I’m a bit of a systems freak. I love creating ways to make life more efficient, save time and reduce stress. And having spent the better part of May away from home, I’ve never been more grateful for my packing systems. It made it so much easier to pack and kept me from forgetting products. Plus, I always had those extra bits on hand that helped me combat any skin issues or forgetful moments. My pre-packed travel system was a winner!
I’ve shared a fair bit about what’s in mine over the last year or so. There’s a blog post here and a video or two here. But today I thought I’d talk you through how I created mine, how I keep it topped up and what I’ve learned not to do. You’ll be ready for any trip in no time!
START WITH A TSA APPROVED BAG
Now, I say TSA approved bag but this looks different depending on which airport & person you get. I’ve been using this travel bag* for a while now and it’s worked well. You want something that fits the guidelines but will also be easy to clean if you have a spill. And I’ve had more than one lately. If you’re traveling for more than 5 days, you may need to pack large versions of your products or decant more than one set of minis. But for the most part, I’ve found my system will last me for a good 5 days with a few products lasting for more.
LAY OUT YOUR ROUTINE
I tend to do this every few trips just to make sure I’m covered. But if you’re just starting out, I’d lay everything out on your bed from your routine. Yes, packing lists are fab and work well but not everyone takes the same stuff. Laying out your routine will help you see what you’re using and hopefully help you make your own list so you don’t forget. There have been so many times where I’ve tried to walk through a routine in my head and still forgotten something. So when I’m feeling extra forgetful, I like to lay it all out and check for the mini versions of my product. Or I’ll see if I want to substitute something else instead. Plus, seeing it all in front of you will help you with the next few steps.
DETERMINE WHETHER TO DECANT OR SIZE DOWN
I would say that almost 2/3 of my products are decanted versions of my routine. But there are a few things I’ve learned it’s easier to just buy smaller. Hair products, deodorant and toothpaste all fit the list. Laying out your routine can help you see what would be easier to do. And you may find that you can find mini versions of your favorite products that can be refilled from the larger ones. Both my make up setting spray & leave in conditioner are mini versions. However, I can also easily add to them from the larger ones and don’t have to worry about carrying my giant products around. It may take a bit of research but creating a system that flows for you will save time in the long run.
DECANT, DECANT, DECANT
Part of the reason I lay out my routine is so I can create a smaller version of it. This is mostly for my skincare routine. Skincare can go off after a while. If I’m traveling a fair amount, I won’t worry so much about it. But if there are long gaps between trips, I like to refill anything the night before I go. And if a product I was using isn’t suited to my skin anymore or needs replaced, I’ll make sure I make my updated mini the night before I travel. And for the products I don’t decant (my acids, certain hair products, etc.) I opt for sample sizes, minis or other suitable options. I love using the Pixi glow peel pads* when I travel. They are pre-soaked and easy to pack a few days worth in a ziplock bag.
MINI PACKS & SINGLE USE PRODUCTS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
There are some products that it’s just easier to get a mini version. I love buying the hair product sets* when they are on sale at Sephora so I have mini versions of the things I love to use. You’ll also often find a single use sheet mask or two in my bag. There are somethings I won’t compromise swapping in my routine. But I’ll happily take a mini body wash, single use shampoo satchel or even a tiny perfume to save room. It’s also the reason I love getting advent calendars every year at Christmas. I opted for the L’Occitane one a few years ago and now I have a small supply of mini body washes and lotions. Perfect for making my packing life easier!
STOCK UP ON SAMPLES
I’m a regular online shopper. So when I see the sample options at the check out, I like to snag the ones I’ll find most useful. Sometimes this means I have lots of mini perfumes or single use primers. But it’s great at keeping my bag light for travel. If there are products you love and use, try to snag them as your samples. Maybe even shop on the brand website to have a better chance of getting those samples. One of my favorite things about May Lindstrom’s website is their samples. You get a good sized sample when you buy full sized products. And the containers are so nice, I use them to decant my other products.
ALWAYS PACK EXTRA BAGGIES
And last but not least, always make sure you’ve thrown an extra ziplock bag or two in for spills. I’m a regular purple shampoo user. But for whatever reason, the current set I’m using for my purple shampoo loves to explode everywhere. It makes for a fun mess. I’ve learned to keep an extra baggie or two just in case. If you have the little locks that secure your pumps, try to remember to do that before you travel. However, I’ve forgotten before and was grateful to have someway to keep my products contained on the flight home. It’s the small joys.
Personally, it’s taken me quite a while to really get into a groove with my packing system. And for the most part I’d say I’m there. There will always be a thing here or there that I might have forgotten. But creating a system that works for you will help making traveling less stressful. I’m also a big advocate for packing cubes*. It makes finding things in your bag a lot easier and just generally keeps your stuff organized. Plus it’s a life saver if you have to rearrange things last minute in the airport. I’ve been there.
I’d love to know what your packing tips are for traveling. Do you have any go to items you always take or things you’ve learned along the way? Leave me a comment below and let me know! Happy packing friends!
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