As I am gearing up to go on my vacation for the year I find myself sitting on the floor surrounded in currency from other counties, clothes I want to bring and a suitcase I secretly wish was a Mary Poppins bag. As much as I would prefer to pack my entire life into a suitcase just to confirm I am not missing anything, the airline rudely reminds me that it is important to stay under my baggage weight limit!
Nevertheless, one the best parts of travel for me is shopping in different parts of the world. Different current trends over there, foods you can only buy in that country or town, trinkets you want to bring back to loved ones. But I may not be able to buy all those things if I buy more than my bags can hold! That statement has made me become an excellent packer!
Below are some of my favorite tips and trips to remember or maybe try for the first time on how to bring and buy everything you want and still fit it in your bag to take home
Know your Bag Size:
I think we can all agree there should be no restrictions on your bag size, but yet again the airlines feel differently. Make sure you look at your specific airlines details with what size bag you are allowed to bring, as well as how many. Typically, you can bring a 90x75x55 cm large suitcase, 55x40x23 cm for carry on hand luggage and a purse!
Before you even start to pack make sure you have all of your pieces of luggage so you know what kinda space you are working with. If you need luggage I would suggest heading to your local Ross or T.J. Maxx as I find they have way better suitcases for less than $50. Also, look for suitcases that have a hard exterior instead of soft. It allows you to pack more with a less likely change of things getting broken.
Soft ⇑ vs Hard ⇑Luggage
As for purses, I always bring a purse the full zip closure (safety first), is a neutral color that goes with everything. One that has a short and long across body strap. And if you can find one that has a material on that outside that can withstand rain that is a bonus. Coach and Kate Spade both make bags that fit all of these requirements, look in their sale section as well because its magic.
Pack in Advance:
Yes, you have probably been told your whole life this line and kinda rolled your eyes and say I will get to it when I get to it. Then the night before your flight you are rushing around your house trying to find everything. Not only is that whole situation insanely stressful, you will most likely forget something or overpack. Below is my Prep list for the week prior to the day I leave. That way a just spend a bit of time each day and then toss it in the bag. No rushing, no forgetting and no overpacking! I need my bag to have room for all the stuff I want to buy!!
♦ 6 Days Before – Figure out what the weather will be like for your trip. That way it will adjust what clothes you need to pack. As much as you might want to bring a light jacket even though it says it is 95 there, don’t! You are losing room and adding weight.
♦ 5 Days Before – Lay out all the clothes you think you want to pack for your trip. I will start with bottoms and build an outfit from there. I put the entire outfit together from underwear to t-shirt. I find this really helps me get a big visual of what I am packing. Do I really need 3 black pants or will 1 work? Can I bring 1 tank top instead of 3? Be ruthless!
♦ 4 Days Before – Get out the items (non-clothing) you will need for your trip. I feel one of the biggest thing people can easily forget is the small things. Cords, pieces for your camera, batteries, electronics. Laying it out will allow you to see everything so you have time in case you did forget something. Below are some of my essentials for travel.
♦ 3 Days Before – print out all your documents and make copies. Print out all your flight, hotel and Airbnb addresses and directions. You will want to keep this in your purse or carryon so it is accessible at all times. Also, just to be extra safe send someone you trust a copy of your documents, license and passport in case it is stolen you will have a backup.
♦ 2 Days Before – Decant all your skin, hair and body products. Below ⇓ you can see how I pack all of my items but it is important to take a look at what you have in case you find yourself needing to make a trip to Target for minis.
♦ 1 Day Before – Pack everything in your bags! Completely pack your bag, carry on and your purse. I always have my stuff packed 24 hours before my flight because that give me 20 hours to figure out if I have forgotten something and need to shove it in my bag.
Lay, Roll & Fill:
Everyone has their own technique on how they like to place their items in the bags but these three technique I find allow me to take up less space.
Lay down the big items. If you are bringing jackets lay those completely flat on the bottom of your suitcase. If you are traveling in summer do this with your fancy dresses or longer items.
Roll the outfit. If find that with shirts, undies, bras and socks I will lay them all out and roll them very thinly and place on top of the jackets in my bag. That way when I get there I just grab the top and it has the whole outfit in it. Roll your pants as well and place them next to your shirt so your bag is packed in outfits.
Fill all the spaces. Once I have all my clothes in the bag I start to fill the gaps with all of my other hair, skin and makeup products needed for the trip. Don’t forget to place stuff inside your shoes as well as that is a space not too waste. I tend to put my shoes on the sides of the bag with the sole facing the bag so it doesn’t dirty my clothes. Use all the space you can get.
Decant & Believe in Mini’s:
So, if you are anything like me you will probably be bringing along a lot of skincare, makeup and hair products. The two best tips I have for packing is bring minis and decant your products into sample sized items and leave them there. Below are the ways I pack each section.
Hair: So you have a few options here. For me I have tons and tons of Sephora samples of shampoo and condition that I save to use when I travel. That way I have no liquid ounce issue and I know they won’t open in transport. I just bring them with me and toss then in the trash when I leave.
You can use the Lush Shampoo and Condition Bars that are small round solid bars that you can toss in a zip lock and weight nothing. You can read my post here on my favorite shampoo bars.
Or you can do the standard and buy the $2 mini shampoo and conditions from target and bring those. I typically leave them there and do not take them home since I don’t want to add something to my luggage that could take the place of something I have bought.
Skin: If I buy a skincare products and I really like their sturdy packaging I will keep it. Even after I have finished the product inside it. For example, when I get products from Sephora I will use up the product, but if I like the packaging I wash it and keep it for when I travel. I will take my face wash and fill the mini sample jar I kept and once I am done using it I toss it. No worry about bringing things home or wasting product. Decanting your products take 5 mins but is so helpful when traveling!
Empty Saved Sample Jars
None of this will come home with me!
Makeup: Lets be real, a lot of us have mini blushes, bronzers, highlighters and even eyeliner. Take those with you!!! Sephora reward points, as well as their $15 travel section has a great array of mini products so you do not have to try to fit all that makeup in your bag. Plus, sometimes powder products break in transit and you will probably be less likely to cry if a mini item is broken, then your huge expensive one.
For liquid makeup, such as foundation, primers and concealers, I never ever bring a full bottle. Sephora and MAC both have mini sample jars that you can get for free. I will pump my liquids into the sample jars label them and pack them in a zip lock bag. That way I can use them up while on vacation and toss them when I am done.
Tips for a Safe Bag Home:
So now you have bought a massive load of stuff from your amazing adventures and you need to figure out how to fit it all in so you can go home.
Step 1: Throw everything you don’t need to take home away! All that depoting I told you to do earlier should be tossed. I know for me when I buy stuff on vacation it come with so much extra fun packaging. If the item can make it home safely and securely without the extra cardboard packaging, unwrap it and toss it away.
Step 2: On the opposite side, if you are worried of stuff not having enough wrapping to make is home safely, use your clothes as wrapping. Place all those super valuable and breakable items in the middle of your suitcase.
Step 3: Use the same lay, roll and fill idea as above for packing. I know once the vaca is over we just want to throw the clothes in the bag but it doesn’t help you fit all your stuff in the bags. Take the few mins and use the same technique!
Step 4: Wear your heaviest clothes home. Wear your heaviest shoes, jacket, shirt, pants and layer. That will for sure help give you more room in your luggage. And a lot of the times the airplanes are a bit chilly so that should help.
Step 5: Do not forget to fill your purse and carry on! I make sure both those bags are full to the brim since I am not getting charged if they are a bit heavy. I place everything I need for the plane flight in my purse and fill my carry on with whatever else is needed. But never put liquids in your carry on or you will have to deal with TSA.
Finally, remember to have an amazing vacation! Vacations are a privilege, not a right and should be treated that way. Plus, if you did forget something, I am quite sure you will be able to grab that item when you land. Safe travels & when in doubt….buy it!