Tips for Traveling Light

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything packing related, and these posts remain to be my most popular, so I thought I’d get back to my roots! One thing I’ve learned during my travels, whether it be a month-long Europe trip or a long weekend getaway is how important it is to travel light. Not only is does it convenient and cost-effective, it’s just way more practical and less stressful. Anyhow, I suppose if you’re reading this, you’re already on board with my logic so I’ll get right to my tips for traveling light.

Open that weather app
This seems silly but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “I thought it was going to be cold, so I wore the same dress all week.” Check the forecast and check it again the day before you leave for your trip.

Plan ahead
The first thing I do before I even get my suitcase out is pull items from my closet that I think I want to bring and lay them on my bed. From there, I think about everything I have planned for the trip. Do you have a nice dinner planned? Instead of throwing in options, figure out what you’re going to wear. Pick pieces that are tried and true — wardrobe staples you know you look good and feel comfortable in.

Make more outfits with less
This is definitely the most important tip of all and something I talk about in all of my packing posts. Especially if you’re going on a longer trip, you’re going to re-wear piece. It’s inevitable. But that doesn’t mean you need to wear the same exact outfit. I recently partnered with an incredible Canadian based company called Encircled, that’s all about creating more outfits with less. All of the clothing is ethically-made and versatile in design so every piece can be worn multiple ways.

For example, the Retrograde Kimono can be worn forwards, backwards, as a dress or as a layering piece. In the first photo below, I’m wearing it open with a silk tank, my favorite vintage-inspired jeans, and my go-to black booties. In the second, I’m wearing the same piece reversed and zipped as a dress. Oh, and accessories are your best friend! Here I threw on some layered necklaces, a pop of lip color, and tossed my hair into a braid. To completely change the look, I could wear my hair down with a light scarf. Bada-bing, bada-boom — new outfit!


Another easy item to dress up or down is a simple tee shirt like this Nomadic V Neck, which is ethically made and won’t fall apart in a foreign washing machine like your $8 tee might.

My other favorite piece from Encircled is the Dressy Sweatpant. Of course, they can be worn with a sweater, denim shirt, tee shirt, you name it — but you can dress them up effortlessly. Below, I paired them with the same silk tank I wore with the Retrograde Kimono above, and added a leather jacket (this one was a steal for only $50!) and heels. Perfect for a night out or even a semi-casual business meeting. Click here for more inspiration on how to style these (I think you’ll be surprised by how versatile they are).

Packing cubes, packing cubes, packing cubes
If you’re heading on a longer trip and really want to bring as much as possible without checking a bag, these are your best friend — I swear by them. There are a bunch of different size options and functional designs (I’ve linked them all below). They really help to organize and compress everything in your suitcase. Check out how I packed everything for a month long Europe trip in a carry on using packing cubes here.

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Be mindful of your beauty bag
Break out the three ounce bottles, and only bring the essentials when it comes to makeup. When it comes to skin care, I pack a lot but I do it in a really small amount of space. It’s all about being strategic — for example I use little sample jars (like the kind you can get for free from sephora) for things I don’t need a lot of like eye cream, heavier night moisturizer, etc. For a more in-depth explanation, check out my toiletry packing guide here.

Got another ‘need to know’ packing tip? Leave a comment below! Shoutout to encircled for sponsoring this post.

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Encircled pieces: Retrograde Kimono, V Neck Tee, Dress Sweatpants.

How to Pack For a Month in Europe in a Carry-On

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I know this may sound harsh, but I always feel sorry for people who go to Europe with a massive suitcase (unless they’re studying abroad). I mean, do you really think that’s practical for a trip where you’re going to be bouncing around every few days in another continent? Trust me, no amount of outfits is worth lugging a huge suitcase on trains, around cities, to your accommodations, or to and from airports.

With that being said, I’ll be honest. This was my first time packing in a carry-on for a Europe trip, and even I was a little skeptical about whether or not I could do it. I typically pack in a carry-on for trips under two weeks long, so packing for a month was definitely a stretch. However, it’s so much easier to have a small bag– especially in places with hills like Cinque Terre! So, I committed to fitting everything into my cabin-sized bag. Here’s how I made it work:

First, lay out everything you want to bring.

Think about where you’re going. What’s the climate going to be like? Will you have access to a washing machine? I knew I was going to be gone for 25 days, and that some of my B&Bs would have washing machines. I also knew it was going to be hot in all of my destinations besides Budapest, so I would only need a small amount of warm clothing. I also tried to be strategic with what I packed. For example, I brought three white tops that matched all of my bottoms, and two kimonos I knew would look great over my black romper to make different outfits.

Obviously, your packing list is going to vary depending on where and when you’re traveling, and what you plan on doing while you’re there. The key is to be minimalistic, and to only bring what you know you’re going to need. After narrowing down my selection, I ultimately decided on bringing the items pictured below. My only regret is not packing an extra bathing suit, because I was in the water a lot during my trip.

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Packing cubes are your best friends.

These little babies have completely changed the way I pack. Not only do they keep my bag completely organized, but they save a ton of space. Another added bonus of using packing cubes is they basically act as drawers when you get to your destination.

The clean/dirty cube (the large black one pictured below) is one of my favorites because it’s double sided to separate clean and dirty clothes. I also have a black [non-compression] half cube, which is the perfect size for my bras, underwear and bathing suits. Prior to packing for this trip, I also purchased two white and lime green Eagle Creek compression cubes (one full-sized and one half-sized).

To use the packing cubes, I roll everything to the size of the cubes, and fill them up. Believe it or not, I could’ve fit more in them than I did. Don’t be afraid to cram them full if necessary! Lastly, I lay out what I’m going to wear on the plane. (Side note: I actually purchased these Birkenstock sandals after I took this photo, so I opted to wear them on the plane and leave my espadrilles at home).

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The Eagle Creek compression cubes can zip down to almost half of their height. I decided not to use this feature because I had enough space in my bag and didn’t want my clothes to wrinkle from the compression. However, if you want to pack even more clothing in less space, these will do the trick!

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After filling the packing cubes, it’s time to break out the suitcase! I use a Delsey Helium Sky 21″ carry-on. If you’re in need of a new carry-on, this one is more than 50% off right now. Take advantage! I always throw in a few dryer sheets to keep my clothes smelling fresh throughout my trip. Another tip is to use a bag with two wheels instead of four. I know the four-wheelers are easier to roll, but they don’t store as much.

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The two full-sized cubes fit side by side on the bottom of the suitcase, followed by the two half-sized cubes on top. This leaves the perfect amount of space for the rest of your loose items.

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On top of the other cube, I fit my wet brush, curling wand (which I barely used), an umbrella, and two bags. In the black and white patterned pouch is my Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac crossbody purse, which I take pretty much everywhere with me. I also brought my ultra-light longchamp backpack for hiking in Cinque Terre and Plitvice Lakes. On the other side are my white ralph lauren sneakers (I kicked my converse to the curb because they gave me blisters) and my Nike running shoes.

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On the outside pocket, I fit my shower toiletry items along with my Sam Edelman sandals.

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The rest of my items go into my Lo & Sons OG Bag, AKA the most incredible carry-on bag in the world. I’m not exaggerating when I say this bag has a place for everything. There are so many little compartments for your laptop, tablet, pens, chapsticks, keys… Heck, there’s even a hidden compartment for an extra pair of shoes! Definitely check it out to see why it’s such a great investment.

Anyway, inside it, I store everything I wouldn’t want to lose should I have to check my bag, like my electronics, chargers, jewelry pouch, sunglasses, toiletries, and of course my wallet. Click here to read what exactly I fit into my toiletry bag.

I also add items I know I’ll want easy access to like my neck pillow, eye maskear plugsWell-kept wipes, and Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. Tissues are another must, as many restrooms abroad aren’t stocked with toilet paper. Not pictured: Nivea chapstick, pen, travel jewelry pouch, Nikon5300 (used to take these photos), and my wallet.

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Don’t forget to add a name tag in the rare case that you’ll have to check your bag!

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My last piece of advice is not to get discouraged. The more you travel, the easier packing light will be. I promise!

Have you packed for a month-long trip to Europe or another continent in a carry-on? I want to hear your packing advice in the comments! Happy travels.

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How to Pack for a Month in a Carry-On: Packing Guide    How to Pack for Europe in a Carry-On: Packing Guide

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My Toiletry Packing Guide

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How to pack more beauty products in less space.

Some people might call me crazy for wanting to give advice on packing toiletries. Yes, I do pack a lot. But I think it’s important to note that I pack a lot in a very small amount of space. I keep the makeup and hair products pretty simple (at least I think so), but where I go a little overboard is with the skin care products. I really don’t have any justification for it except for that I never know how my skin is going to react to travel. I also really enjoy giving my skin a little extra love and attention to preserve my youth, so to speak. (At least I’m admitting it, right?)

Anyway, I used to pack three toiletry bags with me: one for my shower items, one for my skin care products and other hygiene items, and one for my makeup. I know, I know– it was excessive. But I didn’t want to remove all of my products from my bag. So instead, I got strategic with what I brought and how I packed it. I now travel with one cosmetics bag and another clear pouch for shower items. The only reason I don’t use one bag is because I honestly like to keep my shower items separate.

Now that we’ve got that all of out of the way (phew!), here’s my toiletry packing guide:

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First and foremost, pack everything in a three ounce bottle (or smaller).
For the products I know I’ll be using a lot of, like shampoo and body wash, I opt for three ounce bottles. I could probably get away with using two ounce bottles for my leave-in conditioner and face wash, but I already have these three ounce bottles, so they’ll do the trick for now.

Remember: You don’t have to fill them up all the way.
Consider the duration of your trip, and think about how much you’ll use. This will help to keep your bag light. I’m traveling for three weeks, and will probably need more than three ounces of these products, but I know toiletries will be available at most of my accommodations.

A full bottle of sunscreen is a must! I use Sun Bum because it’s not greasy and smells like bananas. Typically, I don’t pack dry shampoo. However, I’m going to Europe and may not always have the time or patience to wash my hair, so it’s coming with me! Whether you want to bring a sea salt spray or a small hair spray bottle is completely up to you. I use this one from Not Your Mother’s to create my beach waves.

Take toiletries from your hotel.
Whenever I stay at upscale hotels, I take the toiletry items home with me– especially lotion! They’re already travel sized, so you can refill them again and again for future travels if you don’t already have TSA approved bottles. I grabbed the tube pictured above from the Mandarin Oriental New York.

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Opt for multi-purpose products.
bobbi brown shimmer imageThis Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in bronze was actually a gift and not something I would’ve thought to buy, but it’s become a staple in my travel make-up routine. (Thanks Vanessa!) This one compact takes the place of my bronzer, blush and eye shadow! I typically brush a little on my cheek bones to highlight them, but if I’m going out, I’ll sweep the lighter stripes across my entire eyelid and press the darker stripes into the crease.

My retractable kabuki brush is one of my favorite items as it’s so compact. I use it to brush on my Clinique Almost Powder with SPF 15. I also bring a small MAC concealer brush that doubles as an eyeshadow brush. Hourglass concealer is my favorite for travel as it’s easy to apply and incredibly hydrating. For my brows, I use a Clinque pencil and Anastasia clear brow gel (one of my brows has a stubborn cowlick). Lastly, I swear by Maybelline’s Colossal Mascara. I’ve been using it since I was in high school and no expensive name-brand I’ve tried tops it. I bring both waterproof and regular as waterproof is more difficult to remove and doesn’t work as well. But that’s just me!

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This is where I start to get really strategic (or crazy?).

Confession time: I’m a sample jar hoarder. And by that I mean I intentionally go into Sephora and ask for a sample of something to get the jar. Try not the judge me. Anyway, I do this because they’re perfect for those products that you only need a small amount of, like eye cream and zit cream. I also bring a sample sized jar of moisturizer, brightening serum, and BB crème for when I want a little more coverage. I pack two jars of Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Mask in case my skin freaks out from sun exposure or climate change.

The hydrating mist I use is from Benefit. I just started bringing this with me on trips because it’s perfect for refreshing my skin during flights and it sets my makeup. This may sound excessive, but I can fit it in my toiletry bag, so it’s coming to Europe with me. I also always bring this small rollerball of Flowerbomb.

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Instead of packing multiple pill bottles and a full first aid kit, I’ve put together what I like to call my ‘cure-all’ pouch. In it, I have Advil, Imodium, prescription strength nausea pills, Claritin, Unisom Sleep Gels, Band-Aids, bobby pins and Q-tips. I pack my toothbrush in a plastic bag instead of a toothbrush holder because mine was too bulky for my bag. Of course, I also pack a travel-sized toothpaste, floss and a razor.

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As you can see, I put everything I use in the shower in the clear pouch, and everything else in the purple cosmetics bag. I pack the clear pouch in the small, outer pocket of my carry-on suitcase and the cosmetics bag in my carry-on tote. Note: I’ve been searching for a travel toiletry bag that has multiple pockets for organization, but I’ve yet to find one that isn’t big and bulky. If you know of one, please let me know!

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It zips, I promise!

I hope my toiletry packing guide can help you to simplify and pack more in less space. But of course, you have to find what works best for you and your beauty routine.

Do you have a strategic way of packing your toiletries? Let me know in the comments!

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Toiletry Packing Guide: How to pack more beauty products in less space

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How to Avoid Jet Lag

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It happens to even the most seasoned traveler. We hop on a plane, fly all day long, and arrive at our destination during daylight hours. Meanwhile, our body thinks it’s time for bed (or vise versa) and silently screams, “what the hell?!” The drowsiness, moodiness, and nausea associated with jet lag puts a damper on the first few days of travel– which isn’t exactly ideal when you’re supposed to be having the time of your life! I know I for one am not a happy camper when I’m tired (ask anyone who knows me). But I digress… Anyway, here’s how to avoid jet lag so you can fully enjoy your trip!

1. Gradually adjust your sleep schedule
During the week leading up to your trip, it’s important to reset your internal clock. Go to sleep an hour earlier (if traveling east) or later (if traveling west) each night. More importantly, make sure you’re getting a solid 7-9 hours of quality rest, or you’ll risk going into your trip already sleep deprived.

2. Sleep on the plane
During long-haul flights from continent to continent, you’ll most likely be in the air when it’s nighttime in your destination. Take advantage of this time to sleep! Not only will it make the flight go by faster, but you’ll also arrive more rested. I recommend bringing a neck pillow that’s either inflatable or one that rolls up (so it doesn’t take up precious carry on space), an eye mask, and earplugs.

3. Fight your internal clock upon arrival
After a long day of travel, it’s tempting to want to sleep as soon as you check into your accommodations. However, if it’s not nighttime, do your best to stay up. In contrast, if it’s nighttime when you arrive but you aren’t tired, lie down and try to fall asleep anyway. You’re going to have to get with the program at some point, so you might as well do it from the beginning!

4. Use melatonin or over-the-counter sleeping aids
I try to limit my intake of any type of drug (even Advil), but when it comes to fighting jet lag, it really is the best option. I usually take a unisom sleep gel on the plane (if it’s nighttime in my destination) to jump-start my new sleep schedule. It knocks me right out… Mouth open and all! (Sorry if you ever have to sit next to me on a long flight). Melatonin is another option loved by travelers.

5. Monitor your exposure to light
If anyone is guilty of staring at their phone, computer or TV while they’re supposed to be getting ready for bed, it’s me. (Currently typing this at midnight…) If you’re guilty of this too, I’ve got some bad news for you– the bright light tells your brain that you should be awake. After you’re done instagramming the first picture from your trip, turn your devices off and get some shuteye. In the morning, be sure to open the shutters while you get ready, and spend plenty of time outside to remind your body that it’s time to wake up. Bonus points if you spend the day exercising! Walking around a beautiful city for the first time should perk you right up.

Has jet lag ever sabotaged your first few days of travel? What are your favorite methods for fighting it? Share your stories in the comments!

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How to Avoid Jet Lag: Tips for Long Haul Flights by Blonde Well Traveled

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