When I was preparing for my trip to Madrid, I read just about everything I could get my hands on regarding tips and tricks for packing for 10 days abroad. I knew I wanted to look stylish, I wanted to be comfortable and warm, I only wanted to take one suitcase and I wanted that one suitcase to not exceed the weight limit.
I needed pieces that could be layered and that could be styled more than one way. I needed pieces that could easily transition from day to night, that were breathable, and that didn’t wrinkle. I needed warm but not bulk, and likely, lots of black.
I felt confident that I was starting out informed, but that I’d probably be able to more clearly define which pieces were clutch and which could have been left home once I got there. The bottom of this post are pictures of my actual outfits; the links and pictures associated to those links are similar pieces should you want to recreate this travel capsule yourself!
What to Pack for a 10 Day Trip to Madrid.
Choose 8 Tops
Solid colors and easily layered pieces are key here. I packed mostly black, white, and blue and chose pieces that could be mixed and matched and layered on top of each other. Button-up shirts are great because they can be worn lots of different ways, and you can never go wrong with stripes, the most versatile of patterns. I chose one heavy-ish sweater, my white turtleneck tunic, for extra cold days but otherwise relied on multiple layers.
Then Choose 4 Bottoms
I’m most comfortable in jeans so that’s what I packed. I saw a lot of lists that suggested skirts and tights, but for me, jeans made more sense. I picked four pairs of skinny jeans in 4 different colors/washes, each of which could be paired with any of the above tops and more importantly, with the below shoes. I was particularly excited to try out the pastels-for-winter-look with those oxblood pants!
Bring 1-2 Dresses that can be Dressed Up or Dressed Down
I was on the fence about this but every list I found on the internet included at least one comfortable, versatile dress. Once I got there I was so glad I brought these. They were comfortable and perfect for nights out on the town when I wanted to give my jeans a break. I paired both them with black leggings or tights and was able to add layers to both with ease.
Pick 2-3 Pairs of Neutral Shoes (That Make Sense!)
I think it was a combination of fashion trends and necessity, but I fell in love with comfortable, stylish flat boots when I was studying abroad in Florence back in 2007. A good pair is equal parts stylish, comfortable, and durable. At the end of the day your dogs shouldn’t be barking, even if you did walk 8 miles. I chose 2 pairs of flat boots, one black and one brown, and one pair of black booties for nights out. I was glad I had all three, but if push came to suitcase-space-saving-shove, the booties would have been cut and I would have been just fine.
Choose Versatile Outerwear
Depending on the season, this is incredibly important. If you go to Madrid in February like me, you’ll spend lots of time planning out adorable outfits, only to cover them up with the same coat day after day. It won’t matter what’s underneath, the coat is what’s getting photographed (which is why those warm sunny days were so welcome). When my mom visited me in Europe and we traveled around France for Spring Break, we called the two coats we brought “the pink blob” and “the white blob” because that’s what we looked like in pictures. Blobs. What I’m saying is choose a coat (or two) that is warm, versatile, and that you like. Lighter layers like a cardigan in a neutral color and a quilted vest are great for days when it’s warmer and you’re craving something different.
Pile on the Accessories
Adding a scarf or some fun jewelry can really liven up an outfit. I brought 5 scarves (I wore one on the plane) and didn’t limit myself on jewelry. When I thought that my outfits were starting to look tired, I switched up the scarf and felt like new. I packed 2 cross-body bags, one black and one printed, but the black one was the winner. I wished I had brought a small wallet or coin purse, as I didn’t want to carry my large wallet around all day. Other things you may need: gloves, a belt, a warm hat, and sunglasses.
Don’t Forget the Rest
And then there’s everything else: underwear, something to sleep in, toiletries, something comfortable to lounge in during siesta. I’ll leave the specifics up to you!
I was able to make 20 outfits with these 21 pieces and could have kept going.
If you’re planning a trip abroad, and you’ll be gone for 10 days, you’ll find no shortage of articles to read about what to pack. I’m happy to add to the fray, and hope that this helps. When you’re there, you don’t want to be worried about the clothes you brought; you want to be comfortable and feel good so that you can take in all of the joy that a new culture and a new place has to offer.