Whether I’m spending a week exploring Chicago or relaxing on the beach in Cancun, I meticulously plan out my vacation wardrobe. The ultimate question is always the same: How can I create the maximum number of looks out of the fewest pieces? It’s an important query since I prefer to travel with just a handbag (shoved under the seat) and a carry-on (I will not risk lost luggage with an airline). Even if I’m hitting the road via car, I figure I’ll impress my traveling companions with my packing efficiency.

As summer travel season begins, it’s an apt time to share some of knowledge, from what luggage to buy to how to pack—and what clothes to bring.


The best 22-inch upright I’ve found is by Briggs & Riley ($449, Colorado Baggage Company). Yes, it’s pricey, but the smart design—a built-in garment bag and a flat bottom (the outside pull-up handle doesn’t protrude into the interior)—more than makes up for the down payment. Plus, the bag expands (useful for those city shopping sprees) and then compresses back down to its original size to easily fit into a plane’s overhead compartment. Tip: Keep everything clean and organized by placing all of your clothing in plastic garment bags or gallon Ziplocs.


1) Regardless of where you’re traveling, you should always bring T-shirts, tank tops, and jeans (white and blue, colored if you have room).

2) Be thoughtful when packing delicate or high-maintenance fabrics such as silk (or leave them at home), as they will wrinkle easily and are tough to spot clean.

3) The key to creating a variety of outfits is having multifunctional pieces that can be dressed down for day, glammed up for night, or layered for cool evenings. If you have a lot of wardrobe holes to fill, focus your spending on items you can easily incorporate into your everyday Colorado wardrobe (perhaps a maxi dress) and look for deals on pieces that, for you, are vacation-only.

4) Try everything on before you leave to double check that it all works together.

Heads Up: Check back next week for tips on packing for specific destinations (think the beach or a weekend excursion to Santa Fe).

Follow fashion editor Georgia Benjou on Twitter at @gabenjou and Pinterest at /gabenjou.