Create A Travel Uniform

Image: STIL on Unsplash

Packing, for me, can be a weeks-long process. As soon as my flight is booked (sometimes sooner) I begin thinking of every piece of clothing and accessory I could possibly need, lest I be stuck in a cold restaurant without a jacket or out at a trendy bar without a statement piece. Sure, it’s fun, but it also isn’t the most efficient use of time.

In fact, it usually means a ton of mental energy and more time than I care to admit is spent physically packing for trips ranging from weekend visits home (where I’ll mostly be hanging out in trackpants and the old high school T-shirts that still fill the drawers of my childhood dresser, anyway) to week-long trips abroad.

It probably makes more sense in the latter case, but it’d be nice to streamline the process. Do I really need to bring a black cocktail dress on a trip to visit a friend on the off chance we go somewhere other than her local watering hole for a drink or two one night? Probably not.

That’s why I like this suggestion from a Cup of Jo commenter:

“Back in the old days, BC (before child), I was a totally haphazard, stuff-a-million-things-into-a-bag-at-the-last-minute kind of packer, but now I like to take away variables and leave head space for enjoying the adventure. So, for trips, everything is navy blue. I have two pairs of pants, a simple stretchy skirt, a long-sleeved cotton shirt and a cardigan — ALL navy blue. I always pack a pair of dark jeans, a bathing suit no matter the season and in the summertime I throw in a pair of denim shorts. When I was a kid, we used to dress up for travel, and I’ve held on to that philosophy. Monochromatic dressing is an easy way to be both comfortable and pulled together, and I gravitate to navy because it’s as sophisticated as black but it’s still a colour.” — Brooke Williams

All blue might be a stretch, but I like the idea of simplifying what I pack for routine trips. That way, even if I’m packing at the last minute, I won’t be trying to pair trendier outfits that will sit in the bottom of my suitcase for the duration of my trip unworn.

When I think about what I actually own and get a lot of wear out of, that will mean: A pair of light blue jeans, black jeans and olive pants, a range of solid-coloured shirts, a collared chambray shirt, and a dressier jacket.

The key is that everything matches everything else, so I won’t have to spend a lot of time putting an outfit together. And everything is appropriate for a range of weather conditions and walking/sitting on a bus for hours at a time.

Obviously, if you have a special event to attend or you’ve been planning an exotic getaway, it’s fun to pack colourful dresses and accessories you wouldn’t normally wear in every day life. That’s what a holiday is for! But there’s also something to uncomplicating the process and bringing the essentials you know you’ll get some wear out of for shorter trips.

Do you have a travel uniform? Do you still “dress up” for the flight (in other words, wear anything besides a tracksuit)? Let me know.


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