When my friend Sisilia Piring first mentioned to me that she planned to live out of a camper van while traveling across the country for an entire year, my first thought was how cool the trip sounded. Immediately after, my second thought was how in the world she could pack for a road trip like this. Coming up with fresh outfits while traveling on a short trip is difficult enough as it is, but factor in the length of her trip (an entire year) and the fact that Piring's vintage 1966 camper is just 10 feet long (space is quite limited), and you have yourself the ultimate challenge in how to pack for a road trip.
I caught up with her when she'd been on the road for five months, driven over 4600 miles, and visited 24 states. Nearly halfway through her trip, she shared all her packing knowledge with me—everything from the capsule wardrobe she hit the road with initially to how she keeps her outfits looking so fresh despite having to re-wear the same few pieces. Whether or not you're planning an extended trip like hers, everyone could stand to learn from her expert packing tips.
Ahead, read about how she approached packing for her yearlong road trip across the U.S., and shop pieces she finds essential.
I narrowed in on a capsule wardrobe.
"I only brought my favorite things—my two my favorite Re/Done jeans, three of my favorite T-shirts, one dress, two jumpsuits, a vintage blazer, jackets, and a few other essentials."
See her blazer, jeans, and T-shirt in action:
Jeans, a tee, and a blazer are a fail-safe combo, no matter what season, occasion, or environment you find yourself in.
Piring made sure to pack a few of her go-to graphic tees to add interest to even the simplest of outfits.
Pro tip: It's all in the accessories.
She went for a monochrome base to make her trusted checked blazer feel brand-new.
I gave a hard pass to most of my shoes and bags.
"I knew I couldn't bring too many purses or shoes since they take up more space and weight, so I had to limit myself to those few things I mentioned earlier. It turned out not to be terribly hard to do since we sold about 90% of everything we owned before we left for our trip, which helped a ton in my decision making."
See and shop her essential bags and shoes:
A classic handbag like this Chanel one makes any outfit look polished.
At least one fun bag option deserved a spot in her camper.
I love how she's able to find both dressier and more casual ways to wear these mules.
I learned to make repeat outfits feel new again.
"For me, adding some of my favorite pieces with an unexpected print or color gives it a fresh feel. Likewise, pairing things with different accessories and an unexpected shoe are always fantastic options and makes the pieces I wear constantly feel new again."
I used the trip as an excuse to shop locally.
"I knew going into this trip that I wanted to thrift in all of the cities we were going to visit. So with that in mind, I didn't bring a whole lot to begin with."
At the end of the day, packing cubes saved my life.
"I bought a five-pack of them, and my family and friends are always surprised by how many clothes I'm able to pack in the camper. They'll see a small packing cube and are surprised that when I open it up, there are five dresses, two jeans, two shirts, and a hoodie in one, but when it's packed up, it's a tiny little cube and hardly takes up any space.
"I pack a lot of the clothes I know I'm not going to wear in those packing cubes and pack them away for when I have a closet sale. Clothes are constantly moving in and out of my camper. I also donate a lot to thrift shops and give a lot away to my family and friends I see while on this trip so I can thrift more, ha!"