Spain Travel Wardrobe - 20 looks that fit in a carry-on!!!!!

I am the WORST packer in the world. Whenever I travel I just can't figure out what to bring and end up putting in anything I think I might like to wear.  Added to my overstuffed suitcase is my travel computer, phone and e-book, and it has gotten to be too much weight for me to lug around.

When we decided to book 3 weeks in Spain in October 2019 in celebration of our upcoming 35th anniversary, I made a commitment to myself that I would do it differently this time.  My goal was to fit everything for 3 weeks in a carry-on and a large purse.  My husband rolled his eyes, but I was determined.

For 3 weeks I perused blogs that others had written with packing lists and photos.  Some were more practical than others - and one I swear showed more than would fit in a carry-on. But each helped paint a clearer picture in my head as to what I might bring and how I might mix it up. I will put some links at the end in case you want to do some research too.

I started with my 2 bags.  The handbag I noticed in a Facebook ad.  After looking at it a few times I felt it was perfect for me.  It converted in seconds to a backpack by just separating the straps, it had lots of individual zippered spaces and was a nice medium size - not too big, not too small. It's out of a rain resistant nylon fabric which was a real plus. I chose a medium turquoise as it went with a lot of the clothes in my closet.

For my carry-on I went with one I found that was really different. I loved it in some ways, others not so much. But it did the trick.  What I wanted was one without the rigid handlebar for towing. That bar adds a ton of weight and takes up part of the inside space.  What I found was this collapsible suitcase by Biaggi Luggage.  It zippers down really small for storage, but turns into a nice size carry-on in a half open or full size. It seems a little shorter that the regular one, but a little bigger around.

You can carry it with the hand straps, carry it using the shoulder strap OR pull it on it's wheels using the shoulder strap. With the lighter weight, I added more clothes than I thought I would be able to and altogether it ended up just weighing 16 lbs. I did not pack my shoes, see NOTE at the bottom.  It also came with a large packing cube - perfect for my pants/capris/shorts. The 2 downsides? 1 - It's tricky pulling it with the shoulder strap. A real technique. 2 - the wheels are super noisy on some surfaces which is a little embarrassing.

The next trick was to use packing cubes.  The suitcase came with the deeper large packing cube you see above which was great for my bulkier pants, etc. Then I went on Amazon and bought a set of four Gonax medium packing cubes. I only used 3 as 4 was the max my suitcase would hold and I wanted to use the deeper one that came with the suitcase.

My packing cubes all loaded and ready to go. You can't believe what I fit in them.
And it kept my clothes super organized the whole trip. How did I travel without them before?

Next came the clothes. I started with bottoms - pants, shorts, capris (a skirt would go here too). Then added a few neutral tops in both knit and woven as well as one print top that was long enough to be a blouse, a tunic or a dress.  Next came 2 colourful scarves, a white button wrap shawl that I could convert in several ways and a lacy long black lightweight cardigan. I added one spaghetti strap sundress (another option would be a cotton knit long skirt with wide elastic top as that can be pulled up over your bust and belted to make a strapless dress).  Last but not least was a knee length cotton knit wrap to wear on the plane and cold days and an assortment of underwear, socks and bras.  I decided black and white would be my neutrals and blues from turquoise to navy would add my pops of color.  Then I added 3 pair of earrings and 1 necklace to my small makeup bag.

What I wore on the plane (see look #1 in the opening collage) -
1 knee length cotton knit cardigan
1 vee neck sportier cotton tee with 3/3 sleeves
1 pair double weight knit leggings - black with white graphic newsprint
1 pair slip on tennis shoes with great insoles for walking distances.

Left - cubes stacked in carry-on, Right - zippered up and ready to go.

Note - regarding shoes and toiletries.  
My husband wanted to take one smaller check suitcase with us so he could bring some extras he wanted, so I put a more fashionable pair of runners and a pair of walking sandals in there as well as our toiletries.  If we hadn't taken that I would have taken one pair of pants out of the cube and replaced it with either the runners or sandals. My toiletries would have been paired down to the minimum in travel size and carried in my handbag on the plane.

Check out this video that shows this capsule
travel collection 1 look at a time!

The 3 blogs I looked at to help me get an idea of what I wanted to do - 

1. This one was the most useful in helping me wrap my mind around how to create a travel wardrobe. They give one visual example and then several alternative lists. It's a great read as well if it's your first time like it was for me -

2. Note sure where I found this one, but a lot of stuff.  Would all this fit in - not sure.  It's the hats, shoes and number of jackets/cardigans I'm not sure about - especially as those items are HEAVY! But still fun to see how they mixed it up. I found some great ideas here. 

3. This one is from Again, I am concerned about weight and space. The number of clothes are fine, but the FIVE pairs of shoes absolutely will NOT fit in a carry on. However, this is great for ideas as well. 

If I find the time, I will try and take pictures of each of the pieces I brought along on holiday, so be sure to check back.