Yayy! Another installment in the “Tips From a Plus Size Woman” series. Packing light for a trip can be difficult. Even more so when you’re a plus size woman. Our clothes have a bit more material and therefore, takes up more room. Those itty bitty bikinis you may be able to stuff at the bottom of your suitcase won’t work to cover up my two girls so aspects like that have to be considered when trying to save space. But after countless trips around the world and months spent living out of a backpack I’ve figured out what I need, what can stay at home and how I can best utilize the space in my pack. At this point, my packing list is foolproof. Which is why from one curvy girl to another here are the best packing tips from a plus size woman.
**Scroll down for a FREE printable packing list**
We’re going to break this into clothes, accessories, toiletries, makeup, electronics and practical stuff.
I understand that you may want a fly outfit for each day of your trip and for shorter trips that’s is absolutely do-able. But if you’re in it for the long haul then each bit of room is precious and there’s way to condense your space. My first and most important tip is bring interchangeable clothes. The key to packing light is limiting your pieces. This means that yes you can look stylish and chic in any situation without being stuffed to the brim with clothes.
Start with a few basic pieces that can be dressed up. My go-to:
-1 White Tee/1 Black Tee
-1 Basic Tank Top
-1 Pair of Jeans
-1 Pair of Leggings
-1 Pair of Cotton Bike Shorts
-1 Maxi Skirt
I am about as terrible as it gets when it comes to math, BUT if my calculations are correct 🤓 then that alone is about 12 different outfits to choose from. Stay within the same color scheme and bring pieces that look nice no matter how you mix and match them.
I also like to pack some stand out pieces if I have a little bit of room left in my packing cube to play with. Usually, a statement shirt (like my favorite pineapple button down), a couple of crop tops because they don’t take up much room and a flowy dress that can also double as a tank top (multifunctional is key). Those pieces alone could (and has) last about 2 ½ months when I do laundry and score some great pieces along the way.
Now let me quickly touch on two things that I just mentioned. The first is scoring some great pieces along the way. I can assure you that ALMOST everywhere you go there will be clothes, sometimes cheaper and you may want to grab it. DO IT! However, I swear by the motto that if I’m grabbing something, I’m leaving something behind. Adding too much weight can be a dealbreaker on your trip especially on a travel day where you have to run to the metro station, then through a train station and lastly to the very end of a platform where your train cart is. Making it with only one minute to spare. Been there, and trust me in that moment the last thing you want to be is weighed down. Only buy it if you’re willing to part with something that you maybe aren’t crazy about (another reason why basics are great) or if you initially packed light.
The second thing is packing cubes. These guys make a MASSIVE difference when trying to save space in your backpack/suitcase. If you roll your clothes (there are great Youtube videos that teach you) you can fit a bunch of pieces in a packing cube. I can fit all of the clothes I’ve mentioned plus my bathing suits and sometimes my undergarments in just one packing cube and it’s a great way to stay organized on the road. Get the ones I use HERE.
Depending on the weather you may need some sweaters or even a jacket. I break this down pretty easily. Know that layering is key and if it’s going to be super cold then I would skip the dress and pack a turtleneck instead. If I’m going to hiking I may skip the pineapple button down and pack an extra pair of leggings along with extra socks.
I often bring a packable parka just in case it rains. But if I’m going somewhere warm and sunny I may just bring a cardigan. If it’s cooler then I would pack a classic leather jacket or a jean jacket. Going in winter? Avoid taking up a bunch of room with your jacket and wear it on travel days. If you don’t want to wear your jacket then you could grab an inexpensive carabiner and clip it to your backpack or bungee it down onto your pack.
Same goes for shoes. Pack for the season and always wear your bulkiest pair when you travel to avoid taking up a bunch of space. My ideal combo is a pair of sneakers (usually my platform Adidas Superstars or my Vans), a pair of Birkenstocks and a pair of flip-flops for hostel showers or days I go kayaking. If I’m doing a bit more hiking then I would probably swap out the Birks for my hiking boots.
Now sometimes ya girl needs a chunky low heel strappy pair of heels. Nothing wild but something that really ties together a going out kind of night. My favorite pair are these super cute ones from Target, they come in a bunch of colors ANDDD in wide width (a major score). If I know my trip is going to be short stint (a weekend-3 weeks) with more of going out, fancy rooftops, nice events then I ABSOLUTELY bring those heels. Just tuck them away at the bottom and pack everything on top.
Let’s get into one of my favorites, ACCESSORIESSSS. I hope you read that in a woohoo girl voice because that’s fully what I intended. The key to packing basics is to jazz it up with your accessories. I ALWAYS pack three scarves. Sometimes to keep me warm, sometimes to cover myself up in religious places or sometimes to look fieeerrcee honey! They roll super small into my pack and I can tuck them away for when I need them. I usually bring two longer scarfs and then a smaller one that I can use as a handkerchief around my neck or tied into my hair. Then there’s jewelry, I can pack a bunch of statement earrings, rings and a few wrapped up necklaces in a small pouch that goes into a tiny part of my pack and have endless new ways to WERK my outfit.
Don’t go crazy with sunglasses either. I KNOWWWW, I KNOWWWW, I love my shades too and certain ones pair perfectly with certain outfits. But keep it simple. Bring pairs that you’d be okay with losing (keep the expensive ones at home) and bring pairs that look great with everything.
An accessory that every plus size woman should bring on her trip is a pair of Bandalettes. You probably know how much I HATE chub rub if you’ve read my travel tips article. I used to swear by cotton bike shorts but I’ve found an even greater solution. Bandalettes is a stylish or functional band of fabric that snugs around your upper thighs and prevents your legs from rubbing together. They lie even nicer under my dresses and skirts. I’ve danced all night to Shakira in Madison Square Garden, bounced around Beantown and salsa’ed in Spain, all with my Bandalettes getting me through.
Here’s the exact list of travel sized products I use to keep my curls looking bouncy, my face well preserved and everything else feeling right:
– Face Wash
– Face Moisturizer
Here’s a fun tip if you’re like me and need certain products to keep you in check. I usually take the full-size products that I have at home and fill small containers that I get from Lush when they give me a sample. It works out because they always give me a sample of an all natural product and when I’m done I can use it to save room in my backpack when I travel. By putting things like my face moisturizer, hair gel, and curl moisturizer I can save a ton of space and get my toiletries into a small, clear TSA approved bag.
I love makeup, I really do. I made the mistake of committing to this expensive hobby and sh*t man, I straight up struggle when I have to decide what to leave at home. Deep down yes, I want to do full face some nights which means yessss I want to bring it alllll. But I can’t. So I stick to these go-tos:
Things like my primer, foundation, and highlighter go in even smaller sample containers from Lush. Keep in mind that glass bottles aren’t allowed in your carry on and often times explode when checked in your bag. Which is why I stress how perfect those little containers are. You can even find them on Amazon here. Sometimes I sacrifice the eyeshadow even though it’s usually begrudgingly. However, when I do decide to spare a little space for an eyeshadow palette for shorter trips I pack my current obsession, The Jacqlyn Hill X Morphe Vault Collection in Ring the Alarm. All of these things fit into a pouch that lays super flat in my pack and gives me the chance to doll up if the opportunity arises.
Gadgets. Since I’ve chosen a life where all vacations are still technically work I always have to have my gear on me. This means:
-My Phone & Charger
-An adapter to upload pics
-My Surge Protector (for lack of outlets)
-Kindle & Charger (same charger as my Kindle, external battery)
-Pull Out Tripod
-Memory cards for my GoPro and phone
-Sometimes my laptop depending on the trip/length of trip
-Sometimes my fancy camera, but TBH, the Samsung Galaxy S9 has one of the nicest cameras in the game and I’m completely obsessed which usually means I leave my bulky Nikon at home.
All of these things besides my tripod and laptop fit right into a medium size pouch which means I can easily access and know exactly where they are. I can even toss the pouch into my carry on if I don’t want to keep my electronics in a checked bag.
First, let’s talk documents. Some people travel with money pouches. They swear by them and ACTUALLY wear them out. That’s just not me. Instead, I use my money belt in a different way. I create copies of my important documents, put it with a few checks, tuck them into my money belt, hide them away somewhere in my pack and pray I never have to dip into it.
Then I have my trusty document pouch. I LOVEEEEE this thing. I’ve already sung its praises in my favorite travel accessories post here. But let me tell you again why I love it. It keeps me so organized. All of my tickets stay here, passports, important documents, copies, business cards from favorite restaurants, club tickets, addresses for postcards, reservation info, all of that practical stuff that you need for any situation. Keep it all in one place that you know exactly where it is so you’re not fishing around for it. This pouch brings so much ease to my mind because I know that I’m prepared for most situations with this pouch.
I also have what I’ve rightfully named my “junk drawer” pouch. This small pouch is where I keep all of the smaller items I may need in a pinch.
-Padlocks (for hostel lockers)
-Small sewing kit in case anything rips
-Doggie Bags (for laundry)
-Peppermint for nausea
-Ear Plugs (in case of wretched snorers)
All of these things have proven extremely useful in countless situations while I’ve traveled. Having a “junk drawer” pouch can be a lifesaver.
The last tip I’ll give you is for each of these pouches I’ve mentioned I’ve used the same ones. To the point that after a trip, I tuck them always in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet until I need them for the next trip. They’re all ready to go and by using the same ones for the same purposes makes knowing exactly where your things are so much easier.
Once you combine all of these elements you’ll have a condensed load without packing those things you never end up using. You’ll save a ton of space and you’ll have everything you need to make the most out of your trip. I hope by breaking down exactly what I would bring and sprinkling in some packing tips along the way I’ve lifted some weight from your travel planning. Don’t forget to pin this article to use next time you’re packing or download this printable checklist to keep by your side.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE PACKING LIST HERE.