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30 Days to Packing a Better Bag – Day 9: Our Biggest Packing Tip

day 9: how to travel with less thanks to our biggest packing tip.

Welcome to Day 9 of 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag.

One of the biggest questions we receive at Her Packing List involves something along the lines of, “Help! How do I pack clothes for 20 (40, or 60) days of travel?!”

There seems to be confusion with fellow travelers when it comes time to packing for an extended trip. Many women feel like they need to pack an outfit for each and every day of travel, but guess what…

That’s just not true!

In fact, packing for trips a month in length should actually be pretty similar to how you pack for those that are just one week. Shocking, right? Generations of heavy packers have raised us today to struggle with baggage restrictions and packing choices, but you don’t have to suffer any longer if you just remember (and trust) this one thing.

How to Travel with Less Clothing

If you pack wisely, you should be able to compile several different outfits from one tiny wardrobe. We’ll talk more about versatile travel pieces and how to mix and match in tomorrow’s post, but a few good things to start thinking about are:

    • Quality Pieces – Not only should the pieces you bring be of a certain quality, meaning something has a real purpose, these pieces should also be items you love. Make sure what you pack makes you feel good. Otherwise, you’ll probably avoid wearing it, meaning it becomes something that just takes up space in your bag for no good reason.
  • Color Palettes – Make sure almost anything you bring can be mixed and matched with each other. The odd ball out will get worn less often if it only pairs with one other specific item. In our example photo above, we’re pairing key pieces (pants, skirt, jacket) in neutral blacks and grays with solid popping colors to give our outfits vibrance. The addition of a few colorful scarves bring the outfits together. Notice how we got rid of anything that had a pattern or was not in the same color class? If you’re a pastel and floral girl, just make sure most of your items mesh with each other.
the shed
This are all the items we removed from our original packing image. Yes, we removed a lot. But, guess what… we can live with that!

Hotels, hostels and campsites generally offer washing machines that can be used to wash your travel wardrobe every week, but we don’t shy away from a bit of hand washing here at Her Packing List. When you travel with so few items of clothing, doing a full wash isn’t as necessary.

Plus, you have to consider how often you could actually wear one item of clothing before you actually need to wash it. Like jeans. Jeans are typically an article of clothing that is worn multiple times before an encounter with the spin cycle.

So, what are we getting at?

You can re-wear your travel clothing and outfits several times on the same trip and not feel guilty about it. If it’s washing you worry about, either bring enough socks and underwear to cover a longer duration, or plan to hand-wash those key pieces as you go. A minimal wardrobe should not be a problem.

If you’re the fashionable type that worries about having to wear the same ensemble 4 (or 20) times in Europe, then consider this:

You’ll never see those people again. Practically no one but yourself will ever know.

Take Action: Cut It Out
Lay out all the clothes you think you need. Cut out half. Update your packing list.

Let us know how you go with this task in the comments below.

Written by Brooke

I run the show at Her Packing List and love packing ultralight. In fact, I once traveled for 3 entire weeks with just the contents of a well-packed 12L handbag. When I'm not obsessing over luggage weight, I'm planning adventures or just snuggling with my pet rabbit, Sherlock Bunz.

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Gear We Use

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Speakeasy Hidden Pocket Scarves


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Eagle Creek Compression Packing Cubes


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Tom Bihn 3D Organizer Cube


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Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack


Turkish Travel Towels


Travel Resources

HPL Learnables

Handbag Packing Masterclass – Learn to pack your lightest bag ever in this revolutionary packing class run by HPL founder, Brooke.

Creative Ways to Minimize Your Toiletry & Beauty Kit – Practical tips alongside DIY recipes designed to help you pack lighter, smaller & with fewer liquids. (Also included as a bonus to Handbag Packing Masterclass.)

Book Your Trip

Viator – Enhance your trip experience by booking from thousands of tours across the globe. – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions


  1. Judith says

    I’m going to Asia on october 1st and I have picked out my three pairs of shoes, the few gadgets that I will need, and all the knick knack like motion sickness meds and earplugs but I dread the moment at which I will have to choose my items of clothing. This will definitely the most complicated step in the whole preparation process. Even more complicated than getting a burman or indonesian visa i’m sure of that.

  2. Sonja says

    Yes, mix and match, that’s the key. I don’t do long trips, but I used to overpack even for a week or a weekend. Buy now I’ve learned that you only need stuff that goes with everything else. One pair of shoes + two bottoms + two tops already make four different outfits, eight if you add another pair of shoes.
    By the way – you should pick your shoes first (according to your planned activities) and then choose the clothes according to them. When I went a week to Switzerland in summer a couple of years ago, somebody who had been there only ten days earlier told me the weather had been bad and they had been cold the whole time.
    So packed jeans and chunky sneakers for our daily sightseeing, I only added a skirt and a pair of heels in case we would be going out one night. It turned out it was about 35 degrees celsius every day of our stay (So hot!). I wore the skirt every day, alternating the chunky sneakers (comfortable yet so unstylish) with the heels (stylish and killing my feet).

  3. Mabel says

    The tips about packing around the shoes and choosing items that go with each other are going to help me so much. I’ll be packing for an 18-day trip in the UK and have a little hiking, a lot of walking, and hopefully some going out planned in three different countries. It’s hard enough to dress myself when I’m home–here’s hoping I can pack light and still not look like a schlub.

  4. Laura says

    Pro travel advice: lay out all of the clothes and money that you want to take, then take half the clothes and twice the money! 😉


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