Packing for a Coast-to-Coast Trip in the Fall
Tomorrow morning I'm getting up at the crack of dawn to head west. Yes, it's finally time for my California trip (you know what I'm talking about if you've been following my Instagram stories). Despite the fact that I'm leaving tomorrow I'm still working on what to pack.
This trip is a little different for me. I primarily travel in the summer because it's just so much easier with my teacher schedule. Most of the places you visit in the summer tend to be warm, just like New Jersey. Except for London this summer which had that beginning of fall feeling that I just ate up.
Now don't get me wrong, the weather here hasn't really been cold yet. So I still have most of my warm weather and transitional clothing still in reach. However, I don't know what to expect from southern California weather in the fall. Do I pack lots of sweaters? Do I need shorts? Sandals or boots? Or sneakers?!? To avoid an overstuffed carry-on suitcase, I narrowed down my packing list to the ultimate coast-to-coast trip remix-able wardrobe.
First we nail down the essentials
You can't travel from one coast to the other without relying on the essentials. Because the weather can be so different, load up on your favorite basics. Now is not time to pack your most standout pieces (unless this is that kind of dress to impress trip). Basics make it basically easy to dress well for whatever coast you're on.
Plain tees - whenever I don't know what to pack I always fall back on t-shirts. My favorites? Madewell's whisper cotton. They're so light and soft and will go under just about anything. I wear them under all my sweaters in the winter so I know they're going to be perfect for cool California coast mornings under a sweater and then on their own in the afternoon.
Boyfriend jeans - it's no secret that I'm obsessed with this style. I've been waiting my whole life for a jean that embodies my laidback vibes. Just kidding, I am NOT a laidback person. But this style of jeans makes me feel casual, even if I'm busy adding a million things to my to-do list.
Leggings - it's a no-brainer to pack a pair of leggings for a coast-to-coast trip. They're easy to wear, easy to pack, and just easy easy. I will probably wear them on the plane because, yes, I'm that girl.
Then we layer
I could go on and on about my love for layering but I'll spare you. The formula for successful layering goes like this: add when it's cold, subtract when it's hot. That's Layering 101 for you. And you're in luck because it's apparently really cool to tie things around your waist again. My fourth graders told me so!
Light sweaters - I like light cotton sweaters in the early fall for two reasons: they can be layered and they're easy to pack. Unlike my big cozy knits for the winter, light sweaters take up way less room in the suitcase. They can also be layered over t-shirts or under cardigans or even another sweater.
Cardigans - I'm firmly committed to cardigans. At any given moment, there is a cardigan on my chair at work, in my car, and folded up on my couch. Anybody else always cold? Cardigans are my solution because you just throw them on. I tend to favor oversized ones that envelop me like a big blanket but slim cotton ones are easy to pack and layer.
Puffy vest - as an official puffy vest club member since the early 2000's, I wait patiently ever fall to pull this out of my closet. While I sported my mom's original Woolrich vest for years, Nick gifted me a slimmer J.Crew Factory option a few years back and it is just as warm and wonderful. I love it because it provides just the right amount of warmth without being as restricting as a jacket. You can throw it over a t-shirt or a sweater or just about anything and it looks great. Plus my dad talked about doing a hike and I don't do those half zip fleece things so this is my best bet.
And we top it off with shoes and accessories
Moccasins - this is my go-to shoe for travel simply because they're insanely comfortable. You can walk everywhere in them, run to catch your flight in them, and they don't take up much room in the suitcase if you have to pack them away. I could go on for days about why moccasins but just trust me.
Favorite flats - right now I'm obsessed with pointed toe flats but all flats are perfect for travel. I mean, unless you are the kind of woman who can walk a mile in heels, then you're going to want to put some flats in your bag. Not sure which pair will work for the whole trip? Neutrals are the way to go. And yes, blush is a neutral.
Sneakers (just in case) - did you see me mention that my dad wants to go on a hike? Yea, we're going to have to see how that one goes. But it's better to be prepared.
Gold earrings - I always go for the gold when it comes to packing easy accessories for a coast-to-coast trip (and in life too, if we're speaking metaphorically). Plus, there are so many good geometric styles right now that add a dramatic flair without being too busy.
As long as I stick to this packing plan, I think my coast-to-coast trip carry-on will be under the weight limit. But you know, it's always a good idea to keep those fingers crossed when it comes to me and packing for a trip. What can I say, I like to be prepared!