Even the shoes will fit — promise!
Of all the anxiety that comes with flying, nothing is perhaps more nerve-inducing than the wait at the baggage carousel. The thought of your luggage not arriving — and being stuck on a trip with none of your pre-determined outfits, let alone a clean pair of underwear — is nothing short of a nightmare. That’s why, when possible, I prefer going strictly carry-on. Sure, space may be limited, but the guarantee that everything will be by your side the entire time is unrivaled.
While the idea of bringing just a carry-on bag sounds great in practice, it is, not surprisingly, difficult to make a packing plan for. If your trip is longer than a long weekend (3+ days), it’s hard to fit enough outfits for sightseeing, relaxing, dinners, evenings out, and more. But it can be done. What it requires is a strategic approach that involves a carefully curated assortment of stylish and multi-functional pieces that can go from day to night, adventure to adventure.
Versatility is at the core of my carry-on philosophy. That means pieces that can be rolled up without getting too wrinkled, bathing suits that can be worn as tops, and elevated basics that can be styled in a variety of ways.
Below, find the only five outfits you’ll need to shop for your next getaway, plus the items that’ll have you looking your best.
TZR Shop is The Zoe Report’s shoppable guide to editor-approved buys in fashion, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
The Matching Set
Beyond the obvious (they require no styling abilities), matching sets are a vacation saving grace because they are pure clothing chameleons. Wear during the day over a bikini (I’m a fan of a tube top-style that can also be worn as a shirt), wear for taking an afternoon cat nap, or toss on while you’re doing your hair and makeup for a night out. It’s that easy.
The Swim Cover-Up
A sarong isn’t just for lounging poolside. Take the skirt from day to night by swapping out the one-piece for a sleek bodysuit. Style it with simple black heels you can actually walk in (the most versatile shoes!) and a poufy clutch that can be stuffed with your accessories during travel. Plus, the bottom’s ultra-thin fabric makes it easy to roll up in a suitcase — upon arrival, all it will need is a quick press (or just hang it in the bathroom while you take a steamy shower).
The Won’t-Wrinkle Dress
We’re all searching for that one dress that can handle anything: being smushed in a bag, being sweat on, being worn multiple days in a row. Consider it found. This floral frock can be dressed up or down (just layer a white tee underneath), making daytime outfits feel more elevated and nighttime ones feel more casual. Pair with sneakers you can wear at the airport and an oversized tote you can use to carry the essentials (laptop, wallet, sunglasses) on the plane, and then all of your souvenirs once you’ve landed.
Leather and denim might be bulky, but they’re also pretty wrinkle-averse. Wear together with a white ribbed tank and lightweight flats for a cool everyday look. But the best part about these pieces is that they’re endlessly versatile: Throw the jacket over a dress for a chilly al fresco dinner, or pair the jeans with a bodysuit and heels for something slightly more dressy.
The Party Piece
You’re on vacation! You deserve to have some fun with your looks. And while I’m a big proponent of practicality, that doesn’t mean you can’t also bring that one special piece you’ve been saving six months to wear. A little white dress is the ideal foundation for playful accessories — go bold with bright slide sandals, a candy-colored cardigan, and statement earrings; or wear with a leather jacket and kitten heels for something more paired-back.
TZR Shop brings you the editor-approved buys we can’t get enough of and think you’ll adore, too. Best of all, you can shop all of the products above directly on this page without visiting multiple retailers. Simply click on an item to learn more, choose your size or favorite color (if applicable), and then hit “add to cart.” When you’re done, you can click over to your cart in the top right corner of your screen to purchase all your stellar selects at once. How easy is that?
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