• Packing a Toiletry Bag – with Video and List

    I travel a lot and if I don’t have my toiletry bag all ready to go, it only adds to the stress of trying to get everything done and get out of town.  To counteract that, I keep my toiletry bag fully packed and stocked and separate from my everyday routine.  It costs a little bit more up front, but the hassle it saves later is really valuable.

    I have two kits for travel.  One is my liquids which all have to be less than 3 ounces and fit in a quart-sized plastic bag and the other kit has all my other stuff.  Inside the second kit, I keep a pouch with all my make-up brushes and other long, skinny things like eyeliners, mascara, concealer and lipstick.  I have the contents of each listed below where I give the nitty gritty and a packing list PDF at the end if you don’t want the details.

    Liquids
    – Shampoo and conditioner.  If you don’t already have travel-size containers, Pureology or Aveda make great shampoos and conditioners in travel sizes.  Aveda sends free samples with shipping which are nice for travel too.
    – Facial Cleanser – Aveda and Eminence Organic make great travel sizes.  Lately I’ve been doing the oil cleansing method so I just bring a small bottle of oil.
    – Moisturizer.  Consider asking Sephora for a sample and try a fancy new one in a small size at no cost!  Any time I need something from Sephora, I mail order it because then I get the samples (and I have a mall phobia, shudder).
    Dr Bronner’s Soap.  This can do duty as cleanser, shaving cream, clothing detergent, or shampoo.  If all else fails, bring this one thing!
    – Lotion.  I never trust the nasty scented stuff in hotels.  I’ll often mix a fragrance free organic one with vanilla oil.
    – Sunscreen (Bring a lotion with sunscreen to further limit products.)  I also love this Colorscience powder SPF and keep it in my purse to apply to my face.  I can also apply it to Chief to protect his face as he sits patiently and curious onlookers giggle as he begins to sparkle like a teenage vampire.
    – Eye drops – this is a lifesaver after traveling!
    Morrocanoil Hair Oil This stuff is great for keeping hair silky without adding weight.  You may also want to get a travel-sized container of whatever mousse or finishing product you use.  Pure argan oil works great too and can double as night eye cream, as pomade for hair, or can be added to your cleansing oil.
    – Travel size perfume.  Ask at Sephora or a department store for your favorite scent. The vanilla oil below can also work as a subtle perfume.
    Vanilla oil in jojoba oil (for moisturizing, eye cream, perfume, taming flyaways or frizzies and eye-makeup removal) or to add to your cleansing oil.
    – Toothpaste.  Chief recently discovered you could refill the small tubes by “kissing” the big tube to it.
    Coconut oil.  I have lately been packing it in to a small glass jar I had leftover.  It works great for the beach (for body or for putting in your hair and braiding), moisturizing (instead of lotion), or as a personal lubricant.
    – Egyptian Magic Skin Cream in a small container.  I just scoop some out of the regular full-size jar and put it in a travel container.  This stuff is amazing for a night cream and can be smeared over the whole face to moisturize eyes and lips as well.  It also works as a pomade or body moisturizer.

    Other items:
    – Baby powder or dry shampoo.  I like to keep the powder I make in a brush with a refillable base.
    – Venus razor with cartridge.  No shaving cream is needed.
    Smile’s PRID Drawing Salve.  This stuff is great for scrapes or surprise blemishes.  It’s antibacterial.
    – C.O. Bigelow’s Rose Salve.  This can be used for a unisex lip balm, for chapped faces, for a dewy glow, or for eye make-up removal.  I talk about using it on the eyes in this post.
    Ceramic Velcro rollers.  I assume wherever I’m traveling will have a hair dryer.  If not, go natural or twist hair in small sections and pin up with bobby pins until it dries.
    – Brush.  I was extravagant and made this purchase about 6 years ago, assuming I will have it forever.
    – Small wide-tooth comb for wet hair
    – Rubber bands and bobby pins.  These can be lifesavers when hair is wacky from traveling.
    – Toothbrush
    – Floss
    – Deodorant.  I really like the LaVanilla mini deodorant trio while I’m still perfecting my homemade deodorant recipe.
    Body brushBody brushing really helps to invigorate you after a travel and helps fight off some of the infections that can result from lack of sleep or germs in the airplane.
    – Empty spray bottle.  You can fill this with water later and a couple drops of essential oil to get wrinkles/smells out of clothes, hydrate your face, or spritz flowers for macro shots!

    Make-up
    – Beauty Balm for moisturizing, light coverage, and sun protection.  I really like Stila tinted moisturizer and Origins VitaZing cream and have recently been introduced to an obscure brand called Elisha Coy that has an SPF of 30.
    – Double-duty foundation/powder.  I have been using Clinique’s  Superpowderfor literally 20 years.
    – Stain for lips and cheeks.  Sephora brand and Benefit make good ones.  There are probably some great ones on the market I haven’t tried.  Lipgloss or lipstick can also work as blush.
    – Eye shadow palette including neutrals and dark/smoky colors and one bright color if you like.  I had a palette made up at MAC that includes my tried and true favorite colors: Vanilla (for highlighting or sweeping across the whole eyelid), Shroom (for the crease) Black Tied (for smoky eyes or liner) and Atlantic Blue (blue wakes up a tired eye and makes the whites look more white).  I also travel with this Coastal Scents palette (it’s very affordable and has a wide range of colors).
    – Blush (if stain won’t work for you).  Nars Orgasm is a great color that works on almost everyone.
    – Mascara.  I religiously use MAC’s Zoomlash in black.
    – Black eyeliner.  Rimming the inner part of the lower lids is an easy way to glam it up.
    – Concealer.  I love MAC’s Moisturecover.  It draws in and maintains moisture which is key if you’ve been traveling by air or partying at night!
    – Any other lipstick or gloss.  I try to bring my favorite red, pink, and neutral.
    – Make-up brushes.  MAC makes good travel sets but they are only available around the holidays generally.  You can find them at Cosmetics Company Stores at outlet malls in the off-season.  I would recommend the following brushes: Powder brush, blush brush, eye shadow brush, eyebrow brush, blending brush and eyeliner brush.  For a more in-depth tutorial on these, see my blog post on make-up brushes and the tutorial video.

    This list looks like a lot but it is all really compact.  You’ll see on the attached PDF that is is not a lot when broken down without the detail.  I almost never check a bag (carry-on only packing) and it always fits on my person.

    That’s the details that I have also chatted about in this YouTube Video, but I have also made a link to a simple packing list that you can print and/or modify:

    Toiletry Bag Packing List

  • Travel: Carry-On Only Packing with Video

    There are many reasons that I try to travel with just a carry-on bag when flying.  They are listed below:

    Why??

    • Resourcefulness. I love any opportunity to have a MacGyver moment of my own.  Isn’t that what travel is all about…relying on just your wits and a small bag like Indiana Jones?  It’s about the experience, not the stuff.  People always need far less than they imagine they do and it’s nice not to be carrying around all that extra baggage (literally and figuratively).
    • Self-reliance.  You’re not at the mercy of others. You alone are responsible for your luggage and don’t have to rely on others to help you lift and hoist, etc.  There are no problems with airlines if your bag is lost.
    • Flexibility.  How many times have you realized you could have caught an earlier flight or changed your travel plans only to be stymied by having to wait for your bag to come on a different flight? I also love that there is no waiting at baggage claim after your flight lands.  This can sometimes add 30 to 40 minutes to a trip.  This is a big deal for me because I take a lot of quick jaunts.
    • Smart and efficient.  You don’t waste time worrying about which outfit to wear.  And It’s my view that light packers make a good impression.  Would you rather pick someone up that is lugging around a giant suitcase of crap or someone who is tidy and thoughtful about their packing?  I guess I’m just kind of an asshole that way.  It reminds me of a a study on the impression businesswomen make in relation to their handbag.  If she had to dig and waste time trying to find something, she was thought of as inept and disorganized.  I feel like it’s the same way with packing.

    Here are a few guidelines that I’ve realized on countless trips (I seem to fly about once a month):

    Simple Guidelines

    • It might be a little colder than you expect.  Keep yourself warm.  Bring a versatile garment (jacket) to keep you warm every day.
    • You don’t need as many pairs of shoes as you think you do.
    • If you’re going to overpack on something, do it on first layer shirts and underpants.  It’s always nice to have a fresh one of each of these things.
    • Bring something that is comfortable but can also be dressed up.  I have many times found myself wishing I wasn’t wearing something that was so obviously “traveling” clothes.  Americans seem to be particularly guilty of this.  Go on, you très continental globetrotter *said with a French accent*– play the part.
    • Accessories can go far.  Especially if they do double duty to protect you against weather or give you a way to cover up messed up or dirty hair, like a hat, scarf or head scarf.
    • You don’t need as many pairs of trousers/bottoms as you think you do.
    • Advice from my friend, Sarah, when I told her I could never decide what to pack.  “Really?  I always just bring all my very favorite things!”  Very sound advice!  After all, this is when pictures are going to be taken.
    • Often times you might want to shop or buy something that reminds you of a place so err on the light side and use this as an excuse to buy something local if you didn’t pack enough.  This works especially well with jewelry when you don’t have much space in your luggage.

    Suitcase

    If you know which airline you’re traveling on, check the limitations for carry-on baggage size.  I have two suitcases that I love (and show in my video) that easily fit in most overhead bins.  There is a 17” Brookstone hard case that is really light and maneuvers easily and a great Osprey Meridian convertible wheeled suitcase I have that works really well for doing a tour or “backpacking” type trips.

    How to Pack

    Please see my YouTube video for a more detailed description of these ideas.

    Depending on the type of trip I’m doing, I will pack one of two ways.  If it’s a trip where I’m going to be moving around a lot between hotels, houses, and/or it’s more a tour type trip, I will pack everything in plastic bags as described in my  video.  This method of packing groups all like things together.  That way when you want to find the thing you’re looking for, you can grab it out of a bag and then stuff everything back in without messing it all up.  It’s great if you’re not really able to unpack on your trip.

    If I’m going to be set up somewhere for a while and can kind of unpack, I will just skip the plastic bags.  In both cases, I will roll up all my clothes to save space.  I always bring a small bottle of detergent (shampoo or Dr. Bronner’s soap work fine too). That way I know I can do a quick wash in the sink and an overnight air dry if something is desperate for a wash.

    When I pack, I sort of do it from a body scan approach.  I pack the necessary shoes – usually one pair that can be dressed up, one simple flat that is comfortable that can go with jeans, shorts, or a dress (sometimes the same as my one that can be dressed up) and one pair that is athletic.  For women, I love the Patagonia Maha Breathe to do triple duty if it won’t be cold.  Then I make sure I have the necessary socks.  I usually only need a few pairs of trousers/skirts no matter how long the trips is. Then underpants.  Again, splurge here. Then short sleeve, tanks and shirts.  This again is where I splurge if I’m not going to stay somewhere people will be doing loads of laundry.  A dress or two.  Something warm for the plane.  A jacket.  Then accessories.  Maybe a scarf or belt and a couple pieces of jewelry that travel well and that you wouldn’t be devastated if you lost.  I try to stick with one color family on a trip so everything goes together, including jewelry.

    I cover packing for toiletries in another post.