Capsule Wardrobe for Three Week Trip

Carry On Luggage Only for Three Weeks

Airline travel is stressful these days. Lost luggage, canceled flights, delays. It’s a tough time in the travel industry. Up until this year, our six years of the Grand Adventure has been relatively stress free with limited luggage or flight issues, six years and 161 flights, we only lost luggage twice (see last week’s blog about this Around the World Nine Times Lost Luggage Twice). But it’s a different beast now, and so I’ve put together a capsule wardrobe for three week trip we are embarking on.

Travel is hard (Canva)

We booked this trip last spring, before so much airline trouble began. I’m hopeful we might be past the worst of the summer travel nightmare, but still am not going to take a chance checking my bags. This trip is tight between flights, and I have enough to worry about with connections and potential cancellations I don’t want to worry about luggage too. So for the first time I am doing carry on only, so needed a capsule wardrobe for three week trip.

Although I consider myself a really good packer, when we go for months at a time I never do carry on only because I need to bring so many things like months worth of contact lenses, or months worth of prescription meds. I also carry our French press, the mug, laundry supplies, first aid and toiletries for extended travel.

Carry on to avoid loosing luggage (canva)

All that said it’s time to tighten up the bags, and this trip, just under three weeks, gives me a good opportunity to give it a try with a capsule wardrobe for three week trip. I’ve learned a lot from my friend Katherine who writes a blog called The 5kilo Traveller. Her information and instagram posts are helpful and inspirational. Check her out on Instagram and her blog here.

What is a Capsule Wardrobe

With just a little bit of planning, it was easy to pull together a capsule wardrobe for travel from my pieces I already have. A capsule wardrobe is a small wardrobe with multiple pieces that you can mix and match and layer and use in various ways. A capsule wardrobe starts with a simple color pallet. I chose black and white for my pants. Then added in pieces that I can mix and match.

Capsule Wardrobe (Canva)

Of course your capsule wardrobe will vary depending on your travel destination and the weather. But you should be able to bring the same number of items for five days as you might for five weeks. It’s all in the planning.

My Trip

I’m headed to the English Channel Islands of Guernsey and Jersey, followed by a few days in France. Then I return to the USA via Boston and head immediately to Acadia National Park in Maine for five days of camping. So my capsule wardrobe needs to consist of comfortable and versatile clothes for fall weather that could be in the 70’s or the 40’s, sunshine or rain, as well as both city strolling or rugged hiking.

Guernsey (Canva)

Layers on the Plane

It’s rare you get blankets on the plane anymore so I like to have a coat handy to use as a blanket. This is my airplane outfit in this photo. It consists of layers that should keep me comfortable no matter the temperature of the plane…and you never know what that will be. Also by layering I’m able to wear several items instead of squeezing them into my bag.

Airplane layers in Capsule Wardrobe colors

My airplane outfit is a tshirt, long sleeve cotton button up blouse and a cotton long sleeve sweatshirt paired with black leggings and my running shoes. The leggins will be handy for the camping portion of our trip and will likely serve as pajamas while camping too.

Black and White

Black and White bottoms with mix and match tops for various weather and activities

I am packing one pair of black slacks, one pair of white slacks and one pair of black shorts. These staple bottoms will carry me through most days. To mix and match with these three bottoms (and also the leggings) I have another short sleeve tshirt in a bright pink, one yellow tank top, one blue linen lightweight blouse, one blue linen long sleeve blouse, a sweater set (polka dot and black) and a black and white pullover cotton sweater. These all mix and match with the airplane outfit items.


Just in case dresses, easy to pack and care for and easy to layer too

If we get fine weather in the Channel Island and France I have packed two cotton dresses. My green TravelSmith dress has been a workhorse in my travel wardrobe for years. And this orange cotton dress I added this year from Talbots. I can layer both of these with the black sweater or checked blouse. I’ve thrown in one scarf.


For Camping and Hiking

In addition to the leggings and the tshirts already mentioned I have packed my long hiking pants, my hiking shorts, my short sleeve hiking shirt, a long sleeve tshirt and a lightweight quick dry hiking sweatshirt. Camping could be wet, my Gortex jacket with hood will serve for both rain and warmth.


Just two this time

It’s always hard for me not to bring too many shoes, so the fact that I’ve decided to only bring two pairs is kind of amazing. I am wearing my black running shoes on the plane and though I don’t plan to run during this trip, these shoes can be walking and hiking shoes as well. In addition I am bringing my new white leather sneakers from Soludos. These work with everything including dresses.

And Everything Else

Additional essentials.

Beyond my wardrobe I will be bringing underwear, first aid, one towel, a paired down toiletries bag, travel alarm and a small travel umbrella. We also have purchased two collapsible water bottles and we will try those out for the first time as well as a new collapsible hot water heater. I’m curious to see how I like that. I always carry my laptop, kindle, cords and chargers too. I have a new over the shoulder travel purse for my documents, passport, cash and credit cards as well as a few essentials for the airplane like my noise canceling headphones, lip balm, Tylenol and tiny toothbrush and toothpaste for the plane.

And one more thing – if you aren’t using packing cubes go buy some now! Game changer.

And That’s It

So that is my capsule wardrobe for three week trip. I feel good about my choices. It won’t surprise me if I end up not using something, but that said I still don’t think I have over packed. It’s actually a fun challenge for me. If it goes well, we will see if I can compress when we leave for seven months in October.

Be sure to check with YOUR airline as there are some differences as far as carry on size allowed. A little planning and you should be good to go.

Thanks for reading my post Capsule Wardrobe Three Week Trip. Be sure to see last week’s post about our data from six years of world travel and airports and airlines around the world Nine Times Around the World Only Lost Luggage Twice.

See this week’s top performing pin here Coastal Grandma Does That Make Me Cool?

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  • Reply Amy

    The Mug is staying home?!?

    Have a great trip!

    September 9, 2022 at 7:35 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Oh no! Right now I’m planning to bring it!

      September 9, 2022 at 8:05 am
  • Reply Kim

    What great tips! I always pack too much but will take these on board.

    September 9, 2022 at 5:04 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      Thanks Kim

      September 9, 2022 at 6:39 pm
      • Reply Bindy

        A great read. Well done. Awesome packing and lovely choices in clothes.
        Have a fab trip.
        Love from another friend of Katherine’s ❤️

        September 9, 2022 at 8:21 pm
        • Reply Laureen

          Hi Bindy – thanks for the read!!!

          September 9, 2022 at 8:43 pm
  • Reply Renee

    I’m a recently converted BIG luggage packer to only carry on. And, I’m so happy about it. The only downside is being very selective on what I buy to bring home with me.

    September 10, 2022 at 2:06 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Yes. That is always a problem although if I love something I do ship home on occasion.

      September 10, 2022 at 7:23 am
  • Reply Heather

    Love this post! So helpful and looks very light too. Well done!!

    September 10, 2022 at 3:20 am
    • Reply Laureen

      Thanks Heather. It’s a big step for me!!

      September 10, 2022 at 7:23 am
  • Reply Linda (LD Holland)

    I must admire you for being able to pack for 3 weeks with just carry on. I have trouble doing a long weekend trip with a small bag. But I understand that trips with multiple stops and tight connections make losing your bags a real risk. This looks like a great trip and you don’t want to be worrying about your bags finally catching up with you.

    September 10, 2022 at 7:34 am
  • Reply Shannon

    A brilliant post. Our biggest achievement was 4 backpack carry-ons for 4 days in London for 4 of us (2 kids).

    September 11, 2022 at 6:38 am
    • Reply Laureen

      It’s a lot of planning. Hopefully worth it!

      September 11, 2022 at 6:50 am
  • Reply RH Kelley

    We’re taking a look at carryons only for Australia

    June 15, 2024 at 5:05 pm
    • Reply Laureen

      It’s not easy. But if you need something you would not have trouble finding it in Australia.

      June 15, 2024 at 10:31 pm

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