By the end of next month, I will have taken 15 round-trip flights this year. That's a lot of schlepping, but it doesn't have to be a hassle if you know how to pack well. With one exception, I haven't checked luggage in more than a year — even when going on a two-week trip. I've pulled together some tips for getting everything you need into one carry-on suitcase. (If you want to know how to free up more space in that dinky little Ziploc bag, you've come to the right place.) For all of the tips, keep reading.
- Pack light
Seasoned travelers know that the lighter your bag is, the easier things will be. I can fit everything I need into this carry-on bag. Unless you absolutely have to have an item, beauty or otherwise, leave it at home.
- Watch the size
The three-ounce rule is a pain, but there's no getting around it. Before you leave for your trip, be sure that anything you've packed in that quart-sized plastic bag is small enough to go on the plane. If it's 100ml or less, you're fine. Anything more will be confiscated by the friendly TSA agents at the airport. Don't think you can skirt the rules by bringing a 200ml bottle that's less than half full. You'll still have to pitch it.
- No, really, watch the size
While in Belize, an airport agent tried to confiscate a small bottle of sunscreen, claiming that the size was outside regulations. It wasn't, so I politely pointed that out. He grumbled, but I went on my way. To quote those great philosophers The Clash: know your rights.
- Have a "go bag"
If you travel regularly, save time by keeping certain essentials ready to go. I keep a mini toothpaste, deodorant, toothpaste, sunscreen, floss, razor, and tinted moisturizer in a plastic bag. It's always in the suitcase, so I never have to worry about forgetting those items.
- Sample freely
You can always transfer liquid products into small containers, but you might not need to. Instead, squirrel away free samples when you find them. They'll come in handy when you need only a weekend's worth of product. On the same note, if you don't use all of the hotel shampoo, take the wee bottle with you for future use. It'll be tossed otherwise, so why not use it on a future trip?
- Ditch the liquids
Whenever possible, choose nonliquid beauty items. Instead of gel cleanser, I use a powder cleanser like Fix Wish Wash. Swap your liquid eye makeup remover for a package of makeup removal cloths. If you can use powder foundation, you're golden. Less liquid means more room in your plastic bag for everything else.
- Don't pack perfume
Leave the Jean Nate at home, unless you're willing to risk a broken bottle that makes everything you packed smell like Jean Nate.
- Do the math
Lots of airlines have $25 checked-baggage fees. Round-trip, that's a ridiculous $50. If you're tempted to check your bag just so you can pack that big bottle of nail polish remover, consider that you'll be essentially paying $50 to transport a $3 product. It's much cheaper to buy some products at your destination.
- Use the rules to your advantage
If you have a prescription for tretinoin, clindamycin, or other doctor-approved liquid drugs, you're in luck. Such medicines are exempt from the three-ounce rule. Just keep the pharmacy packaging and label in case a TSA agent wants to know what's up.
- Keep these on hand
No matter where you go, you'll be well-served by a nail clipper, bandages, an emery board, safety pins, floss, a small plastic comb, and period supplies.
Any other packing tips you've gathered from your travels?