Things I’ve Learned: Travel Edition

It’s a surprised Saturday post!

I couldn’t name this entry Travel Hacks. I can’t fathom anything I do constituting a hack. My life is more about balance than minimalism, a middle path rather than indulgence. So no, no hacks, though I do know how to pack a carry-on that blazes through airport security. And I’m really good at remembering all the little things now that I typically forget.

Without further ado, here is a series of lists of all the lessons I’ve learned while traveling:

Most Commonly Forgotten Items

  • Pajamas
  • An extra bra (depending on how long the trip is)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hair brush
  • Deodorant
  • Mascara

Getting Through Security

  • Avoid wearing a belt. If you do, take it off before passing through the arches.
  • Ditto shoes or boots with heavy buckles.
  • Inexpensive jewellery can also set-off the machines, so take that off too.
  • Get your laptop, cellphone, and e-reader out of their sleeves and place them in the bins with nothing underneath them.
  • Make sure your liquids and gels are in that bag they provide. And make sure that they’re at or below regulation size.
  • Check your pockets.

Stuff I Always Have in my Carry-On
** I’m defining carry-on in this case to mean the bag that will be closest to me during the flight, the one to which I will have nigh constant access. Not the thing that goes in the overhead bin or under the plane.

  • Lip balm.
    **And that’s the only cosmetic I carry with me on a plane. I am in transit. However my make-up looks before take-off (if I’m wearing make-up) is how I’m going to look when I land. If anyone is judging my appearance on a plane, I don’t want to know them, and I sure as heck don’t want to impress them.
    However, the air in the cabin gets very dry, so I like to keep my lips hydrated.
  • Unscented hand cream
  • Music-listening device and headphones
  • Laptop (if I brought it along. Generally, if the trip is shorter than a week, I won’t.)
  • Book(s)
    **I have an irrational fear of running out of reading material when I travel, so I will typically have more than one book. In addition to my Kindle, which also carries more than one book.
  • Snack(s) – preferably peanut-free.
  • Water bottle.
  • Wallet/Phone/Identification. Because obviously.

Tips for a Lighter Suitcase

  • Buy mini bottles for all your lotions, creams, and cleansers. So much more efficient than hauling around full-size bottles or having to buy new products upon arrival. Travel bottles will also pass muster with TSA regulations, allowing you to potentially forego a checked bag.
  • Limit yourself to two pairs of shoes and – regardless of how they look with your outfit – wear the heavier pair on board the plane.
  • Dodge heavier styling items. Most places will have ones for you to use.
  • Be strict about your make-up but as consistent as possible with your skincare.
    Hmmm, this should really be a section all its own.


  • Once again, see if you can re-pot larger items or purchase travel/sample sizes. This will save on space.
  • I can’t believe I’m about to type this, as a person who routinely traveled with a full fifteen MAC shadows at one time in her life, but traveling is not the time to experiment with different looks. Don’t bring along that palette you haven’t worn in two years or that lipstick that is starting to to go sour. Also, avoid heavy metallics and glitters. Bring along the things that 1) you know you will put on your face and 2) will outlast any of your activities. I posted a What’s In My Travel Bag earlier this year for a closer look at the items I think are indispensable.
  • Take off your make-up before you sleep.
    **Do this even when you’re not traveling.
  • Try to keep your skincare routine consistent. I have made the mistake of not bringing certain items to save on space only to have a wicked breakout or have my skin act surly upon arrival.
  • Moisturize. Oh, my goodness, moisturize.

Just In Case Items

  • Pads and tampons. Enough to last at least a day before I can get to a drugstore.
  • Extra pair of underwear and socks.
  • One raggedy t-shirt that I have no intention of wearing in public.
  • One top and bottom that passes as ‘presentable’ or ‘nice-casual.’ I’ve had a couple of trips now where I am definitely under-dressed for places simply because I didn’t plan ahead.
  • Empty water bottle. Most airports have public fill stations that are way more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than purchasing new bottles.
  • A portable charger that is actually charged.

Oh, and One More Thing…

  • Pack your electronic devices with their power cables or chargers. I made the mistake of checking my laptop cable at Christmas 2007. My bag ended up on a later flight, meaning I had whatever was left on my laptop battery to finish a major History paper. Which was due the next day.

If you have any actual travel hacks, definitely share them in the comments below. I’m heading out tomorrow on a trip that will span four provinces, at least three major cities, and four different flights and can obviously use all the help I can get. Stay tuned for some travelogues in the upcoming week!




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