4-2-1 Packing List

Pack Like a ProOrla Kiely roller board small rolling suitcase in orange and white flower stem print

  • What: Packing Guidelines for adult clothing
  • When: Traveling 
  • Why: Lighter bags, less stress
  • Where: Your trip

If you’re male, you can skip this entire article. When guys pack, they take the clean clothes off the top of the pile and toss them into a bag and call it good. (Unless you have an interview, a wedding, or a funeral, in which case you throw in your one suit.) But for women, packing can be a giant headache.

If you want to pack light as a full grown female, use this helpful guide for any climate and any destination. All you have to remember is 4-2-1. That translates to pack four tops, two bottoms, and a skirt or a dress. There. You’re done. You’re welcome.

Clothes folded and laid out on bed in preparation for packing

My four tops and two pairs of pants for our recent camping trip. I took a tank top, a short sleeve top, a lightweight long sleeve top, and a sweatshirt along with pants and leggings.

I never pack more than one week’s worth of clothing even for traveling abroad for three weeks with three kids under the age of five. It just gets out of hand. But with this new rule, I find myself extremely happy with the amount of clothing I bring, without wishing I had packed more, or something different. I toss everything into one Eagle Creek Pack It Cube and include bathroom and medical necessities and it makes packing a breeze.

I am the type of person to put in a scarf as well, as it can not only make an outfit, but it doubles as both as wrap at your destination or a blanket en route. I also like to include some jewelry, which always goes into my carry on. (No airline I’ve met will insure jewelry no matter the value.)

Clothes packed into open Eagle Creek pack it cube large with blue flower print

All my clothes as well as my pajamas, socks, and underwear fit easily into one packing cube. I even tossed in an extra puffy vest and warm hat just in case.

Obviously, colder climates will require more layers and warm stuff like sweaters. But the general ratio remains the same. When in doubt, I pack one sleeveless top, one short sleeve, one lightweight long sleeve top, and a heavier sweatshirt, fleece, or sweater. I’ve used this approach to both a recent trip to the beach and camping with minimal facilities and it works wonders on both adventures.

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