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How to Create a Summer Travel Capsule by Destination

Building a Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Summer is the perfect time to plan a trip to your favorite destination. Whether you love enjoying summer nightlife during a stay in the city or retreating to a quaint town for some much-needed rest and relaxation, the perfect vacation clothes make a big impact on your overall experience. That’s why building a summer travel capsule wardrobe is key.


What is a Travel Capsule Wardrobe?

The travel capsule concept says that with just 15 items or less, you can create a mix-and-match selection of looks that work for your whole trip. One strategy suggests using the 5-4-3-2-1 rule. 

The structure varies based on season and destination, but usually this rule means bringing a certain number of pieces that can be used in combination to create styling options. This system saves time, money, and space in your luggage. You won’t waste time deciding what to wear while you’re on vacation, and you won’t waste money on checking luggage. 

Traditionally, a travel wardrobe consists of tops, bottoms, shoes, top layers, and accessories. To help you get started, we’ve collected a treasure trove of ideas for your travel capsule wardrobe based on where you’re vacationing. 

Your Summer Travel Capsule Wardrobe

Before you start building a capsule wardrobe, consider a few things about your trip. For example, where are you going? If you’re heading to a mountain town, you’ll probably need different attire than if you’re going to a beachside resort. Let’s dive into creating unique summer travel capsule wardrobes for three popular summer getaway spots.

Beach Getaway

If your idea of summer fun is being whisked away to a seaside resort, then you’re probably in need of casual vacation outfits. There are a few key items you should always have on hand so you can really enjoy your stay. For instance, a swimsuit, coverup, and sandals are must-have. 

What is the 5-4-3-2-1 Rule?

When packing for a beach trip, the 5-4-3-2-1 rule can be:

  • 5 dresses or swim coverups
  • 4 tops and/or bottoms
  • 3 swimsuits
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 beach bag

A mockup of a well-rounded summer travel capsule wardrobe for a beach vacation could include 1 or 2 one-piece swimsuits and a set of swim separates, plus a few swim coverups. Since you’ll be waterside for most of the trip, having swim wear options is highly recommended. This list can also work for what to wear on a cruise

summer travel capsule wardrobe
This set has it all! Plus, the bag, hat, and shoes can be worn on and off the beach.

Also include a couple dresses in your collection for looks that are a little more elevated. When it comes to tops, it would be smart to consider fashion tops that can be dressed up or dressed down. Tees can be perfect for tropical locales, especially paired with shorts. With the right crops or capris, you can easily take a tee from day to night.

summer travel capsule wardrobe
A true travel capsule set mixes and matches colors, prints, and accessories.

summer travel capsule wardrobe
Wear this sleeveless tee with the red or white shorts. Plus, the sandals go with both looks!

Mountain Retreat

Communing with nature can be a good way to recharge your energy. If a mountain retreat is more your speed, you’ll need some sporty but stylish vacation clothes for your summer travel capsule wardrobe. For this list, it’s smart to include some active wear that’s also suitable for casual dining or lounging around the cabin.

If you’re packing for a trip to the mountains, the 5-4-3-2-1 rule applies with a few adjustments:

  • 5 tops or top layers
  • 4 bottoms
  • 3 pairs of shoes
  • 2 hats
  • 1 dress

It’s typically cooler in the mountains, especially at night. So, you may opt to bring some long sleeve tops or more jackets to include in your mountain retreat travel capsule.

summer travel capsule wardrobe
Print bottoms are okay to include, so long as there are a few different solid tops to match.

Casual looks can be easily elevated with the addition of an embellished jacket. An easy tee with wide leg pants can work for spending the day reading a good book on the porch to going out for a delicious dinner at a nearby inn by just adding a top layer.

summer travel capsule wardrobe
Add the embellished jacket to this look to take it from day to night.

Sightseeing in the City

When the sounds of the city are calling your name, it’s time for a sightseeing trip. Taking a drive or a flight to one of the major cities near you can be a welcome change of pace. Your clothes should be able to keep up with you, though. Choosing versatile looks that can go from day-to-night and have the option for layering is crucial to for style and comfort. 

When you’re planning to travel to the city, opt for the following for your sightseeing summer travel capsule wardrobe:

  • 5 tops
  • 4 bottoms
  • 3 top layers
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • 1 dress

Pants that offer a lot of movement without sacrificing style are your best option. Solid bottoms matched with print or solid tops are easy to wear and look great. 

summer travel capsule wardrobe
Solid tops with solid bottoms are easily accented with mix-and-match print top layers.

summer travel capsule wardrobe
Creating a color pallet is important so you have the most styling options possible.

Travel Capsule Wardrobe by Destination

Packing doesn’t have to be painful. Try putting together a summer travel capsule using our tips for versatile styling and see how easy it can be. For more travel capsule ideas, check out our latest looks and styling trends.