Want to save big bucks on baggage fees? Make everything you jam into your suitcase work twice as hard! Clothing and gear that does double-duty takes up half the space and provides double the fun—whether it’s a reversible dress, pants that transform into shorts, or a scarf that moonlights a dozen ways. These are our multipurpose travel must-haves to pack for your next vacation.
1. Reversible Dresses
Tired of not being able to find gorgeous, versatile clothes that don’t wrinkle and can be mixed and matched for different occasions, Canadian designer Helene Clarkson started designing her own. With a complete line of soft, jersey-knit reversible items sold online and being snapped up across North America and in Australia, we think Helene’s onto something big. Throw on the Shannon 4-Way Reversible Dress, which features two different colors and two different necklines. Bonus: No tags or seams anywhere! And forget packing two pairs of pants—slip on the 1950s-inspired ponte Arro Reversible Cigarette Pants and choose from a solid shade or a striped or plaid side.
2. Multifunctional Swimwear
It’s easy to create different looks with one swimsuit when you pack Lululemon’s Coastal Call Bikini Top. Not only is it reversible, but you can choose two sets of straps to wear it as a halter or a bandeau for an even tan. Pair it with a SPF50 quick-drying rashguard that works both as a shirt or a dress. Just pull the side cord and the ruched sides transform its length for more or less coverage, whether you’re taking a surfing class, doing beachfront yoga or heading out for a quiet SUP outing.
3. Wearable Pillow
You don’t have to pack a neck pillow for that oh-so-long plane ride when you have the Dockers Packable Pillow Down Jacket. Lightweight and wind-resistant, the coolest part of this warm jacket is the bag it comes in—it’s shaped like a neck pillow! Wear it on your way to the airport, sleep on it during the trip and hook the handle over your carry-on when you land in your sun-drenched destination.
Is there anything a pashmina can’t do for you on vacation? We don’t think so! It’s as awesome in hot weather as it is on a ski trip. Use it as a blanket, a scarf, a bathing suit cover-up, a tablecloth (for those sticky-looking picnic tables), a privacy curtain when you’re sailing on a cruise ship, and a portable changing room when you need to get the kids out of their wet, sandy suits and you’re miles from the bathroom. Wear it as a wrap in icy restaurants at night or when taking an after-dinner walk on a cool evening, and make it work for you as a baby sling. Bonus: It works well to cushion fragile souvenirs in your suitcase when it’s time to go home.
5. Versatile Beach Cover Up
Love feeling easy and breezy at the shore? The Ailunsnika Women Loose Kaftan Swimsuit Cover Up and Long Casual Caftan Dress is a flattering beach cover-up by day, and its striped, drawstring style is perfect for casual dining at your resort.
6. Multiuse Headbands
Whether you use it during a workout, as an eye mask or to tie up your hair on sweaty days, make sure to toss some kind of bandana into your carry-on. We recommend Amazing Me Time headbands, which are made of breathable, durable microfiber fabric. Perfect either as an ear warmer, or as a balakava under your ski helmet, this headband can also be used as a handkerchief, or wash cloth to wick away sweat during a long, dusty hike, or an impromptu ice pack for your kids’ inevitable “ouchies” on vacation. You can even use it to cover up a really bad hair day! Bonus: It comes with a cotton storage pouch you can pop into your purse.
7. Convertible Pants
Ideal for travel days or on hikes, these Solstice Apparel Women’s Insect Repellent Convertible Pants will have you appreciating nature even more. Not only can you zip off the legs to transform these wrinkle-free nylon pants into shorts as the temperature rises, they’re treated with bug repellent to keep mosquitoes, ticks, black flies and gnats at bay for up to 70 washes. They’ll also provide SPF 40 sun protection.
8. Day-to-Night Shoes
We get it: The dilemma of which shoes will make your short-list won’t ever be easy. But look for ones that will give you the most bang for your baggage buck. These Crocs Sanrah Beveled Circle Wedge Sandals can be worn to the beach or while traipsing through a farmer’s market, and then glammed up at night with a pretty sundress. Rubber flip-flops are perfect poolside or worn in the hotel as slippers and as shower shoes at campgrounds or the gym.
9. Bags That Do Double- and Triple-Duty
Carrying everyone’s stuff all day calls for a heavy-duty tote bag; extra points for one that goes with all your daytime outfits. The Humble Chic Reversible Vegan Leather Tote Bag is water- and scratch-resistant, plus it’s fully reversible. Pretty gold-tone hardware takes this bag from day to night. We also recommend the Baggallini 3-in-1 Convertible Backpack, an adjustable, lightweight cross-body bag with straps that can be configured as a backpack, plus a removable RFID phone wristlet that protects your personal information. Made of water-resistant nylon and featuring quick-access pockets and a sleeve to hook it onto your luggage, this bag travels well.
10. Multifunctional Jewelry
It can be tricky to find jewelry and other accessories that work with multiple outfits. Search no more! We love this knit infinity Fishnet Beaded Scarf, because it can also be worn as a hipster sash belt or a necklace to add some sparkle to your vacation wardrobe. It’s available in 28 colors and super affordable, so pick up a few and wear them together or on their own for new looks all year long. Bonus: It’s so lightweight it’ll tuck inside any suitcase corner or pair of running shoes.
Reversible Items for the Whole Family
Montreal-based Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist, content strategist and TV producer who writes for dozens of digital and print magazines, as well as many brands. Wendy loves cruising, adventure travel and venturing off the beaten path with her husband and teenage son, and she can pack a carry-on bag like nobody’s business. Follow her @WendyHelfenbaum.