Though I’ve been an avid traveler all my life, the rate in which I travel now is exponential compared to before! Being a flight attendant, I’m afforded the opportunity to travel very cheaply, and I certainly take advantage. Flying standby though, means it’s unpredictable whether I will make it on a flight, so I don’t take chances with checked luggage. This means I need to pack as much as I can in a carry on and personal item, whether it’s for a weekend trip, or two weeks. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way, and certain products have made packing SO much easier! Packing light doesn’t mean you have to scrimp on style (which I touch upon on this previous blog post), it just means your chosen pieces should be multi-functional.
Here are a few of my personal tips and product suggestions for traveling light (in all seasons):
I’ve learned to pair down my toiletries and makeup over the years, because they were taking up way too much of my bag. For a woman, that can be pretty hard sometimes! If you need a fair amount of items like me, the trick is to make the items as small as possible, while still getting to keep them in your bag.
Here are some examples:
– Though these shaving creams are travel size, they still take up too much space in my toiletries bag. Instead, I starting using a shaving cream that comes in a small tube, like this. These single use shaving pods are also a great choice, which I think I’ll be ordering next!
– Face moisturizer was the same dilemma. If possible, I use samples of moisturizer (like birch box samples), but if I need more (or you need your specific moisturizer every time you travel), I squeeze my moisturizer into a smaller bottle.
– I’m the most picky about my hair spray, I only like one type and I tend to do up dos while traveling for fuss free hair, so quality hair spray is important. Luckily, my brand of hair spray comes in a travel size, so I don’t have to resort to the cheap brands in the travel toiletry isle. Check out stores or websites like Amazon, to see if your brand comes in travel size too!
– When we stay in hotels, my husband always brings the complimentary hotel toiletries back with him. I prefer these bottles to the store bought travel size because they are even smaller. I don’t need much shampoo and conditioner since I use dry shampoo (also in travel size) between washes, so it saves on space. If you dislike the cheap quality of the hotel shampoos, just remove what’s in there, wash, and fill with your own shampoo.
When it comes to makeup, I pair down my routine to the minimum. Sparkly neutral eye shadow, liquid eyeliner pen, mascara, BB cream, sometimes blush, lip primer, and a few lipsticks. Lipsticks is the only thing I indulge in having a few, since I like wearing bright lips that coordinate with my outfit. If you like a more subtle shade, I suggest a pinky neutral that goes with all outfits.
I also carry a teasing comb, Bobby pins and hair flowers, headbands or barrettes. These are easy ways to change up a recycled outfit during your trip, without taking up much space in your carry on.
Shoes are a major travel struggle for me. I don’t like scrimping on style, but with the amount of walking I do, they need to be comfortable (which I’ve learned the hard way). I haven’t found my perfect travel sandal yet (picky on what goes with retro style, that is reasonably priced) but these two shoes travel with me almost every trip!
These cap toe croc flats are super comfy, go with everything, and are rubber so they can be easily washed. I sometimes wear hose (with dresses/skirts) or hosiery socks (with pants) to reduce sweating and irritation with them. Sometimes, no matter how great the shoe, if you walk a lot and your feet are sweaty and swollen, you need an extra layer of comfort. This particular pair is discontinued on the Crocs site, but there are plenty of equally great pairs of comfy flats on the site.
When I wear jeans while traveling, I wear these fabulous Oxford tennis shoes. I always hated wearing normal tennis shoes (too sporty), but these have a classic retro aesthetic and are VERY comfortable. Worth the investment!
THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS OF TRAVEL
Since I fly stand by, I have to dress business casual for my flights. However, I still want to be comfortable, especially on long flights. This dress has been a life saver! It’s a stretchy cotton that hardly wrinkles, is flattering on all sizes, great length, and has pockets! I have it in black to keep it neutral, so that I can dress it up with a variety of scarves, statement necklaces, sweaters and belts. It’s worn practically every trip I take, since it’s my easiest, but super classy option.
Many people know that rolling vs folding your clothes saves on space, but what many belatedly realize, is that those perfect rolls don’t stay for long, when you need something at the bottom of your bag. And it’s ALWAYS at the bottom of your bag…
I use these packing cubes to contain my rolled clothes because it keeps things organized when rifling through my carry on, and it helps squish my clothing even more than just rolling.
SHOE BAGS/DIRTY LAUNDRY BAGS
Shoes carry OODLES of dirt and germs from walking on the streets and I don’t like them to be touching my clean clothes. I prefer using these bags to keep them contained, and the same goes for my dirty undergarments (and sometimes clothes). Though I’m still packing these dirty clothes back into my cubes, I like to keep them further divided by rolling them and putting into the bags, then placing inside the cubes, separated from the clean clothes.
“PERSONAL ITEM” BAGS
Instead of just a purse for my personal item, I use this small shoulder tote to fit any extra items (including my cross body purse), in case my carry on just won’t fit everything. It usually contains my essentials for the plane, like my iPad, snacks and any medication I may need. It still fits under the seat, while giving me plenty more space for extra items. Funny enough, my duffel is actually a diaper bag, but it’s perfect for its size, washable material, and thick carry strap! It’s Kate Spade, so usually would be quite expensive, but was actually around $100 on sale. If you are looking for something cheaper though, here are some options.
CARRY ON BAG
Some to prefer to invest a pretty penny for quality bags that last forever, and some want the cheapest possible if they don’t travel a lot. I prefer the middle of the road. I like changing my bag every few years, so I keep my investment between $40-$100. My usual criteria is 4 wheels for ultimate mobility, a distinct pattern of color for style and easy finding (when rarely checked), and an zipper extender that can add a few more inches of packing space.
I hope you find these tips and products helpful for your next trip. Happy travels!