3 Lessons Learned About Travel: Perfecting the Art of Packing

Published in: Beauty Tips, Just For Fun

3 packing lessons learned from kauai trip

Traveling is not one of my favorite things about traveling. I mean, the actual traveling part — the getting there — is not my idea of fun.


The rushing, the waiting, the feeling that I’m always forgetting something, the lugging around of luggage, and that strap from my carry-on bag that digs into my shoulder, the airport security checkpoint, the man who keeps sneezing next to me without covering his mouth (come on, sir!), and oh, they don’t serve food on this flight? No problem, I’ll just eat the kid behind me on the plane who KEEPS KICKING MY CHAIR, GAH!

At least it’s only a five-hour flight…

But one thing I do like about traveling is picking up new travel tricks to make future trips easier.

Over the past few years, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at a few aspects of air travel, like remembering where I parked my car after the return flight (TIP: snap a picture of your parking space with a camera phone) and zipping through the security checkpoint (TIP: wear shoes without buckles or laces that you can easily slip on and off), but packing? — packing is still not one of my strong points.

I over-pack. That’s all there is to it. I’m the girl who brings 15 pairs of underwear for a five-day getaway because you just never know if you’ll need the extra drawers. Like, what if I work out, and I want to change my underwear after? Right? I’d rather have more pairs than less.

But I am getting better at streamlining. I think. And I even learned a few new packing lessons on my recent trip to Kauai…

1. Pack in twos

It seemed counter-intuitive to me at first, but by doubling up on certain pieces of clothing, I had enough to cover my needs.

For example, on this trip I planned/hoped to exercise every day, but instead of packing five sports bras — which was my inclination — I only brought two. I’d work out in the first one, wash it in the hotel room sink, and hang it up on the balcony to dry.

If it was still damp the next day, I’d wear my second bra, and alternate between the two of them like that.

Saved a lot of room in my suitcase.

2. Work those workout clothes

Even if you don’t plan to hit the gym on your trip, bring that workout wear anyway. It’s usually lightweight, comfortable, easy to clean (even in the sink or bath), quick drying, suitable for spontaneous outdoor activities (like hiking, sightseeing, etc.), and wrinkle resistant. Plus, it doesn’t take up much room in your luggage or add a lot of bulk to your bag.

Gray tank top by Zella

I brought a few pieces from Zella on this trip, the in-house Nordstrom brand that’s basically like Lululemon but a little cheaper. I think their stuff is pretty stylish and definitely comfy. Perfect to wear on hikes.

3. Pack a camp shirt

Wish I’d started doing this years ago, but I’ve had this long-sleeve J. Crew camp shirt in my closet forever, and I decided to bring it on this trip.

Wore this J. Crew shirt almost every day!

The sleeves roll up, transforming it from a long- to a short-sleeve shirt, and I wore it many, many times during the trip, both as a shirt, and as a lightweight jacket/cover-up over tank tops and swimsuits.

This one happens to be 100 percent cotton, so it dries quickly in warm weather. I’d wash it in the sink, leave it out to dry, and it would be ready to wear again the next morning.

The hot pink color also appeals to the practical but paranoid part of me (the part that watches Survivorman and I Shouldn’t Be Alive). If I ever have to flag down a rescue plane, it’s a very eye-catching color. 🙂

I couldn’t find this exact shirt at J. Crew right now, but here’s a similar style at JC Penny for $16.

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,


P.S. For more travel and packing tips, check out…


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  1. Katherine G says:

    Great travel tips! I tend to overpack, too (while the fiance seems to know exactly what he would need…). For workout stuff, a lot of it actually has antibacterial qualities (like running socks) and you don’t actually have to wash it every time you wear it and sweat. In fact, it can ruin some sports bras and socks that have those antibacterial properties to wash them all the time. I usually go a couple of uses before I wash (sounds gross, but the antibacterial clothes don’t stink or get really wet from sweat – and they are not expensive since most companies are making at least bras and socks this way). I still tend to overpack since I sweat more on the beach than I do at home. Another trick is to run in a sporty bikini and board shorts because they wash and dry quicker than some sport stuff.

    I’m glad you had a great trip. I’d like to visit Hawaii some time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Katherine,

      I wish I could get away with not washing my sports bras after every use, le sigh. I’ve noticed that if I don’t rinse them out with water after I use them they start to smell funky.

      Great tip to run in a sporty bikini and board shorts. Added bonus: you can jump in the pool right after your run. 🙂

      Anywho, we made it to the weekend! Got any exciting plans?

  2. Melissa says:

    This was a great article Karen. I especially like the “pack in twos” part. I always bring lots of workout gear but never thought about just washing my sports bra in the sink. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Vijaya says:

    Good tips if you do outdoors/physical stuff on vacation. I like indoor activities only. And no workouts. xD Such a lazy bum am I.
    Vijaya recently posted … Final Fantasy: Some Favorites

  4. Tracy says:

    Great tips!! I always overpack. I tend to pack in fives haha. Next time it will be twos!
    Tracy recently posted … Foundation Friday: I’d Walk 500 Miles For Jane Iredale PurePressed Base

  5. Melissa says:

    Thanks for the great tips! I usually pack some massive suite case for like a 4 day trip. It’ll include workout clothes, even though I never end up working out!

    Anyhow, sorry to be so off topic, but I love your bright pink phone case…where’s it from?

  6. Ok, I just have to say it: how is it that on EVERY. SINGLE. FLIGHT I’ve (and almost everyone else I’ve ever talked to about this) ever been on, there is ALWAYS a screaming baby or kicking child right behind me. ALWAYS! Where do these children come from and how do they know to ALWAYS be behind us? So strange!
    Becca @ The Beauty Sample recently posted … The Sample: Hourglass Visionaire Eye Shadow Duo in Suede Review

  7. J.Q. says:

    These are some great tips! I am a terrible packer, I always feel like I forget something or bring too much of something I don’t really need (like undies, makeup & shoes, ‘cuz a girl likes having lotsss of options lol) and the camp shirt idea is genius! Ah, the weekend at last, it’s supposed to be a nice weekend w/ an abundance of sunshine in the bay area, good time for a nature walk and starbucks is having frappuccino happy hour from 3-5pm until may 13th! 🙂

  8. Marina says:

    That’s amazing that you workout even on a holidays! I better start myself!!! Speaking of travelling, my baby brother is going to America for several months today, I am gonna miss him a lot 🙁
    Marina recently posted … Clarins Colour Quartet & Liner Palette Review and Swatches

  9. Great tips Karen! I almost always overpack too, because I feel insecure without some of my earthly possessions with me!

  10. Ichi says:

    Great tips!! Here’s my post on beach bag essentials… 🙂


  11. LauraA says:

    Great packing tips, Karen, particularly about packing in twos. I’ve been on the fence about springing for a good camp shirt or two. This pushed me into the “going to get them” category–love both your pink one and the one linked.

  12. Jess says:

    I love your travelling tips, Karen! I’ve started rolling my clothes and the packing in twos idea is great for a fellow overpacker like me!

  13. steph b says:

    One of the reasons I love road trips is that I can pack whatever I want and not worry about space. Can’t choose between two pairs of shoes — bring them both! I’m awful at guessing what I’ll really need.

  14. At says:

    I’d love to see your makeup packing tips for a trip like this!! Ugh I think makeup is even harder to be minimal with than clothing. What are your essentials? Loooove your blog. I have the same skin tone as you so I always love your recommendations, and I also love Hawaii 😀

  15. DalaLuz says:

    Pfff, as a side-effect of marrying a sweetie from another country I travel internationally for long trips more than I care for and I am still perfecting the art of packing 🙂 Although I have learned crucial aspects like spreading both mine and hubbies clothes, back-up medicine and other essentials over both bags, rather than each of us packing our own bag. Its amazing how often bags get lost and travel all over the world without us, not to be reunited with us until days later. Of course all real essentials (and all heavy items) are stuffed in our carry-on. Also most gifts, although some got destroyed over time for carrying too much liquid/gel-like substance than allowed. Apparently there are serious concerns about snowball terrorists. I have learned not to wear metal clips in my hair, and wear sweatpants without pockets or a belt, so everything can just be thrown on the X-ray belt inside my handbag.. Nonetheless I was extremely intensely felt up by a security lady last trip because she must have thought I was carrying secret treasures in my thick braided hair. Or bombs in my boobs. On the plane my fleece doubles as an extra cover for those ridiculously small pillows so I have some cushion of sorts on long flights. My light wool meditation shawl also travels in the carry on as a comfortable extra blanket. I gather my clothes and than slowly thin the mountain out, to make sure all colors combine best they can, and can double as either layer or solo-wear. Picking my make-up is always challenging, but I am slowly learning to mainly bring nudes and some light weight bright color eyeliners to spice things up when needed. And of course there is the continuous repeat of the mantra ‘if you forget something, don’t fret. they have stores over there too…’ although our budget is very tight so we try to avoid extra expenses whenever possible. This trip we were both picked out to completely having to unpack all our carry-on’s, and later our checked-in luggage too for customs. And there was a note in our bags that they were checked by security after the check-in too. We suspect the latter happened because we brought a toy but forgot to take out the batteries. At least this time there were no items missing, which has happened before too (and its no use trying to complain about that either). I really hate, hate, hate traveling these days….

  16. DalaLuz says:

    snowball = snowglobe

  17. Nina says:

    The OCD in me means I overpack, all of the time. But im going to try and not do that when we go on our NOLA trip in June. Try being the operative word!

    The only thing I LOVE about packing in the summer is I can get away with tons of sundresses and shorts/tops! No pants or jeans means lighter bags!

  18. Photo Kitch says:

    On my last trip I made it a point NOT to fill my bag to the point where it was splitting at the seams.

    And just like I thought might be the case…I still brought too much stuff.

    I think my next option is to buy a smaller bag

  19. Kelly says:

    haha! i had to laugh at your tendency to pack lots of underwear…i’m the same way! oh well, atleast it’s small!

  20. Ally says:

    Haha I like how you brought your paranoid side into your clothing choices

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