How To Pack A Travel Capsule

How To Pack A Travel Capsule

how to pack a travel capsule colorful suitcase

As NYC and other places start opening up, you may be thinking about taking a trip. So to help you out, I’m sharing style tips that show how to pack smarter and lighter. Even if you’re not curious about packing a travel capsule, you’ll still relate to this post. It’ll help you create a more cohesive wardrobe.

How to pack a travel capsule with suitcase showing colorful clothing.

Previously, I never wanted to learn how to pack a travel capsule. I was always the one in line at the airport with the massive suitcase that weighed around 49.5 lbs. Because when I’m getting dressed — whether at home, or on vacation — I like having options. 

But at the end of my last big trip, I took a photo of all the pieces I didn’t wear on vacation—there were a lot! This inspired me to pack lighter the next time around. 

Read on to see how to pack a travel capsule.

How To Pack For Your Next Trip

There are two guiding principles that helped shape my packing choices. By keeping these in mind as I pulled pieces from my closet, I was able to stay on track. 

On a side note, having the photo of the unworn items from the previous trip proved to be incredibly useful. It gave me insight into the types of things I don’t like to wear while on vacation. So that image also helped me choose what not to pack.

Plan your travel outfits guiding principles. Suitcase overflowing with colorful clothing.

Guiding Principle #1- Harmonious Color Palette

Often when you see a capsule wardrobe it’s comprised of solid dark or neutral pieces because these colors are easy to match. My issue is that I don’t usually wear all dark and neutral pieces. So packing in that palette wouldn’t work for me. I like color. I like pattern. And I want to wear these on vacation as I do in my everyday life. 

What I do have, however, is a lot of clothes in red, orange and blue. And these go well together. 

Make sure you only pack harmonious colors in your capsule. And it’s good to throw in a few neutrals to balance things out.

Guiding Principle #2 – Each Piece Must Make 3 Outfits

This is where those neutral pieces come into play. Each item you place in the suitcase must work to create 3 looks. The neutrals that I packed were my denim shorts, blue jeans, black shorts and military green pants. This made it easier to find outfits for the plaid, floral and other patterned tops. Also animal prints and stripes are considered a neutral and mix pretty easily with other prints.

It’s also helpful to think about wearing all your patterns or bold colors on top, and then going neutral on bottom. That’s how I did it. You could put your neutrals on top and go bold on the bottom, if you choose.

Outfit Plan For The Win

Planning your travel capsule takes time up front. You’ll want to dedicate a couple hours. This way you can be thoughtful as you figure out what you want to wear, and how to pack in a way that’s streamlined, yet still satisfies your style.

Make sure to watch the video above where I demonstrate how to pack a travel capsule. It shows lots of good examples to get you started.

If you want to see examples from my wardrobe on how to pack a travel capsule, click play to watch the video. I take you through the process of what goes into a well rounded vacation wardrobe.

Want a wardrobe filled ONLY with clothes you love so you want to wear EVERYTHING and clear the rest? Join the Purge Party! In 4 hrs you’ll curate your closet so you have less clothes but see MORE outfit options. Click here to sign up!

Elysha Lenkin
Elysha Lenkin helps women express themselves through fashion so they look current, feel confident and stay true to themselves. For over 20 years, she's worked on commercial shoots styling women in all shapes, ages and sizes including Carrie Underwood, Tina Fey and Serena Williams. Now her focus is to make fashion fun and approachable for real women so they show up feeling like superstars in their lives.


  1. Lynn Edmond says:

    Ha ha..that reminds me the 1st time I went to Turkey. Didn’t have the foggiest what the dress code was and took all but the kitchen sink. While waiting in the queue at customs a man looked at my case and said “have you come to live?”. Boy was my face red! I never got caught like that again and now people ask me where’s all my luggage?

  2. Sounds like the lesson served you well! I’m impressed that you travel so lightly now.

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