Well firstly, my hot tip for avoiding frantic last minute packing is to not leave it to the last minute haha! But if you’re like me and that’s just highly unlikely to ever happen, then this blog post will save your nerves and your relationships over the years.
Coming up after this blog post is going to be a post on how to pack a cohesive, wardrobe into your suitcase for short or long trips that maximises your space/weight limits whilst giving you maximum outfit choice for your trip. But that goes into a bit more detail about how to select your items so I thought before we jump straight to how to pack great, cohesive outfits I’d run through how to pack the rest of what you need, as quickly as possible, without forgetting anything.
I fly reasonably often for work and for pleasure – long haul, short haul, short trips of 2-3 nights, and longer trips of 3-6 weeks. The length of your trip is more relevant to the outfits you pack and how many great outfits you need to be able to make, and the types of toiletries you take. This post is relevant for all trips give or take the toiletries. So here are my hot tips, as a reasonably frequent flyer and someone who got sick of frantically packing 2 hours before I’m meant to be at the airport (and stressing all the way there that I’d forgotten something crucial as a result).
Hot tip #1: write a list!
These lists can actually apply to any trip you’re going on so I have a generic short trip list I keep on my fridge that I use for all my short trips and as my base for longer trips a with a few extra things. This list keeps me SANE. When I’m pulling out my suitcase two hours before my flight this list has literally saved my poor nervous system multiple times.
Packing list for morons who travel frequently and still get in a flap
(haha! Nothing like a bit of positive self-talk…but honestly. It’s ridiculous how flustered I get so this list is just keeping it real and reminding me to keep calm and get it done).
- Toiletries (see hot tip #2 below)
- 2-3 outfits that go together
- 1 jacket that goes with all outfits above
- 1 pair of heels that go with all of the above
- 1 pair of flats (sneakers or slides) that go with all above
- Eye mask and ear plugs (see hot tip #5 below)
- Make up
- Underwear (include nude bras and undies just in case you pack anything white/semi sheer)
If you’ve got those things, half the battle is won! Anything you forget that’s not on that list, you can probably deal with.
Hot tip #2: Have another list or ready-packed toiletry bag!
Toiletries are half the struggle. So many things that can be forgotten that you actually really need. There are two methods you could use for this:
1. have another, more detailed list that you follow quickly as you pack, OR
2. keep a toiletry bag in your bathroom cupboard already packed and ready to go.
I use method 2 above and also have another fool-proof method discussed at #3 below that assists with this. But if you prefer to pack from scratch so you know it’s all in there, combining the couple of lists below should work a treat.
If you’re keeping a list be mindful that your toiletry needs change with the length of the trip. For example, if you’re only going for 1-2 nights you probably don’t need shampoo, conditioner and stylers like hair straighteners and curlers. A can of dry shampoo will probably suffice. But if you’re going for a longer time you’ll probably need all of those things and more. You may want two lists – one for shorter trips and one for longer.
In my ready to go toiletry bag I keep travel size versions of all the products I use:
- My shampoo and conditioner
- My face cleanser and exfoliator
- Hairspray and other styling products
I also keep:
- A toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
- A hair brush (because I ALWAYS forget a brush)
- Tampons and liners (always be prepared! Just means you don’t have to hurriedly find a chemist or supermarket in an foreign place)
- Ear buds and cotton pads (because I always forget them if I don’t keep them in my toiletry bag and there’s nothing worse than having water in your ears and not being able to dry them!)
- Lip balm
- Tinted moisturiser/high SPF face sunblock
- Hair ties and bobby pins
If you have all of these things, you’ll more than likely be fine. Just throw your toiletry bag in your suitcase and go! Job done.
Some additional tips I live by when it comes to packing toiletries:
- Buy a great, sturdy toiletry bag that’s waterproof (protecting your luggage from breakage and spills) and is the right size for your toiletry needs. I love Camilla toiletry bags (surprise, surprise)
- Keep your make up and your toiletries separate (2 toiletry bags). Just makes things so much easier to find and access when you’re living out of your suitcase.
Hot tip #3: Use your shower routine to help you pack without forgetting anything you use daily
We all have a shower before we leave on a trip right? So in addition to my pre-packed toiletry bag that has the things I will likely need but don’t always need every shower routine (eg ear buds), I use my shower routine to pack my toiletry bag.
Everything I have used during that showering/getting ready process goes in the bag. Makes sense right? Face cleansers (if you don’t keep minis in your toiletry bag like I do), body wash, all of the creams and oils I use on my face after my shower (also grabbing the night ones as I go) and then all of the make up I’m using as I go as well. Basically, if you are throwing your whole day and night shower routine into your toiletry bag as you go, you almost can’t miss something. This process has never failed me.
Hot tip #4: Make up
Hot tip #3 normally covers this one off for me for my day make up, but what about if you’re heading out to dinner with the girls one night and one bottle of champagne turns into 4 and suddenly you’re enjoying all the nightlife Sydney/Brisbane/Tokyo has to offer?
As I’m putting my day make up into my make up bag, I add the essentials you need for a night out:
- Primer (I don’t use this for day but I sure as hell pack it for those long lunches that end up at the Darlo Country Club until 2am)
- Darker eyeshadows, pigments, highlighters and eyeliner for that smokey eye
- Lipstick of choice
- A more intense highlighter than the one I use for day
And that’s about it really. All of your usual day make up can be used to create a hot, sultry night look with the addition of those couple of things. If you don’t differentiate between night and day make up then you don’t even have to worry about this step! On to step 5!
Hot tip #5: Keep things you need but don’t use unless travelling in your suitcase
If you’re anything like me, I struggle to sleep in an unfamiliar environment (and this can include whatever may be going on outside your room that is totally out of your control). Many capital cities the world over are constantly constructing things and you may find your fancy hotel room has 600 more fancy hotel rooms being constructed next door! You may also find the blinds in your room let in more light than you’re usually used to and this can disturb your sleep as well. So I keep a good quality eye mask and ear plugs in my suitcase at all times to help me combat sleeping in a foreign environment – because sleep becomes even more essential when you’re fighting the fatigue of travel (that started with the stress of packing last minute! haha!).
If you have a travel hairdryer, straightener etc, keep these in your suitcase too. At least they’re already there if you decide you need them because it’s a lengthier stay or you have an event that requires hairstyling.
I also keep a universal travel adapter and phone charge in my suitcase – can never forget them that way!
Hot tip #6: Buy a good quality suitcase!
For so many years I was travelling with a gorgeous leather shoulder bag I bought in Morocco for short trips and only taking my massive suitcase on longer trips. But you get tired of lugging 15kg over your arm through airports and into taxis and back again pretty quick. So I invested in a good quality hardcase suitcase (carry on size) with the multi-directional wheels for my shorter trips. And my goodness has it made a difference! My personal favourite is Samsonite but there are plenty of great quality suitcase brands out there. A good hint is usually the luggage stores at the airports. They tend to carry the big name brands that back themselves with great warranties because their suitcases are built to go the distance.
My little Samsonite is light and easy to manoeuvre so I throw it up on the bed, pack quickly using my fool-proof packing routine and I’m wheeling out the door in 20 minutes (excluding the showering step! If you know anyone who can shower, dry, apply products whilst also packing them AND pack the rest of their suitcase all in 20 minutes, I want to meet them! Because they have extra-terrestrial powers that I’m sure we can put to better uses! haha!)
Hot tip #7: Packing cohesive outfits to minimise weight and maximise outfit choice!
This one is a whole other blog post on its own but there is a fool proof formula I follow to pack an amazing suitcase full of great outfits that all go together, giving me plenty of choice for my trip whilst not over-stuffing my suitcase making it hard to find anything and also testing the patience of airport staff when it comes to weight limits…haha!
If you follow this formula, you’ll have a cohesive selection in the suitcase, including matching shoes and underwear, in under 20 minutes!
Stay tuned for that blog post over the next few days and I hope these tips help you next time you get caught packing last minute!
Lots of love