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I recently took a two week vacation to Puerto Vallarta via discount carrier, Flair Airlines and to be honest, even with my 20 years prior packing experience I didn't think I could pull it off.

I was pleasantly surprised.

It took a lot of planning, I admit, because being a lover of fashion I was used to bringing a lot of clothing. My suitcase was always brimming with more than I needed for the short duration of my stays to the tune of 3 bathing suits, 5 dresses, and every possible style of shoe I could store in the bottom of my suitcase. Of course, I would justify this by telling myself something unexpected might happen. I might end up stranded somewhere, although pre-COVID that was highly unlikely.

The moral of my story is this. If I can do it, so can you. The steps I took might be useful to you too the next time you're planning a money-saving vacation to a warm destination.


Even though my memory is not too bad for my age, I always leave something important behind. It never fails. Making a list ensured my important documents, passport and driver's license, were on my person and readily available when they were requested. These items I listed right at the top, along with my cell phone. I always forget my cell phone, don't ask me why. I wrote it on my list because my boarding pass was downloaded to my Wallet. If you forget your boarding pass you will be charged an extra $25.00 when you're at the airport. After I listed these crucial items, I began to jot down the clothing I needed. This is where it got tricky because I was committed to bringing one personal item (bag). This was going to save me a lot of money on baggage, which can run up to $99.00 per luggage. I chose to bring a medium-sized backpack which could be stored under the seat in front of me. This proved to be wise because it was under 15 lbs. so I also wasn't charged the $55.00 carry-on fee. How did I keep my clothing allotment under the 15 lb. restriction? My experience creating capsule wardrobes came in very handy!


Being restricted by a 15 lb. weight limit seemed really daunting at first. Not so much my clothing, but my shoes in particular. You don't realize how much weight is in those heels! My sneakers especially weighed more than I anticipated. The only solution I could come to was to wear them on the plane. This freed up quite a bit of weight and I was able to pack two pairs of sandals. Flip flops weigh practically nothing so that was a no-brainer. I wore them more than the others so was really glad I brought them!

The key to creating a functional travel capsule when you have a weight restriction is to follow the "less is more" rule. Less bottoms and more tops is the way to go. Also, choose no more than 3 colours so you can mix and match everything easily. My 3 colour choices were navy, white and some multicoloured patterns that contained both. My one pair of navy Eddie Bauer shorts in a lightweight, waterproof fabric proved to be invaluable. I paired them with a white and navy patterned Tango Mango Collection sleeveless top in a jersey-type fabric that didn't need ironing. I also packed a solid white C'est Moi bamboo tank to keep me dry, and two multicoloured sleeveless Banana Republic tops in silky fabrics to keep me cool. A pair of white cotton Michael KORS capri's paired perfectly with everything. I added two lightweight patterned dresses from Vince Camuto and Zooni Collection and a casual floor-length colour-block skirt from Style Style Style and I was done. I brought just one bathing suit, a navy one-shoulder style with petit point flowers embroidered on a cross-shoulder ruffle. This I also styled as a bodysuit paired with each and every bottom! By selecting colour-coordinated items for the capsule I was able to create 16 different outfits using the 4 tops, bathing suit and 3 bottoms, plus the two dresses, which more than covered the 14 day duration of my vacation!


The fabrics you choose for your travel capsule are really important when you have a weight restriction so I made sure everything was as lightweight as possible. Although cotton is a natural, breathable fabric known to keep you cool, it can also be heavy. It also typically wrinkles easily, almost as badly as linen. I restricted myself to one pair of cotton capri's to keep the weight at a minimum. The other items, tops and dresses, were made of sheers and silks.

When you are using a backpack in place of a suitcase you need to be able to get everything in it. I achieved this by laying all of my clothes flat (no folding). I started with the longest item, my floor-length skirt. Next were the two dresses, which were knee-length. One by one I laid each item out flat, on top of each other. My capri's were next, then the tops and bathing suit. My underwear was the last to be placed on top. Once the clothing was all laid out, I rolled it up tightly much like a sleeping bag and slid it into the backpack. I had more than enough room to fit my flip flops and sandals, hairbrush and medications, and the see-through plastic bag containing all my liquids.


This step was actually the most challenging for me. I didn't think I would be able to bring my favorite shampoos and conditioners. Or makeup. I never go anywhere without it! Well, I did it. Lucky for me I had a lot of travel size hair products I collected from previous online purchases. They were each packaged in bottles well under the 100 ml restriction. I was able to bring mascara, eye shadow, and my tinted moisturizer as long as they were in their original containers. Don't bother transferring them into those plastic travel bottles you get at the drugstores. If you leave them in their original packaging the security officers will clearly see what they are and won't hassle you. Count the total amount of ml's of all the liquids you're bringing. As long as you're under 1 litre (1000 ml's) you are good to go!


There's nothing more frustrating than arriving at the airport with backpacks or carry-ons that don't comply with the CATSA-ACSTA guidelines and the restrictions of the airline you are flying on. Many people struggle to get their backpacks in between the slots at the boarding gates. Everything you need to know is online at "What can I bring? - CATSA" and your airline's website. You can read the size and weight guidelines for personal items, carry-ons and luggage and the charges you will have to pay if you go over them. Ensure you also read the restrictions and lists of the types of things you're allowed to bring in your personal item (bag) or carry-on and the size of the see-through plastic bag you must use to transport your liquids. It's easy to find and well worth your money to read through it before you leave. I saved over $300 CAD on airfaire alone by taking a low-cost carrier and playing by the rules!

There are many ways you can capitalize on the space you need to carry things you want to take with you. Use the insides of your shoes. Sunglass cases are really useful for small items. Pill organizers are a great way to pack vitamins. Belts can be used to secure rolled clothes. The list is endless. Look around the house to see what you can find. You don't need to spend extra! Save large by booking a low-cost carrier and making use of things you already own!

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