Packing for Northern Climes – A Travel Capsule

As I mentioned in my last capsule wardrobe post, I’m all about the mini travel capsules for traveling. In my former life, I spent a LOT of time living out of a suitcase. Which means I got really good at having to pack and repack every other week.

Now that I’m temporarily revisiting that former life as a meeting planner, I’m bound for a pre-conference meeting this weekend to a place with a VERY different climate. Here’s what it’s like in Los Angeles, California, USA this week:


And this is what it’s like in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada:

It won’t be terribly cold, but a 30 degree swing in temperatures means packing very different clothes than what I’m wearing today (yoga pants and a tank top, no socks). On Monday, Edmonton still had snow on the ground, so I’m grateful we get near spring-like temps while we’re in town.

I only have to be there 1 full day, which means packing light. I travel on Thursday, have a dinner that night, a full day of meetings the next day, then jump on a plane back home on Saturday at 6 am. That’s barely time to breathe, let alone unpack toiletries (pro-tip: don’t unpack anything you don’t absolutely need to. Repacking at o’dark thirty sucks and pretty much guarantees leaving something behind).

Friday’s meetings are with venue staff and other vendors, so it does require at least a business casual appearance. Travel days, though: comfort all the way!

To plan my capsules I use a mobile app called Stylebook. It is currently iPhone only and is not free, but it’s been worth it for me to pay $4 for it. It does require a little bit of setup, as you have to photograph all of your clothes (or screen grab them from the retailers’ websites) and then delete the backgrounds (for which it has a handy in-app function), and that can take a few hours or a few days depending on how dedicated you are to the task (and how large your wardrobe is…mine still isn’t fully inputted). But once it’s in there, you can catalog how often you wear an item, create outfits, and generally have a good handheld view of your closet.

I input all of my me mades as soon as they’re finished, which means I can then track how often I wear them! I’ll post more about that when it comes time to start planning for Me Made May.

As a former Girl Scout, I always try to be prepared for emergencies. I once overslept and nearly missed my flight to Florida–in fact my luggage DID miss the flight (and several thereafter), but luckily I had packed ONE outfit in my large tote that got to stay in the cabin with me, so I could at least have clean clothes the next day. These days I try never to check luggage if possible.

To that end, I always pack two extra pairs of undies and socks, just in case.

So what to pack for a trip like this? Things that mix and match well, aren’t too heavy in the carry-on, but still get the job done. That means a couple of lightweight sweaters, 3 tops, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of business casual pants, 1 pair of boots, a wool peacoat, a scarf, and gloves. Plus PJs, undies, socks, etc.

My travel outfits are always as comfortable as possible. I keep a light wrap or jacket on since planes get cold, always have pants with pockets on, and a lightweight top. Normally I would wear slip on sneakers, but my black knee-high leather boots go with both jeans and business-y pants. And since I only want to take one pair of shoes, they’re the winners for this trip.

For the flight to Canada, I’ll be in a me made red turtleneck, my cotton/cashmere blend wrap (yay for warm natural fibers!), jeans, and boots. Since I leave on a flight at the crack of dawn, it will still be chilly enough in LA where this outfit won’t feel too hot. Once I get to Canada, I’ll pull out my peacoat, gloves, and scarf. All of that is packed at the top of my suitcase.

That night we have an informal staff dinner. I hate having to wear the clothes I travel in, but being mindful of packing light, I’ve simply chosen a different sweater for dinner:


The next day I’m a little undecided on what will be most comfortable so I’ve allowed myself to sacrifice a little space in my luggage for the option of wearing one of two tops: either a short sleeved sweater or a short sleeved turtleneck. The red wrap will still be my topper but these short sleeved layers will help me from getting overheated indoors. My pants are simple black pull-on slacks that go with everything.

We also have a dinner that night, so if I have the chance to change in between meetings and the dinner, I’ll have another option for that evening.

The following day my flight leaves at 6 am, which means there is NO TIME to dilly-dally in the morning. I’ll go back to my trusty jeans and wrap, this time with one of my favorite tees: a relaxed purple top featuring Frida Kahlo’s face.

You know how much I love red and purple! And since I’ll be landing back at LAX when it’s about 71 degrees, this is perfect for traveling without overheating.

I also always pack a pair of flip flops. They’re perfect for a quick walk to the hotel vending machine, or simply walking around on less-than-pristine hotel carpeting. They basically take up zero space in luggage and are also a good to have in case a fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night and you have to hustle out of your room without time to zip up your boots.

Ask me how I know that…thankfully there wasn’t snow on the ground that time, or my feet would have frozen.

And that’s my capsule for my 39 hours in Canada! I’m looking forward to it. Even if I don’t relish business trips anymore, I DO love going to foreign countries. I can’t wait to eat some good ol’ maple syrup and have some Canadian beer!

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