Have you ever been on trips where you lug your mass of baggage only to find yourself stuck with bad choices as the events of each day unfold? Then you see your friend's single suitcase and she seems to be so well put together each day. Well, here are a few tips:
Have a general sense of the weather. If you are going to the tropics, pack light cotton clothes. If you are going to cold places, wool would be your best bet. Wool is easy to launder as you can just hang it in your hotel room and it is as crisp as new the next day. And remember, with single items, most hotel rooms have a clothes dryer...disguised as a way to dry your hair!
Take one light but warm sweater, even if you are heading for the tropics. The plane can be a bit chilly, and many restaurants use the air-conditioning as their revenge on the weak and foreign.
Look at the schedule of activities. If there are events that call for dress code, make sure you have clothes that are appropriate. For women, a simple black dress with different accessories or a few silk scarves. You'll look different each time and most people only see you once anyway. For men, black cotton shirts with black pants can pass for formal events. Add a tie if you want. If where you are going is cold, it can be wool. If you are going to the tropics, try a silk or linen or cotton, as natural fibers breathe easily. If you are going to the tropics, an off-white shirt may take the place of black. Stick to simple basics and just bring accessories that make the outfit different each time you wear it. Accessories vary from scarves to stoles to sashes or boleros or those beautiful eye-grabbing necklaces.
Choose the clothes you think would be appropriate. Place these on your bed and see how coordinated the colors are. For winter getaways, a beautiful coat will hide everything underneath, so a pair of black wool pants and several light wool tops are sufficient. For the tropics, when your getaway is a beach, all you need are swimsuits and a simple cotton dress with accessories to wear for a special dinner. A sarong on your swimsuit can also bring you into fancy restaurants in island getaways. If you plan to visit inhabited islands close by or the city close to the beach, then, bring a pair of shorts or pants and a decent top....pants and long sleeves if it is a more conservative country. The sarong is often useful. Even the male partner can wear this on top of his shorts in fancy restaurants where there is a dress code and he can get away with it. Have a few silk dresses rolled like cigars. They take no room and it looks like you have a separate wardrobe truck following you.
Choose the clothes that you can easily launder and dry. This is especially true if you are on a bus tour and change hotels almost everyday. Some hotels now provide laundry detergent but a small zip bag of detergent in your luggage takes almost no room. Put it in your one pair of packed shoes. Or call up the concierge to have some brought to your room. You can win the prize for the most demanding guest! Remember, use that hair dryer in the hotel room to dry your clothes when needed. If you can wash socks and underwear every night or every second night, you only need three of each unit. You can also use liners or disposables.
For shoes, know that you can also accessorize your shoes. Accessories are available to clip on your simple walking shoes to make them look dressy.
For bags, bring one you can carry around on your walks in the city or the beach and a small purse that you can use for the evening. Often, when you go out with your partner, he can easily put your card and money inside his pocket and this leaves you free not to bring a purse.
The key is to carry fewer clothes. This is especially true when you are going to places where you can get cheap clothing. In places that require formal wear (not many), in a day, you can order a suit or a formal attire to cover any surprises. You can now get almost everything wherever you are going. At times, there is a problem with sizes but often hotels that cater to foreigners carry all sizes. Most likely, the familiar stores you see in your own place will also be where you are going. You can also get your clothes dry cleaned and back the same day. Many hotels now provide irons and ironing boards in the room. If these are not there, call for the concierge to send one to your room. Most travelers don't know how to use the concierge. These people can be magic! Read before you travel!
Travel in a decent outfit. You will look smart on the plane and don't have to pack an extra outfit. Leave the sweats at home. If you are over 10 years of age, forget the adventure clothing with pockets and zips and useless vests and hooks. It just tells everyone that this is your "trip of a lifetime" and you've never left your county before. A backpack is a sure sign of an adventure wannabe or a senior needing a supply of nappies close at hand. Forget it.
Most travelers bring way too many things, use very few items and then have no room in their overstuffed suitcase to bring any thing home. Take the least you can and have fun buying anything else you need. Don't let your baggage own you!