I received quite a few requests to share my packing strategy for a recent trip to Asia, so here’s the breakdown of exactly what was in my suitcase.
What to pack for an international trip:
T-shirts: No-brainer, to start — especially because your basic tee takes up virtually no space. You can dress ‘em up with a leather mini-skirt or down with black leggings and boots. I like J. Crew’s cotton tee’s (and they’re usually on sale).
Bottoms: Two pairs each of black pants, tights and shorts. I passed on jeans for this trip, as black bottoms are more universal in my wardrobe. For our cold-weathered destinations (Japan and Hong Kong), I can wear the dresses and skirts I’m planning to don barelegged in Thailand – just with opaque tights.
Jacket: Since I didn’t want the hassle of dealing with my down-coat overseas, my focus for keeping warm is the art of layering. (I ended up buying a leather-and-fur Isabel Marant jacket in Hong Kong, which I shipped back home for an easy $20.)
Dresses: Each dress I packed can be styled for night and day – plus, paired with tights and my jacket, they’ll work in cooler temps, too. Otte’s signature Ellen dress is my perfect, all-occasion piece. I wore mine in Hong Kong under a jacket and in Thailand with bare legs and Jack Rogers sandals.
Cover-ups: Since most of our trip was spent on the beach, I packed two beachy cover-ups that can also work for hot-and-humid nights out in the islands, including my favorite DVF kaftan.
Sweaters: On the flight overseas, I layered a cotton shirt and cozy cashmere knit – both from Vineyard Vines. I also packed my I-wear-this-with-everything dolman sweater from Derek Crosby. Style tip: Wearing black- and nude-colored tank tops underneath your knits helps to prolong their wear.
Shoes: I wore felt-lined black boots from La Canadienne on the plane, since they’re the bulkiest pair I brought and I need them for warmth in Japan. In addition, I packed raffia Soludos (for wandering), Converse Chuck Taylor’s (for off-the-beaten-path-exploring) and Jack Rogers Navajo sandals (for beaching).
Bags: In addition to my Lo & Sons carry-on, I packed a Rebecca Minkoff mini M.A.C. as a smaller, all-purpose going out bag. And you laugh, but the fanny pack is ideal for, say, partying on the beach in Koh Phangan and riding elephants through the jungle in Chiang Mai.
Beauty: I skipped the shower goods, since we were staying at hotels. My beauty routine was very basic during the entire trip. I packed a comb, Bumble & Bumble surf spray, lip-lock moisture balm, my signature Tarte gloss, YSL Touche Eclat and mini-sized Benefit products: Brow Tint, Benetint and mascara.
As a disclaimer, I used Hitha’s packing guide as a starting point. I highly recommend snagging one for yourself (it’s free) – regardless of your intended destination.
For traveling in Asia, know that you can check a bag, but it’s best to pack light. We flew Bangkok Air, ANA, United, NOK Airways, Thai Airways and AirAsia.
Of those, only AirAsia charged to check bags (and they required you to if your carry-on was more than 14 pounds — bitch, please). If you’re flying AirAsia, I suggest pre-checking your luggage online – it’s cheaper.
Lastly, here’s a few of my space-saving carry-on secrets:
- Vacuum-seal bags will save on space (exponentially so), but they will make your bag a bit heavier.
- Invest in a high-quality carry-on. I used the O.M.G. bag from Lo & Sons. I also brought my Large Metro Tote from MZ Wallace, which folds up neatly for packing purposes and served as a nice “overflow” bag on the trip home.
- For more traveling tips and tricks, check out my post on packing the perfect carry-on.