Friday morning I’m heading out of the country again (more on that to come), and while going over the list of things I need I realized just how far I’ve come in terms of streamlining the whole process. I used to put it all off until the night before/morning of/ten minutes before I’m supposed to leave, an inadvertent game of Let’s See If This Will Trigger A Heart Attack. Turns out that procrastinating packing is just as bad for you as a steady diet of waffle fries.
There are basics I have collected over the years that go with me on every trip, and now I can pack my carryon without altering my cholesterol levels. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned here in case you’re racking up more mileage and want to compare, or you’re looking for ideas this holiday season as to what the hell to get your friend who spends half of her month in different cities.
I have these travel cubes in three different sizes, and I use each one for a different item of clothing: one for pants, one for shirts, one for socks and underwear. They make re-packing (my least favorite part about traveling) super easy, and if you’re going to be staying at more than one hotel or guest room they are a must. It’s like traveling with a set of dresser drawers.
My very good friend Kathy (remember Kathy? SAY JESUS!) started this company when she realized that compression socks could look just as good on you as they are for you. Whether you’re a runner or a frequent traveler (raises hand) or waddling around toward the end of a pregnancy, these have all the healthy benefits of your mom’s ugly compression socks without all the ugly.
3. Steve Madden Patent Leather Ballet Flat $44.99
I am guilty of wearing shoes with laces through security at the airport, but RARELY. Flats will put you and everyone around you at ease because you can slip them off and not hold up the entire line. It normally takes me four or five wearings to break in a pair of flats but these fit perfectly the first time. I’m thinking of buying several pair of them so that I always have my favorite airport shoe. Yes, that is a thing. A favorite airport shoe. Hi. I am a privileged white person with way too many options and a raging sense of entitlement.
I bought one of these after I stayed in a guest room that had a wall of windows with no curtains. It’s one of those just-in-case items that isn’t a bother to pack because you can roll it up to fit inside your pocket. It’s also great for giving the hint on a flight that you’d rather be taking a nap than listening to the person next to you talk about how Obamacare is the cornerstone of evil.
These wipes remove makeup. They can also double as hand wipes. They can also double as another kind of wipe if you are the type of person who can relax enough inside a hotel bathroom to lead a normal life. If you are that type of person then I’m pretty sure you can also see through steel and fly.
“Hi, I’m going to be staying with you next Friday and I’m wondering if you have hair dryers in your rooms.”
“Are you sure?”
“Like, if I don’t have a hair dryer and my hair gets wet I’m going to look like a Persian cat who has very recently been electrocuted.”
“We have hair dryers in every room.”
Hotels are systematically removing minibars.
8. Epiphanie LONDON Backpack $224.99
What do you do when you are allowed only one carryon piece of luggage and one personal item? You have to find an invention that holds both your laptop computer plus your DSLR and lenses. And hope that invention doesn’t look like it was designed by a scientist who who spent his entire adolescence playing video games in the basement where he is still currently living.
9. Revelation Pant $98
I cannot swear by these pants enough: SHIT DAMN DAMN DAMN SHIT DAMN HELL. Right after Marlo was born I bought two pair of them and loved them so much I bought two more pair. That was over four years ago and I still wear the same four pair all the time. Super durable, super comfortable. I can work out in them and then camouflage that they are a workout pant with a dressier shirt.
Remember when I was in New York and that wall of water came out of nowhere and suddenly I was swimming in a pond with all my clothes on? Lesson learned.
11. Mrs. May’s Cranberry Trio Bars (Pack of 24) $23.99
People ask me all the time how I stay on my diet when I travel and the secret is that I pack my diet with me. I buy these bars in bulk and stuff them in every open space of my luggage. This means I don’t have to eat airport food or airplane food or ROOM SERVICE IS CLOSED FOR THE NIGHT food. You can ask my boyfriend (oops! Did I just mention him? I did. Well, what’s done is done.) how neurotic I am about this, about how I’ll open my suitcase and NUT BARS ARE FALLING OUT. LITERALLY.
12. Travel Smart Travel Bottle Set $12.90
These have been the most life-altering additions to my packing ritual. Instead of gathering up all my beauty products each time I travel, I just grab this set of bottles and throw it in my carryon. Sometimes I have to replenish a bottle or two, some conditioner here, some moisturizer there. But it’s already packed. Done. Finished. I can use all that extra time to think about how much time I just saved.
13. Visconti Passport Holder/Wallet $24.99
Whenever I travel I clean out my wallet which has invariably reached George Costanza proportions. Combining a passport holder with a wallet helps reduce the amount of space I’d have to keep unnecessary crap (“Show this card at any participating Orlando-area Exxon station to get your free Save the Tiger poster.”) It’s compact and helps me keep track of the most important things I travel with: passport, driver license, credit card, Java Joe’s Frequent Sipper Card.
What are your travel essentials?