Packing for holidays is bad enough but packing to go travelling with no return date in mind is just crazy. The hardest part is having clothes that you love and might want to wear at some point but having to put them in storage without knowing when you'll see them again.
Then you have to consider all the situations you'll be in, all the weather you'll encounter and how to make that work. Before I left home, I went into a bit of a panic because I had nothing in my case suitable for nightclubbing. Then I remembered, I never go to nightclubs. Ever.
While I do have a few things I wish I hadn't packed and curse my bag for being too heavy, I only have a small case (soon to be placed by my new back pack), about 40l capacity.
Okay, here's what I packed including the mistakes:
Number packed: 5
Number worn: 3
I wear dresses a lot. When I'm at home, I wear them and travelling is the same. It's kind of a pain to pack them because they have flaired out skirts so I can't roll them. If I was on a short holiday, of a month or so, I probably wouldn't pack anything else (well a cardigan and some tights) but that's it.
My red polka dot dress is getting a bit worn and I'm considering buying another one because I've worn it so much. Maybe when I drop a dress size.
The mistakes I packed are a short -- very skimpy short -- dress. It was short to start with and now has shrunk enough to make it borderline indecent especially when I'm catching trains and have to raise my arm above my head. Oops. It does work okay as a cover up when I'm wearing bathers but I rarely swim so that's a bit useless. Also, a dress in the same design as the polka dot ones in light blue. It was in my storage space and, when I went there before I left home had to make a snap decision about including it. I did but have never worn it.
I think the lesson here is less is more. Unless I love something to death, don't pack it. Also, to stick with a basic colour scheme to ensure that I have shoes to wear with everything.
Number packed: 6 (I think) + 2 I've acquired.
Number worn: all of them.
As you can see, dots and stripes dominate my t-shirt collection. I do have one t-shirt in blue that I got at H&M in Europe. It's really lightweight and easy to wear in the heat. I also have a grey t-shirt with a cute unicorn print on it. TBH, I laid out all my t-shirts on my bed, nicely folded to take a photo but, when I upload the pictures from my camera realised I hadn't actually taken the photo!
Not many mistakes with t-shirts. I wear them all but I did pack a sheer shirt with a dog print on it that I never wear. It needs a singlet under it and I wear all my singlets for sleeping. I have two black and white striped t-shirts but I wear them both because one is short and the other is a long, tunic style. For cooler weather, I just slip a long sleeved Uniqlo Heat Tech top underneath.
I have one t-shirt that I just wear for Arashi concerts. I intend getting a lot of wear out of that! Then, after the concerts are over, I'll send it home with my sister.
Number packed: 2
Number worn: 1
I have a H&M basic black skirt, just a tube style skirt that comes above the knee. It's the only thing I wear with my t-shirts. Sometimes I wish I had another skirt (because that one is in the wash) but I've not found anything I'd actually get the wear out of. My one skirt goes with everything and is easy to wear. Long enough to wear without tights but not so long that it hides my legs since they are my best feature :)
I actually started travelling with a different yet similar skirt but it got a bit worn so I bought this one and threw the old one out. That's disgustingly fast fashion but sometimes you have to do it. Both of them were less than $10.
I packed a pair of shorts but rarely wear them. I don't feel that comfortable in them and they have a button fly which isn't good when you have an ample belly.
Number packed: 3
Number worn: 3
I love a good cardigan and could've packed 15 of them if I had the space. I'm so used to the constantly changing weather in Melbourne that I rarely leave the house without one even if it's stinking hot outside.
I have one long cardigan. I mean super long, almost to the ankles. It's fantastic and doubles up as a blanket for travelling. The only issue with it is that if I'm travelling in hot weather, it's bulky to pack but definitely worth the space.
One thin, red cardigan. Because I have a lot of black and white clothes, red works for me. Although it's a pain when I'm wearing red because red on red is never that good.
One short sleeved black cardigan. Cute and vintage looking but not so practical. It's thick, often too thick for hot weather but the short sleeves make it too cold to wear in the cold weather. Still, I can wear it buttoned up over dresses to mix the look up a bit. I could also wear it buttoned up as a top but never have.
Number packed: 3 (4 if you count thongs/flip flops)
Number worn: 3
I'm fanatical about Hot Chocolate shoes - they are comfortable and easy to pack and, yeah, lady bugs. I wear them all the time and never have any issues even though I'm prone to blisters and any other foot issue around. I really need to wash them though...
I started travelling with a different pair of boots. They were more badass with buckles and straps and shit happening but I saw these boots in Geneva and decided to replace them. Black leather ankle boots go with just about anything and are dressy enough to wear most places. Since I rarely go to black tie events, I'd say I could wear these boots everywhere I need to go.
My secret weakness. I have about 18 pairs of tights. That might be a little obsessive but I need thicker tights for cold weather and patterned tights and different colours. Yeah, okay, 18 pairs might be a bit too much. They are actually a pain in the butt to pack and don't fold up as small as you'd think either.
I don't wear a lot of jewellery. Pretty much everything fits into this tiny little bag. And that's including the moisture absorbing things I took out of my medication bottle. I have a velvet choke with a red stone on it that I've had for years, some fancy hair slides that I never wear and some hair flowers.
I also have about four bandanna scarves (2 Arashi concert ones and 2 regular ones). I wear them pretty much constantly at the moment because my hair is pissing me off but I'm going to the hairdressers tomorrow.
I have a belt that I've never worn. I probably will never wear it since I have no waist.
The only other thing I have is a large, wrap scarf. It's made out of thin t-shirt material and was perfect for travel. I say "was" because I burnt the end of it (cigarettes and windy days are a bad combo with long scarves). The burn was on the end so I thought I could just chop the end off but then I washed it and it stretched out on one side...
Apart from the mistakes mentioned above, there are a couple of other things I regret. The day before I left, I realised my bras were all a bit substandard and City Chic had a sale on bras so I grabbed the purple and pink number for a bargain price. However, if you note in the photo of my t-shirts above, there is a lot of white in there... yeah, not good. I'm keeping it though because it makes my boobs look better than any other bra I own. I just wish I'd gotten a different colour.
Also, I got the red polka dot sleep shorts in KL. They are great for the hotter weather but are a bit skimpy. Not a problem when you are living alone, until you want to run outside for a cigarette.
Lesson learnt: make sure your underwear can be worn with any outfit.
I don't think there is ever an ideal packing list. You don't know what works until you start travelling. I have ditched a few things along the way and when my sister comes to Japan, I'll send stuff home with her.
Overall, I think I did a good job of packing clothes that I wear and work for me. I have a few other things not mentioned above:
- a pair of pj bottoms
- a pair of workout pants (that I use as pjs)
- 2 singlets for sleeping
- 2 pairs of leggings
- knickers, of course. About 10 pairs
- bras - 2 regular ones (that need replacing), the one above, a sports crop top bra that I wear for longer travel days and a fancy longline bra for going out.
- bathers - I rarely wear them but they have come in handy.
I might post in future about all the non-clothing gear I have with me.