A few months ago, I packed up my life into a new TJ Maxx suitcase and a carry-on, hopped on a plane at Logan Airport, and lived in Europe for three months. While I was there first and foremost to study, I made sure to travel as much as I could; nine countries and 27 cities later, one of the many lessons I took away was how to pack lightly. Here are a few of the best tips and tricks that I learned, mostly the hard way.
Buy empty travel-sized bottles for cosmetics
At most drug stores, you can find empty travel-sized bottles that can be filled with shampoo, face wash, or any other product whose original packaging is too big to get through airport security. It was cheaper to pour my liquid cosmetics into small bottles rather than buy travel-sized versions of the products.
Use two-in-one cosmetics
To cut down on the size of your toiletry bag even more, utilize products that kill two birds with one stone. Instead of bringing a face cleanser and makeup remover, bring a cleanser that’ll remove your makeup. Bring one face cream rather than one for morning and one for night. Use lip and cheek tip to replace blush, a blush brush, and those five different lipsticks with one sleek product. Check out Bobbi Brown’s Pot Rouge for Lips & Cheeks, or Milk Makeup’s Lip + Cheek stick.
Bring two, and only two, pairs of shoes.
OK, if it’s summer and you need a pair of sandals for the beach, you can squeeze in a third. But on every trip I stuck with a pair of sneakers for sight seeing and a pair of heeled ankle boots for going out at night. And on a couple trips, I got away with just my white Adidas sneakers with jeans for exploring during the day and with a slip dress at night for dancing (it was more comfortable that way, too).
Don’t bring pajamas
I discovered that pajamas were taking up valuable room in my backpack once I realized I could just wear the shirt I traveled in on the first day as pajamas for a couple nights.
When I lived out of one backpack for ten days during spring break with no laundry access, I had to re-wear a few outfits. Another multiple use product, French Lavender Mist by Paridaez, freshened my clothes and Airbnb sheets and helped me wind down at night. I also used it as a body mist and left behind the expensive perfume that was needless while I was out being a tourist all day.
Bring one pair of jeans
A golden rule that I learned to travel by was: you’ll never need as many clothes as you think you’ll need, specifically when it comes to jeans. They’re the perfect pant; they’re comfy, cute, and somehow you can wear them for days in a row and they don’t seem to get dirty.
Bring only what you know you’ll use, and leave behind what you think you’ll use
When you’re having the time of your life in a foreign city, you won’t miss that extra pair of pants or those shoes or those lipsticks. Trust me.