I wish I could say I had nailed the carry on only travel packing list, but I haven’t yet; it’s still on my list of goals. In the meantime I have developed my skills in putting together a travel capsule that works. This one took me from 38 degrees celsius in Hong Kong to 8 degrees celsius in Northern France, whilst  allowing me to stay stylish over the six week period and remain well within my checked luggage allowance.

We travelled for 6 weeks in September/October 2015 to France, with a few days in Hong Kong at either end. We flew economy class with Cathay Pacific and our check-in luggage allowance was 20 kg. This was challenging for a couple of reasons, namely the temperature variation, and the desire to look stylish in France (particularly during our week in Paris). We also knew that we would want to buy some things along the way, so there needed to be room for that.

travel clothes for Hong Kong
Cool and comfortable for Hong Kong

In fact it was surprisingly easy to stay within the weight limit. We started by purchasing new luggage; to ensure that not too much of that 20kg was taken up with luggage weight and also for easier handling on the ground. We bought two medium sized soft, 4 wheeler Samsonite suitcases from Siricco. We also wanted bags that would fit into our European car (we crossed our fingers on that). In flight Rowan carries a backpack (great for on the ground shopping purchases) and I carry a tote.

My travel packing list

So, what was in my luggage and how did I survive the challenge. Here’s the list:

In my check-in luggage

  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of black and white lightweight soft pants
  • 1 pair of black jersey pants (dressy enough for evenings)
  • 1 pair of black ponte pants (I wore these to fly in as they are so comfortable)
  • 3 tee shirts – a black, a white and a black and white striped
  • 2 tank tops – a black and a white
  • 2 long sleeved lightweight merino tops – one cream, one black
  • 1 leather jacket (I took this on board with me)
  • 1 Gore-Tex shower proof jacket
  • 1 reversible 3/4 jacket (ideal for dressing up with the black jersey pants)
  • 1 pair of yellow sandals (comfortable enough for lots of walking)
  • 1 pair of black loafers (dressy enough for evening but also OK for walking)
  • 1 pair of black ankle boots (walk all day boots and I wore these to fly in as they were the heaviest shoes)
  • 3 scarves of various colours
  • Underwear, toiletries and make up (full size bottles)
  • A spare pair of glasses
  • A handbag sized umbrella
  • A black cross body bag

When we flew out of Australia I also had a bottle of wine in my luggage (that stuff is heavy) and yet my bag weighed in at 16.9kg with plenty of spare room – I was delighted.

In my carry-on luggage

  • Notebook computer
  • Compact camera
  • Travel documents
  • Wallet etc.
  • Jewellery
  • Mobile phone
  • E-book reader
  • A black pashmina
  • My bag of liquids for using in-flight (you can read our tips here about our in-flight comforts to minimise jet-lag)
Comfortable travel capsule for flying
Ponte pants, tee and pashmina for flying

How my travel capsule wardrobe worked for me-

So, off I went, pleased as punch. I had a plan to buy some clothes in Hong Kong on my way back but not to buy much in France. I was delighted with how well my travel wardrobe worked for me. Staying with a black, white and denim colour theme meant that everything worked together. I was able to layer up the tank tops under my tees when I needed a little extra warmth and I had a pair of tights to pop under my jeans on the really cold days. The scarves and jewellery helped me to freshen up my look. I knew that we would be on the move, so nobody other than Rowan was going to notice how few clothes I was travelling with. A bonus was that the tees and my undies were lightweight enough to rinse out in the shower and dry overnight.

Ready to visit the Somme battlefields
Ready to visit the Somme battlefields

It would be fair to say that whilst nobody else noticed, I did get [very] bored with my clothes by the time we got home and I did add a couple of pieces whilst in France – a pair of trousers, another scarf and a long sleeved top. But, despite the boredom, I was really pleased with how well my system worked. When I got home I reviewed what I had packed and realised that everything had been worn.

Back to warmer weather for my travel capsule
In the pink in Bordeaux

So would I change anything? Yes, I would swap out the leather jacket and the Gore-Tex jacket for a (you guessed it – black) trench coat. The Gore-Tex is great because it is shower proof but it isn’t very stylish and the velcro fastenings do tend to damage other clothes, particularly scarves. I love my leather jacket but I am paranoid about getting it wet. I figure a trench coat would be more stylish than the Gore-Tex jacket and more practical than the leather jacket.

Oh, and the wine was given to a friend so that left room for my shopping spree in Hong Kong!

Want more travel packing tips? And some travel packing tips for men as well

How would you handle the packing challenge for those temperature changes and luggage limits? Do you travel light or do you take lots of ‘maybes’?