Closet Challenge Travel

San Francisco – What I Brought + A Few Packing Tips

August 29, 2017

Last week my family and I had the pleasure of heading out of town for eight days and seven nights. A few of those were spent with our parents, who live in different cities in Oregon. It was great to get in some family time, and it was amazing to see the solar eclipse in its totality. More amazing than I expected. After that we headed down to the San Francisco area for four nights, where we rented a cute house in Tiburon and spent our days touring SF.

Before I share what I packed with you, a little background.

I am a chronic over-packer. Every single trip of my life, I’ve always been the one with the biggest, most over-stuffed suitcase. My bags have often garnered comments about their size, and I’ve definitely been over the weight limit at the airport. It’s taken me so long to learn how to pack well.

Today, I am happy to report that I finally conquered minimal packing. Below is exactly what I packed for eight days, along with a few tips that helped me out.



Cons (responsibly-made option) | Birks | Sandals (sold out, similar)

Jumpsuit (just released in black denim!) | Chambray Dress | White Dress | Wide Leg Pants, c/o | Vintage Denim (similar)

British Tee, c/o Zappos | White Tee | Micro Stripe Tee | Blush Top (exact same in white)

Cardigan, c/o IMBY (similar) | Cashmere Crop (sold out, similar) | Leather Jacket, limited sizes (similar) | Backpack, c/o | Tote, c/o | Belt, old

Leading up to my trip, I carefully created outfits and revised a list of the items on my phone. The night before, I packed my succinct list of items into my bag, with room to spare. It was my best packing list to date.

And THEN, I promptly left a bunch of it behind at my parents. Arg!

Apparently Mr. Seasons and I had a communication breakdown when loading up the car before we left town. Mind you, we were pretty distracted by gearing our kids up for the eight hour (screen-free!) drive. A few hours down the road I discovered that I was down to one pair of shoes for the duration of the trip, one purse/bag, no pillow and no DSLR. Sad!

Surprisingly, it was easier than I thought to live with one pair of shoes. Thankfully, they were my most comfy pair. I ended up focusing on my iPhone photography, didn’t miss my second purse, but was wishing for my pillow the whole time. #stomachsleeper

Overall though, I was really happy with my packing. I liked my outfits, and I felt like I had more than enough clothes. (I did laundry once and I ended up buying two things at the Everlane store.) Looking back, I realized there are a few key things I kept in mind that made my list successful.


1) Pack in outfits. My normal method of packing is to make a list of my favorite items. This is where I run into trouble because I have a lot of favorites, and I struggle to tell myself no. This time, I knew I wanted to go light, and weather was about a twenty degree difference in the two destinations, so I started building out my outfits for each day, to make sure I covered all the bases.

2) Double-duty items only. I only packed items that would work in multiple ways, in other words, no tops that only work with one pair of pants, or the other way around. All my items had to be able to remix together.

3) Don’t pack new items. As tempting as this is, it rarely works for me. I need to vet my items thoroughly and integrate them into my wardrobe before I travel with them. Otherwise, I end up with a surprise, like an item that doesn’t work in all the outfits I expected it to, or worse, blisters from shoes not thoroughly broken in.

4) Give yourself options. This can be done, even on a minimal list. I built out a few secondary options on my outfit list (because I’m fickle like that) using items already on my list. This helped give me peace of mind, even with my small amount of clothing.

How do you pack small? Do you struggle like me?

I’ll be back here on Thursday to show you how I styled my outfits. (Hint: lots of jumpsuit action.) And the two pieces I added to my closet while on my trip!

Cheers! xo

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  • Leah August 29, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Ah, packing. I try to only pick versatile things, too, because once I get to my destination, I hardly ever wear my outfits as originally planned. I’m sort of spontaneous when it comes to choosing outfits, I guess. I’m jealous you got to go to the Everlane store! I am anxious to try some jeans. Are you doing a review of them?

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Hey Leah!! I am pretty spontaneous too, but gosh, it makes it hard to pack sometimes because of the whole FOMO thing.

      In answer to your question – yes!! I’m currently wearing them around the house – will review them on Tuesday! If you are one of my email subscribers, you’ll be able to get early access on the morning they launch!

  • Ela August 29, 2017 at 9:08 am

    I used to be a huge overpacker! So much so that I had to put things in my BF’s carry-on. Not my proudest moment :P What helped me curb the habit is by taking pictures of each outfit I wanted to wear before packing them in my suitcase. Accessories and all! This helped me figure out the exact pieces I needed to bring and made getting ready each day a breeze. I also recently downsized from a larger carry-on to a 40L backpack. Now I’m forced to only pack what I’m willing to carry on my back.

    I hope you and the fam had a great time in SF!

    xoxo, EK

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:10 pm

      Whoa! I am super impressed! And I love the picture idea! I definitely consulted my ‘to wear’ list at night when thinking about the day ahead. It made picking outfits so much easier, especially because I was tired from the traveling. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • Alex August 29, 2017 at 9:29 am

    That Pyne & Smith dress has been to a few countries with me already. I had difficulty with it initially but I decided to remove the pockets and it’s become a favorite ever since.
    The one thing I’ve learned about packing for travel is to pack only two pairs of shoes, always take a sarong-like scarf, and a cashmere cardigan. Layering is key to comfort. Regarding accessories, I pack my gold studs, wedding band, and fun necklace (this way I can shop for fun inexpensive jewelry wherever I travel.)
    PS That blush top looks fab on you.

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:16 pm

      I love your tips Alex! You’re so right about the shoes!

      And thanks for the comment on my top, it’s very favorite of mine!

      I am curious, why did the pockets on the dress trouble you?

      • Alex September 6, 2017 at 8:48 am

        I love having pockets for utility, but in general I hate the added bulk they create. They sort of break the visual line, if you know what I mean? It seems that ever since ES created the Clydes, every small designer has been adding pockets to Everything. And while I love pockets as much as everyone else, they aren’t necessary on everything. Most of the time I find that I only like pockets when an item is lined or when the fabric is dark. Also when I’m traveling, I don’t want to take the time to iron my clothes and the pockets in this case made ironing necessary.
        One of the things I’ve learned in recent years is that a good tailor is priceless. Small adjustments can mean the difference between loving an item or having it sit in your closet. I used to spend so much money looking for the perfect pair of jeans until I decided to take a comfy pair to the tailor’s. The rest as they say is history.

  • Krystal August 29, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Wow! Does the Everlane in SF allow you to purchase items and walk out of the store with them, or do they do the 1-hour delivery like in NY?

    Your packing list looks great! I actually find it freeing to travel lightly. When I pack pieces, I feel obligated to wear them so they “didn’t take up space.” By packing lightly I usually end up wearing all items naturally. Plus I occasionally pick up a new item or two – can’t wait to see what you got!

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      Hi Krystal! Yes, at the Everlane store in SF, you can make purchases and walk out with them! It was really fun to do that. But the mens selection was definitely limited.
      That is such a smart reflection about not wanting to waste space. I’m going to keep that in mind next time I pack!

  • Kerstin August 29, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Def choose versatile items only, and I’ve had good luck using the Cladwell app’s new feature of a capsule within a capsule for traveling. I’ll know I packed things that can be mixed up but somehow always feel like I have nothing to wear, but the app helps give me new ideas

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:22 pm

      I do really like that app! I just need to make the time to get my items entered in there. Great idea!!

  • Marti Erb August 29, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Great topic! Good idea not to take new items & who knows, it will save room for vaca shopping😊. Now that my wardrobe is getting decluttered, I believe I could pack minimally🤔What app do you use to take your outfit pics? Or do you just take photos? Thanks! Marti🤗

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Hi Marti! I just take photos. :) I use a tripod and self timer. Most days it works well for me! I bet you could totally pack minimally!

  • Lo August 29, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Great list! Can I ask if you were able to get this into a carry-on-sized bag (with toiletries, underwear, etc)? I’m already thinking about a fall trip with about this number of items.

    • Andrea August 29, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Yes! I should have included that info. I fit this into a carry on! My toiletries I carried separate, but I could have slimmed them down and fit them into my bag.

  • Mel August 29, 2017 at 10:08 am

    I looove packing, creating packing lists, and planning trips. I usually have a loose itinerary of activities and weather forecast. Once I have that, I’ll go day by day and plan outfits. Once I have like 3 days of outfits, I try to rework the pieces into new outfits. Then I see where there are holes and I adjust.

    For 10 days in Italy in (chilly) spring, I packed: 2 jackets (wore one on the plane), 2 pairs of shoes, 3 pairs of pants, 1 dress, 5 tops and 2 sweaters, plus running clothes / shoes (always take up the most space!), a bathing suit and toiletries. I fit into a small carryon with room to spare. To be honest, I worked on this list for way too long. But then I loved everything I took – it was all cute, versatile, matching and weather-appropriate.

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:25 pm

      That sounds amazing, and I love your honesty, haha! Were you able to do laundry? I feel like that is a game changer!

  • jesse.anne.o August 29, 2017 at 10:38 am

    Yes, this is exactly how I end up packing. I usually write out a list of at least one outfit I can wear for each day but include some “flex” pieces that can be used, too.

    For everything else, I have a master list on my iphone Notes and I just copy it into a new note and add on/delete items based on location and weather (both gloves, hat, bathing suit, sun hat, etc are on the master list) in addition to tech stuff, plane stuff (scarf, reading, snacks), toiletries and PJs, etc.

    My packing usually fits into an international-size roller (which also converts to a backpack) with my laptop and most toiletries included. I tend to keep my liquids bag on me in my travel tote because it has both moisturizer and any medication I decided to bring.

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      That’s genius! I love the idea of a master list. Oh man, I’d be lost without my Notes app on my iPhone, I use it for everything!!

  • Celia August 29, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Cute! I’m headed to San Fransisco in a few weeks and sometimes it just helps to see what someone else packed rather than starting from scratch!

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      TOTALLY! Starting from scratch on anything always seems more daunting than editing what’s already there. ;) Good luck! Hope you have a great time!

  • Sheryl Helms August 29, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    So proud of you for going screen free on your drive! I totally remember all the long trips with my family as a kid. We’d sing songs, play tons of games, sleep, and learned how to be bored. We sang the same songs with my own kids and just last week, we had a kid in our car in a lot of traffic and my 15 year old started singing. Soon, my husband and I joined in and we were all happily singing at the tops of our voices with the windows down! SOOOO much fun! I feel sorry for kiddos that don’t get that opportunity because they’re too busy being entertained.

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      Thank you for noticing Sheryl! I am pretty happy for us too! But then again, we’ve never had TV’s in the car, so it feels normal. :) At the end of the trip June discovered that the little (old school) ipod she was listening to had Brick and Solitaire, and she was pretty obsessed after she found out.

      We had a few moments of singing together. The girls were spontaneously singing the books of the bible song, so I pulled it up on phone and we had a sing-a-long! And now June is obsessed with license plates, hahaha!

  • Christina August 29, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I used to be chronic over packer as well but had to learn to pare down for a recent trip… I was able to pack for a 3 week trip to Europe in a carry-on suitcase and a backpack – 2 pairs of shoes (tennis shoes and birks), 2 pairs of jeans, 1 sweater, 1 jacket, 6 tops and 1 dress….plus all the essentials for an international flight. We stayed in airbnbs with laundry access so we could wash every few days. I was surprised by how much easier it made the trip and I actually didn’t end up wearing every piece I brought!

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      That is super impressive. Doing laundry is a game changer, isn’t it! I don’t think I could do extensive traveling again without it. SO MUCH EASIER. And no more giant bags to lug around!

      • Jen September 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

        I packed for 16 days in Europe during late May / early June in just one carry-on as well! I even had things I packed I didn’t really need–it was incredibly hot everywhere and did not really need the jacket I brought, and pretty much rotated between two dresses the whole time. Staying in Airbnbs and doing laundry really helped. Honestly, I would take even less on my next trip!

  • Mepluslady August 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    I just came back from an 11 day roadtrip and while I did a good job on clothes (given that I only got to wash some on day 3), I took too many shoes-5! It was hard to avoid temptation when they all fit in my suitcase though 🙃 I ended wearing the same pair of Tevas almost every day. Oh well, room for improvement I suppose! Thank you for your inspo!

    • Andrea August 30, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      I think I have serious FOMO when it comes to my shoes, so I feel you!! Sounds like you know what you need to pack next time. ;)

  • Masha August 31, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Hello Andrea! I am on the market for a new pillow and you made me think of that as I read you post. Can you recommend me a pillow that is responsibly made, hopefully in the USA?

    • Andrea August 31, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Masha,
      Yes! Parachute home has down and down alternative pillows! All the pillows are made in Ohio and the down is responsibly sourced!

  • Shelbi September 25, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    Awe, you were in my neck of the woods. The next time you’re in town you’re welcome to give me a hollar. Seriously. :)

    • Andrea September 25, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      Aw, thanks Shelbi!!