Remember that time we could hop on a plane the same day when we wanted to? Cheers to the memories! Never was the experience taken for granted and never will it be come future when we are able to travel again. I’m grateful and content safely physically distancing until it’s no longer a requirement. A woman can still dream of travel, am I right? I love to visualize.
Why I prefer to keep a few core items pre-packed for travel
Do you agree that you feel best when your attire is comfortable & on point, and you have your own products to get ready with? Not to mention the importance of my getting-ready and getting-un-ready rituals; these are daily experiences that keep me grounded and support setting the tone for the day and my ability to zone into a deep sleep. Getting-ready and getting-un-ready is when I do my best thinking, and is also when I ease into a state of deep gratitude. Throw a wrench into the routine and lets not talk about it! Yes I rebound quickly but why not just prep for packing success in the first place! The goal is to make going away as smooth, seamless and easy as possible. Having a bag pre-packed with a few core items solves much of this.
Think about it
Even for a weekend road trip on land (doesn’t necessarily need to be a plane ride), it is key to have a bag pre-packed for you to simply pick up in grab and go fashion. Have you ever went away somewhere and accidentally forgot your bathing suit or forgot your eye makeup remover, sandals (flats) or conditioner? You can get away with using shampoo as a provided amenity, conditioner – a little less so depending on the state and condition of your hair. Similar with the sandals/flats and bathing suit; not everywhere you go is going to have what you need on hand even if you’re in an area or staying at a hotel that’s incredible. I found this out the hard way on two accounts: once at the Auberge du soliel in Napa Valley and during my first stay at the Chateau Marmont in 2011. Let’s not even mention the time I forgot face wash/cleanser; THAT was a painful experience (within context, obviously).
So, what must you keep pre-packed to be the smart, comfy, chic traveller you are? I’ll share with you the basics. What I pack for travel entirely – including in versatility, that will be another post.
**Note: You don’t need to take/keep packed that which is pre-packed, you can sub the items in there for others that take their place. The point is that you have what you need pre-packed and make substitutions based on specific needs, as you need.
The Go-To Ready for Near Anything Pre-packing List
1. Let’s just toss the obvious out there: you need a bag. I generally keep 1 of 2 bags packed: my Tumi or my Longchamp (large duffel, 13.5 x 9 x 17.5). These days it’s my Longchamp. I find they each of these brands are made of quality material and do truly stand the test of time. Not to mention they are perfect in size for packing and easy transport. I’ve had my Tumi for 9 years and my Longchamp for 7 and they both still look fresh. My Rimowa kind of makes me look like a government official so it usually only comes with me to fly.
2. Bathing suit. I’m not someone who has 50 bathing suits. I have 2. My Eres or Vitamin A are always packed and I choose one of them. Even if you don’t think you’re going to need a bathing suit wherever you’re going, you’d be surprised! You never know when you’re going to get invited to a private party or if the hotel, or that the AirBnb you’re staying at didn’t list that they have a pool, hot tub, or sauna. This is a pre-pack item must.
3. Footwear: sandals, flats, heels. I have one pair of bronze (aka neutral in color) Havianas that I keep packed, one pair of thin black leather sandals (that I could dress up or dress down), one pair of mules/slides, and one pair of neutral heels (I usually swap the heels for one’s I’d rather bring but they are there as a placeholder and better than nothing should I forget and they’re pre-packed). I share this because there’s nothing worse than wanting a pair of heels, flats or sandals and you just don’t have them. I’ve been on hot holidays and heels weren’t the answer but I didn’t have anything suitable to substitute them for. I’ve also not had sandals when they would have been my first choice to slide on in the morning to go get a coffee and no ~ what was I thinking. Whenever possible, set yourself up to feel your best/most comfortable (in your own skin) so that your experience, wherever you be, has nothing unnecessary taking away from it. Sneakers are great to have on stand-by in pre-pack too.
4. Basics in attire. A black, white or grey tee, a maxi dress & belt, and one nicer top that always hits the mark and that you always feel incredible in. It’s key to bring old faithful (fabulous) pieces with you (at least one) to be your default. When you’re getting dressed, sometimes you’re just not into whatever was intended and there you’ll have it – your go-to feel-great piece that won’t fail you 🙂 I love my sheer mock neck black long sleeve top for this (an Aritzia buy). It packs well, doesn’t wrinkle (is form fitted), and is suitable for near any occasion. I also have a silk Equipment France button-up that’s a no-fail go to and good enough to keep in the pre-pack mix because again – you might be going away to the cabin for a casual weekend and then BAM, get invited to a nice dinner and what to wear!? In this case, you’re covered. I love a white cotton button-up although avoiding the need to iron is a thing and if you haven’t got one that fits you perfectly – something that fits and you feel better in, is a much better option. A maxi-dress and belt ~ with the statement piece, shawl and/or cardi/denim is an outfit in itself. A maxi dress is versatile and can double as daytime leisure-wear or be dressed up, depending on what else you’ve packed.
5. One statement-piece accessory. Once again, un-prepared for a surprise good time? Fret not, you’ll easily be able to jazz (and dress) up your outfit with a statement piece. Think: a cocktail ring, necklace or bracelet(s).
6. A clutch. For those times when you don’t want to haul around your tote yet you don’t just want to carry your wallet (even to dinner) because who doesn’t love having a spritz of fragrance on hand, lipstick for a touch up or concealer when you need it.
7. A shawl/scarf. Whether this is wool, cashmere, silk, or cotton (season dependent) a shawl or scarf can keep you warm, dress a look up or just add a little extra chic to whatever you’ve got going on.
8. A list of the things that aren’t packed that I should pack. I do usually have a short checklist of what else would be ideal to pack that’s not pre-packed but quite honestly this usually gets skipped over and doesn’t even cross my mind in the moment – although well intended.
9. Charcoal pills. Have you ever gone somewhere and eaten something that made you feel foul and been on the verge of that meal/drink/experience ruining the rest of your away time? Charcoal pills to the rescue! They work wonders for soaking up whatever doesn’t belong in your system. My dear friend Hajnalka first introduced them to me in 2012 and am I ever grateful.
10. Skin game. I like to have a set of small containers that I fill with the following and keep in my bag: moisturizer, eye make-up remover and cleanser. Oils & serums won’t get missed packing, and if they do, it’s honestly not the end of the world for a weekend so much as missing one of the core three (moisturizer, cleanser, eye MU remover) would be. I also usually have mini’s or samples that I like to pack and test out if I have them on hand, particularly any that are easy to slide alongside my other products into the standard one-clear (miniature) carry-on airplane. I.e. Foil-packs that are flat. Also to note: I don’t waste samples! I give them a fair chance, the ones I’m interested in. The one’s I’m not, I share them with someone I feel will be a true buyer or interested.
11. Hair game. A travel-sized shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo are always in my bag. The rest, if it makes it – great, if it doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world and if I need something desperately I can buy it on the other side. I usually end up doing this with conditioner, depending on how long I’m staying somewhere. Also to note: I serum will make the cut over a dry shampoo because the serum is tougher to replace vs toss/take than a dry shampoo. Just thought I would toss that side note in there 🙂
12. MU Game. There’s literally nothing more frustrating than getting ready and putting the finishing touches on only to NOT have mascara or eyeliner! How can one forget? Well, it happens. I generally don’t keep multiples of liquid liner around but I do have multiple eye pencils. I always make sure I have one black pencil and another shade either in neutral/brown or a color. I do bring my go-to mascara though don’t have that pre-packed either. I’ll usually have a small sample mascara in my bag or I’ll have a mascara that’s near the end that lives in there. Something is better than nothing if forgotten in the mascara department. Living Luminizer by RMS. It’s a solid highlighter that can make you look away with little else on your face. If you forget almost everything and have this (plus the mascara, eyeliner and Gee multi-stick) you’re going to live. Latest addition: a Gee multi-stick! This baby doubles as concealer and face MU. #winning in packable versatility. I used to have a staple concealer packed but the Gee multi-stick has taken its place for good reason. More on that in another post.
13. A razor, toothbrush, mini-toothpaste, deodorant, hand sanitizer, pony tail holders. What good is that bathing suit going to be without shaved legs! The number of times I’ve forgotten a razor…we won’t go there. Hence, the pre-pack. It’s easy to have back-ups of these things pre-packed and it honestly just saves you time packing the real things you do want.
14. Phone charger. I’m not attached to my phone or on it 24/7 BUT, it’s one of those things: electronics and vehicles. Our lives are better with them yet forgetting phone chargers and doing maintenance to vehicles – I think we can all agree there are other places we’d love to drop cash (although it’s a blessing to get to have all, this I know).
15. My Leica. Yes our phones have high quality cameras, but I kind of like to have a camera-camera on me sometimes! It’s a nostalgic thing – and I do love the quality of my Leica. It’s more for fun than anything.
16. A wine-opener. Once again, you never know when this will come in handy! I’ve also gone places and needed one and there’s not been around. Simple to have pre-packed. Leave it at home if flying, of course.
17. Redoxin and Advil Liquid Gels. I’m not so much one for Advil (I forget to take it even when I could use it) though I know it helps when necessary and there’s again, nothing worse than having someone you’re travelling with need an Advil and there isn’t one around. The Redoxin is a morning lifesaver in Vitamin C pick me up. No questions asked. Perfect to boost immunity, perfect for a morning pick me up post red-eye, perfect post an evening of celebrations that carry on past bedtime 🙂 .
18. Signature note cards or blank cards. I love writing notes. A thank you to whomever’s place I’m staying at. A thank you to the hotel staff. A card to leave contact information on and give to someone you meet (different vibe and more personal than a business card). Note cards or blank cards are great to have along.
19. Sunglasses. Any pair will do. You can swap them with what you want. The point is: you have a pair no matter what and when packing they are a placeholder that will prompt you to swap them out.
20. Denim jacket or cardigan. The amount of times I’ve forgotten a jacket or wanted something lighter if I brought a heavier jacket….many. The denim or cardi solves this: comfort/warm and bonus points for style, of course.
21. Rollerball perfume. I feel naked without fragrance and have forgotten mine on occasion. If travelling with a male, steal a spritz of his fragrance (if it’s worthy). A small vile you can fill from your large fragrance bottle or a rollerball is easy to have pre-packed and so much better to have something on hand than nothing at all.
22. One hot tool. I usually pop my flatiron or curling wand into my pre-pack and end up subbing it for my curling iron. Why? I never use my flat iron (my hair is bone straight) and I use my curling iron on the daily. If I forgot my curling iron for some reason my flat iron or wand is packed and I could manage to stumble my way through styling my hair with one of these if I had to. Again, a placeholder and/or better than nothing at all.
A couple more pro tips
- For the things I use on the daily that can’t be pre-packed (the skincare & MU I regularly use), here’s the tip: that morning-of wherever I’m going, while I’m getting ready for the day I just keep those getting-ready items pulled and separate them into their own pile as a reminder to noticeably pack them. Sound too simple to make a point of? I think this is the top reminder in tip for a packing system because you pack what you need, don’t forget what you need, and don’t overpack what you don’t 🙂 . And there’s only so much room to pack liquid if packing carry-on only anyway, when flying 🙂 .
- I always make sure I have my Pet Passport with me; it’s basically a paper passport from the vet that has stamps, stickers, dates and signatures with up to date shots. Sadie, my 7 year old morkie baby, is always on board!