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Pack Mentality

12.16.2018

Fashion and beauty blogger Elizabeth Keene (@elizabethkeene) reveals the packing tips that keep her Insta-ready on the road.

As a fashion and travel blogger, I’m always on the hunt for my next getaway. And as someone who lives in endless-summer L.A., sometimes I’m in pursuit of a change of weather — a destination that allows me to make use of turtlenecks and over-the-knee boots is downright exotic. Other times, I’m traveling for work, and when you’re headed to New York for Fashion Week, it’s hard not to turn it into a workcation.

Either way, the only obstacle standing between me and the destination that I’m wanderlusting over is at least one very heavy suitcase. Luckily, I have come up with solutions to make packing less of a chore and more of a springboard to a fabulous getaway.

Like everyone else, I check the weather forecast in my destination as I’m planning a trip, but do yourself a favor and check it again just as you pull out your suitcase. I learned that the hard way. Last year, a girlfriend and I road-tripped from Tennessee to North Carolina in search of Southern charm along the Blue Ridge Highway. It was the first week of October, and our chunky sweaters and printed pea coats didn’t exactly suit the 75- to 85-degree weather as we strolled the streets of Pigeon Forge.

 

Your luggage, just like the clothes you put in it, should suit your destination.

Step two when packing is picking the right type of suitcase. I often marvel at people who don’t check a bag and get by with one small carry-on, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m just not that girl.

Personally, I have two hard-luggage sets, in summer and fall colors, and a soft-luggage set that works great for more outdoorsy adventures. When I visit colder climates, like New York, I’ll use two bags, one large and the other medium, to accommodate heavier fabrics and boots. I used to cram everything into one suitcase and sit on it to zip it shut, but it almost always exceeded the airline’s weight limit. With two suitcases, you’ll have room to pack both dresses you were torn between for cocktail hour, and maybe even a few souvenirs.

Once I’ve chosen the suitcase (or -cases) I’m going to bring, I start to lay out my outfits. I typically pack two outfits for each day I’m traveling (one for daytime, one for evening). I lay out each look in my bedroom and take a full-length photo, with matching handbag, shoes and accessories, to help me remember later. My airport uniform consists of a blazer, dark skinny jeans (with lots of stretch) and a loose, silky blouse. I also typically wear a low slip-on heel, like a pointed-toe pump — nothing more than 2 inches though!

 

Getting made up by celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh using his signature line of hot tools.

When it comes to taking my beauty regimen on the road, hot tools — whether it’s a blow-dryer, curling iron or straightener — pose a major dilemma, since they can eat up a lot of your 50-pound weight allotment. Well, imagine my delight when I found out that The Ritz-Carlton is partnering with celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh to carry his hot tools in their hotels! Now I no longer have to throw my still-hot curling iron into my case and dash out the door to catch my flight. My most used Harry Josh product would have to be the Marcel curling iron. I love that it is ceramic and that it can easily transform from a curling iron to a wand by removing the clip. Since I can adjust the heat settings to my specific hair type, I know that my curls are sure to stay in place all day.

 

Perfect curls courtesy of Harry Josh.

Now we arrive at the perennial debate: Should you pack trial-size beauty products in your carry-on or full-size ones in your checked bag? I come down squarely on the side of the former — for two reasons. First, I’ve had my luggage lost on two occasions and, in both instances, it took more than three full days to get it back. I had to make do with what I had in my purse, since replacing my makeup and skin care products would have been very costly. Second, when I’m on an overnight flight, or any flight over six hours, I like to take my makeup off once we hit cruising altitude. Airplanes are notorious for drying out your skin, so having my in-flight skin savers handy allows me to put my best face forward. First, I remove all of my makeup with a moist toilette, and then I wash my face and apply a serum followed by a thick night cream. 

When packing your toiletry bag, the products in your morning and evening toilette are the necessities — everything else is extra. I bring lipstick and eye-shadow palettes with a wide variety of colors so that I can mix and match while staying compact. And when traveling to tropical climates, I know that I’ll wear less makeup, so I instead focus on products that will protect my skin and hair from the harmful rays, and help heal it if I get a little too much sun. Double-check your sizes — 3.4 ounces (that’s 100 milliliters) or bust!

My other carry-on must-haves are a full-size pillow with a freshly laundered case; a pair of warm, fuzzy socks to protect against the frigid cabin air and germy floors; noise-canceling headphones to block out the loud hum of the engines; magazines and the latest book from my nightstand; and a few snacks to stave off hunger and keep me away from unhealthy menu options (I like mixed nuts and a square of dark chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth).

If I’m going to be at my destination longer than two days, I unpack everything and put it away in drawers and on hangers. If not, I only unpack my toiletries. Either way, I make sure to steam or iron wrinkled items right away and hang them up so that they’re ready to wear. I was recently at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, and I loved that the room offered ample closet space for all of my clothes. Unpacking isn’t exactly a chore when you’re sipping complimentary champagne and enjoying sweeping views of Palm Springs.

I also organize my beauty products in the bathroom to ensure that my morning and evening routines are quick and easy. Throughout the day, it’s handy to carry makeup setting spray and mattifying powder. The powder will get rid of the oily T-zone, while the setting spray will refresh your existing makeup and make it look as if it was just applied.

Once you’ve reached the end of your trip and it’s time to head home, it can mean only one thing — packing again! I place any items that need to be laundered in a separate plastic bag, neatly repack my other pieces and double-check outlets, closets and drawers to make sure I’m not leaving anything behind. If you packed correctly at the start of your trip, you’ll thank yourself, and maybe even admire your handiwork.

 

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