5 Packing Tips for the Over-Packer

My first trip of the year is coming up in exactly one week so you can bet I’ve been itching to pack for the last month! Unfortunately, I think there is such a thing as packing too early and have had to practice restraint. I made it until this past Thursday and couldn’t take it anymore – in a heart-racing frenzy I pulled out my summer clothes and the packing began!

If you’ve ever gone on a long trip or even a one week holiday, you’ll understand me when I say that packing is a skill that is best when practiced to perfection. While there is a huge difference in packing for a vacation and a six month backpacking trip through various climates, the following packing tips I’m about to share with you will be beneficial for either one:


1. It all starts with LUGGAGE. You can’t begin to pack until you’ve decided on your luggage of choice. Backpack or suitcase? Hard case or soft? Wheels or no wheels? Dark, neutral colors are popular as they hide wear and tear and your case looking dirty – but have you ever been standing at the carousel watching dozens of the same black suitcase go ’round and ’round? It’s not fun. One trick from the trade is to purchase a unique color or pattern – especially if you’re going with a suitcase. If you just can’t let go of that black beauty you love, attach something bright to help you identify it when you need to.

2. COORDINATE your clothing. I can’t stress this enough! I never used to think up outfits prior to leaving and would just throw in random tops and bottoms. Sure, it’s faster, but more often than not you will end up with a bunch of clothes that never leave your suitcase. You end up wasting space and being upset that you can’t wear your favorite top because you haven’t any bottoms to match. Before tossing clothes in your luggage, create your outfits for your trip. Try them on and try to pick basics that can be worn with more than one item.

3. Roll, Baby, Roll. Rolling your clothes is the best way to create more space and helps reduce wrinkles. Lay your pieces flat and then roll ’em up nice and tight before placing them in your bag.

4. Bring the Basics. When it comes to toiletries, bring the basics. Solid shampoos and conditioners save a ton of space and weight in your bag, coconut oil can be multi-purpose lotion, makeup remover, cooking oil, etc., and you really don’t need your entire eye shadow collection. Embrace the minimalist look and stick to the necessities.

5. Like with Like. This can go two ways: you can either keep each type of clothing together (bottoms with bottoms, tops with tops, dresses with dresses, you get the idea) or you can pack according to outfit, keeping each outfit packed together. You can do this by laying out all the pants in one part of your bag, tops in another, or just by laying out each piece of an outfit together, then another, etc. OR you can opt for clothing organizers that will keep your things separated and allow you to grab what you need without your entire bag exploding in a heap of clothes.


Are Toiletries Taking Over Your Backpack? Take COCONUT OIL Instead!

This may seem like an odd travel staple to some, but carrying coconut oil has saved me from having my backpack weighed down with toiletries. Toiletries are the number one thing that I, and many friends, have complained about. Sure, it can be easy to downsize your clothes and shoes, but toiletries always seem to take up so much space! Not only that, but they’re heavy! All of my toiletries could easily weigh up to an extra ten pounds strapped to my back and you know what? It is completely unnecessary.

Since discovering coconut oil a few years ago, it has made packing light a lot easier. No longer do I need to carry around a facial moisturizer, body lotion, conditioner, eye cream, makeup remover, hair serum AND a million more things. Instead, I just throw a pot of coconut oil in my bag and I’m ready to go. This little beauty has multiple purposes including, but not limited to, all of the ones I just mentioned. Take a peek below to see just how to use it.

Warm up some coconut oil between your hands and apply to face and body. With a light, naturally sweet scent that will remind you of tropical holidays in the Caribbean, coconut oil helps to sooth and hydrate dry skin. Full of vitamins and healthy fats, coconut oil leaves your face looking brighter and younger.

Eye Makeup Remover and Eye Cream
Coconut oil is the perfect trick to get rid of stubborn eye makeup. Put about a nickel size in between your palms and gently massage over your eyes and even your waterproof mascara will come sliding off. The oil has a double benefit here as the lauric acid works as an anti-inflammatory to reduce puffiness around the eyes.

Hair Conditioner
To use as a hair mask, apply a few tablespoons to the ends of your hair and leave on overnight or even just 20 minutes before washing out. My hair is very prone to dryness so I often cover my entire head of hair in coconut oil about once a week for a thorough, deep conditioning treatment.

Have some oil on your hands after using it as your facial moisturizer? Run your fingers through your hair, focussing on the ends of your hair or any fly-aways to leave your hair looking shiny and smooth.

Body Lotion
Skip the expensive, store bought lotions because your coconut oil has you covered! Use this in the same way as you used it for your facial moisturizer; just apply all over your body.

Shaving Gel
This changed my life and ladies, you will thank me. Say goodbye to sore and unsightly razor burn on your bikini area by using coconut oil as your shaving gel. The oil softens the hair and allows your razor to glide smoothly over your skin. Another bikini shaving tip: once you’re out of the shower, moisturize the area again with coconut oil or with natural aloe vera.

Teeth Whitener
Oil pulling with coconut oil is great for oral hygiene. Again, the lauric acid pulls through and helps to kill off bacteria and plaque that can cause your teeth to yellow.

That’s not all that coconut oil is good for. This multi-purpose, organic oil can be used for so much more. What are you waiting for? Ditch the excessive toiletries, toss in a tub of extra virgin, organic coconut oil and begin reaping the benefits of naturally glowing, healthy skin and hair while on the road!

What’s In My Carry-On

Deciding what to pack in a carry-on can be a daunting task for the inexperienced traveler, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think! If you want to walk through security with ease, keep your carry-on baggage to a minimum. Keep jewelry to a minimum and leave most in your checked luggage to avoid setting off the alarm and keep your bag organized so that you can unload what needs to be unloaded quickly and minimizing that flustered feeling of having everything falling out all over the place.

I have a few items that are always in my carry-on.

carry on essentials

1. Passport – a no brainer. Keep your passport safe and on you at all times during your pre-departure and flight.

2. A small packet of facial wipes lets you remove makeup before a long flight and feel refreshed after a red eye flight. Keeping makeup to a minimum is a good idea to let your skin breath and to avoid dull skin when you land.

3. Headphones are a must for me, at all times. I’m often on overnight flights and I have a calming playlist ready to go that helps me to fall asleep and block out any noises from the people around me. Listening to a bunch of people snoring in close proximity is not the ideal situation for sleep.

4. An eye mask is another essential item to help you get the best sleep you can on a plane. You’ve got the headphones to block out the noise and the eye mask to keep out the light.

5. Vitamin C Energising Face Spritz from The Body Shop. This is the perfect travel size (100ml) and is great not only to help keep your makeup in place for day to day use but keeps your skin from looking dull after a flight and is an instant pick me up that refreshes the skin. Plus a quick blast of cool spray on the face helps to wake you up.

6. My skin is notoriously dry and having a mini hand lotion keeps my skin soft and smooth and a good lip chap keeps them from drying and splitting, especially after sitting in a plane for a long period of time with less drinking water than I’m used to. Planes and long flights are a breeding ground for dehydration and dry skin. Drink up and moisturize!

7. A novel can keep me entertained for hours. I prefer to read the old-fashioned way with a real book in my hand, despite the extra space and weight it takes up. But if you are tight for space and want to carry multiple books with you, a kindle is the way to go.

Though not shown or mentioned here, having some healthy snacks is always a good idea. Nuts/seeds or dried fruits are great non-perishables for flights to perk up your energy and hush a starving belly.

Packing with Mesh Bags/Clothing Organizers, Yes or No?

Packing a backpack is an art. It takes skill and practice before you figure out how you like your stuff. As it is a backpack that you’re lugging around on your back, packing light is essential. Ditch the cardigan that has been sitting in the back of your closet for a year. Bring only the essential jewelry for a night out, maybe a nice pair of earrings. And honestly, you don’t need six pairs of shoes.

Distributing the weight inside your backpack is important. A lot of people think that heavy things should be at the bottom, but that can wreak havoc on your back. For regular, every-day use of your pack, keep the heavier stuff higher up in your backpack, aiming for it to be in-between your shoulder blade area. If you plan to do some intense hiking, heavier things at the bottom can help root you to the ground.

On more than one occasion my bag has somehow exploded into a frenzy of clothes, gadgets and toiletries everywhere.

three girls with exploding backpacks.

 It’s like a bomb goes off inside my backpack. I found that when packing with mesh bags, the chances of this happening were much less. With mesh bags you can tightly roll up all of your tops in one bag, your pants in another, undergarments in another. You don’t have to go digging through a mess of clothes that, though you rolled them tightly in the beginning, have loosened and unraveled on the journey.

I personally love mesh bags. They are soft, which means they can be squished down by your toiletries. They are compact, so they don’t take up much space. They are very light, adding very little extra weight to your bag. Four of these little guys worked perfectly for me. I know some people who do the same thing with extra large zip-lock bags, which kind of works the same way. I like the mesh clothing organizers more because they are less disruptive for your roommates if you are staying in a hostel. The only thing I do usually keep in a large zip-lock bag is my explosive-prone toiletries like shampoo. More than once I’ve had my clothes covered in shampoo because I didn’t conceal it in a plastic bag. Check out a previous post about solid shampoos/conditioners if your liquid shampoos have exploded on you too!

Mesh Bags!

These colorful mesh bags helped to keep me organized and it was quick and efficient to find what I needed each day. They can be found at most outdoors/travel stores like Camper’s Village, REI, Mountain Equipment Co-op, etc. So, what’s your verdict? Have you used mesh bags or other clothing organizers before? Are they something that you would try?

Solid Shampoos and Conditioners, Do They Live Up To The Hype?

If you know me you will know that I am terrible at packing light. It’s not the clothes that cause the issue it’s all of the hair and body products. I end up thinking that all of them are absolutely crucial. As I don’t usually bring a heat tool to curl or straighten my hair, I’ve usually got two to three products for scrunching along with a hairspray and a nice smoothing serum. On top of that I’ve got my big bottles of shampoo and conditioner to lug around. I’ve even succumbed to bringing a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner to save space which ends up leaving my thick, frizzy, dry hair even more dry and brittle.

There has been a lot of talk lately about solid shampoos and conditioners and whether or not they really work. I’m not the type of person to just jump right in, purchase a solid shampoo and conditioner and then head off for a few months. I like to know that what I am bringing with me is going to really work and that I won’t be regretting it two weeks down the road.

Jungle conditioner on left, Seanik shampoo on right

I went into my local Lush store meaning to get a gift for my friend’s birthday. I came out not only with her gift but with two bath bombs for myself, a solid shampoo, a solid conditioner, and a tester for some other hair product. As soon as I got home I jumped in the shower to give my new products a go.

Let me tell you, I was skeptical. I really didn’t think I was going to like the shampoo or the conditioner. I have fairly long, very thick, dry hair that is naturally between a wave and a curl. If I leave it to go wild it will look like a lion’s mane. A poofy, frizzy, fluffy mess flying around my head. Trust me, it’s not a pretty sight. So I really didn’t think that these solid options were going to work.

I love the look and texture of this Seanik shampoo!

The solid shampoo I got is this pretty blue one called Seanik. Seanik has two different types of seaweed that is supposed to leave you with soft hair and help care for your scalp, sea salt for body and shine, lemon oil for even more shine, and mimosa and jasmine fragrances to keep you smelling yummy all day long. I was really impressed with the Seanik solid shampoo. It lathers up really easily and I was able to get lots to really work into my hair and it smells great!

While I wasn't entirely sold with the Junge conditioner, it smells great!

I am a conditioner fiend. I use a lot of conditioner on my hair and I was really nervous about getting enough off of the solid conditioner bar. I bought Lush’s solid conditioner called Jungle. I didn’t love it. I found it really difficult to build up enough of a creamy lather for my hair and I could barely tell that it was there! You know that lovely soft, silky feeling your hair has when you’re washing out the conditioner? It’s my favorite feeling ever and this didn’t have it. I was so disappointed but as my hair dried it felt much softer than usual! So it must work. It took a bit of getting used to as the function of the conditioner while in the shower is so much different than a liquid conditioner, but I’ve grown to like the feeling of my hair afterwards. You just have to get over the absence of that lovely conditioner feeling.

Solid conditioner and shampoo from Lush!

When you buy these products you also get a complimentary container to keep them in. Would I use these while traveling? Absolutely! Next time I pack my bags I am definitely going to be swapping my liquid shampoo/conditioner for the solid alternative. I’m actually going to continue using these in my day to day life as well. While I probably won’t continue using the conditioner once it’s gone, I will gladly buy the shampoo again and again. I am really happy with the shampoo. They both leave your hair smelling like you’ve just been to the salon and they take up much less space in my backpack. Also, there’s no more fear of having my shampoo bottle open up and explode all over my bag(this has happened every single time I’ve brought liquid shampoo traveling). Overall, I liked the solid shampoo a lot more than the conditioner but I was impressed with both and am definitely bringing both on my next trip!

Not only that but apparently you can get 80 to 100 washes out of one solid shampoo or conditioner! That is a lot considering how small they are!

What do you think about solid shampoos and conditioners? Have you ever tried them?

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