Packing Tips That Will Ensure You Look Your Best While On Vacation

Whether you're a seasoned traveler or not, there's one thing we can all agree on: vacations are always a treat. The thrill of heading somewhere new, the possibility of discovering a new hidden gem, and the opportunity to take a break from the daily grind, vacations are a breath of fresh air. But they don't always come easy or without stress — especially when it's time to pack for your trip.

You know the feeling: staring into your suitcase, piles of clothes dotted around you, packing cubes unzipped on the bed ... and no clue of where to start, what to choose, or how to make it all fit. However, before you go about stuffing your suitcase to the brim — including that dress you haven't worn in years but want to bring "just in case" — it's important to remember that packing smart is the way to go.

So from rolling your clothes to fit more, choosing your footwear wisely, or prioritizing essentials over "maybes", knowing what and how to pack can make a world of a difference that'll set the tone for your entire trip. After all, a good vacation isn't just about seeing new places — it's also about feeling and looking good while you do it.

Avoid wrinkly fabrics

Picking the right fabric can make or break your travel wardrobe. That said, your best bet is to opt for wrinkle-resistant choices like polyester, denim, wool, and lyocell/spandex. These materials generally tend to keep their shape — which means you can stay stylish and crease-free throughout your trip — and are also durable and low-maintenance.

On the other hand, fabrics like linen and cotton — especially if they're not blends — are known for being wrinkle magnets. This means that, while these materials offer breathability and comfort, their tendency to crease can be a downside for travelers who know they won't have much access to clothing irons or steamers. Nonetheless, if you're still keen on wearing cotton or linen, choose cotton/polyester or cotton/wool blends to avoid hard-to-deal-with wrinkles.

Got a few creases anyway? Hang the garment in the bathroom during a hot shower! The steam will help smooth out wrinkles without an iron.

Folding vs. rolling your clothes

The choice between folding and rolling your clothes often depends on the type of clothing you're bringing along and how much space you actually have to carry all of it. That said, a general rule of thumb is that you should always roll lighter items and fold bulkier pieces. With this in mind, you should always consider rolling t-shirts, dresses, and other lighter items of clothing, for example. This technique won't just help you save some precious space, but it will also help to keep wrinkles at bay. Plus, rolled items can also snugly fit into the nooks and crannies of your suitcase — which means you'll be making optimal use of every inch.

On the other hand, bulky clothes like jackets, sweaters, and structured pants are better off folded. This approach won't just prevent creases, but it can also help keep your clothing's shape — ensuring that everything is still ready to wear as soon as you touch down.

Build a travel capsule wardrobe

Creating a travel capsule wardrobe is a game-changer. The idea here is to have a small selection of items and clothing pieces that effortlessly complement one another — which means you can put together tons of different outfit combinations without having to bring your entire closet along for the ride. This way, you'll prioritize versatility (and space!) over quantity.

For starters, the base of any capsule wardrobe is made of four essential things: tops, bottoms, layers, and shoes. Ideally, you'll want to stick to neutrals and add a pop of color here and there to make sure you're still looking your best, but not necessarily limiting yourself to difficult color combinations. A lot of travelers usually swear by the 54321 packing rule when it comes to maximizing options and traveling light — and a capsule wardrobe can make this even easier since you'll know "everything will go everything" in the end.

Once you've chosen your clothes, you can also take photos of the outfits you have planned out and save them to your phone. That way you'll know exactly what goes with what, and how they look and feel when they're on.

Pack sensible footwear

We'd all love to have access to an array of shoes when we're traveling, right? Unfortunately, that's just not possible. After all, not only does packing your shoes add significant weight to your bag, but they can also be really difficult to pack because of their shape and size. That said, when it comes to packing light and still looking your best, shoes are a great way to balance things out.

In order to keep things as simple as possible, you're going to want to pack two pairs of shoes: one for walking and other sports-like activities, and a pair that can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. For example, if you're going somewhere cold, a pair of sneakers and a pair of boots should do the trick. Alternatively, for warmer weather vacations, you'll want to pack some comfortable sneakers and a pair of sandals. Remember, the key is to select versatile footwear that will also complement your travel capsule wardrobe. That way, you'll ensure that you are prepared for any adventure while making the most of your luggage space.

Prevent unwanted smells

Doing laundry while you're traveling isn't always easy. Whether you're not staying put in one place for long enough or you're worried your clothes might go missing in the process, handling dirty clothes can be a challenge. However, this doesn't mean that you need to walk around looking — or smelling — like you haven't washed your clothes in days.

First things first, make sure your bag stays fresh. To do so, you can pack a lavender sachet — or even a stick of cinnamon — that'll keep unpleasant smells at bay and keep your clothes smelling fresh and like the day you packed them. Then, you can bring along travel size fabric refreshers for that extra something in order to eliminate any lingering odors.

Got a little stain on a night out? Stain remover pens, for example, fit comfortably inside any toiletry bag or purse and can be a life-saver in the face of unexpected spills or mishaps.

Find ways to upgrade your look

When all is said and done, looking good on vacation is about knowing how to work with what you've got. That said, one of the easiest ways to elevate your look is through accessorizing. This, however, doesn't mean throwing your entire collection of scarves and your jewelry box into your suitcase. Much like you're working with a travel capsule wardrobe, you should be prepared to do the same with your accessories.

For instance, scarves — carefully chosen, that is — are incredibly versatile. With a twist or a knot, they can work to refresh pretty much any outfit — and double up as blankets, seat covers, or even a beach sarong. Similarly, when it comes to choosing and packing your jewelry, consider bringing along a pair of statement earrings that can take any outfit up a notch. Finally, never underestimate the power of a good belt. It can cinch a dress, upgrade jeans, or add a pop of color — all of which can help you get more mileage out of your outfits. Remember, when it comes to traveling light and looking fabulous, sometimes it's the smallest details that make the biggest impact.