Vacation Essentials: How To Pack Stylishly & Light

vacation essentials - how to pack light without sacrificing style

After more than a year of going nowhere, thoughts of vacation are beginning to surface again. Do you have a trip on the horizon? I’m here to help you pack for it! Let’s be honest, as much as we might wish things to go “back to normal”, travel in 2021 won’t look like the trips of old. Vacations this spring and summer will be decidedly low key, socially distant affairs. Consequently, when it comes to figuring out how to pack, comfort and practicality reign supreme! Want to look stylish? You don’t need much. Here are the vacation essentials I swear by…

But before we dig into the fashion items, let’s talk for a second about safety essentials if you are nervous about flying. I’ve flown twice since the pandemic and felt far safer than I anticipated. Airports and planes are cleaner (and more empty) than I’ve ever seen them before. Here are a few additional ways to cut your risk, according to TSA:

  • Bring hand sanitizer – Breaking from the  3-1-1 rule, TSA is allowing one liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 ounces per traveler in carry-on bags. However, if you bring a larger size, it will need to be screen separately.
  • Put “pocket items” in your carry-on – Instead of putting sunglasses, keys, phones in the bin as you go through security, tuck them inside your carry-on to reduce
  • Pack your own wipes – Travelers are also allowed to bring individually-packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in your carry-on or checked luggage.
  • Board the plane last – Why the rush? You’ll have a lot more control over how you distance yourself from others if you board the plane toward the end.

Vacation Style 20211. T-Shirt Dress w/ Pockets | 2. Statement Bikini | 3. Practical One-Piece | 4. Cozy Long Sleeve Romper | 5. Glam Maxi Dress | 6. Cotton Day Dress | 7. Extremely Comfy Nude Wedges  | 8. Cover-Up That Doubles As Dress | 9. Straw Clutch  | 10. Sun Hat | 11. Foot-Friendly Sandals


Vacation Essentials – My Top 11

vacation essentiDress

1.  T-Shirt Dress w/ Pockets

When you’re on vacation, you want an easy yet polished look… something you can crumple up in your bag, give a single shake and you’re good to go. This affordable and incredibly versatile Amazon dress ($23) hits all the boxes! The high-low hem and elastic waist is super flattering and you can score it in every color under the sun. This was a key piece for me when our family lived/worked in Italy for a summer sharing a single suitcase (more on that adventure in this post). It washes well and fits true to size.

vacation essentialsvacation essentials - statement bikiniBikini (only $20!)

2. A Statement Bikini

Since swimwear doesn’t take up much space, I typically travel with 2 suits. This ensures you always have one suit that is comfortably dry. There’s nothing worse that pulling on a cold, wet suit from the day before—right? Packing two suits also lets you have more fun with your style.  For instance, I like bringing this super unique Chicwish number, for lounging and feeling fashionable. However, I also pack a swimsuit for more active pursuits like sandcastle-building and running the beach with my three-year-old.

This suit is also available in brown, black, and white. I was quite impressed with the material and construction considering this price point. It offers such a high-end, unique look! However, it runs very small. I would recommend sizing up one size (possibly 2 if you are busty). I didn’t read the sizing guide carefully enough and ordered a small based on my normal swimsuit size. Big mistake! I removed the padding in the cups, but still could barely fasten the top. That said, it belongs on my list of vacation essentials because it is exquisitely beautiful!

3. Swimming-Friendly Suit

Likewise, you need practical swimwear in your vacation essentials arsenal. But why not make it gorgeous too? This one-shouldered number from Summersalt won top honors from Elle Magazine as the “#1 Most Wildly-Flattering One-Shouldered Style” (available in regular and long torso).  If you haven’t heard of Summersalt before, it’s a brand worth checking out. They have darling, size-inclusive swimwear with plenty of of modest (mom-friendly cuts).

4. A Long Sleeve Romper

Because of the pandemic, no packing list would be complete without loungewear. You need something cozy for those moments you’re staying in, but when you’re trying to pack light everything must pull double duty. Enter this super-soft black romper! The terry fleece material is perfect for cooler days/nights and it’s easy to dress up or down. Looks darling solo or paired with a denim jacket and jazzy sandals. It’s machine washable and easy to care for.


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vacation essentials

5. A Glamorous Maxi

Part of the fun of a getaway is feeling glamorous and away from the ordinary. For that reason, I always make room for one purely fun garment. A glamorous maxi, like this pleated stunner, is a great choice. I bring it on all of my trips. Why? The sunset colors rival the real thing and the fabric moves exquisitely! It looks incredible in photos and is super comfortable. Best of all, it is available in both petite and tall lengths.

vacation essentials

6. A Cotton Day Dress

You will feel polished and pretty in this 100 percent cotton day dress. It’s another one of my all-time favorite Chicwish finds because it dishes up major vintage vibes. More importantly, the natural fibers allow air to circulate and move freely, keeping you cool in hot weather. Also available in peach, it fits true to the sizing guide and comes in XXS-XL. Because it is cotton, it does crease easily. I typically iron mine before wearing or hang it in a steamy room as I shower to eliminate wrinkles.

7. Supremely Comfy Neutral Wedges

To conserve space while packing, only two shoes (aside from running sneakers) make my vacation essentials list. The first is a comfort-focused nudge wedge. You’ll likely be on your feet a lot while vacationing, so they need to feel good! The Scout Sandal from Dr. Scholls is a great option because it is super supportive and looks stylish. I typically wear my wedges on the plane since they take up more room than sandals or sneakers in my suitcase.

8. Cute Cover-Up

Any beach vacation requires a great cover-up! I love this swingy tank dress from J.Crew because it’s cotton (hello breathability) and very versatile. When it’s not serving your beach needs, it’s a darn cute dress all on its own! You can get it 40 percent off right now with code FLASH.

Straw Clutch ($18)

9. Woven Clutch

As much as I’d love to bring a traditional purse on vacation, I never have enough space because I always travel with a laptop backpack as my carry-on. I usually have some work that follows me, so the computer has to come. But a gal needs a bag, right? This affordable clutch ($18) is my solution. It packs flat, so I can always fit it in my bag. It’s just big enough for a phone, credit card, sunglasses, and lip glass. Really on vacay, that’s all I need! I also use the clutch as a way to organize/store any jewelry I bring on the trip.

10. Sun Hat

Honestly, I would recommend buying this one when you arrive! Has anyone figured out a good way to pack a sun hat yet? If so, please let me know! That said, it definitely remains on my vacation essentials list. Living in the Midwest, I get pasty pale in the winter. The last thing I want ruining my vacation is a sunburn. A wide sun hat, like this Amazon find, will leave you feeling glamorous while your skin stays safe.

11. Supportive Sandal

Finally, you need a great sandal. I used to buy cheap sandals, but when you’re packing minimally, cheap is a mistake. You will be walking a ton. Get a sandal that can keep up with your itinerary! The Bella sandal from Vionic offers great cushioning. It also comes in three widths, to better ensure comfort. I find the cork shade the most versatile.

So, there you have it! The vacation essentials I swear by…

What makes YOUR list?

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