This time last year, I was taking a break from teaching (actually, I thought I’d never be back in the classroom) and I worked in a corporate training job that allowed me to travel quite a bit. Since I traveled so often, I got pretty good at packing light and being resourceful with my travel items.
My sweet, funny, and world-traveling aunt is taking me on a trip this weekend to ARUBA!!! I can’t believe it! My mom and sister are also going, and we will celebrate my aunt’s 70th birthday in style – she has planned everything to a T and I feel incredibly blessed to get to go on this trip that I would otherwise not be making until maybe my honeymoon or…never (did I mention I am a teacher in North Carolina? Not exactly money bags over here). I wish more of my family could go because we always have the best time together, but we can’t have everything we want. Aruba is a tiny island right above Venezuela, and my sister and I will attend a wedding in Asheville before flying with our mom to meet our aunt in the Caribbean!
Here are my best travel tips, honed from years of over-packing:
1. Make a list. MAKE. A. LIST. Traveling is no time to wing it and if you’re a Type A, detail-loving, listing champion like I am, this is a no-brainer anyway. But if you’re not, trust me. Make a list. Cross it off as you pack things and add to it as you think of new things. You can make the list on your phone, too (I’m not even ashamed to say I made one on my phone first, and then transferred it to paper because there’s nothing like physically marking something off a list).
2. Check the weather where you will be. It is always smart to pack an extra sweater/jacket or travel-sized umbrella, because you just never know.
3. Pack extra underwear, but not extra clothes. You can roll up your clothes to save space, but that doesn’t mean you need to bring your whole closet. Stick to things you know you always feel comfortable and good-looking in. Don’t branch out on that ‘if I am feeling thin that day’ dress. Pack the one you know you can let it all hang out in. There’s nothing worse than packing something and then not wanting to wear it when you get to where you’re going.
4. If you have hanging clothes or silky/wrinkle prone clothes but have to pack them up, roll them and lay them lightly on top of your suitcase. Pack a wrinkle release spray for when you take them out and hang them up…which should be pretty much immediately when you get to where you are going. Most hotels have an iron, but I kind of refuse to iron and this is how I do it.
5. Make sure you have the most essential items you need, but understand that it is 2016, and anything you forget can probably either be provided by your hotel, bought easily, or go without being missed too much. You need underwear, you need some clothes, some bathroom items, and probably a phone charger…but everything else is just fluff. We are not our things. We do not need to pack our entire lives for a week long vacation. (See number 1)
Here are some of the essentials I always take with me on trips:
This Mary Kay travel roll-up bag was given to me as a gift a couple of Christmases ago, and I love this thing so much. It has four zipper pouches with velcro on the back. They’re clear plastic, so you can easily find your items, pull out a pouch if you need it, and clean them out without any hassle. In my four pouches I keep the following ESSENTIAL TRAVEL ITEMS:
Pouch 1: all of my makeup. I keep it pretty simple…I generally use the same face and eye makeup every day, so I pack that, then add a few lipsticks and maybe an extra eyeshadow palette – that way I’m covered no matter what comes up.
Pouch 2: all of my shower items. I use containers that I get at Target and fill them up with my everyday shower items and body lotion. I used to have fun buying little travel shampoos and body washes, but my skin and hair like what they like. I have found that it’s best for me to stick to what I know – plus, it’s a little bit of home every time I shower on vacation.
Pouch 3: other bathroom toiletries. A travel q-tips case, hair ties, bobby pins, a couple of duck bill clips for styling my hair, toner, moisturizer, cotton pads, eye drops, tooth brush, travel-sized tooth paste, travel-sized deodorant, makeup remover wipes, and a disposable razor or two.
Pouch 4: random but often needed travel items. Tums, ibuprofen, wrinkle release spray, small lint roller, clorox wipes, and a small first aid kit and nail kit. You never know when you’ll get a headache or tummy ache on a trip. I also keep band-aids, neosporin, and a small manicure kit in case of blisters, cuts, broken nails, etc.
I tie a small travel-sized loofah to the handle on top of the bag. When you roll it up, it’s a nice little carrying case and fits nicely in a corner of your suitcase or carried separately if you don’t have size limitations.
Miscellaneous travel info: I always pack one pair of casual shoes that I can wear every day if needed, one pair of nicer shoes for a nice meal out or an event I might be attending, and a pair of tennies. I always try to keep up with some sort of exercise while I’m traveling so I don’t fall off the deep end, especially since vacation, in my book, is no time for strict dieting. Flip flops are a must if a beach or pool may be involved.
I always start off with the items I know I’ll always forget if I don’t write them down, like my phone charger, fitbit charger if it’s a longer trip, laptop charger, any medications, and a notebook. I love to write, and I always like to keep a notebook handy in case I feel inspired or need to make a list about something. I like to keep travel journals, too – so I plan on doing that for this Aruba trip!
Finally, instead of buying a million new things for your trip, try borrowing some of your clothes/shoes/accessories from a friend! It is new to you, you haven’t had any pictures in it, and you can get it for FREE.99. Win-win! I am borrowing a bathing suit cover up and this fun, bright yellow clutch from my BFF Whitney (corgi not included).
And here are the two extras that I have purchased specifically for this Aruba trip, because I know my skin, I know that I will be near the equator, and I know that I need extra help (fair-skinned people, can I get an AMEN?!).
Neutrogena beach defense SPF 70 sunscreen. This goes on smooth, smells great, and offers more protection than my usual 30 I have used in past summers. After many careful but failed attempts, I just can’t trust the spray-on sunscreens.
A plain black Rash guard for wearing a few hours a day to cover areas most prone to burning, or in the tragic event that I actually do get a sunburn and have to stay covered up. This one will match any of my bathing suits.
That’s it! I could go on and on (and sort of have), but I am so excited about my trip and it feels good to have an organized system to tackle a week long trip in another country, even if it will mostly be laying in the sun 🙂 Please send good vibes for my blindingly white skin.
Follow me on instagram to see pictures from my trip!