Spring Break Packing 101

by Elizabeth Hynes

Living the Dream

What if I told you that you can look amazing on your next warm weather vacation bringing only a carry-on? Imagine departing without the hassle of checking bags or hearing your hubby complain about how much stuff you’re bringing! The dream is possible and I’m here to guide you to Vacay Packing Success.

Why should you listen to me?

I learned how to pack smart when I lived on a sailboat for 18 months, sailing from the US to Australia for my honeymoon. Living in cramped quarters for so long and visiting some of the world’s top resort destinations taught me how to do a lot with a little. That experience revolutionized the way I thought about packing, which is a good thing because I was a disaster at it. More times than not, I would end up crying the night before a big trip and pay extra baggage fees at the airport. Not exactly a great way to start a vacation.

I am excited to share my hard-won solutions with you, so you can start your trip without any packing stress or tears.

Step 1: Inspiration and Color Scheme

Research where you’re headed. Go online and study what types of outfits people tend to wear. Use Google Images to get a feeling for the local vibe. Consider the season and check the 10-day extended forecast.

Voila, you’ve got a dose of internet inspiration!

Next pick a neutral color that you look good in and make it the base of your capsule wardrobe. Black, navy or white is typically the best choice to “ground your collection”. This decision accomplishes two things; it helps establishes a base for all of your outfits and it limits the shoes and accessories you need to pack.

Step 2: Versatile Silhouettes

Every item needs to earn its place in your suitcase. Consider only travel-friendly fabrics (no ironing on vacation please!). Even more key is to include only pieces that can be worn in multiple ways thus maximizing your outfit options.

There are a few silhouettes that lend themselves to being super-versatile. The best are a 2-piece dress or 2-piece jumpsuit. With a regular dress or jumpsuit, you’re stuck with only one look. With 2-piece “sets” you have a solid array of outfit options. This is also where the color theme helps. Solids and prints that are based in black are the easiest to mix and match. With a little creativity you can conjure up several outfits from just a couple of separates.

Another highly versatile silhouette to consider is a convertible dress. This type of dress does double duty as a strapless dress or as a maxi skirt. Depending what accessories and top you pair with the skirt, you can dress it way up or way down. A maxi skirt can create 2 or 3 distinct looks. Again, fall back to your color scheme for easy breezy mixing and matching.

Vacay Versatile Silhouette example

Another prerequisite for any warm weather vacation is a caftan. They are the real workhorse in any capsule wardrobe. Caftans can be worn as a swimsuit cover-up, a tunic top paired with jeans or cutoffs, or even a short dress. Any swimsuit cover-up you choose needs to be flexible enough to work well with your other pieces. Casual dresses and rompers also make for great cover-ups and can be worn on day excursions.

Step 3: Your Favorite Essentials

You will need a few of your go-to items to wear back with your versatile silhouettes. Remember to incorporate your color scheme. If you choose black, be sure and bring a pair of black shorts and tank. If you go with white, you’ll want a pair of white jeans or white shorts and of course the perfect white tee. Navy is a bit tougher because it comes in many shades. Whichever color theme you select be sure to lay out your items before your vacay to ensure they work together.

Limit shoes and accessories to just your true favorites. If you work with your color scheme you should really only need 1-2 pairs of shoes (3 if you are bringing tennis shoes for exercise) and 1-2 handbags (one large for the day and one small for evenings out). These take up a lot of packing space so make some strategic choices up front.

Step 4: Outfit Check

Once you’ve settled on a color theme, have your versatile silhouettes and essentials planned out, it is time to do a quick run through of all the outfits you’ll create. I find it helpful to take a quick photo of each with my phone so I have it for reference. You will want to make sure you’ve created enough options for day (beach, site-seeing, swimming) and for night (casual and dressy).

Step 5: Pack it Up

In addition to your new capsule wardrobe remember to pack pajamas, swim suits and work out clothes. And think small when packing toiletries. Everything should be travel size and all sealed up in a Ziploc bag. Lastly, keep jewelry to a minimum. Again, just bring a few real favorites and you will have all you need.

Lessons Learned

All this packing wisdom came out of my 18-month sailing honeymoon. Once I was back on dry land I knew there had to be other women out there like me. This inspired me to start the business that I wish existed. Today I design and sell 5-piece Vacay resort wear collections that easily mix and match to create 15+ outfits for vacation. I love my customers and personally helping all women pack smarter. You can get more tips off VacayStyle’s website or you can email me directly. I would love to help you have your best vacation possible.

Vacay Founder Elizabeth Hynes

Vacay Founder, Elizabeth Hynes, has always had an eye for fashion. As a Texas girl who spent time in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and London, she has stayed on top of the latest fashion trends and identified early her talent for pulling together great looks. Earning her MBA from UCLA gave her the knowledge and contacts to enter the fashion industry and in 2003 she got her break with GAP Inc. in San Francisco, the nation’s largest clothing retailer.  Early in her career at GAP she was selected to be one of a few merchants to move to London to establish the GAP Europe Buying Office. Spending a year overseas was an amazing experience and learning to create something from scratch was invaluable.

As a working mother of three young boys (ages 3, 5 and 6), Elizabeth unwinds by spending time with her family exploring the many pleasures of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Elizabeth has an undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University and an MBA from the Anderson School of Business at the University of California, Los Angeles. Elizabeth lives with her loving family of three boys and her husband, Seth, in Mill Valley, California.


Elizabeth Hynes

Founder & CEO VacayStyle


Website:  https://vacaystyle.com/