What To Bring On A Year-Long Trip When You Only Have One Suitcase

When I decided to give up my cozy Brooklyn apartment, quit my job at a fashion magazine, and join my husband on a year-long national tour of a Broadway show, we put everything we owned in storage except for the two bags we’d each take with us. I knew that figuring out what to pack would be hard, but I assumed that it wouldn’t be impossible.

Deciding what to bring and what to leave behind, however, proved to be an ordeal. Eliminating more items when I actually packed my bag was even tougher. And, you guessed it, doing one last cull when I tried to zip it was the toughest yet. In the end, I’m proud to say I pulled together an incredibly edited list of essentials, making every item count.

Here’s the biggest personal fashion rule that I had to learn how to break: dressing for the occasion. For me, a sun-soaked L.A. wardrobe required an entirely different look than a Hamptons getaway (despite similar climates). And what about when I’m crossing through California in November and Salt Lake City in December? Attending after-parties but also hitting the hiking trails? Whatever high-maintenance habits I’d been holding onto would have to be left behind.

Ultimately, after what felt like years of packing and purging, I realised the secret to life on the road lies in balancing the practical with the purposeful, statement styles with everyday essentials. And only the strong survive. I had three criteria: Is it versatile enough to mix and match with many outfits? Will it hold up in a variety of cities, climates, and landscapes? And do I love it? Because when you’re pressed for space, there’s no room for the so-so stuff.

I’ll have one opportunity (one!) in January to turn over my fall go-tos for a few winter essentials, but this first round has to go the distance. Literally. Not including a toothbrush, undies, and other less-exciting necessities, these are the 17 style essentials that made the cut.