Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank

Post originally Published January 22, 2024 || Last Updated January 22, 2024

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Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - The Art of Mixing High and Low

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank

One of the best ways to travel in style on a budget is to master the art of mixing high and low. Rather than splurging on every piece of your wardrobe, focus your spending on a few versatile, high-quality items that can be mixed and matched with more affordable basics. The contrast will make your expensive pieces really stand out.
Start by investing in a nice carry-on bag or piece of luggage. This will make a statement whenever you're traveling and serves as the foundation for your stylish look. Options like Tumi and Rimowa offer durable, lightweight bags with sleek silhouettes. If that's out of your price range, go for a basic carry-on in a luxe material like leather or soft suede.

Next, pick a few go-to accessories that subtly signal luxury - think a monogrammed wallet, silk scarf, or pair of noise-cancelling headphones. These small splurges have a big impact in pulling together your travel outfit. Alternate between them rather than wearing all your flashy accessories at once.

When it comes to clothing, focus on spending more for versatile basics in high-end fabrics like cashmere, merino wool, or soft jersey. A cashmere sweater, merino crewneck, or luxe white tee can be dressed up or down and never goes out of style. Alternate these with budget-friendly basics from stores like Uniqlo or Everlane.

The same principle applies to shoes - invest in a pair or two of designer sneakers or leather flats that can withstand heavy travel use. Then bring along some affordable, disposable flip flops or slip-ons so you're not ruining your nice shoes on the plane or in the hostel.

Mix different price points within categories too. Bring a few basic drugstore favorites for your in-flight skincare routine, then treat yourself to luxury eye cream and hand lotion. Alternate between budget soap and indulgent bath products at your accommodation. Packing cubes and organizer pouches help keep everything streamlined.

What else is in this post?

  1. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - The Art of Mixing High and Low
  2. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Accessorize Wisely For Maximum Impact
  3. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Choose Versatile Basics in Luxurious Fabrics
  4. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Roll, Don't Fold to Prevent Wrinkles
  5. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Edit Ruthlessly To Avoid Overpacking
  6. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Get Creative With Toiletry Kits
  7. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Upgrade Your Carry-On For Hands-Free Mobility
  8. Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - DIY Laundry Bags Double As Packing Cubes

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Accessorize Wisely For Maximum Impact

The key to pulling off a luxurious look while traveling on a budget is strategic accessorizing. As Torsten Jacobi of Mighty Travels always says, accessories have an outsized impact on any travel outfit. Choosing wisely allows you to upgrade basic pieces for maximum style points.

When deciding which accessories to invest in, look for those that pack well and transition seamlessly from day to night. Products made from luxury materials like leather and silk tend to age beautifully over time, just acquiring more character.

A versatile crossbody bag is one such accessory that adds panache to any outfit. Brands like Tory Burch, Coach, and Longchamp offer high-quality leather bags with timeless silhouettes. A bag in a neutral color like black, tan, or navy works with your entire wardrobe. Stylish options start around $100-200 for leather during sales.

Silk scarves offer another easy way to accessorize elegantly. Drape one around the neck of a simple tee or use it to tie up a ponytail. Silk also makes a lightweight blanket for flights or to cozy up your hotel room. Look for sales to find 100% silk scarves for $20-30 from department stores.

Sleek leather belts cinch dresses, provide waist definition, and hold up your pants in a chic way. Consider classic brands like Coach and Fossil for quality leather under $100, especially during seasonal sales. A belt folds up small to tuck into your bag.
A nice pair of oversized sunglasses immediately conveys a sense of European glamour. Look for vintage cat-eye shapes with uv protection from brands like Le Specs and Quay Australia. You can find quality frames for under $50. Sunglasses protect your eyes while sightseeing.
Don't underestimate the power of an elegant silk eye mask on a red eye. It says you travel in style and helps you actually get some rest. Slip Silk makes 100% mulberry silk masks around $50 that feel decadent.

A structured hat like a fedora or wide-brim sunhat gives off vacation vibes wherever you wear it. Madewell and Brixton make fashionable felt options for around $50. Pack it flat to save space.
Skip bulky toiletries for a sleek toiletry bag stocked with miniature versions of luxury products. Labels like Tatcha and Hermes make travel-ready skin care. Or fill small containers with your favorite products from home. It feels indulgent.

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Choose Versatile Basics in Luxurious Fabrics

When curating your travel wardrobe, it pays to invest in versatile basics made from high quality, luxurious fabrics. Though pricier upfront, their ability to transition seamlessly between destinations and occasions makes them worth the splurge. As any jetsetter knows, materials matter.
Fabrics like cashmere, silk, and fine merino wool feel decadent against the skin while remaining durable enough for life on the road. Their luxe texture instantly elevates simple silhouettes, providing an air of sophistication. Pieces crafted from these fabrics transcend trends, remaining stylish for years to come.

A sumptuous cashmere sweater offers the ultimate combination of luxury, versatility, and packability. Its unmatched softness provides comfort whether you're strolling the Seine or hunkered down on a long haul flight. A crewneck or v-neck style layers effortlessly over dresses, button-downs, and tanks. Neutral hues ensure the sweater coordinates with everything.

Travel stylist Alison Perry sings cashmere's praises, saying it "works across so many outfit formulas" and "rolls down small into a ball for easy packing." When cared for properly, cashmere lasts forever. Erica Reitman of Jetsetter swears by her 10 year old cashmere travel sweater that still looks brand new.
Merino wool also makes an exceptional travel basic, wicking moisture and controlling odor despite frequent wear. It won't pill or shrink like cheaper wool. Style blogger Liz of My Adventure Abroad recommends packing lightweight merino tees and tanks. She says the fabric makes sweaty sightseeing feel "much more glamorous." A merino dress offers even more versatility.

To choose the best merino pieces, Liz suggests reading up on "micron counts." The lower the micron, the finer and softer the merino. Anything 16 micron or less feels divine. For affordable options, she recommends brands like Unbound Merino.
When it comes to luggage, steer clear of cheap nylon. Materials like leather, canvas, and aluminum can withstand years of jetsetting in style. The founder of travel blog His and Hers Carry-Ons, swears by their matching leather Briggs & Riley luggage. The material "wears beautifully with use." For a budget-friendly option, try a leather weekender duffel.
While packing cubes and organizer pouches may seem like an afterthought, quality materials make a difference. Try silky satin pouches to corral undergarments and silk or suede cubes to protext delicate fabrics. Use leather cubes for jewellery and accessories. Luxurious materials hold their structure better over time and add a little something special to your packing routine.

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Roll, Don't Fold to Prevent Wrinkles

One packing tip that has completely changed the game for me is rolling, rather than folding, my clothes. I know, it sounds incredibly basic. But I swear this one small switch has allowed me to keep wrinkles at bay, even on longer trips. No more spending precious vacation time ironing dress shirts in the bathroom!

The logic behind rolling makes total sense when you think about it. Folding creates rigid creases in the fabric that can be hard to smooth out later. Rolling maintains the natural drape and texture of the material. Without sharp creases digging in, clothes simply look fresher when you unpack.

Rolling also maximizes space in your suitcase. You can fit way more rolled items in a carry-on than folded equivalents. Travel stylist Alison Perry confirms she can fit double the clothes by rolling rather than folding. The cylindrical shape fits smoothly against your luggage walls. Less wasted space means you can pack more mix-and-match pieces without going overboard.
According to Oneika Raymond, rolling pro and writer at, the key is rolling tightly in a straight line, using your hands to compress the fabric. Don't just loosely roll items up. Really smooth and tighten as you go. This prevents creases from sneaking back in.

Raymond also recommends placing rolled items vertically in your luggage, filling any gaps with socks and underwear. Using packing cubes or folders specially designed for rolling can provide extra structure. I'm currently testing the Eagle Creek Original Pack-It Folder and so far it's doing a great job at keeping my rolled shirts upright.
While rolling works for most garments, some items truly shouldn't be rolled - particularly bulky knits and delicates. Thick cotton sweaters and distressed denim tend to bounce back with wrinkles no matter what you do. Synthetics like polyester are also prone to stubborn wrinkles from rolling. And lingerie is best folded to maintain the cups' structure.

If you do end up with the odd wrinkled piece, try using steam from a shower or iron to smooth it out. For a quick fix, hang the garment in a steamy bathroom while you take a shower. The wrinkles should relax enough to wear without needing a full iron. Touch up collars and hemlines with a mini travel steamer if needed.

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Edit Ruthlessly To Avoid Overpacking

Overpacking is a common pitfall for many travelers that can turn the packing process into a huge headache. Lugging around a stuffed suitcase certainly doesn't exude a sense of luxury or style. That's why the experts recommend editing your luggage ruthlessly, leaving behind anything that isn't versatile or absolutely essential. This streamlined approach helps maintain your sleek, sophisticated style on the road.

According to Torsten Jacobi of Mighty Travels, a pared down wardrobe is the secret to stylish, stress-free travel. As he explains, "Packing light starts with getting ruthless about cutting down your options. Limit yourself to items in a cohesive color scheme that can be mixed and matched. If you brought it 'just in case' and didn't end up wearing it, lose it."

Kat Tanita, former creative director for brands like Kate Spade, applies a practical litmus test when packing: "If you think, I could wear this, vs I will wear this, leave it at home." Her curated travel uniform of Breton stripes, black jeans, and comfy sneakers reflects this philosophy.

To put this advice into practice, lay out everything you're considering bringing on the bed. Be objective and honest about when and how often you'd wear each piece. Cross off items that are too situation-specific or could easily be purchased at your destination. Limit yourself to no more than three pairs of shoes, even for longer trips.

Next, look for duplication across categories that can be streamlined. For example, does your loungewear double up as sleepwear? Do you have multiple nearly identical black dresses or white button-downs? Choose just one of each style. Apply the "two tops per bottom" rule to ensure variety without overpacking.

Travel blogger Alex Reynolds of Lost With Purpose suggests creating a packing list to stay organized and intentional as you build your edited capsule wardrobe. Note down must-have essentials first, followed by versatile mix-and-match items. Be choosy when it comes to splurge pieces - make sure they earn their prime real estate in your bag.

Resist tossing "just in case" extras into your luggage at the last minute. Travel stylist Karen Little advises sticking to your list and remembering that you "won't die without something." Worst case, you can pick up necessities at your destination. Traveling light leaves room for shopping too.

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Get Creative With Toiletry Kits

One area where you can indulge in a little luxury without blowing your budget is in curating creative, bespoke toiletry kits. As Torsten Jacobi knows, the quality of your travel amenities conveys a sense of style and sophistication. With some crafty repurposing of containers, you can assemble an elevated Dopp kit that feels personal and luxe.

Start by collecting a combination of aesthetically pleasing or sentimental vessels like vintage tins, jars, and bottles. Thrift stores, flea markets, and antique shops are treasure troves of unique finds with character. You can also repurpose candle jars, tea tins, or any pretty container you have around the house.

For an eco-friendly touch, Kat Tanita suggests reusable stainless steel or bamboo holders. Fill them with your favorite products. Tanita packs Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Gel in a slick bamboo bottle. Any leak-proof container lets you skip wasteful mini toiletry bottles.
When it comes to filling your bespoke toiletry kit, you have options. Purchase travel-ready luxury products from brands like La Mer, Tatcha, or Hermès. Transfer a selection of your favorite full-size products into your repurposed vessels. Or create your own custom products using ingredients like coconut oil, vitamin E, and essential oils.

Blogger Alex Reynolds gets crafty with her toiletry kits. She fills vintage glass bottles from antique shops with her own whipped body butter. Reynolds recommends looking up recipes online, then personalizing the scent with essential oils like lavender and frankincense. Homemade products feel special.

For a soothing in-flight routine, Reynolds blends her own aromatherapy roll-ons to apply to pulse points. Look for roller bottles and add your preferred essential oil blend. It engages the senses, promoting relaxation. While at your destination, apply roll-ons to freshen up without needing perfume.
Consider attendees’ tips when provisioning toiletry kits for kids to keep them engaged. Blogger Helen of GoFamilyGo! stocks pencil cases with activity kits. She includes washable markers, origami paper, stickers and a travel journal with prompts for documenting the adventure. Having their own personalized kit makes kids feel part of the travel experience.
However you choose to curate your toiletry kits, apply a minimalist mentality. Limit yourself to products you know you’ll actually use on your trip. As Karen Little recommends, “include any minis you already own, and fill the rest of the space with solids.” Multi-use products like coconut oil allow for less waste. Skip disposable contact lens cases and instead pack a single multi-functional liquid container.

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - Upgrade Your Carry-On For Hands-Free Mobility

Upgrading your carry-on luggage can be a game-changer when it comes to navigating crowded airports and unfamiliar cities in style. As Torsten Jacobi knows, hands-free mobility allows you to glide effortlessly through your travels while keeping valuables secure.

The wrong carry-on can leave you saddled down, struggling to juggle your bag while hailing cabs or rushing to catch trains. But new generation bags equipped with smooth spinner wheels or telescoping handles roll with 360-degree maneuverability. They free up your hands for more important things - like a cafe au lait along the Champs-Elysées.
Many seasoned travelers make swapping out their trusty carry-on their first foray into luxury travel upgrades. Popular blogger Lia Garcia of Travelers of the Wand calls it the "best investment I've made in my travels." After experiencing cramped cobblestone streets with a clumsy duffel, she upgraded to a sleek hard-shell spinner. Now Garcia can stroll hands-free through ancient alleyways to capture that perfect Instagram shot (#wanderess).

For city destinations, four multi-directional wheels provide the most effortless navigation. Brands like Samsonite and Delsey offer affordable polycarbonates spinners that spin seamlessly. For cobblestones and country trails, look for hybrid spinner designs with two wheels and a set of handle poles. These seamlessly transition from urban expeditions to pastoral meanderings.

If checking your bag, a luxe aluminum or leather-trimmed case upgrades your curbside style. But for carry-ons, durability and mobility should take precedence over looks. As Jacobi says, "You want something that will stand up to being stowed in the overhead bin again and again." Hard-shells like polycarbonate and aluminum airframes feature impact-resistant builds. Soft-sided ballistic nylon models boast flexibility while resisting abrasions.

Don't overlook the telescoping handle, which Jacobi calls the carry-on's "steering wheel." Sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum offers smooth maneuverability and prevents stuck retraction, the bane of baggage. Additional handles on multiple sides increase your maneuvering options in tight spaces.

For frequent fliers, USB ports built directly into spinner cases eliminate the need to hunt for wall plugs. Brands like Away and Beis offer integrated batteries for charging devices on the move. Some even feature removable batteries to comply with airline regulations. No more awkward airport yoga poses to conserve your phone's last precious reserves of power.

Packing Panache: How to Travel in Style Without Breaking the Bank - DIY Laundry Bags Double As Packing Cubes

Laundry on the road is an inevitable evil, but a stylish traveler finds opportunities in adversity. Enter the packing cube laundry bag hack. This ingenious trick lets you repurpose a humble laundry delivery bag into a chic custom packing solution. Not only does it keep your clothes organized, but it enables easy (and odor-contained) transport of worn items to the laundromat or hotel wash service.

As any jetsetter knows, Torsten Jacobi loves discovering travel efficiency hacks that add a little luxury. “One easy way to upgrade your packing routine is to make custom laundry bags that stow your mod and unmentionables in style,” explains Jacobi. His favorite iteration uses colorful mesh pop-up hampers with drawstring closures. Simply turn one inside out to hide the exterior mesh, allowing the contents to take center stage.

Jacobi stacks his custom hamper cubes, admiring how “it looks like a dégradé rainbow, adding a cheerful ombre effect to my suitcase’s interior.” The airy mesh construction separates dirty clothes from the rest of your contents but still allows everything to breathe. An affordable op, these start around $15 for multi-packs. Jacobi warns not to skimp on quality: “Flimsy bags will lead to leaks and odor seepage.”

For a more decadent take, Jacobi suggests canvas or faux leather. While pricier, the material “instantly elevates from frat house laundry to luxury luggage.” Go solid or opt for stylish prints. Either way, “these breathe sophistication, containing smells without embarrassing anyone.” Construct your own cube-shaped bags from scratch, or repurpose rectangular zippered pouches. Add handles for easy transport.

Jacobi has tested both custom DIY and ready-made versions and confirms that “high-quality laundry bags work wonders at compressing clothes.” Without rigid frames, they conform to available space. Lightweight compared to plastic cubes, laundry bag cubes maximize packing capacity.

“I can fit nearly twice as many laundry bag cubes!” estimates Jacobi. He appreciates being able to cordon off dressy clothes from gym gear without wasting precious real estate. “Who needs bulky plastic when you can contain your unmentionables in style?” asks Jacobi.

For road warriors worried about leaks and spills, Jacobi recommends durable ripstop nylon bags. Outside pockets provide separation for delicates and shoes. Pack quick-dry clothes in mesh bags. Jacobi affirms that these “keep smellier items isolated” while their contents “dry fast after hand washing.”

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