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The Best Travel Wardrobe Essentials Checklist For Your Next Trip

Updated January 2024

Are you looking for the best travel wardrobe essentials checklist for your next trip? You’ve come to the right place.

Before we start, I have a confession to make. I used to really dislike packing.

The planning of outfits, the going back and forth between do I need this and “just in case” with outfits, and so on and so forth.

When it came to packing and planning outfits, I struggled. Kind of a lot.

In theory, it’s fun to plan your outfits and imagine how your pictures will look with the outfits you picked out, and then some.

But, when it comes to actual packing and looking at your closet, like??

Where do you start??

Over the years of traveling, both long-term and short-term, I have established what I call my capsule wardrobe checklist or capsule wardrobe essentials.

As the name suggests, it is a wardrobe basics checklist or set of travel staple pieces that I pack for every trip.

This capsule wardrobe essential list is good for almost all seasons, no matter where I go or the climate I encounter. It has drastically simplified the travel clothing packing process for me.

Today, I want to share with you what those travel clothing staple pieces are in hopes that it can help you simplify your clothes packing process or, at the very least, give you some ideas on some items that I love to travel with that you may want to check out later on.

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The Best Travel Wardrobe Essentials Checklist For Your Next Trip

1. Pants

girl with black shirt and black pants standing on top of teotihuacan, mexico city

One of the essential wardrobe basics is a good pair of pants.

When you start to travel often, you tend to learn how to dress yourself for long-haul flights, whether you’re someone who prefers leggings, joggers, or even jeans 🤪

My favorite pants, which I have now lovingly dubbed “my travel pants,” have come down to two that I own.

One of them is my staple black drawstring trouser pants (pictured above), and the other is the Lululemon On The Fly pants.

Though neither of those exact pairs of pants are available today, I have found other similar alternatives that are still worth checking out and that I would get today if I had to replace my travel pants.

They are these jogger pants from Zara and the Softstreme high rise pant by Lululemon.

There are plenty of reasons why I prefer joggers/trouser pants over leggings, but one of them is how much easier they are to style.

In the same way, I automatically feel 10x more put together, confident, and stylish when I wear jogger/trouser pants without sacrificing comfort, which is very important to avoid for a long journey.

These are seriously the best travel clothes, and they’re a simple wardrobe essential for wandering a new city after hopping off your flight.

I usually pair mine with a simple but quality-made top (more on this later).

For a put-together look, maybe make it monochromatic, especially if you’re traveling for more than a few hours on a plane.

Really, anything goes with a jogger/trouser pant, which makes packing travel clothing staple pieces simpler and better – which isn’t that what we all want when we travel?

👖 Click here to buy the Softstreme High Rise Pant by Lululemon

>> Read More: 7 Amazing Travel Essentials For Women From Lululemon That Are Worth The Investment

2. Tops

When it comes to what goes on your top half, I have a general rule of thumb to simplify the process: Basic but quality t-shirts and tops.

Basic items, such as solid color tops and quality material, are important because, as we know, travel is not always a walk in the park.

From running around trying to get to your gate to being in different temperatures, travel might as well be a sport.

Without fail, a travel staple in my suitcase is maybe 1-2 basic but high-quality t-shirts that I can style with anything and dress up or down, depending on the activity.

My go-to t-shirts are the Lululemon Love crewneck t-shirts, which I have taken on a number of trips at this point.

I love their quality. They don’t wrinkle as easily as cheaper T-shirts, they retain their shape when washed abroad in sinks or hung dry, and they retain their color, making them look as good as new every time!

Another specific reason why I love these t-shirts in specific is that they are also designed for movement and sweat – and, therefore, keep you dry and odor-free, which is such a nice feeling to have when you’re traveling 😊

I absolutely love the Lulu Lemon Love T-shirts and recommend them to any traveler who wants a quality T-shirt that looks good between packing and unpacking and is worth every penny.

P.S. Athleta also has some amazing and cute basic travel wardrobe options that keep you dry and odor-free and offer so much flexibility to make those long journeys a lot more comfortable without sacrificing style.

👚 Click here to buy the Lululemon Love Crew T-Shirt

3. Dresses

girl with black dress and glasses sitting inside ferris wheel in montreal, canada

Dresses and any kind of other one-piece, one-and-done outfits are a hard YES in my travel clothing staples, and I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.

In the case of dresses, whether it’s a little black dress for dressier options or something more casual, you can never go wrong with something as versatile as a t-shirt dress like the one I am wearing in the photo above, with white sneakers for a daytime look.

Dress it up by wearing a black leather jacket and switching the white sneakers for a pair of cute and comfortable low-heel ankle-strap sandals for a nighttime event.

The key here is to add a variety of pieces. That way, you have a few different styles that you can mix and match.

Along with mixing and matching styles such as dresses and pants, it’s important to select colors that will also go together, and a way of doing that may be by creating a color palette for your travel wardrobe must-haves.

👗 Click here to buy the perfect t-shirt dress for travel

A quick word about travel clothing staples and creating a color palette

You may have noticed by now that I tend to stick to classic neutral colors such as blacks, whites, and grays, and it’s on purpose.

Having a capsule wardrobe, which basically means a set of travel staple clothing pieces that have a similar color scheme and come from a similar color palette, could definitely save you time and mental work of putting different pieces and colors together.

Having a color palette will make it easier to mix and match pieces, which can help with packing minimally without worrying too much about repeating the same outfits.

If you’re wondering how to create a travel clothing staple palette of your own, definitely check out this blog post, which helps simplify the process for us non-fashion bloggers.

💡Pro Tip: If you’re really trying to visualize a travel clothing staple palette that works for you and will make clothes shopping WAY easier and faster, try using tools such as Canva to get an idea of which colors work best together and how to combine visually appealing color combinations for variety and consistency in your carry-on suitcase.

Random, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

Wondering how the heck you can use Canva to help you plan your travel outfits?? I got you!

Leave me your name and email below, and I’ll send over a comprehensive guide to help you every step of the way!


Canva has a free and cool color palette generator that allows you to upload a picture of one of your travel staple pieces or a full outfit, which will then generate a color palette based on the image you uploaded.

This tool can help you plan which colors actually go well together. It maximizes your clothing color selection while traveling, helping you create multiple outfits from the limited clothing pieces you packed.

This guide breaks everything down to help you achieve this with Canva’s FREE color palette generator. Leave me your name and email below to have it delivered to your inbox for free!

4. Outerwear

A trusty leather jacket will always elevate any outfit from meh to chic and from day to night, with minimal effort, let’s be honest.

And while you’re on the road, that is music to your ears, I’m sure!

A simple leather jacket will take you from touristing around to catching dinner in the evening, seamlessly.

Take it on when you’re flying, and it will elevate your airport outfit to another level, even if you’re wearing sweats underneath.

Of course, depending on the destination, you may want to pack something warmer or something lighter; that depends on each person’s judgment.

It’s also worth mentioning that depending on your destination, if you’re headed to a winter destination or your favorite city in the winter, for example, Chicago, it’s good to consider investing in a great winter jacket or coat, and insulated winter boots, and a few other accessories to add to your winter capsule wardrobe while on the go.

I recommend that, in addition to that necessary parka, for example, or rain jacket, packing something cool, stylish, and chic like a leather jacket or an everyday, casual, but put-together jean jacket, a wool coat, a stylish and flowy trench coat will definitely help pull an outfit together, easily, especially when you have limited outfit choices.

5. Shoes

Over the years, I’ve been traveling, especially recently. I’ve tested out quite a few shoes to see which ones can withstand heavy-duty walking while still looking nice with my packed outfits.

It’s no secret white sneakers are THE go-to shoe when traveling because they literally pair well with any piece of clothing while adding comfort for those long days of sightseeing.

From dresses to skirts, and pants, and everything.

Though I still love a good pair of white vans, or veja shoes (both of which I’ve used heavily before) I have to say that the On Cloud Cloudwander Waterproof have quickly become my favorite travel shoe.

After visiting rainy London and Porto, I realized a waterproof shoe is an absolute necessity, and through my own research, I found that not many good walking shoe was made with waterproof material, until I found the On Cloud Cloudwander Waterproof.

These shoes are SO comfortable and waterproof and come in a variety of colors, including a few neutral colors, which is the pair I got (pictured on the right-hand side in Rome).

These types of shoes are a must, and they’ve quickly become my favorite, so check them out if you’re on the market for waterproof travel shoes that go with almost everything!

👟 Click here to buy the On Cloud Cloudwander Waterproof Shoes


6. Day bag

A day bag is not only a cute accessory but also a travel staple piece. I think that’s a no-brainer.

However, the luggage and backpack market offers many styles, purposes, and sizes, making it easy to get overwhelmed.

Personally, whatever you get, make sure to look for the following points:

  • It’s a size that you don’t mind carrying around that fits your essentials
  • It fits your style and your purpose for it
  • It fits your travel staples palette and pieces
  • It’s sturdy for travel

For a few years, I’ve personally used my Kanken backpack every time I’ve traveled, and it was amazing. However, recently, I’ve also been using the Beis expandable backpack in black, which I’ve been loving!

Though both match my personal style (basic fashion), I love the Beis expandable backpack a bit more because it expands, has a separate laptop sleeve, great compartments inside, including a concealable water bottle sleeve, and much more.

A travel day bag is a must-travel staple piece to have, and I could not not include it in this list!

🎒 Click here to buy the Beis Expandable Backpack

>> Read More: The 8 Best Travel Day Bags For Every Occasion

Q&A: The Best Travel Wardrobe Essentials Checklist For Your Next Trip

  • Which basics should you have in your wardrobe?

When it comes to essentials to complete your wardrobe basics checklist in 2024, I recommend comfortable shoes, warm outerwear, stylish dresses, sweat-wicking tops, and comfortable travel trousers.

Another important thing is that these pieces are high quality, because as we know, travel is not always a walk in the park, but a sprint in the airport trying to catch your flight on time!

High quality doesn’t have to mean anything fancy, just something that is made of good quality, and built to withstand the wear and tear that travel often involves.

  • I am traveling for 7 weeks, what are some essentials to pack?

Other than the basic wardrobe essentials I’ve shared on this post to cover clothing needs, there are also a few other great Lululemon essentials and travel style basics (some of which I’ve mentioned here) in a separate post that is worth checking out!

Lululemon has great athletic wear that can easily be transformed into nice outfits, especially when building a basic wardrobe list for travel.

However, this is just my preferred brand. There are obviously other sportswear/athleisure brands that also make great-quality basic pieces that can be used for travel.

I prefer Lululemon as I’ve used them for some years now, and their wardrobe basics have kept me very comfortable as I’ve traveled in different climates.

Their sweat-wicking and odorless materials are great for times when you don’t have immediate access to a washing machine, especially on a longer trip, like seven weeks.

There are a few other key items that are important to add to your suitcase that I would like to suggest, such as toiletry items.

To get the full list, make sure to check out my post on the 18 Super Useful Things To Pack For Your Next Trip.

  • How can I create a minimalist wardrobe without sacrificing style

This is why I love buying fashion basics that can be worn in multiple scenarios, and this is the reason why travel capsules are popular.

A wardrobe checklist will help you pack different pieces under one color scheme/palette, which will make curating your outfits easier while on the go.

This makes for easier outfit creations and mixing and matching to reinvent your repeated pieces into new outfits every day.

As someone who tries to put a little extra effort into their looks without overpacking, these clothing essentials have helped me easily pack not only faster but efficiently, without bothering with those “what if” pieces – IYKYK.

  • What are some tips for planning ahead and picking outfits for a trip without stressing too much about packing

After you’ve established somewhat of a color palette or just a few colors that you want to stick with, you can start picking out how many tops and bottoms you’ll take with you.

I tend to stick to neutrals – black, white, navy, grey, cream/off-white, and even moss green. I also tend to pack more tops than bottoms.

For instance, on my recent 2-month long trip to Europe in the winter, my clothing checklist consisted of 3 pairs of pants, and 6 tops, a 1 jacket, 1 coat, 1 scarf, and hat.

In my opinion, a basic wardrobe is the way to go. For instance, my tops were mostly long-sleeved, and some were turtlenecks to help with the cold climate.

What helped make my basic wardrobe stand out a bit were accessories for jewelry and even changing up your hairstyle – all of which don’t occupy too much space in your suitcase.

So, really, all you have to do is choose a few colors that you know will match and go well together, and then just find clothes in those colors. Grab inspiration from Pinterest for hairstyles and jewelry, and you’re set, stress-free!

  • What are some must have items in your winter wardrobe

Speaking of traveling in the winter, I used to think that packing for winter travel was one of the most intimidating things, especially trying to fit it all inside a carry-on

However, it’s pretty much the same as traveling during any other season. In fact, I’d say it’s even easier simply because your jacket will cover the majority of your outfits.

However, some winter clothing essentials that I pack include one wool coat, a packable jacket for outerwear, a scarf (or 2 if it fits), thick socks, and insulated and waterproof shoes.

  • What are some must-have accessories for a complete and fashionable look and how can I mix and match them with different outfits

The more I travel, the more I understand that accessories will make your repeated outfits look a bit different every day.

In my opinion, my must-have accessories, many of which I accumulate as I travel, are gold hoop earrings, a dainty gold necklace, and maybe a ring or two.

These pieces really help my clothing basics pop, subtly, without adding more things to carry in my suitcase. Plus, as you travel, it’s hard to ignore some of the stunning jewelry available!

Now, I understand that it is up to everyone to decide how and with what they want to accessorize based on their personal style and destination.

Sometimes, especially as female travelers, we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves.

Accessories can be many things, including a scarf, hat/beanie, hair ties that look like accessories, and much more.

  • What essential items should be packed for a week s vacation using only carry on luggage

Based on the weather of your destination, my go-to rule is to keep it simple with the clothing essentials. Invest in quality-made but basic clothing items that you can mix and match.

Pack more tops than bottoms, and look for comfortable footwear. Ideally, you should only pack one pair or maybe two to three, depending on the season and destination you’re traveling to and whether you’re trying to pack lightly.

The Wrap Up on The Best Travel Wardrobe Essentials Checklist For Your Next Trip

There they are!

Some of my favorite tried and true travel staple clothing pieces and accessories that I rarely travel without.

This list doesn’t cover ALL the things I pack; as you can see, I don’t go into items such as jeans or sweaters, and while everyone has different travel capsule wardrobes, the main point is to share those essential travel wardrobe staples that I build my travel closet around, and that I don’t see myself traveling without.

Throughout my own packing experience, I have seen that having a set few items that you love to travel, move, and look in already makes the travel packing process so much easier and quicker.

Having your travel staple pieces identified ahead of time lessens the time you need to think about every little detail.

Instead, by having those pieces selected, you already have a few pieces to build on in case you want to change a few items or add a few more pieces to your travel wardrobe.

I hope this post has helped give your travel packing and wardrobe capsule a bit more structure and that it has cleared up some of the difficulty when packing for your next adventure.

What do you consider a staple travel clothing item? Let me know in the comments below!

To more travel moments like these ✨

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