Packed and Stacked, Especially in the Back

Packing for a trip is a balancing act between comfort and freedom. Here’s how I roll.

Carry-on vs. checked luggage

Iceland 017
Nothing but carry-on luggage for 10 days in Iceland.
I hate checking luggage. I’m especially impatient after a long flight. Conveyor belts and the crowd of people waiting for their luggage gives me hives. Even worse when your bag doesn’t show up, or shows up cracked/ripped/torn. More reasons to pack lightly: it’s easier, cheaper, and less worrisome. I repeat outfits, wash underwear in sinks, and use a scarf or wrap as a towel. The one invention that would help–collapsible heels for when I want to be fancy.

My souvenirs tend to be something locally handmade: jewelry, clothing, Portuguese port wine, Azorean Sao Jorge cheese, an acrylic painting from Ethiopia, a 1980’s David Bowie-esque puffed shoulder half shirt from a thrift shop in Iceland, a beaded carved chief’s stool from Ghana, always, a rock, stone or sand made by Mother Nature.  On my return trip I am forced to check a piece of luggage, so I can carry-on my new treasures, protecting them from the rough and tumble of baggage handlers. In fact, I pack an empty tote bag just for this purpose. #materialisticminimalist

Packing for in-flight comfort:

My skin gets super dry on flights, so I put together a mini primp bag (reusing my Emirates amenity kit) to include in my carry-on. It’s full of hydrating goodies, including:

  1. A small vial of coconut or argan oil to hydrate my lips, cuticles and under eyes img_1973
  2. Lush face moisturizing mist
  3. mismatched earplugs
  4. eye mask from said Emirates flight
  5. yummy, thick travel size Bliss hand lotion (free at W hotels!)
  6. eye drops
  7. nail file
  8. hand sanitizer (a year’s supply appears in my Christmas stocking every year!)
  9. chapstick (love me some Zambuk from South Africa, or Red Flower Wanderlust)
  10. Coughdrops or gum

I ain’t messing with makeup post-flight. Take my face as it comes.

Flight Fashion

I like to wear a comfortable long skirt with leggings on the flight; they’re warm and comfortable, and if I’m headed somewhere hot, I can easily remove the leggings when I arrive. High socks keep my tootsies warm, and wearing my bulkiest pair of shoes saves on luggage space. An absolutely necessity is my Bedouin scarf from Morocco. It is my security blanket. I use it to cover my head on the plane, providing privacy to drool, even if I do look like a caterpillar in her cocoon.

me on desert dune

Packing for the climate in country:

For cold places, like my trip to Iceland my essentials include:

  1. Adidas Waterproof sneaker hiking boots
  2. North Face waterproof rain jacket with hoodie
  3. Kmart faux sheep’s wool lined men’s hoodie
  4. Uniqlo fleece lined leggings
  5. Lift 23 wool ski sock
  6. hat, scarf, gloves

For hot places, like Ethiopia and Death Valley:

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  1. flowy skirts
  2. bras without underwire
  3. bathing suit
  4. floppy hat 
  5. $5 sunglasses from New York street vendor
  6. A fantastical dress for a ridiculously color-rich photo shoot

For everywhere:

I buried my loathing and bought a selfie stick with a remote control. I often travel solo, so I can justify it…right? And yo! I took this stellar selfie, fantastical dress and all.

Pack a dress, go for a hike, change on the cliff, stand on the ledge…and shoot.
And this waterproof phone case allows me to capture mermaid snaps. Test it in your sink with a paper towel inside before you sacrifice your phone to King Neptune.

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What are your travel essentials? What’s in your in-flight primp bag? What is the most incredible thing you brought back from a trip? How do you manage to pack lightly? Share your tips, tricks and stories in the comments.