on my wardrobe's base color which is either black, brown or navy. Sometimes I veer to grey, white or tan depending on the season but these colors typically end up as secondary colors. Accordingly, if the trip is longer than an extended weekend, I will incorporate an accent color such as techno blue, some distinctive shade of green or a color in the red hue. By sticking to these basic color options, it's easy to dress appropriately for any locale.
Limit the Number of Items You Pack
Second, I severely limit the number of items I pack. This does not come easy because I love clothes but I force myself to take only the bare minimum. If I want to pack five pairs of shoes, I will scale it back to three. From experience I have found you can always buy the clothes you need which you haven't packed when you get to your destination. Many of my best souvenirs have been some type of apparel or accessory I needed. Think, LESS IS MORE!
Plan Your Outfits and Try Them On
Third, plan out all of your outfits and TRY THEM ON before you leave home to make sure they still fit properly and you are pleased with how you look and feel in each outfit. Determine how many items you can mix and match. Plus, how many times you will be comfortable with wearing something several times. Remember you can always use the laundry services available through your hotel's concierge. In addition, decide what shoes and accessories will complete each outfit.
4 Day “Bleisure” Trip to New York City
On my recent four day, business-pleasure trip to New York City I only had an hour to decide what to pack. Being the clotheshorse that I am, feeling rushed while packing is never pleasant but I had no choice. I checked the weather and realized the temperatures at this time of year ranged from the low 40's to the low 70's with rain and lots of wind as a possibility. I have been in NYC when it's windy and have almost frozen to death!
The focus of the trip was a business meeting at Moody's Investors Services at One World Trade Center. Because this meeting was of supreme importance, I fell back on my typical "important business" St John Knit wardrobe pieces which are the correct look for this type of meeting. For my free hours of sightseeing, shopping and the theater, I went the jean/pants with a simple top and jacket route. The following are the three clothes groupings I choose for the trip.
GROUPING ONE - Plane Ride and Street Wear
-Skinny Jeans by Soft Surroundings
-Loose fitting Black Blazer by sanctuary of los angeles
-Cream boat neck, three quarter length sleeved sweater top
-Black Booties by Aerosole
-Black leather, two-tone buckle belt by Guess
-Black backpack with gold zippers
GROUPING TWO - Street Wear, Casual Dining or Theater Wear
-Black, medium weight fabric pants
-White, lightly insulated turtleneck top or black, ribbed silk turtleneck top
-Black, faux leather biker jacket
-Black trainers by Geox or black booties by Aerosole
-Black, patent leather belt by Michael Kors
-Black backpack or black tassel clutch with removable chain strap
GROUPING THREE - Important Business Meeting and Elegant Dining
-Black knit pants by St John
-Black, long blazer with gold and faux pearl buttons by St John
-Black tunic by St John
-Black patent leather, pointed toe pumps
The inexpensive. tasteful jewelry I selected was a gold rope chain necklace, hoop earrings and a simple star accented gold ring. My silver toned selections included a long multi- heart themed necklace, hoop earrings and a ring with a simple contemporary design. My daily activities dictated which pairing I chose to wear.
Serendipitous Purchase Complemented the Travel Wardrobe Groupings
All three groupings, serendipitously, became grounded and connected by an unexpected purchase, a colorful, inexpensive scarf. On the second day while walking back to my hotel via Chinatown, the vicious New York wind started to pick up. I had my biker jacket on but I was beginning to get a chill and felt I needed something around my neck for a little more warmth. As fate had it, I noticed a vendor with a hanging display of colorful scarves with tasteful motifs. One caught my eye, the price was right, problem solved. Oddly, this scarf became the accent piece of all my outfits on the trip except for my business meeting at Moody's. Funny how fate steps in when a shopaholic needs a fix!!
Nothing Like a Timeless Overcoat
Last, I packed my trusty, long black double breasted, wool lined overcoat from Saks that I have had for over twenty years. This is a coat that keeps on giving and still looks wonderful. Simple, classic design combined with high quality fabric create lasting clothing pieces that are safe, smart style choices for the solo traveler.
BOTTOMLINE: the next time you are packing for a solo trip think - keep it simple, less is more and try on your outfits before you leave home.
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Author: Astrid Clements
Astrid Solo Travel Advisor CEO and founder, Astrid, has spent over 40 years traveling around the world. She is passionate about embracing the world’s diverse cultures and sharing with others the global need and personal benefit of cultural literacy. Her focus is on affordable luxury travel that is both substantive and fun! To read more about her and each one of our Solo Travel Advisors, head over to the About page!