Travel Clothing Part 1: Laura

Both Brett and I are pretty much done putting our travel wardrobes together. Other than a couple of pair of shoes for Brett we’re done thinking about, looking at, and buying clothes and shoes to take on the Big Adventure.

During our travels we will be experiencing every season, from transitional winter-to-spring weather in both South America and Japan, to fall and winter temperatures in Europe, India, Japan, and the mainland, and hot, hot summer weather in Australia and probably New Zealand, with everything in between. In my case, while I have tried to stay within certain color palettes, I also have tried to keep some variety so that I don’t get bored with everything half-way through the journey, and want to go and spend more on something new. I’m proud that with the exception of two pairs of Skechers, every item of clothing I’m taking will either be things I already own, or were bought on deep discount/sale or with a coupon.

The week before last I rounded everything up and put it all into my suitcase to be weighed using the handy-dandy hanging scale Brett received for Christmas. It all surprisingly didn’t fill the suitcase, and the total weight for all my clothes was an even more surprising 35 pounds, nine pounds (give or take a few ounces) less than the 44-pound limit we’ve given ourselves. I was sure my suitcase was going to be massively overweight, so the weight was happy news. There’s still room for a pillow, and maybe a few toiletries and/or gifts (although those will most likely go into my backpack).

Anyway, here’s a look my travel wardrobe:

I started with 13 fall-winter-spring tops, but after I took this picture I removed two (the gray shirt at the top of the left column, and the blue shirt second from the top in the middle row) and set them aside – I’ve had them for a while and realized I’m just not very fond of them, and they probably wouldn’t get worn much, if at all. As you might guess, my color themes are blue and black. The denim shirt in the upper right is actually a tunic, to be worn with leggings. Because of their weight, I’m only taking along two sweaters – a light blue kimono-style cotton sweater, and the chunky cotton navy blue & cream striped rollneck. 

These are all my lightweight spring and summer tops. The two pieces on the left (white cotton shirt and black linen top) are both tunics – and are a little dressier than the rest. All the other tops are cotton or linen, and are lightweight and easy to care for. The blue flowered shirt at the bottom of the middle row is the one I just bought on sale at Blue Ginger. I also have the two tops below coming from J. Jill – a white linen shirt, and a cream sleeveless knit tunic with a black vine print. I’m also taking a black sleeveless t-shirt, but I was wearing it when I took the picture.

My favorite travel pants are L.L. Bean’s Perfect Fit Pants (on the left) – I’m taking three pairs of black, one pair of charcoal gray, and one pair of navy blue. They are super comfortable and can be worn both casually or dressed up. For warm weather I’m taking four pairs of J. Jill’s easy linen cropped pants, in black, blue, natural and white (I wear them everyday here) and a pair of Gap light sage green cotton pants that I bought at a thrift store and can finally fit into again. The legs can be worn down or rolled up to make capris. I’m also taking a three-season knit maxi skirt and two pairs of black leggings.

Four pieces of cold-weather outerwear are going along on the Adventure:  a plum quilted car coat; a lightweight (but very warm) black jacket; a denim jacket; and a lightweight (but very warm) spring green vest. Spring green is one of my favorite colors, and I always try to take along at least one thing in that color when I travel. The vest and black jacket weigh next to nothing, a good thing because the other two pieces are a bit heavier.

Brett has started calling me Imelda because I’m taking along five pairs of shoes (although I’ll always be wearing one pair): Two pairs of Skechers for walking (navy blue and black), a pair of comfy gray suede Skecher loafers, super comfortable Scandinavian black clogs, and a pair of sparkly silver Mephisto Helen sandals. All the shoes are lightweight – each pair of the Skechers weighs only 10 ounces.

I’m taking just a few accessories: three scarves, five pairs of earrings and four necklaces, including my 22″ string of pearls for when I feel like dressing up. I’ll also be wearing my Chinese jade bangle and my silver bracelet from Arizona – both were gifts from Brett and I never take them off. The light gray-blue scarf in back is made from bamboo, and is quite warm; the indigo and black checked ones are only for a little flair.

It all seems like so much, maybe too much, but then again we will be traveling for nearly a year and through many different types of weather and a variety of venues and experiences, from hikes to high tea. Forty years ago, when I was pregnant with our son, I had around seven or eight maternity outfits, and by the time our son arrived I was so completely sick of them all that all I wanted to do was set them on fire and roast marshmallows over their flames – and I only wore those clothes for around five months! I took that memory into consideration when deciding how much to pack for this trip.

All total though there are less than 40 pieces of clothing, and including the shoes it doesn’t weigh anywhere near what I thought it would. I rationalize that we will be staying in most places long enough to be able unpack and will appreciate having the variety. In my wildest dreams though I cannot imagine living out of a backpack for a year with somewhere between 15-20 pieces of clothing like I’ve read about online.

Brett and I will be dividing our clothes between our two suitcases, so if one gets lost or damaged someone won’t lose all their clothes. Plus, we will both be carrying at least one outfit in our backpacks in case our luggage is lost or delayed, and wearing one, so that will help keep the weight down as well.

In a couple of weeks I’ll post what Brett’s taking. I can guarantee it’s going to be a lot less than what you see here.


14 thoughts on “Travel Clothing Part 1: Laura

  1. I really like your style. These are all so lovely! I don’t travel by plane but you two seem to really have it down. You’re gonna have a blast on this adventure!
    Anon in mass


    1. Thanks! Most of my clothes come from J Jill – I like their style, the clothes are good quality, and last. LL Bean is great for basics too – I love those Perfect Fit Pants. I’ve been wearing them for years. They’re comfortable like yoga pants, but nice enough that I could wear them to work.

      I forgot to mention that I greatly dislike doing laundry. I want to have enough where I wasn’t having to do laundry, or washing out items, more than once or twice a week.


  2. The good thing about being under weight on your luggage is that you might be able to pick up a colorful scarf in India or Japan as an additional accessory and souvenir. I know you don’t want to spend money on additional clothing but you never know what you will find in your travels.
    I’m getting so excited for you.


    1. Vivian, you must have read my mind! The only thing I’ve thought about getting for myself is a scarf from somewhere. India would be a great place to look for one, Japan too. Otherwise I feel like I have everything I need.


  3. Looks like you’re covered. And scarves are one of my favorite (and light weight!) souvenirs.

    I had to laugh at your comment re: your maternity clothes. I had the same experience…especially at the end when I had about two things that still fit and was determined not to buy another thing. Clothes for pregnant women have become so much better. My DIL had some really cute waterfall sweaters, pants like stretchy leggings, etc. Of course, she got totally sick of them anyway. 🙂

    FWIW, we did carry on to Italy for two weeks, and I still brought a few things I didn’t wear. I gravitated to things that didn’t need washing too often and rotated my tops and scarves. Those LL Bean pants look just perfect and I also think J Jill clothes are cute and durable. I am curious re: a raincoat or slicker. Are you packing one?

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    1. I hope we’re done, although right now I can barely bring myself to look or even think about clothing. I’ve got it all sorted and put away for now, and am going to wear out my old stuff and then toss it when we go. I am so grateful too that I did not get rid of my size small clothes – something told me to bring them along, and I once again can fit into them, which saved me a bundle.

      I actually ended up using some of my maternity tops in a quilt I made. But mainly I was sick to death of them. Brett even went out and bought me a new outfit to wear the last two weeks because he knew how much I hated the other stuff. Today’s maternity wear is so much nicer, and more fun, but yeah, I could see myself getting sick of it too.


  4. Awesome post! Each time I travel, my goal is to only have a tiny suitcase and small carry-on. I try to avoid checking bags as much as possible. Checking bags invites the anxiety of them being lots. It is also quicker to not check bags and get on with your travels faster! I am very selective about clothes and accessories I pack as well and try to make suer I can use them multiple times.


    1. We have always been carry-on only travelers, so this is something new for us, but there’s no way we could travel as long as we are this time, and through as many climate changes, with just carry-ons. I also hate doing laundry, and don’t want to be having to wash things out every night. I am scared of losing our luggage, but we hope that splitting out things between the two suitcases will mean no one is stuck without clothes. My favorite retired travelers, The Senior Nomads, have traveled all over with two full-size suitcases and it’s worked for them, so we’re hoping it goes well for us as well.

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  5. I would like to add my voice to the idea that you can pick up a t-shirt or shawl in a marketplace and you most likely will. It will certainly make you feel refreshed during a year long trip. In fact, buying little articles of clothing is one of my favorite things to do on a trip.

    Secondly, we readers are getting very invested in this trip. I certainly hope you plan to keep blogging while you are on it?????????????????


    1. Maybe I should think about finding a scarf in each place – they certainly wouldn’t take up much room. Actually though I don’t wear scarves all that often, but I am planning to get some on this trip (and as gifts for the girls and my daughter-in-law). I’m not much of a t-shirt person though, but never say never is my motto.

      We do plan to keep blogging during our travels, but only once a week or so. I will be posting pictures on Instagram (#theoccasionalnomads) almost every day.


  6. Thanks for sharing! The black and blue color scheme sounds very practical.

    For the colder climates, have you thought about bringing a pair of stretchy yet warm gloves and a knit winter hat? Are you bringing a sun hat?

    I’m so impressed with all the prep work you are doing 🙂


    1. Thanks, Libby! I sort of moved to the black and blue clothes because they go well together and are easy to mix and match with each other. Hopefully I won’t be sick of it all by the time we’re finishing up.

      It’s kind of hard to find hats and gloves here right now, and I won’t buy a hat I can’t try on first. So, that’s probably something I’ll pick up somewhere along the way. It’s my dream to buy some beautiful, stretchy leather gloves when we’re in Italy.

      We keep plugging along with things, and hopefully when it’s time we’ll be ready to go with not too much hassle.


  7. Very interesting post! I love your minimalist approach and strive to be more like you 🙂 Looking forward to following along on your travels –


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