My Tips for Packing for a Trip

I’ve done my fair share of traveling, which means that I’ve packed many a suitcase and travel bag. Along the way, I’ve learned how to minimize overpacking, maximize packing space, and not forget essential items. With holiday travel coming up, I thought it would be a good time to share some of my tips and tricks!

Pack your makeup/skincare/cosmetics as you use them for the last time

Have you ever arrived at your destination, pulled out your makeup bag, and realized you forgot to pack your foundation or mascara? While it’s certainly not the end of the world, it can lead to a slightly panicked trip to the nearest store in search of a replacement. To avoid that trip and spending extra money, I highly recommend packing up your makeup in whatever travel case you use while you’re doing your makeup for the last time before traveling. On the last day of doing my makeup before we hop on a plane, I go through my routine (or think through it while all of my products are in front of me) and put them directly in my travel makeup bag once I’ve used it, brushes and all! That way, I know I have every product I regularly use and won’t be rifling through my collection early in the morning before heading off to the airport, inevitably forgetting something!

I do this same thing with my skincare products, too. If I’m not using all the items, I will at least look in the cabinet where they all are and think through my morning and evening routine, making sure to grab all of the things I use and putting them in their travel bag.

Put together outfits and try on clothes while packing

I used to be one of those people that would just grab things in my closet and toss them in my suitcase, assuming I’d be able to put outfits together once I got to the destination. That method always led to overpacking and usually left me wearing a couple of repeat outfits, leaving several things untouched in my bag. These days, as I’m preparing for a trip, I will put together and try on outfits as they’re going into my suitcase. I like to pack an outfit for every day of travel, and then one or two extra, depending on activities or weather. When I’m trying on these outfits, I’m doing my best to reuse items, like jeans and shoes, so that I can keep the quantity of things I’m packing to a minimum.

If you want to go the extra mile, take a quick mirror photo of yourself wearing each outfit, so that you can easily recreate it on your trip. You can keep it as simple as just the clothing and shoe choice, or even add in your accessories to the photo.

If checking your bag, bring your essentials in a carry on

This is something I do every time I check my bag. While I’m lucky to have only had my bag temporarily lost a couple of times, it’s enough to make me extra careful. I do a carry-on as often as possible, but sometimes a larger checked bag is necessary. In those instances, I always pack my must-have skincare/makeup/toiletries and a change of clothes (or just a pair of underwear, at the very least) in my carry-on bag. That way, if my bag is misplaced or arrives late to my destination, I can at least wash my face, brush my teeth, and get a fresh pair of clothes on.

When we’ve traveled internationally, I’ve packed a couple days worth of things in my carry-on, just in case it takes longer for my checked bag to get to me.

If you’re prone to forgetting things, start making a list before packing

I’m one of those people that will just be going about my day and suddenly a random thought will pop in my head of something I need to remember to do. This is true of remembering random or small things that I want to pack in my suitcase, too! I’ll usually have a running list in the Notes app on my phone of things I can’t forget to toss in my bag before zipping it up – chargers, bandaids, any medicine I need, etc. Basically, the things that aren’t clothes and beauty products. If you’re like me, write any of those things down that you think of on a piece or paper or on your phone, so that you won’t forget them when you’re pulling everything else to put in your bag!

If you’re an over-packer, pack early and then edit

Like I said, I used to be a chronic over-packer. I’ve changed my ways (for the most part!), but thought I’d share what helped me to stop from bringing way too many things with me in my suitcase. When time allows for it, I’ll start pulling outfits and clothes for my trip about 3 days before leaving. Not only does that give me time to be thoughtful about what I’m bringing, but it also allows plenty of time for the essential “edit”. So, pull all the things you think you want to wear and bring with you, set them aside, and then come back to them the day of the final packing. Go through the pile again and edit out the things you know you probably won’t wear or realize you just don’t need. Don’t allow yourself to put everything from the pile into your suitcase! It’s a good practice to get into and will help you to realize that you don’t need to bring nearly as much as you may think you do.

A few final tips:

If bringing jewelry along with you, use this method for packing it safely and tangle-free!

Use travel-size toiletries when you can. It will save space in your bag and keep the weight down.

Pack any valuables/very important things in your carry-on bag, like electronics, jewelry, and designer items.

Pack a laundry bag! I have a spot in both my small and large suitcase that I can store my used clothes (especially socks and underwear) away from the rest of my clothes. The best part about having a laundry bag with you is that you can empty it right into the washing machine upon arriving back home. This is a great option.

Hi there!

Lauren Bown Lifestyle Blog is an online destination where I share my personal style, beauty finds, and bits of life in hopes to inspire other women to feel good in their skin and find the beauty in the ordinary.

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  1. 11.26.19
    Jeana said:

    Hi Lauren,

    I love this post! We are becoming a military family in 2020 and I look for some luggage recommendations as we plan to be pretty mobile during this new journey in our lives! Do you have any suggestions or did you do a blog post about some? Any direction would be amazing, thank you! Also, congrats on the baby! You and Mike are going to be some amazing parents – Baby B is going to be so lucky.

    Thanks again,