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Pack Light, Look Great and Save Money

Packing light tips

Today I have an amazing guest post from Shereen from ShereenTravelsCheap.com! Shereen obviously travels frequently, and like me is a beauty addict! She’s got a lot of great tips for packing light for any trip.

When you travel, it can be tempting to pack half your closet and 10 pair of shoes, especially when you’re going on vacation for several weeks and you aren’t sure what you’ll feel like wearing on any particular day. Will you be lounging by the pool or going out dancing? Planning can help, but most of us instinctually get in that “what if” headspace and just start chucking random things into the suitcase and only question what we have packed when we either have to sit on it to get it closed or start hunting for a second bag. Then we groan when we get to the airport and have to spend money on second or overweight bag fees and just declare that traveling is too expensive. Well, there’s no doubt that it can be expensive, but there are costs you can control and packing is one of them.

Over the years, I’ve perfected my packing style, so that I’ve gone from taking a big suitcase with shoes for every outfit to taking one large carry-on and another smaller one for both my husband and myself. Did you know that most women travelers wear/use only 20% of what they bring? If that’s true, that means you can leave up to 80% of what you planned to pack at home in your closet. Keeping that in mind and paying close attention to the things I never touched once I made it to my destination, I slowly began to whittle down my travel wardrobe and beauty products. I now know what I’m likely to wear and need for just about any trip of any length any time of year.

What’s in your beauty bag?

By far, this has been my most challenging area when starting to pack. Like many of you, my bathroom is stuffed with products I’ve tried once, but haven’t used again or thrown out, multiple trendy eye shadows, mascara wands, eyeliners and makeup palettes. Do I use all of these every day? No. In fact, I tend to use the same items over and over, but the possibilities! I like choices. Being reasonable and realistic about what you use with help when you start setting aside items to take with you.

Only bring what you normally use
I don’t vary much in my routine. Sometimes I will add a sparkly eye shadow or a lip gloss.

Bring multipurpose items
These will help you take fewer products and also save time each day.

Examples might be:
• Foundation + moisturizer = tinted moisturizer
My favorite being Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with SPF. This is especially good for traveling in the summer, as it gives you light coverage, protection against the sun and extra needed moisture.

• Blush + lip stain = dual purpose makeup
Gel color for cheeks is incredibly popular and allows you to better control your coverage. It also doesn’t dry out your skin like traditional powder blushes might. If you are a fan of wearing similar colors on your cheeks and your lips, these dual products – like Stila’s Convertible Color – are perfect for making space in your travel beauty bag.

• Lip balm + lip color = tinted lip balm
I am a lip balm addict. I fully admit it. I have a tube of lip balm in my travel bag, my purse, my desk drawer, on my end table next to the couch. Instead of packing harsh lipsticks that sap my lips of moisture, I take one or two tinted lip balms that add a bit of color while not drying out my lips. An all-natural one like Burt’s Bees lip shimmers are great, because they really work, are smaller than a lipstick tube and come in a variety of colors.

Save those sample sizes
If you have a whole drawer full of makeup, then it’s likely you will also have a ton of those trial sizes from all your purchases. When I come across one that I like, or is something I use regularly at home, I toss it in my travel bag. It’s easier than full-size products and you don’t have to remember to pack it if you’ve already done so when you’ve brought it home. If you are looking for other items in smaller sizes, because decanting is not always that fun, check out 3floz.com and you can find most of your favorite luxury brand name haircare and beauty products in travel sizes.

Downsize to travel-size appliances
Can’t leave home without your flat iron or hair dryer? While most hotels have adequate blow dryers, I can understand not wanting to take the chance on an unknown appliance. Many companies have recognized the need for mini versions of their products, so invest in a smaller straightener, curling iron or hair dryer that will take up less space in your travel bag, while giving you the same results. I don’t go anywhere without my mini flat iron, and sometimes I feel like it works better than my full-size one at home.

Zip-top bags + cotton pads = super space savers
If you have a favorite toner or other liquid product that you can put on with a cotton round, then toss as many as you need into a zip-top bag and squeeze some of your product inside to soak it up. Now you don’t have to put it in your liquids bag and won’t worry about yet another container that will open mid-flight and drench everything else. If you use facial cleansing pads, ditch their bulky container and put them directly into a zip-top bag to save more space.

What if I need this sequin skirt?

Unless you have actual plans to wear it somewhere – and more than once – you don’t. Put it back in the closet and focus on the knowns of your trip. What do you normally wear at home? What plans are on your itinerary? Making a packing list is a great place to start, because it can keep you from overpacking and helps you put together outfits that work. Here are some good rules to follow:

Mix and Match
When you travel, and try to pack in just a carry-on, every bit of space you have is crucial. If items you take don’t go with at least two other pieces, then it has no place in your bag. Making sure you coordinate all items to mix and match and make the most of your wardrobe is important. Pick a palette and stick to it, such as all neutral bottoms, so all your tops will go with them. I took a two-week trip to Europe with just three pairs of pants, four tops and a cardigan, which is my general rule for packing.

Plan to layer
You can’t predict everything, especially when flying, so I always pack a couple of tank tops in my bag and a cardigan. Add a jacket or coat if your destination is cold. If it’s really warm, you have a basic tank to wear. As it gets colder, you can add layers to keep warm, ensuring you are ready for almost all weather. How can you get by with so little clothes? Plan to take a couple of hours out of your trip to do some laundry. You’ll be glad you did.

Take two pair of shoes
Period. I know you want to take more, but it’s really not necessary. When you travel, you are probably spending a lot of time on your feet. All you really need is a pair of great walking shoes and a pair of nicer, comfortable shoes, like sandals or wedges that won’t make you want to cut off your feet. Even if you head out dancing, you might be happier in a pair of pretty ballet flats than your favorite stilettos after hours of sightseeing, especially if you have to take public transportation or walk over cobblestone to get there.

Make sure to accessorize
How will you add glitz and glamour to your look if you can only take two pairs of shoes and boring neutral outfits? The simple answer is: accessories. A chunky necklace, a sparkly bangle or a look-at-me cocktail ring can really add some pizzazz to an otherwise plain tank and skinny jean. Head to the hair accessory aisle of your favorite drug store and you’ll find new products that look like hairbands or hair ties and double as necklaces and bracelets. Multipurpose is good!

Once you start looking more objectively at the items you pack, the easier it’ll be to see which ones are unnecessary and how you can pack smaller in order to save baggage fees. You’re already forking over your hard-earned money to fly to your destination. You shouldn’t have to pay for your clothes to get there too.

Flying carry-on-only gives you more freedom when you travel. There’s no chance of your bag getting lost, you don’t have to wait around at the baggage carousel and it’ll be much easier to get around without a heavy suitcase. Have you ever tried to heave a 40-pound bag up four flights of stairs? Well, now you won’t have to.

You can read more from Shereen over on ShereenTravelsCheap.com! You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

travel beauty guide
My guide to travel beauty, full of travel tips, tricks and must have products!

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 3.20.14

    i don't usually pack makeup, even if it is an event I would just pay for a makeup service.
    1. the makeup they have suits the location (ie humidity, heat etc)
    2. too heavy to lug around
    3. too lazy to draw my own face