I readily admit I am a packaholic.

It starts the same way every time:

  1. Empassioned commitment to packing light.
  2. Creating optimistic packing lists. 
  3. Pulling out unreasonably large suitcases. 
  4. Slowly adding just one more shirt...
  5. Then adding that skirt that pairs so well with it...
  6. Realizing I need the shoes that completes the outfit perfectly...
  7. Finally caving and adding two back-up outfits, just in case something goes terribly wrong. 

It goes much the same with accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, electronics.

My spirit animal may as well be a the hermit crab come alive from the pages of a children's book. When I travel I feel myself turn hell-bent on trying to cram every last little article of clothing into my suitcase.

It stems from deeply-rooted anxiety. 

There. I admitted it. 

The scrutiny of women's bodies is enormous, and it's an all the more pernicious weed when it grows internally. Its prickly fronds and thick roots are fed by public commentary, bad hair days, and clothes that don't fit just right every single day. 

Each anxiety is a nasty, gnarly little weed getting in the way of my joy. 

A great deal of my time is spent worrying about my appearance, and traveling amplifies this. At first thought, I can't understand it. 

But then the therapist in me says, "Dig a little deeper, darling." 

Anxiety stems from fear. It's a fear of the uncertain, the unfamiliar, and the unknown. It leaves too much to chance. For ardent little control freaks like myself, traveling to new places means an unfamiliar climate, places, social events lay ahead. 

As an American woman who grew up poor, my first foray into the world of travel was a college field trip into Mexico. For the longest time, I couldn't even afford a passport, let alone consider purchasing plane tickets, hotels, or travel insurance. 

This very large and very important gap in development experience has been critical. Cultural immersion is not just about whimsy and wonder, it's also about resilience, socialization, and sense of self. I can tell you from firsthand experience that it's exceptionally difficult to maintain a strong sense of small-town sense when you get out into the big-wide-world. Doing this as an adult can be somewhat earth-shattering. 

That kind of metaphorical tending creates a hell of a lot of uncertainty in a single person.

So, when I start preparing to travel, I'm not just preparing for the wonder and whimsy. I'm preparing for all of the possible what if situations, instead of just trusting in myself and my capabilities. After all, I've managed to navigate six other countries since that day-trip to Mexico nearly a decade ago. 

Who cares if I only bring one pair of heels? If it doesn't quite match the skirt and the dress I want to bring? 


The good news is that I am finally getting a handle on the concept of the "capsule wardrobe" and its true purpose. Minimalism isn't always about limiting choice for the sake of less. Instead, it's about freeing up oneself from the belief that I have to travel with my entire wardrobe, just in case, and instead freeing up the time and energy inherent in packing too much

If you find yourself in the same boat, throw an "Amen!" down in the comments or browse these other blogs that I have been drawing inspiration from. I'm mentally and physically exhausted from carrying overburdened suitcases and still agonizing about what I'll wear when I get to my destination. So let's do a little gardening and yank out the weeds getting in our way of truly enjoying our travels. 

Anuschka Rees

Anuschka's work is all about intention and purpose. Her blog, book, and workbook help women develop a wardrobe they want and need without compromising ethics, comfort, or style. 

Amelia Bartlett

This article was a huge eye-opener for me! At no point in my life can I remember a role model or woman in my life telling me to sit down and map out my personal style, the environments I dress for, or stipulations I have for my wardrobe. I consider this to be a go-to article for any woman trying to figure out where to start. It's a one-pager and go-by, and Amelia even provides a little history sound-bite of how capsule wardrobes came to be. 

Hej Doll

Photo by Jessica Doll
Everything about this blog speaks to my soul. Jessica is a professional photographer and travel, life, and style blogger. What makes her blog stand out as exceptional in comparison to so many others out there is that she demonstrates exactly what and how she packs for each trip, and she shares the tips she has learned along the way. Any time I travel, I check her travel map first to see if she has gone posted some tip or tidbit. Plus, her photography is simply stunning!

The Thoughtful Closet

I love Allison's blog because it shows that a capsule wardrobe doesn't have to be so minimal that it's limiting. I also love how she isn't afraid to share her wardrobe journey and or some really good advice (scroll down until you see her thoughts on body image). The Thoughtful Closet is polished, cozy, and best of all, it's real. 

Style Bee

Bee and her beau. If only I could convince my husband to dress so dapper!
My favorite part of Bee's website is her 10x10 Challenge. Pick ten items of clothing and style them over 10 days. Brilliant, right?! Her Closet Mission is also a great place to start for identifying things like shopping triggers, responsible (ethical) shopping, and figuring out what your style color palette really is. Her website is so practical and the steps are easy to follow. It's like SMART goal planning for style.