Alexandra Jimenez at Women’s Travel Fest 2019. Photo by Melissa Holtz.

For avid globetrotters, one of the biggest hurdles is trying to fit all the essentials into suitcases and bags that are manageable to carry from place to place. After leaving the corporate landscape and catching the travel bug, Alexandra Jimenez, founder of the Travel Fashion Girl blog and Compass Rose Travel Accessories, found herself trekking to India in 2008 and has been traveling and blogging ever since. Living out of a single carry-on suitcase, Jimenez’s nomadic style of travel combines with her fashion/business background and has helped her shape her best tips and tricks to travel with just a carry-on — whether the trip lasts a week or a year. Below are several key points to remember when packing light.
Keep in mind possible specific details about the destination and time

These factors can range from an assortment of situations and questions. What will the weather be during the time you are traveling? Keep an eye on the forecast. Are there any local customs or traditions that are present in that part of the region? Perhaps the destination has a more conservative culture, so more lengthy and less transparent pieces are necessary. Will you have somewhere you can do laundry? Plan for that by bringing at least 1 week of clothing.

Consider your fabrics

The most important factor, Jimenez stresses, is choosing the right fabrics. Not only do the clothes you pack affect your outfit choices, they also affect what other essentials you’ll need based on their weight. She says to weigh each garment in your hands to determine if it will add unnecessary weight to your luggage. Not only that, but for organizational reasons it is good to fold and roll the garments beforehand to determine if they will be too bulging to pack effectively.

One fabric Jimenez raves about is merino wool, available in an assortment of styles and individual pieces. Not only is the fabric lightweight, it also wicks away moisture and helps you stay warm during cold weather.

Create your perfect capsule wardrobe

A great way to first get a grasp on exactly what to pack is to pick pieces that make a complete capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a sampling of outfits composed of between eight and 15 pieces, everything from tops and bottoms to dresses and pantsuits. These pieces should be interchangeable with each other, another key factor, in order to maximize your outfit options.

Image courtesy of G-RO.

To help, Jimenez notes to choose a color story to stick to when planning outfits, pieces that are in similar or complementary shades.

Finalizing this capsule wardrobe also requires you to “choose pieces that you love and feel good about yourself,” Jimenez says. A fun way she recommends planning outfits is to take time beforehand to try on outfits and take pictures in front of a mirror. Not only does this help you plan outfits you love and decide what pieces will work together, but can also help you on trips on days when you don’t want to think about what to wear.

To further complete the perfect capsule wardrobe, key factors to keep in mind are your planned activities. This affects choices like which shoes to bring, what accessories to wear, etc. For shoes, she stresses to pick 3 types: comfort for activities like walking or sightseeing, function in case of more active adventuring, and a wild card for more formal or weather-permitting instances.

Once everything is assembled, the best way to fit everything into a carry-on, Jimenez recommends, is using packing cubes. Not only do these essential make it easy to fit as much into one suitcase, they also help with organization. Jimenez’s travel accessory company features packing cubes to help travelers achieve carry-on status.