Last updated on March 6th, 2019
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Today, we’re revisiting one of my lifelong frenemies: overpacking.
More specifically, we are going to be talking about how NOT to overpack. I’ve spent too many trips worrying about whether my suitcase is overweight. I’m quite over it. I’ve vastly improved my packing skills over the years, especially when it comes to short weekend trips. Today I’m sharing my packing tips to help you lighten the load on your shoulders, and on your mind.
If you’d like to see my packing tips for a short weekend trip, as well as what I’m bringing on my next adventure, click below to keep reading.
Where my best packing tips originated
This used to be me: “What if I need this… What if I need that… what if…what if…” Suddenly I’m lugging my entire makeup collection, a portable vacuum cleaner, and a rice cooker to Florida. I saw no problem with this. But then, airlines decided to get smart with us and charge a fee for our overpacked bags. There was no way I was paying $35 for someone to manhandle (and probably lose,) my bag. No thank you. And so, the light packer was born.
Perhaps I pack a little too light for some people’s tastes, but that’s okay because this is my post…. Just kidding. But seriously, I hope this post gives you an idea of what is essential, and what is perfectly reasonable to leave at home for a short weekend trip.
the Makeup — just the essentials
You’re probably a makeup lover if you’re reading this blog, so we’ll start with that. It’s my favorite topic too. When I am going on a trip, I never pack too much makeup to begin with. As much as I like makeup, I can do that at home. I’d rather spend as many moments as possible enjoying my destination rather than glamifying my face. I did a travel makeup routine post not too long ago, and so you may recognize some of these products.
base products for a beautiful complexion
When you need to pack light, think about how you can get creative with your makeup so you can get lots of looks out of just a few products.
The Cover FX CC Cream is my favorite to travel with because it applies beautifully with your fingers, (no brush required,) and it provides medium-buildable coverage.
If I want more coverage, the Urban Decay Naked Skin Powder can give that to me. Or it can simply absorb oil on my forehead if I’m going for a lighter look.
My Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer goes with me everywhere. It is lightweight, has great coverage, it’s crease free- I just love it.
Urban Decay Naked Skin Ultra Definition Powder Foundation >> Purchase at Sephora
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer >> Purchase at Sephora
Cover FX CC Cream >> Discontinued & searching for a replacement
eye and brow Basics
I always pack one one brow pencil, whatever it happens to be at the time. Right now, I’m obsessed with my Ulta Ultra Slim Brow Pencil.
Black eyeliner is a must for all occasions. I like keeping a smudge-able pencil liner (that you don’t need to sharpen, of course) on hand. I’m currently using the Sephora Collection Retractable Eyeliner in Black.
I also sometimes enjoy a good cat-eye. But really, who doesn’t? Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper is a must.
Of course, we can’t forget the eyeshadow primer. We all know what happens when we forget that, and we don’t need any eyeshadow meltdowns (literally) happening when we’re on vacation. I’m changing it up from the usual, and I’m going with the Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer.
Ulta Ultra Slim Brow Pencil >> Purchase at Ulta
Sephora Collection Retractable Eyeliner in Black >> Purchase at Sephora
Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper >> Purchase at Sephora
Lorac Behind the Scenes Eye Primer >> Purchase on Amazon
multipurpose colors for all situations
Between the Milani Brow Fix, Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe, and Clinique Cheek Pop in Peach Pop, and Benefit Hoola Bronzer, I can get infinite eye looks. I recommend leaving home your large palettes; they take up too much spaces, and you probably won’t get use out of all the colors. Instead, pack smaller items in warm, cool, and neutral tones that you can mix and match to get the look you want.
If I want a neutral look, I’ll just use the brown shadows, and I can use the shimmery highlight or not. If I want a cooler look, I’ll layer the gray cream shadow underneath the browns to give it that cool greige kind of look. For a warmer look, I’ll blend some of the orangy blush over the top and in the crease. Simple!
Tip: We all know that you should pack coordinating clothing items so you can mix and match to get many looks out of just a few pieces; you should be doing the same with your makeup.
Milani Brow Fix Kit in Medium >> Purchase on Amazon
Maybelline Color Tattoo in Tough as Taupe >> Purchase on Amazon
Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Peach Pop >> Purchase at Sephora
Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder >> Purchase at Sephora
brushes & bags
And you can’t forget my Sephora Here’s The Skinny Brush Wrap; it’s super compact, and has room for all my essential brushes.
All of the makeup shown above, including the brush wrap, fits neatly in this little pouch. I got this bag in a Sephora 500-point reward, and I absolutely love it.
Tip: One of my favorite packing tips for makeup is to choose a reasonably sized pouch and let that dictate the makeup you pack.
Sephora Collection Here’s The Skinny Brush Wrap >> Purchase at Sephora
the “Little Emergency Kit” — It’s a good thing to have
I have versions of this kit everywhere- in purses, in the car, around the house, and of course, when I’m traveling. No matter how light I am packing, I always have a stocked emergency kit. Another one of my favorite packing tips is to gather up all of these minuscule items and pack them together in a small makeup bag. They’re all things that you may need in a pinch, so why not?
For me, hair ties, nail clippers and tweezers are not beauty items- they are necessities. How annoying is it when you have a hangnail that keeps catching on clothing, your hair is slapping you in the face, or you have a splinter that you can’t get out? These these items have been lifesavers on numerous occasions, and I never leave home without them.
Sephora Collection On The Mark Precision Tweezer >> Purchase at Sephora
first aid needs
I always pack a stack of self- adhering bandages, because well, I’m clumsy and I tend to get blisters. I WILL use them, so I like to have more than just a few.
In addition to panty liners, which are great for obvious reasons, I like to keep a couple of feminine wipes on hand. These are great if you find yourself in a toilet paper-less public restroom, or if you spill spaghetti sauce on your shirt.
On a short weekend trip, chances are you’ll be on the go a lot. Having wipes readily available when you don’t have time to properly clean is wonderful.
a few meds
Of course, don’t forget any prescription medications that you take. However I also pack a variety of OTC medicines that can make my life easier in a tough situation.
Your choice of pain reliever for headaches and knee pain is obvious, but I also carry Tums for upset stomaches, Claritin and Benedryl for allergies, and Dramamine for motion sickness. Even if you think you have a stomach of steel, life happens, and you’ll be glad you have something to help.
It sounds like there is so. much. stuff. in this section, but it all fits with room to spare in that little pouch pictured above. Perfect.
the Toiletries — this is where the trimming happens
My make up and emergency kit are non-negotiable. Those are things that I need in order to be comfortable. Toiletries, on the other hand, are much more fluid, (no pun intended.) I only bring the items that I know won’t be available at my destination, or things that you just don’t share with others.
Obviously, I pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and my contact supplies, (case, solution, and extra pair,) and my glasses. I also pack whatever moisturizer I’m using at the time. Here it happens to be a Mitchell and Peach face oil. I didn’t include my extra-scrubby washcloth, hairbrush and razor in the photo because those are just gross, but I also won’t leave home without those.
Salux Nylon Japanese Wash Cloth >> Purchase on Amazon (You need this in your life!)
what to leave behind
Other toiletries, like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, hair products, toner, etc. are non-essentials for me. These are things that I either feel like I can live without for a couple of days, or I’ll be satisfied using whatever is available at my destination. Your list of non-essentials may look different. The point is not all toiletries are created equal.
Make a game out of it: challenge yourself to leave as many items behind as possible. The more you leave behind, the more room you have in your bag to bring home goodies. You’ll find that you didn’t miss your favorite products as much as you thought you would.
After all, you won’t be gone for long. Even if you don’t listen to any of my other packing tips, listen to this one! Don’t go overboard with the toiletries.
the Clothing — mixing & matching is key
When I pack, I like to stick to solid colors as much as possible because they are just really easy to mix and match. For my two daytime outfits, I chose one pair of comfortable, neutral shorts and two easy-to-throw-on t-shirts. Generally bottoms can be work twice, and top worn once. Which means you don’t need an equal number of tops and bottoms. Ya with me?
For an “evening” outfit, I grabbed a pair of dark jeans and a lacy top. These ballet flats are super versatile; they are cute enough for evening, yet they don’t look too dressy for the daytime. I typically bring one pair of shoes (which I’m wearing,) unless I know I am going to a specific event that requires a certain type of footwear. If you are going to the beach or a hostel, don’t forget your flip flops. 🙂
auxiliary clothing — outerwear & sleepwear
I used to always pack jackets and swimwear just in case, but the scenarios when I needed them almost never arose unless it was planned from the get-go. There isn’t much time for spontaneity on a weekend-trip. If you know you are going to need it, then pack it. If you think you might need it if a very specific situation arises, leave it home.
Of course, don’t forget the extras: underwear, bras, socks, undershirts/camis, and a light cardigan. I like to bring an equal number of panties to the number of days I’ll be away, plus one extra. That means I’ll be packing three pairs for this trip. How many socks I bring depends on my footwear for the trip. Since I’m not wearing sneakers this time, just one pair of socks will suffice in case my feet get cold.
One of the more popular packing tips making its way around the internet these days is to use packing cubes. I think these are a fantastic idea, but I don’t have any, and I don’t want to buy them right now. But I do have plenty of makeup bags. *Lightbulb moment! I like to use a makeup bag as a makeshift packing cube for my smaller items like underwear and socks. It keeps them together, and prevents an embarrassing spill should TSA decide to excavate my bag.
beware the accessories
I used to totally go overboard with my accessories, but I have set myself a guideline for how many accessories I can pack. I allow myself to bring one accessory per day, plus one extra. Therefore, I am taking three accessories for this trip– one simple gold necklace, one pair of gold earrings, and a reversible gold and brown belt. The accessories should follow the same rules as the clothing. They should all coordinate well with one another, and work with multiple outfits. That way, there is no need to bring a separate set of accessories for each outfit.
There are some exceptions to this rule. These are things like wedding rings, stud earrings you wear every day, sunglasses to protect your eyes, and belts that yours (or your boyfriend’s) pants would fall down without. These things are necessary and don’t count toward your quota.
the other “Essentials” (any by this I mean electronic gadgets)
Electronics seems to be the category that gets many of us these days. Just because you use every one of your gadgets when you’re at home, (and bored,) doesn’t mean you will need every single one when you are away for a weekend. Besides my phone and camera (which are just obvious,) I only choose ONE gadget that gets to come along with me.
If for some reason I really feel like I need my laptop, then I’ll bring it, but the iPad stays home. Or visa versa. This also cuts down on the amount of chargers we have to pack, because those are just annoying.
I am not including what I carry in my purse in the post, because to be honest, when I’m only going away for a weekend, I don’t even bother rearranging my purse since I am not starved for space; I just take it as it is. The necessities are already in there– wallet w/ ID, a pen, tissues, a notebook, etc.
Overpacking is for the unprepared. Be prepared. Follow these packing tips, and all is right in the world.
That’s all for today!
If you enjoyed this post, check out this one, where I share even more of my favorite packing tips: How to Write a Foolproof Travel Packing List. Pssst: there’s a free gift included in the post, go check it out!
If you found this post informative, interesting, or just plain entertaining, please leave me a comment below and share this post on social media.
Till next time I decide to ramble about packing tips ♥︎
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FTC- This post is not sponsored by any of the brands mentioned. I purchase all items myself. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliated.