travel capsule

Making a Travel Capsule

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Making a good, functional capsule is a challenge. Making a good travel capsule is an even bigger one. In a few days, I will be embarking on a month-long journey through two European countries. This time of the year in Europe, the weather is unpredictable, especially March which in my country the elders call Grandmother Marta with her 300 minds – meaning that one day can go from freezing in the morning, to cloudy and damp at noon to scorching in the afternoon and back to freezing in the evening. 

The first thing I take into account when building a travel capsule is temperature. I usually research average monthly temperatures for the place I intend to visit and I also check the two week forecast before setting off. That way, I have an idea of what the weather will be like before I even start travelling. Since I usually begin packing about a week before I’m set to travel, I constantly add or subtract items of clothing from my luggage. 

Another important thing is the type of trip I’m taking. Are we going to a relaxing vacation at the seaside, in a small town where we’ll spend most of our time on the beach? Or maybe we’re going on a dynamic trip where we’ll be exploring a major city, visiting museums and going to theatres and restaurants? Personally, I always prepare for the second type of trip, even if I go by the sea where most people just sit on the beach. This is the kind of trip we’ll be working with in my example. 

I usually travel with a medium-large suitcase, which weighs about 10-15 kilograms as well as one rucksack where I carry my electronics. In my rucksack, I pack my two laptops and the attendant cables, headphones, mice etc. 

The easiest way to start making your travel capsule is to choose its colours. I recommend going with 3-4 major colours. On this trip, I’ll be wearing black, beige, white and red. I mention this because I want to guide you through my planning process. For a long time I thought about what to take with me and I also wanted to include navy blue, but then I realised that when combining the various pieces, the navy blue and black will clash and I will not be able to combine those pieces and a large portion of my wardrobe will not go with one another. For example, one of my theatre outfits, i. e. the outfits I usually wear to the theatre: A black skirt, black shoes, red blouse and… navy blazer? Completely unacceptable! Therefore I recommend that you think very carefully about your choice of colours. 

As you can also see, I’ve included two bright and two dark colours. This allows me to combine the brights during the day when it’s warmer, in more casual ways, allowing of course for judicious use of dark colour as well, while reserving the darker, more officious and formal combinations for the evenings, formal occasions or for overcast days, not excluding of course the opportunistic use of bright colouring as well. 

Ideally, you’ll be able to combine all lower pieces with all upper pieces of your various outfits and to have outfits for every occasion. Of course, you can always take a piece which has all or some of the colours you’ve picked. For example, white trousers, beige loafers, black-beige shirt, white vest, beige trench coat. Or do as I did and add one non-basic colour, like I did with red to spruce up the combinations.
For my one month trip, I decided to pack:

  • 2 pairs of trousers, one black, one white. 
  • 2 skirts, one black, one white
  • 1 sweater, beige
  • 2 vests, one white one black-and-white
  • 5 shirts, one black-beige, one black-red, three white
  • 1 red blouse
  • 2 pairs of shoes, black and beige
  • 2 blazers, beige and black
  • 1 trench coat, beige
  • 2 hats, black and beige

Of course, I’ll also be bringing pyjamas, socks, accessories and underwear. 

I’ll also add that the outfit in which I’ll be travelling is part of this list and also includes my black hat, which I’m afraid to pack in my suitcase. The other hat is suitcase-friendly.
This may look like not enough for a month, but picking the right pieces means you can combine them in many different ways, which will also awaken your creativity. The limited number of pieces means that you’ll make combos you’ve never even thought of before. It also means that you’ll have more room in your suitcase in case you find a good vintage store and find some new treasure and bring it home with you. Of course, it’s best you set out on your trip without feeling obligated to buy anything.

It’s also good to practice your comfort with repeating combinations. This is a big problem that leads to overconsumption of clothes. Too many people are terrified of appearing in the same outfit twice. This is of course very silly. Should we throw clothes out after wearing them once? As for packing, I’m a great follower of Marie Kondo, whose videos on packing you can see here. I find this way of packing very practical and orderly. 

I hope my advice helps you build a travel capsule, pack and have a chic appearance wherever you choose to go. Bon voyage.  

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I wear black shoes with a brown belt

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