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How to build a travel capsule wardrobe

Overpacking or underpacking. Aren’t we all guilty of this.

In my early days of travelling, I had done countless overpacking. This habit often attributed to my “just in case I need it” reasoning. I would end up with a bulky bag at the beginning of my trip and have no space for travel souvenirs.

However, over the past years and after many travels, I learned to understand my style, what I need and don’t need. Hence, building a travel capsule wardrobe is important to avoid overpacking and underpacking.

To plan a travel wardrobe is to first understand the type of travel you are doing. Is it for business or leisure and will there be an adventure of some sort? What is the season? I will then visualize the style of clothes I always go for – practically basic with edgy and bohemian vibes.

Next, I create an outfit schedule and follow through. For fun and example, let’s picture this:

I am going on a six-day-five-night summer trip to a country, where I will spend the first day of arrival relaxing while doing short sightseeing before taking a bus or a train to the countryside, where I will do trekking/hiking adventure the next two days.

After completing my countryside adventure on the third day, I will take a bus or a train back to the city and spend the following day doing touristy things (going to museums, art galleries, street shops, city landscapes et cetera). On the fifth day, I will book a tour or probably take a bus to interesting attractions outside the city centre.

For six days, I will bring five tops, three pants, two jackets, a dress, three shoes, and two shawls – all pack into a backpack. So, here’s what my wardrobe will look like (excluding pyjamas).

board 1

Day one is airport outfit. I will usually wear long pants and a jacket to keep me warm. I also prefer to wear sneakers (or loafer for a business trip).

Day two is hiking/trekking trip. I will opt for hiking/trekking pants, a basic t-shirt, and proper hiking/trekking shoes or sport shoes. I will pack a rain jacket too.

board 2

Day three is another hiking/trekking day. Time to change to a clean t-shirt but don’t mind wearing the same pants. After all, it’s an adventure day.

Day four is a city exploration outfit. I will go for a dress because it is simple and airy. Pair it with a denim jacket and sneakers for an edgy look. A shawl for extra warmth while being a cultured person in air-conditioned museums and galleries.

board 3

Day five is outskirt tour day. Replacing dark colour with a brighter look. White blouse and denim short with a shawl as an accessory (very essential when visiting temples, to cover short pants).

Then there is the extra outfit – a standby clothes for a nice evening dinner perhaps? The “just in case I need it” thought exactly. For the final day, I will usually recycle airport outfit.

So, there you go. These are basically the outfits I’ve brought with me during my travels. But what about winter travel? Last year, I packed four pants, five cardigans, a blazer, one coat (I bought upon arrival in London), one windproof jacket, a skirt (for Christmas dinner), three shoes, three knit scarves, and four thermal tops for a 19-day winter trip.

Happy planning and safe travel, everyone.

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Hanoi, Vietnam

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Hanoi, Vietnam

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Singapore

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Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

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Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taiwan

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City of Westminster, London

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Aarhus, Denmark

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Gulfoss, Iceland

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