I am notorious for waiting until the last possible moment to pack for a trip. Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or a month-long escape, I’m a classic packing procrastinator. But – and I don’t mean to brag – I am pretty skilled in the art of packing. And an art it is, indeed.
Extensive travel over the years has taught me what really should be going in my bag and what should stay at home. Following these simple guidelines will help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty we’ve all experienced when going away (should I bring those shoes? Do I need that dress? What if it’s cold?) all while ensuring you’ll have everything you need, and nothing that will end up spending the entire week (or month – lucky you!) at the bottom of your suitcase.
From Disorganised to Diligent
When I first began traveling I would throw things into my bag willy-nilly without really considering whether it was a practical choice for where I was going. I’d arrive at my destination and realise shortly thereafter that I didn’t really need half the stuff I brought.
To state the obvious: when packing, one should really consider the purpose of the trip. Are you plopping your behind by the pool all day at a swanky resort where you will sip on Pina Coladas as pool attendants mist Evian water on your face or are you headed to a low-key cabin on the beach where the only amenities are a mosquito net and a fan? Will you be bouncing around from destination to destination on a motorbike, surfboard in tow, or will you be planted in one place for the duration of your trip?
Be honest with yourself: do you want to be burdened by a bulky bag filled with clothes that won’t be used? Chances are, those five pairs of shoes aren’t a ‘total must-have’ for that weekend trip.
I suggest placing everything you may want to bring in a pile and then whittle down your choices as you consider the types of activities you’ll be doing. Personally, I still like to feel stylish even when I’m cruising around dirt roads on remote islands, but one must try to be sensible. Do you really need that hair straightener and high heels for your yoga retreat in the jungle? NOPE.
Also consider that airlines will try to suck every last dime from you and the money-grubbing starts at the check-in counter. Whenever possible, I try to avoid checking any luggage to avoid the additional cost. Make sure your beauty products are placed in in approved containers. I like by Go Gear.
Lighten your load by choosing pieces that will work double (or triple!) overtime.
Bring items from your wardrobe that are versatile and mix and match well: a dress that looks as cool barefoot on the beach over a swimsuit as it does accessorised with heels and a clutch for a night out, a top pairs effortlessly with denim and sandals as well as a flowing maxi skirt, or a sarong that does triple duty as a beach blanket/swim cover up/scarf. Make your wardrobe work for you, sister!
Consider how many days you’ll be away and plan accordingly. I’m not saying you need to plan your outfit for every day of the week, but ask yourself how to get the most bang for your proverbial buck. In fact, if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up wearing the same darn thing during the day anyway: swimsuit with a cover-up and sunglasses. If it’s a surf trip I’ll bring even less since most of my time is spent in the water.
The romper I’m wearing is by Free People, and I wore it as a swim cover up throughout my most recent trip to Nicaragua, but also out on a couple of nice dates with my husband.
The crochet-style cropped sweater, from PYLO USA, became another go-to: it paired well with just about everything in my bag!
It’s all about the fabric
You’re on vacation trying to relax, or maybe you’re on a serious travel mission in which the only concrete plan you have is your flight. Either way, you don’t want to worry about the condition your clothes are in after flying and I doubt you’ll have a steamer handy. Choose fabrics that don’t wrinkle, or better yet, that look good slightly crumpled up. Natural fabrics like linen or gauzy cotton are your best friends. Synthetic materials like rayon tend to travel well, too. Roll, don’t fold, these items and tuck them in your bag – this saves space AND helps to reduce wrinkling.
Invest in a really great multi-use scarf or pestemal. These heaven-sent marvels have been my saving grace on many a trip! Soft gauzy scarves provide some degree of cosy comfort on long flights, look chic draped over shoulders to cut the chill on a breezy tropical evening, and can be stuffed into your bag. Just be mindful that the scarf you like contains no silk! I also really love traveling with a nice pestemal, otherwise known as a Turkish bath towel. Not only are these towels super absorbent, they also become softer with use, are much less bulky than a beach towel and look pretty stylish, to boot. I love these 100% cotton pestemals by , available at Aloha Sunday.
Travel-day outfit and carry-on essentials.
We’re all adults, so please leave the baggy sweatpants and giant slouchy sweatshirt at home. I get it, you want to be comfortable on your flight; however, sweatpants and bulky sweatshirts aren’t going to do you any favours on your trip.
Wear something that will be comfortable in flight AND useful while you’re away. For on-flight footwear, go for your heaviest pair and tuck slimmer footwear, like sandals, into your carry-on bag. Layering is your best friend and this is where that nice cotton scarf will come in handy and keep you a bit warmer if you’re travelling from cold to warm.
My carry-on essentials include:
My passport (duh) tucked into a cute passport holder – it looks chic and helps me to not lose the sucker.
My tea-tree oil blemish stick – because my skin hates flying
Deodorant and some mellow perfume – for obvious reasons
Sunglasses for easy access
Mala bead necklace – I play with the beads during take off and landing to soothe anxiety
A good book!
This is an occasion in which beauty-box subscriptions, like Petit Vour, come in handy! Not only are they great for discovering new products, their monthly samples are the perfect travel size. I LOVE Meow Meow Tweet deodorant, and the mini deodorant I received in my box a few months ago is still puttin’ in work and gets popped into my carry-on bag whenever I go away.
Finally – don’t forget about your skin!
The following are my favorite products during and after travel:
Sun Bum sunblock: This sunblock is not tested on animals, provides great protection, and really stays on. I have melasma, which causes dark spots on my face, and this sunblock really protects against it getting worse.
Devita Age Defying Moisturizer: this moisturizer feels great and is small enough to pack into your carry-on.
Devita Sun Damage Repair Serum: a great serum to use, even well before the signs of sun damage have appeared. Although the spots on my face look like sun damage, they’re caused by melasma, but I find this serum helpful anyway. I discontinue use of this serum about a week before I’m going to be in the sun and continue after my trip. In the summer months I only use in the evening.
Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel: I swear by this peel and religiously use it after I’ve been travelling. It decongests pores and really brightens my skin: even my husband notes how nice my skin looks after I’ve used this peel. Although Juice Beauty does not recommend this peel for individuals with sensitive skin (because of the alpha/beta hydroxyl fruit acids), I will say that my skin is pretty sensitive and does well with this peel. I simply leave it one for 6-8 minutes instead of the recommended 10.
And remember – unless you’re dropping off the face of the Earth, chances are good that you can always buy whatever it is you’ve forgotten at your destination.
This post contains affiliate links.