9 Tips for Travelin’ Light!

packing picture of luggage and passports

If you’re like us, you’re more than ready for take-off.  First, years of COVID quarantine and lockdown, then winter, and now that spring has finally sprung, you’re itching to grab a seat on the next thing smokin’. Let’s GO!

The key: less is more. Again, if you’re like us, you’ll find lots of things to buy when you get there (saffron and a paella pan in Spain! John Hardy mixed-metal jewelry in Bali! Stamped leather in Morocco!). So, pack light. In fact, anticipate buying a second suitcase when you arrive and filling it with souvenirs. 

Our trick: when returning from a trip with one bag packed with dirty clothes, one bag packed with treasures and souvenirs, we check the bag filled with our dirty laundry, and carry on the bag packed with our precious travel treasures. (Because if your dirty laundry gets diverted to Burbank for a week, do you really care?)  Another idea: set aside some time to bubble-wrap and pack your treasures into a box, then ship the box back to yourself as you depart.

The Basic 411:

  • 1-CARRY-ON ONLY This may seem impossible, but it’s not, and you’ll thank us later. Acceptable dimensions (size and weight) for carry-on luggage vary, so check your airline carrier’s requirements here. If you’re going for an extended stay (more than two weeks), send a box of clothes, shoes, and toiletries ahead to your hotel. Plan realistically (talk to locals about shipping) to be sure your box arrives well before you do.
  • 2-SPINNER SUITCASE ONLY. By “spinner,” we mean a case with not two, but four wheels and a retractable handle. We also recommend compressible packing cubes, which keep your stuff organized and save space in your case. These are zippered, soft boxes in different sizes. You can find super cheap ones on that may not last more than one or two trips, or you can invest in better quality cubes like those made by MONOS, sold as a set of four for $90 in two sizes and five color choices (we like the “Purple Icing” set!). You may still have a handsome set of big, sturdy, hard-shell cases from back in the day with zero wheels. How, you may ask, did we ever travel with those things? Times change. A few decades ago, travel may have meant family trips and longer stays. And let’s be honest: those big cases were hauled for us ladies by men, whether family members or paid Skycaps. Today, it’s so much more fun to just take off with the bare minimum, especially because you can handle it all by yourself. Our advice: sell your cases on FB marketplace or a similar platform, and put those dollars in a jar for your next trip.
  • 3-TRAVEL IN LIVING COLOR. Keep packing simple by going monochromatic. Choose a single color and create a capsule wardrobe in that color for your trip. Of course, black, white, cream, and beige pieces are versatile and always elegant. But remember that Vogue editor Diane Vreeland called blistering-hot, shocking magenta-Punjabi pink “the navy blue of India,” so let your personal power color guide your capsule contents.
  • 4 – RECONSIDER YOUR MANI, and more. Americans may take beauty services, like nail salons, for granted. If you rock gels or classic acrylics, you probably keep a standing nail appointment with your favorite go-to, just like you do for hair and lashes. But here’s the thing: these services may or may not be easy to find where you’re going, especially when your itinerary takes you off the beaten track, which we hope it does. No shade. Just saying, in Iceland, or Ireland, finding a skilled, much less licensed nail tech may be a challenge if you break a nail or need a fill. Consider shedding your old-school nail enhancements just for easy travel. Does this mean that you have to look like a lumberjack while on vacay? Heck to the no. If you haven’t already, discover DIY press-on and glue-on nails. The press-on stick to your natural nail with a little bit of adhesive that’s already attached to the nail.  The glue-on variety are self-explanatory: you apply with a dot of glue. The bond is sturdy but far from permanent (yes, they do pop off occasionally, hopefully not while you’re stuffing the Thanksgiving turkey!). We carry a spare set and a tube of the glue in our bag at all times! These nails are made by many brands, available in any major drug store near you, in an array of sizes, lengths, colors, and shapes, from a tasteful, neutral almond nail to something wild, wicked, blinged-out and bejeweled.
  • 5-DON’T PACK JEANS. Unless you really love them. Jeans are by definition bulky and heavy, with triple-welt seams, rivets, etc. If they get damp, they get even heavier. We’re fans of leggings and floaty tops instead.
  • 6-DON’T’ PACK BOOKS. You aren’t paying all that money and traveling all that way to read. Books take up precious space and weigh a ton. And guess what: they have libraries, newsstands, and bookstores wherever you’re going. Venturing into a bookseller in Cairo or Buenos Aires will give you instant cultural insight, and buying something to read in a language not your own will challenge your skills.
  • 7-PACK SOMETHING WARM, AND SOMETHING SKIMPY. Maybe it’s global warming or just Mother Nature having some fun, but we have literally had to buy a random sweater in surprisingly chilly Moorea (yes, really) and a horribly overpriced cotton tee shirt in Paris during a record heat-wave in March. Okay, this reluctant recommendation does go against our grain of packing things you may not need but think small, flat items: a thin, but cozy cashmere sweater even though you’re headed to the tropics, and a breezy, breathable tee or tank even though you’re off to a winter wonderland.
  • 8-LEAVE YOUR GIANT TOTE BAG HOME. If it’s big enough to carry a baby in, it’s too gosh-darn big to travel with. Yeah, it seems practical, but it’s not.  First of all, it’s a magnet for pickpockets. Second, you will load it with stuff and it will weigh you down, twang out your back and make your shoulder sore. Tip: backpacks are actually sort of dangerous too when it comes to theft, although the weight distribution is better. The reason: you don’t have eyes in the back of your head, and it’s very easy for someone to glide up behind you, and unzip or slit your backpack to snatch your passport, wallet, etc.But here’s good news for Boomers: the dreaded fanny-pack (along with the velvet scrunchie) is back! Yay! Choose a pricy TUMI Voyageur Manele “hip bag” or GUCCI Ophidia GG Belt Bag, or just hit up for something handmade, charming and affordable. Some also call it a “bum bag,” some wear it crossbody, but we guarantee this hands-free lil bag, whatever the brand or make or fabrication, will make your trip and life easier and happier.
  • 9- BRING SOMETHING SEXY. However, you define that. Because you just never, ever know.

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