Photo courtesy of Natasha Mileshina (bubbo-tubbo) (

The Traveler’s Chic (AKA How to Not Look Like You’re Living Out of a Suitcase… When You Are)

For the chic, global jetsetter, traveling is – well – a must. But to travel the world, actual traveling must occur, and that’s what will make you feel more frumpy and out of your element than living out of a suitcase for a week or even a month (if you should be so lucky).

Unfortunately, I am not so lucky and I am living out of my suitcase for a month because I am moving for work which is also why I’ve been so absent as of late. Suddenly getting a new job and moving to a whole new city, unplanned, all while having to deal with the holidays is about the most stressful thing I’ve done in recent times. It’s a good thing I’ve already done the globe-trotting or else I’d be even more over my head than I already am.

Since the holidays are coming up, I thought this article would be useful to anyone planning to travel this holiday season. Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve discovered to master living on the go.

1. Keep your toiletries and your makeup separate.

Let’s face it: we all have a lot of stuff. But it’s okay that we have  a lot of stuff though, even when traveling – as long as you keep it organized. The two things most likely to get squished together that probably shouldn’t be are makeup and toiletries. Why not?

Well, do you really want to deal with your toothpaste accidentally uncapping and oozing all over your eyeshadow box? Or to take out all your shampoo and face wash bottles to dig up that one eyeliner? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

It seems logical to pack those two together especially since airports encourage us to throw everything into one bag for screening, but here’s another thought to consider: most makeup items are dry (other than, say, liquid foundation or BB creme), so in essence it’s just taking up room where you could actually stick liquid and gels. A good rule of thumb to go by when separating these is: if it’s meant to be put on (eyeshadow, lipstick, bronzer), it’s a makeup; if it’s  meant to take off (shampoo, face wash), it’s a toiletry. That way, you’ll also know which things are in what bag.


2. Pack less than you need, contingencies included.

I get it. The desire to over-pack is strong, since we want to cover our “what-if” bases. But the fact of the matter is that no one is going to notice if you wore the same jeans last Thursday as you did today without washing, especially if you’re going to be in an entirely different city.

Even if you pack exactly enough, you’re going to include contingencies like jackets on top of that and you’re going to have more than you need. So if you pack less than you need, including the “what-ifs”, you’ll find yourself with just the right amount of stuff. Which means a little less to drag around and a little extra room in your suitcase.

Which brings us to…


3. Always leave room in your bag – so you can go shopping!

No matter how much stuff we have, it’s inevitable that we want more – and that desire seems to multiply when we travel because ~ooh what if we miss our only chance~. Some of the most expensive things I’ve gotten for myself are from traveling, including a ~$110 USD pair of oxfords in London and a ~$30 scarf in Rabat when I wouldn’t regularly spend more than $60 and $10 on a pair of shoes and scarf respectively (no regrets!). If you over-pack, you’re not going to have room in your suitcase for these little discoveries to take back with you.

And even if you end up not getting anything, it’s still less stuff than you’d have to drag around otherwise than if you stuff your suitcase full.


4. Shoes are for walking, not for carrying. Only two pairs, please!

I love shoes, so I get it, you wanna be fashionable and have choices. But in case you haven’t noticed, shoes are actually pretty heavy and consume quite a bit of space. In the place of even a pair of flats, you can actually pack 1-2 more shirts.

When traveling, you should only have two pairs of shoes on you: a pair that’s everyday comfortable and still chic and a pair that’s dressy but still comfortable. Voila! You’ve got all your bases covered. One pair should be on your feet at all times.

I actually wouldn’t bring less than two pairs, however, unless you’re going for less than three days. A second pair of shoes also covers a what-if, just in case something does happen to one pair. Shoes do break. And of course, a third pair is allowed if-and-only-if they’re a pair of flip flops that you need for the beach.


5. Don’t carry anything you wouldn’t usually in your purse (but if you aren’t keeping makeup, you probably should)!

I don’t understand why, when people go on vacation, they feel the need to keep things they wouldn’t usually on them. Unless if you’re going to the beach, you don’t need a giant bottle of sunscreen in your purse, and even then, it should only go in your beach bag. You’re traveling – not Mary Poppins!

On the other hand, there are some things you should be keeping in your bag anyway. Stop in an airport restroom to touch up your makeup after a long flight… though sunglasses should also suffice. You really only need a lipstick/lip gloss and eyeliner to be fab in less than two minutes. No one will even notice anything else is missing!


6. The golden rule: less is more.

Traveling with a lot of stuff feels icky. You’re lugging around so much heavy crap and you have more stuff to worry about potentially losing. If you don’t think you need it, then don’t take it. Anything you don’t have, there’s a pretty high likelihood you’ll be able to buy somewhere else if you realize you did actually need it.

Happy and safe travels, everyone!

One more dive tonight – Photo courtesy of Ville Miettinen

Bonus tip: Lock your luggage – duh – but for anything you can’t lock and also can’t keep a close eye on, stuff your dirty clothes on top.

This sounds bizarre and completely unchic, but it works quite well! One time in New York, I was carrying a laptop and camera in my backpack, and in an attempt to rush to my bus, I stuffed all my dirty clothes on top of it. When I got out of the subway, someone pointed out to me my backpack was open – and my dirty clothes were almost falling out. Someone tried to pickpocket me and got a face full of my dirty clothes instead! My camera and laptop were there, and nothing was lost.

No one wants your dirty laundry, and clothes shift quite noticeably when you try to take and move them. You’ll notice if a petty thief tries to dig around your clothes for something worthwhile.

So a little bizarre and unchic, maybe, but definitely not more unchic than losing something valuable!

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