How to Plan a Travel Capsule Wardrobe in 5 Steps

If you’re like me then you know the drill.  You leave packing right until the last minute, throw in as many clothes as you can for as many different eventualities as you can, sit on the case… and then come back having worn maybe a third of it.  Argh!  By the time you read this post I’ll almost be on my way back from Canada – the first trip I’ve taken in a while – and this time around I’ve promised myself to streamline my travel wardrobe and only pack clothes that I know that I’m definitely, absolutely going to wear.  I’m yet to be converted to the whole capsule wardrobe thing in my day to day life, but I’m definitely on board when it comes to travelling.  Who wants a bulging case and last minute panics about what to wear when you want to be out and about exploring anyway?  So, without further ado, here’s how to plan a travel capsule wardrobe in five easy steps.

1. Do Your Research

Before you even touch any clothes, you’re going to employ a bit of Google-Fu.  Research where you’re going, how long for and what you’re going to be getting up to while you’re away.  The answers to these questions are going to help you build a destination appropriate capsule wardrobe:

  • What’s the weather going to be like where I’m going?
  • Are there any events that I need to bring specific outfits for (like a wedding)?
  • How long am I away for?
  • Are there any local customs when it comes to fashion (will I need to cover up?)

2. Plan Must-Have Outfits First

Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to get stuck into your wardrobe, starting with the must-have basics.

A Travel Outfit

What are you going to wear when you’re on the road/in the sky?  Set aside something comfortable that will work as your “Travel Outfit”.  The bottom half is the most important part in my book; I like to be comfy if I’m going to be sitting down for a long time, and like to wear a pair of shoes that I can slip off if I want.

Event/Activities Outfits

Are you going to a special event while you’re away?  Are you going to be doing a certain activity that’ll need a certain outfit?  Are you going to be swimming?  Make sure these outfits make it into the suitcase before any others.

Knickers and Pjs

We all sleep, we all wear underwear (…right?).  So make sure you’ve got enough to see you through.  And when it comes to underwear, pack a variety that’ll work with different outfits (Spanx, Stick on Bras etc…).

3. Try On Some Outfits

With your must-have items sorted it’s time to work out what else you want to pack, keeping in mind that you want to build a versatile, interchangeable wardrobe.  You want colours that work together (some people like to choose black and white with accent colour) and items that are going to layer well.  Again, think about where you’re going, the weather and the sort of things you’re going to be doing.  Ask yourself:

  • What am I going to wear if it gets really hot?
  • What am I going to wear if it suddenly gets chilly?
  • What if it rains?
  • What am I going to wear during the day?
  • What am I going to wear out at night?


4. Build Your Capsule from the Core, then Add Extras

Now that you’ve got some ideas, you can start building your travel wardrobe starting with the basic core capsule items.  Here’s a basic list, obviously it’ll be different depending on where you’re going, for how long and your person style, but it should be enough to get you started.

  • Bottoms:
    • 1 Pair of jeans
    • 1 Pair of black jeans (that can be dressed up or down)
    • 1 Skirt
  • Tops:
    • 2 T-Shirts (one white)
    • 2 Blouses
    • 2 Vests/Camis (for layering)
  • Dresses:
    • 1 Casual
    • 1 Fancy
  • Outerwear:
    • 1 Jacket (what kind of jacket will depend on your destination)
    • 1 Jumper/Cardigan
  • Shoes:
    • 1 Comfortable pair for walking (trainers or boots)
    • 1 Pair of smart flats (could be sandals or ballet pumps)
    • 1 Fancy pair (evening shoes or heels)

Once you’ve got your core capsule sorted, you can start adding extras and statement pieces. 🙂

5. Add Accessories

Now that you’ve planned your outfits you can start adding accessories.  Try and streamline, picking items that will go with everything you’ve picked out so far and make sure you’ve covered the essentials like bags and belts.

And there you go, one travel capsule wardrobe that’ll free up some space in your suitcase and stop all those last minute wardrobe panics!  Have a great weekend guys! 🙂

Madeira Photo Diary

I’m going to throw an idea out there that’s going to sound a little strange.  Madeira is like a sub-tropical Iceland.  Okay, I can tell you’re pulling a face right now and I know it’s weird, but try and stick with me on this one.  When Sunny and I booked our trip to Madeira and researched where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do while we were there, we kept saying that phrase over and over again.  And although it sounds really strange to pair two places that are so different when it comes to temperature and scenery, a lot of what we loved about Iceland we saw in Madeira.  Obviously they’re both islands, but it’s not that – they’re both islands that are quite unlike anywhere else and rock at being quirky and unique.  The locals are lovely, the scenery is stunning and often strange in its own way, and they’re both places that are just made for adventurers. 🙂

Hibiscus – the most fake looking real flower on the planet!
Bathing Pools at Porto Moniz

We almost didn’t land in Madeira.  Two and a half hours into our three hour flight the Captain made an announcement that the winds on the island had gone outside the “safe range” and that if they didn’t drop again we’d have to divert to Lisbon.  It was at that moment that Sunny decided to come clean and y’know just casually drop the bomb that Madeira happens to be one of the most dangerous airports in the world to land in.  For someone who’s completely terrified of flying, this wasn’t great news.  See, the short runway is built on stilts on the side of Madeira’s rocky coastline and susceptible to high winds and turbulence.  A lot of the time planes try to land only to pull up at the last minute because they can’t make the landing!  Fortunately for us after taxying around for an extra hour the winds dropped into the safe range just in time – and only just! – so we did land, but it was a wobbily one!

We stayed in the capital Funchal for three days, then took a Ferry to Porto Santo for some beach time and then came back (two days late – but that’s another story!) to explore the rest of the island by car.  You can do it by going with tour operators who will take you by bus to various tourist spots around the island but for us, doing it by car offered way more freedom – even if driving was really, really scary at times!  We got to see far more of Madeira than we would have if we’d resorted to getting around via coach.  We climbed mountains and clifftops and stopped for Espresso in tiny cafes in even tinier villages and it was lovely 🙂

So many cute stray dogs!
Curral das Freiras (Nun’s Valley) on the Eve of their world renowned Chestnut Festival where you can eat Chestnut Bread, Chestnut Soup, Chestnut Cake and wash it down with Chestnut Liqueur.

Away from Funchal the roads in Madeira are narrow and wind up and down the mountains and along the cliffs.  Up to a certain height you’ll see banana trees and Bird of Paradise growing all over the place and when you break through the clouds everything changes and you’ll see Agapanthus and Hydrangia.  Because we were there in October a lot of the flowers were finishing, but I bet if you went in the summer they’d all be in bloom at the roadside.  There are lots of lizards and we even saw a Monarch Butterfly while walking around Funchal which was amazing… even though it wouldn’t stay still for a photo 😦

In the UK when you see that someone’s painted their bungalow bright pink your first thought is, “Ugh, what were they thinking?” in Madeira it’s weird if you don’t.  Not only that, but they build houses and roads in places you’d think it was dangerous/impossible to.  There are houses on the edge of cliffs and tunnels that burrow miles into the mountainside so that the highway can get through.

I was surprised how much I loved Madeira and even more surprised that more young people don’t go there.  If you like holidays where you can enjoy a bit of everything – sun, adventuring, city culture – then it’s definitely worth a look.

Traditional Madeiran house at Santana


While Wales has been starting to really feel the Autumn bite I’ve been squeezing in as much sun as I can get exploring the tiny Portuguese island of Madeira, which it has to be said is one of the most colourful, craziest places I’ve ever been.  The water is freezing, the mountains are beautiful, the houses are pretty, the roads are scary and the strays are cute. Oh, and there are bananas growing all over the shop.  Expect to be spammed with photos very soon! 🙂