And we're back!…This past week or so has turned into an unintentional hiatus. I've actually had a lot of content planned, but between work (the holiday season + we just celebrated our 15th Anniversary this week!) and travel, this little blog had to take a backseat.
I spent just over four days in London this past week and made a point of trying to travel like an adult—which means a carry-on only (I picked up this new hard-sided Delsey for the occasion), and no overpacking.
Surprisingly, I actually succeeded (for the most part...I might have checked my bag on the way back, but it was free!). Since I packed a lot of the littler things last-minute, not everything is documented via photo but I'll do my best to share my travel essentials and how I pack here. Temps in London this time of year hover around the mid-50's, but if you've been on the East Coast recently you know that it can actually feel pretty warm during the day, especially if you're walking all over town, with the evenings getting much cooler. I wanted to keep things casual and easy, so I started with my basics and decided to build out from there.
I've got no problems re-wearing things several times in a row, particularly when it's cold and I just don't feel like getting properly dressed (I once wore the same sweater almost three straight days when I was home for Christmas…in my defense, it was about 5 degrees outside and too cold to take it off). I used to be a horrendous over-packer because I like to have options, but I've found it's easier for me to pack during the winter because I start with a core group of basics that I can mix-and-match for up to a week, and build out from if the trip is longer than that or there are any special occasions in the mix. I try to stick to a particular color palette, but can't resist getting a little color in here and there. This trip was all about neutrals—grays, blues, blacks, greens, navy and whites—to
avoid making my friend late for work make getting dressed a cinch in the morning.
So, without further ado, here's how I pack for a winter trip, plus a few slight alterations for London!
- 1-2 cashmere sweaters
- 1-2 cropped sweaters
- 1 sweatshirt
- 1 pair dark/black skinny or straight-leg jeans
- 1 pair blue skinny or straight-leg jeans
- 1 pair of non-jean pants
- 1 dress and/or 1 skirt
- 1-2 t-shirts
- 1 lighter jacket (if the weather will be above 50)
- 1 neutral colored coat
- 1-2 scarves
- 1 bag/purse and 1 foldable tote
I never travel in colder months without a few cashmere sweaters (I'm partial to my ones from OTTE), which I wear at least three times a week—including as I type this—and sometimes to sleep in if it's a particularly chilly night. Cropped sweaters have become my latest go-to when I want to feel a little more put together, as they're easy to layer over a dress or blouse. I make sure to stash an oversize scarf with my easier-to-reach "personal" item, which doubles as a blanket or pillow on the plane as needed. Since most of this list is a no-brainer, it'd be a bit boring for me to run through every piece, but I do always make sure to have at least one skirt or dress with me, no matter how casual my trip might be. Make sure it's something that travels easily (i.e. nothing pouf-y or that you can't get the wrinkles out of quickly). It's one of those never-know situations! My purse for this trip was a bucket bag from Sole Society, which I've been carrying non-stop since I got back as well. Since I carried on with just a suitcase and my Lo & Sons bag, it tucked easily on top of my clothes so I could pull it out once I arrived in London. I also tuck a foldable tote in my bag just in case I need to carry a few extra things around, like getting my laptop to a café or, in warmer locales, as a beach bag!
- 1-2 pairs of sneakers
- 1 pair flat boots
- 1 pair heels/heeled boots
I prefer to travel in sneakers if I can get away with it, especially for longer trips, which has meant recent investments into sleeker styles, like my Vince slip-ons and Reebok Skyscapes (a.k.a. the most comfortable shoes I own!). Anyone who's stopped by this space in the past year or so knows I'm constantly wearing my Loeffler Randall booties, but they don't always fit the bill for those never-know dressier situations, so a pair of heels or heeled boots is a must. Come mid-winter, I adjust this list a bit to include a pair of tall, flat boots and, if I'm in Iowa, snow boots (ugh).
Tech, Entertainment & Necessities
- iPhone & charger
- digital camera & battery charger
- extra memory cards
- external Mophie charger
- laptop & charger
- adaptors/converters (for trips abroad)
- notebook & pen
- books & magazines
- passport case & passport
- card case or wallet
- luggage tag(s)
- credit cards, cash & ID
- film camera & extra film
I use my Lo & Sons bag—I have the O.G., and have been traveling with it pretty exclusively for over a year now—to carry all my electronics, chargers, books, papers and snacks. I usually tuck my liquids baggie on top so it's easy to get to when going through security. This trip was all about downsizing, hence the neutral wardrobe (and why there aren't outfit pics from this trip—they would have been pretty boring!). My usual wallet is stuffed with credit cards, cash, receipts, punch cards, business cards, you name it; for London I wanted something sleeker and easier to keep track of. This passport case has card slots and a zipper pouch inside, and once I arrived and didn't need to carry my passport, I transferred the basics over to a slim card case. To keep my purse as light as possible once I arrived, I opted to take my Olympus E-Pen 7 Lite camera instead of my dSLR...I was a little apprehensive at first, but since the Olympus is maybe half the weight of my Nikon, my shoulders were thankful, and I still got some amazing photos! I also travel with a Leica film camera most trips, but I'll get into those preferences another time. An external Mophie charger is a must, especially in other countries—I made sure it was fully charged before I left NYC and made it through the entire next day before I needed to actually plug anything in.
- face wash
- hand cream
- hand sanitizer
- toothbrush & toothpaste
- shampoo & conditioner
- body wash
- coconut oil
- perfume (roller ball or travel size)
- nail file
- bb cream
- black eyeliner (pencil or gel pot)
- cream blush
- a few lipstick colors/glosses
Last on the list—and the last thing I pack—makeup and beauty products! I tend to pack these up as I get ready on the day of my flight, which helps me make sure I'm getting all my essentials and means I don't have go digging through my suitcase to find my toothbrush before I leave. This list varies a lot depending on where I'm traveling; for example, I keep a set of basics (shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, a toothbrush, etc) at home so I don't have to travel with much, and I'll often forgo liquid basics if I'm not checking a bag and I know they're easy to find once I arrive. A few things I always travel with, though, are perfume (I actually bought a new one when I arrived in London this time, more on that later!), bb cream, mascara, lipsticks from Nars & Bite Beauty, and coconut oil, which I use in place of moisturizer and usually put into a 3oz bottle as opposed to scooping/pouring out of the jar.
Once everything is rolled up and packed where it belongs, I do a little evaluation, and—this is where the cheating comes in—see what I can add on. Usually this is because I was considering another item already but told myself it wouldn't be necessary; if it fits the aforementioned palette I've got going for the trip and is different enough to justify bringing, I'll add it. If it's another pair of dark skinny jeans, or plaid scarf? Nope, gotta stay. And I quite literally have to say that to myself, sometimes out loud, or else I'll try to justify stashing a bunch of things last minute that I will not need on a short trip from home.
Now—what do you pack when traveling? Anything I missed on my list that you consider essentials?