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Packing Hacks: Sharing Clothes with a Travel Partner

packing challenges when traveling alone

A few years ago, I packed carry-on only for an Antarctica cruise. When the destination on your itinerary is something as far-flung and cold as Antarctica, that’s already a packing challenge, but in this particular instance, the cruise line also enforced a no-jeans-at-dinner dress code for a double whammy. So how did I continue to pack light but have a couple of options at my disposal for those evening dinners?

By sharing clothes with my travel partner!

sharing clothing with a travel partner

It goes without saying that most of us want to travel light yet still look cute when we travel in the process. Packing light, especially carry-on only, sometimes means sacrificing some of your fashionable clothing in favor of more practical items. But if you’re traveling with a friend, sharing clothes can expand your travel wardrobe while keeping your luggage from getting too heavy.

Sharing Dressy Outfits Works Best

The bulk of your travel clothing is likely to be casual. You’re going sightseeing, sunbathing on the beach, or hiking through a forest, so t-shirts work well. You don’t need a bunch of dressy outfits for this kind of travel, and your casual clothing range will have plenty of variable options after mixing and matching.

But what about those occasions when you want to go to a nice restaurant or a trendy bar? What if you’re going to a show where jeans aren’t allowed? Bring along a cute dress, and you’re all set.

That one dress can get boring if you’re wearing it every time you go somewhere fancy. If you’re traveling with a friend, a good way to mix things up is to borrow each other’s clothes. This works well if you both wear similar sizes, but loose-fitted dresses are especially forgiving.

How I Shared Clothing With My Travel Partner

This is how I managed to pack carry-on only for that Antarctica cruise a few years ago. I needed t-shirts for before and after the cruise, and casual clothing was fine most of the day while on the ship. But since jeans were not acceptable at dinner, and there were 2 nights out of 14 when we were required to get more dressed up, the ability to mix and match with my friend was definitely appreciated.

I packed one pair of nice khaki pants, one pair of nice black pants, and a few cute tops to alternate for dinner most days. On the first night we were required to be more dressed up, I wore a halter dress and my friend wore a dress with tank-top sleeves. Several days later, we switched for the next fancy dinner.

I am about 6 or 7 inches shorter than my friend, and she is quite a bit skinnier than me. But because the dresses weren’t especially fitted, you couldn’t even tell. Both dresses matched with black shoes, so we didn’t swap shoes. We were both comfortable and it felt nice to wear something different.


sharing clothing with a travel partner

How You Can Expand Your Travel Wardrobe

Even if you’re not a dress person, but you want to look fashionable every once in a while, you can pack your own black pants and swap cute shirts with your friend throughout your trip. Or bring a fun necklace that you can trade with your friend to dress up an outfit. If you and your friend both wear the same or similar size shoes, you can coordinate this as well. Otherwise pack shoes that will match your dress and your friend’s.

This should probably be planned out ahead of your trip to ensure both you and your friend will fit into the chosen clothes. Have a fun pre-trip fashion show and try on each other’s dresses, shirts, and shoes until you find a few that work for both of you. Look for dresses that aren’t too fitted, dresses that can be cinched if they’re too loose, and dresses that aren’t too long if there’s a big height difference between the two of you.

Have you shared clothing with a travel partner? Tell us your experience below!

Written by Ali

Ali Garland is a freelance writer, blogger, and travel addict who made it to all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She enjoys travel planning, encouraging others to see the world, and packing carry-on only. She and her husband are expats living in Berlin. You can find Ali at Ali's Adventures and Travel Made Simple.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Lady Light Travel says

    I haven’t shared clothing with my travel partners but I have shared scarves and jewelry. It works really well for bright scarves and statement jewelry – things you wear less often because others will remember them.
    I would think that a belt would be a key item for the thinner person so they can cinch in the larger clothing piece. I also think that the rule of combining tight with baggy works. If you have a loose top you should wear tighter pants. Loose pants need a tighter top. A lightweight sweater might be a good way of hiding a top that is a little too tight, etc.

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