Pack light – Travel Chic with KIDS

Pack Light – Travel Chic with KIDS

When we daydream about travel and adventures we are all dressed like princesses out on a romantic adventure.


But, in the real world, we need clothes that work, clothes that function, clothes that wash themselves (Well, we can wish, right?) and clothes that look good. You need to pack light and travel chic. You CAN look great and pack light!

What does that mean, really? It means, you need something that is comfortable, works in the climate, shows very little dirt or wrinkles and can be hand washed in a pinch (or by choice).  Worried you will feel frumpy or worse….look frumpy?

Nonsense!! Travel wear is available in all sizes and for all shapes and budgets. AND you can look cute!

Pack Light – Travel Chic with KIDS: Tips for choosing travel pants.

Casual pants: 

Try REI or other outdoor stores for the latest in casual travel pants. They wash, tend to be wrinkle free, and are comfortable. You can go anywhere on the planet in a classic pair of pants in a classic color. Dress up or down with tops and shoes.

The Prana brand makes cute comfortable pants in a variety of colors. Some styles are even water repellent so you don’t have to worry about spills!

Want to look a little more crisp? Like business casual? Try golf clothes.  I love my crisp, comfortable and bullet proof (not really, but wrinkle proof!) golf pants. I usually wear black but love this gray…maybe I need to branch out!

By all means wear jeans! (Hey! That rhymes!) Buy your favorite and take it them. You are sure to find a length and style that will fit into your trip. Jeans go everywhere, too!

Yoga wear isn’t just for yoga anymore! Check out these fun colors and designs. These super comfy styles are fun for the long travel days when you spend hours on a plane or train! Do you have a tween that would love these Paris inspired pants? I do!

Have you heard that the Europeans ‘dress up’ and these casual pants won’t work? NOT TRUE! They do look sharp and snappy but so you can you – they wear casual stuff and look really put together.

Pack Light – Travel Chic with KIDS: Tips for Choosing Travel Tops

For tops.. a travel SECRET.

You can buy ‘travel shirts’ from places like Travel Smith and Magellens, and their stuff gets cuter all the time, but the truth is…the secret…you heard it here first……polyester travels. Period. You don’t need a special ‘travel shirt’ for your vacation. Choose your favorite style from your favorite store in polyester and head off into the sunset.

I recommend several different sleeve lengths for a trip no matter the time of year you travel. Airplanes can be HOT so a sleeveless or short sleeve is perfect sometimes. Also, AC in buildings and trains can be COLD so be prepared with a little bit of each in your suitcase.

Go to your favorite store from Nordstrom to Target and buy whatever you love, what makes you feel pretty and glamorous and princess -y. Do you have an evening out planned? Bring something fun like this!

Or shop right in your own closet! Some of your ‘regular’ clothes might be travel friendly. If they aren’t now…they will be as more and more designers choose super easy fabrics for their designs. Travel friendly stuff is so easy to care for!

Pack Light – Travel Chic with KIDS: Tips for Choosing Travel Friendly Fabrics

With a little bit of thought and preparation during shopping you can find something that travels well AND looks just fabulous. Here are the rules for the perfect travel fabrics:

Rule number one: It has to be washable. 

Whether you wash it in the sink or have someone else do it for you, packing light means washing. Read my post about laundry here for tips!

Say YES to:


Say NO to:

Dry clean only

Lay flat to dry

Rule number two: It has to be fabulous.

If you pack light and you SHOULD, you won’t have your entire wardrobe with you so choose something you like to wear. Something that feels good and looks good. This is especially important for kids. I learned this the hard way when the kids were little. Once I packed the most adorable and travel friendly thing and my son refused to wear them. Wonderful. (Pssst…..learn from my mistake.)

Rule number three: You have to feel GORGEOUS in this outfit.

Remember how many photos you’ll take of yourself in this outfit. Does it make you look ‘fat’? Does it make you look ‘frumpy’ or *gasp* does it make you feel ‘old’? If it does not only should you NOT pack it but you should donate it to Goodwill. Get that stuff out of the house and don’t even think about wearing it on your fantastic vacation.

Pack Light -Travel Chic with KIDS:  Mix and Match your few pieces to make LOTS of outfits.

Choose a color palette to mix and match.

I like to wear neutral pants so I can wear very colorful tops. I prefer black, jeans, and pants that are ‘dirt’ colored. I also LOVE crazy colors. I love them in art, pottery, and rugs. The only way I get to wear them is to have plain pants. 🙂

Color palette, Pack Light - Travel Chic with KIDS,

Bright colored tops make for some fun photos, too, especially in the dead of winter when things are often dreary.

Choose colors that don’t clash with your travel group.

This might seem like a picky thing to consider, but on the other hand, why NOT make those photographs look amazing? I mean really! You do get to choose. Choose something fabulous and be thrilled with your travel photos. Use them for your Christmas card!

Sometimes families like to match. I once took a photograph for a family on the beach in Hawaii with the sunset behind them. They all had wonderful dark hair and were all wearing white tops. It was stunning.

Look at how fun this photo is with our colorful raincoats! We are FREEZING in Spain on this dreary drizzly day but boy, we look good. 😉

Family in bright colors at Alhambra, Spain says Choose a GREAT travel wardrobe

Choose accessories to feel ready for the evening or a special event.

Scarves, belts, and jewelry all go a long way to making outfits feel different or spiced up. I personally don’t fuss with this stuff. I have so much hanging around my neck – bag, hat strap, camera strap…a scarf or necklaces just feel in the way. I’m in the minority. If you love accessories then pack some! They are small and don’t take up much room.

Another reason I never take accessories is that I like to buy them along the way….belt from El Escorial in Spain, scarf from Granada, necklace from Madrid, earrings from Ronda, and more scarves from Morocco because the colors were spectacular! These are loads of fun at home, too…wonderful travel souvenirs.

But if you like accessories, but all means pack them. They are lightweight and take up very little room!

Pack Light -Travel Chic with KIDS: Consider the Weather.

You can get an average monthly temperatures and rainfall averages at World Weather Online. Then, as the trip gets closer look for the 10 day forecast. Don’t guess about the weather so you can be prepared.

Pack layers.

Layers work the best. Plan on wearing everything at the coldest temp and them peel some off as it warms up. This is especially important if you are visiting cities with really different weather – like a coastal town and a mountain visit in the same trip. On the warmest day you only wear the lightest items of clothing.

Umbrella vs Rain jacket

People have strong opinions on this topic, isn’t that interesting? If you are in a crowded city, I highly recommend ditching the umbrella. Using one I’ve had to try really hard to not bump into other people and it made getting around town harder than necessary. While in cities and towns I leave the umbrella at home.


Cheap ponchos are a GREAT thing to carry. They are lightweight, cheap and disposable. I carry them – even if I have a rain jacket because I can toss it on OVER a backpack or camera and keep that stuff dry, too. Bring several so you can ditch them when they tear or are too wet to be easily carries. I realize this isn’t ‘green’ but it is easy. Be extra ‘green’ at home.

The Educational Tourist’s Family Packing List

I like a no nonsense approach to travel clothing and I value comfort and functionality over lots of different outfits on a trip. So, I have outfits A, B, and C and wear them over and over no matter how long or short the trip.

Short Weekend trip? outfits A, B

Long weekend? outfits A, B, C

2 week European vacation? outfits A,B,C,A,B,C,A,B,C….

For example: For our trip to Spain, Gibraltar, and Morocco these are outfits A, B, and C.

Outfit A: purple pants and matching blouse

The Educational Tourist outfit 1, Pack light - Travel Chic with KIDS,

Outfit B:  long sleeved sunscreen shirt and navy pants

The Educational Tourist outfit 2, Pack Light - Travel Chic with KIDS,

Outfit C: Jeans and black and white blouse

The Educational Tourist outfit 3, Pack Light - Travel Chic with KIDS,

Pack Light – Travel Chic: The Educational Tourist’s packing list

3 pants (wear one)

3 tops (wear one)

2 shoes (wear one)




underthings/socks (the number depends on how many days between hotels with laundry – these are machine washed)


Why pack light -travel chic?

Pack light because stuff grows!  Have you had this happen?

Pack light because too much stuff is heavy!

Pack light because you don’t wear all of it anyway..

Pack light because old hotels don’t have elevators and you must climb AND carry…

Spiral Stairs, Packing Light - Travel Chic with KIDS,

Pack light because subway stations have stairs and you have to climb AND carry all your stuff  AND read the map!

Pack light because taxis in other countries can be very small…

small taxi, Pack Light -Travel Chic with KIDS,

Pack light because you pay per bag!

The BEST reason to pack light is……Because you need room to bring stuff back!

Souvenir shop, Pack Light -Travel Chic with KIDS,

Pack Light -Travel Chic with KIDS: Rethink

Rethink your need for completely new outfits everyday. Only your traveling party will know it anyway. When you travel you seen new people every day!

It is only 10 days/2 weeks out of your life….like maternity clothes…when you are done, you can pack them away and never look at them again! Pack light and travel chic!

The Educational Tourist with luggage, Pack Light -Travel Chic with KIDS,

Read more about things you need to bring on the perfect trip!

Choose the RIGHT travel toy

Is your travel shoe the BEST for you?

Packing light – Tips for laundry in the Sink. It really isn’t that bad. 😉

Download the free UPGRADE now: Tips for Traveling Safely with the KIDS

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The Educational Tourist in Ancient Corinth, Greece in front of the Apollo Theatre in Greece

Happy and chic travels,

Natalie, The Educational Tourist

The Educational Tourist logo

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38 Responses

  1. carolcolborn says:

    Wow, 10 pieces, 100 outfits! Love that. Our traveling has gotten lighter and lighter through the years! It’s called wisdom.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Yep so much more about the journey than the fashion, right? Of course….I have on the same outfit in every single travel photo. LOL!!!

  2. We are always on the lookout for good packing trips. It is always such a struggle to get everything together before a trip. Thanks for sharing!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Good luck! I start my packing ‘pile’ a few weeks out. I’m less likely to forget anything or stress! Two really good things!

  3. suereddel says:

    I totally agree! I pack light and still don’t always wear everything. I love the scarf idea!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Isn’t that the best!? We have always packed 3 outfits each – 1 to wear and 2 in the suitcase, but we have discovered on the last 2 trips we really could eliminate one of those. Leaves more room to bring fun stuff back, right? 🙂

  4. I think I need to start ditching my jeans and finding some lighter travel pants. It’s one thing to wear a pair onto the plane, it’s another thing to try and cram it into your suitcase!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      So true! They are heavy and bulky which works in the winter, but if it is warm…travel pants are the way to go! I’m loving golf pants at the moment for all my summer travel. They are tailored, comfortable, and sooo easy to wash and wear! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Will says:

    Great blog…some good tips and educational,,,and a bit funny too!

  6. Love the last point about bringing stuff back! That’s always me! ( and the only wearing half of it!) great post!

  7. Nicole says:

    This was a very smart piece! I enjoyed it, practical tips (some that I indeed need to take to heart). Thanks!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Thanks! Packing to much is a really hard habit to break! Packing a little lighter each time is a great way to break it. 🙂

  8. brmsimmons says:

    I’m all about mix and match pieces. I go for looks that are cute and comfy.

  9. You are so right! Probably the best travel advice any girl could have is: always take only 10% of what you think you really need, lol.

  10. Great tips! After traveling consistently for the past four years, I still never wear every item of clothing in my bag.

  11. Alli Blair says:

    Awesome and diverse set of tips! So important to think this through. The more practical of a packer you are . . .the more you can bring back with you too . . . 😛 😛 Hehe!

  12. Sanket D. says:

    I never manage to travel light; there’s always something somebody wants me to carry for them or like it happened once, somebody wanted me to carry an entire spare case, so I could bring back gifts for her family. Ridiculous! I’ve to learn to pack light or give up calling myself a backpacker. HA!

  13. For both business and personal travel, I still keep overpacking! I also think that I may need an “extra” or “backup” something 🙁 I’m learning; it’s so hard though. I also am reminded that while on personal travel, most places I go have laundrymats nearby! Thanks for posting and will be looking at this again in a couple weeks!

    • NatalieTanner says:

      Those are hard habits to break but no worries! If you pack too much this time just try again next time. It isn’t like anyone is giving a grade on the whole thing, right? 🙂 On our recent trip to Turkey we packed the lightest ever – our 2 suitcases for a family of 4 for a 2 week trip weren’t even 1/2 full, BUT that was because it was hot and everything was wash and wear. That same 2 week trip taken in the winter would have those suitcases much fuller because winter stuff is really bulky. We just do the best we can! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comment.

  14. knycx says:

    Thanks for the tips about packing and travel light – I reckon it is important to travel light for convenience, but don’t forget about taste and style! knycx.journeying @

  15. Kris says:

    I have been travelling light for a number of years and have found that real jeans are about the worst thing to take. After ten hours on a plane they are not too comfortable especially for women. They take a long time to dry. One time I got very wet and couldn’t dry them and had to carry heavy wet jeans all the way home. Now I have wool travel trousers for winter that I can wear with everything, and some lightweight travel trousers for summer. The first time I travelled alone was on a Military flight on a six week posting and I took my whole wardrobe in two suitcases. A burly soldier carried my stuff to the plane but we came home on the train and I cannot remember how I got back. I know I only wore a tenth of the stuff I had taken. Over the years I have managed to pare down the stuff to one carry on and a large handbag. I now travel with OH, Grandson and our dog and cat so we have to be careful what we pack.

    • NatalieTanner says:

      That is a very good point about jeans. You have to be able to take care of them during your trip – like a laundry mat, if you take them. I would expect that your dog and cat both pack lightly? 😉

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    Pack light and travel chic | The Educational Tourist

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