Pack It Up (I’ll Take It): Packing Tips and Greetings from the Bay Area

Published in: Beauty Tips, MAC Makeup

The 1,815-foot-tall CN Tower in downtown Toronto

Hey, buddy! I’m baaaack. Yup, I got in from Toronto a few hours ago. I’m still hella loopy with jet lag, but I’ve been bursting out of my Spanx to tell you about the trip.


It was just a quick, two-day jaunt, but it was enough to see that Canada rocks.

A flying Canadian school bus

Toronto has beaches!

California Dreamin’…

I’m under strict instructions not to divulge the mission parameters, yet, but the trip had everything to do with a three-letter word that starts with M and ends with C.

Are you freaking out? Yeah, me too. πŸ™‚

Until the veil of secrecy lifts (soon), I’d like to talk about a subject that has plagued me for years: packing!

Imagine your most packing-challenged friend — you know, the one who brings everything but the kitchen sink — and multiply that by two. The resulting hot mess would be me. If packing was a sport, I’d probably never take home a medal. Most of the time, I just try to bring way too much.

But for this trip, I tried some new things, and I think I actually did pretty darn well.

1. Use a beauty e-packing list

El Hub gives me a hard time for packing, yet whenever we go on trips, all he has to do is throw a toothbrush, toothpaste and contact lens solution into a plastic bag and he’s done. It’s so annoying! I’m a gal who loves her products, and one Ziploc bag is not gonna cut it for me.

This time, since I usually agonize over what to bring, I used a beauty e-packing list to stay organized. It’s basically a checklist of products divided into categories that make sense to me.

No kidding, this sucker really helped. Before the trip, I created the list on my computer and printed it out. Then, I crossed things off as I popped them into my suitcase. Because of the list, packing took me about half the time it usually does.

(NOTE: I’m kind of a makeup nut, so your list may be shorter than mine.)

Beauty e-Packing List


  • Face wash
  • Facial sunscreen
  • Eye cream
  • Zit cream
  • Glasses
  • Contacts & contact lens solution
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste & floss
  • Mouthwash (if I have room)
  • Tweezers
  • Makeup removal wipes
  • my sleep blindfold (blocks out the light)
  • ear plugs


  • Razor
  • Body lotion
  • Perfume
  • Deodorant
  • Wardrobe double-stick tape


  • Hairspray
  • Bumble & Bumble Brilliantine
  • Curling iron
  • Bumble & Bumble Tonic
  • Goody Spin Pins
  • Ponytail holders


  • Chanel Mat Lumiere
  • MAC Prolongwear Concealer
  • MAC Prep+Prime Powder
  • MAC Blot
  • Benefit Instant Brow
  • Pencil sharpener


  • NARS Orgasm/Laguna Duo
  • MAC Blushbaby


  • MAC Eyeshadows in Concrete, Soft Brown, Woodwinked, and Smoke & Diamonds
  • NARS Eye Primer
  • LORAC Front of the Line Pro
  • MAC Technakohl in Graphblack
  • MAC Powersurge Kohl
  • YSL Faux Cils Mascara (in black)
  • Benefit Creaseless Creams in Birthday Suit, Skinny Jeans, and Strut

When I finished packing, I printed out a second copy of the list and stuck it in my suitcase. That way, I’d have it with me when the time came to pack for the trip back home.

2. Roll it up

Instead of folding my clothes, this time I rolled them up. It minimized wrinkles and saved room.

3. Separate outfits into gallon-size Ziploc freezer bags

This trick might sound a little lot nerdy and OCD, but it totally worked, and I plan to use it again.

I knew from my schedule that time was going to be tight, so I planned all of my outfits beforehand. I rolled everything up, and put them into the Ziplocs.

  • Wednesday day: J. Brand jeans, gray tank top, flannel shirt, black cardigan, brown boots and black motorcycle jacket
  • Wednesday night: Beige/black sleeveless dress, black cardigan, black motorcycle jacket, scarf, Spanx (!), necklace, Betsey Johnson black cat ring and L.A.M.B. heels
  • Thursday: Purple Amanda Uprichard dress, Spanx, teal leggings (I also brought black), Betsey Johnson cat ring #2, gold hoop earrings, black suede ankle boots and black motorcycle jacket
  • Friday: J. Brand jeans, blue/purple printed top, black cardigan, brown boots and black motorcycle jacket

I packed the outfits with coordinating jewelry and/or accessories into separate smaller Ziplocs that I popped into their respective larger bags…

When it came time to change an outfit, all I had to do was empty the correct pre-packed bags. No frantic digging through luggage. πŸ™‚ After wearing an outfit, I’d roll the clothes back up and put them back into the appropriate bags.

I know it probably sounds loony, but it really helped and saved a lot of time.

4. Get steamy

If you know you won’t have time to iron on your trip, don’t want to iron, or won’t have an iron at all, hang your clothes (on hangers if you have them) in the bathroom, and close the door while you take a hot shower. The steam that fills the room will cut down on wrinkles in your clothes.

5. Where’s your shoe bag?

I used a cloth one that came with a pair of sandals I bought a while back, but a big plastic grocery bag would also work. I only brought a couple of pairs of shoes, and both of them fit in the same bag. Not only did it save me from having to dig around for them in my luggage, it also kept dirt from the heels away from the rest of my stuff.

Chances are you handle packing better than I do, but if you happen to be as packing-challenged as I am, I hope some of these tips help.

I stayed here at the Thompson Hotel

The lobby bar (they have killer mojitos!)

Loved this wall decoration…


Hope you had a fabulous Friday. Let’s get the weekend off to a fantastic start. πŸ™‚ I had fun this week, and this is only the beginning of our adventures in Toronto. There’s plenty more to come.

Right now I’m just glad to be home. Tabs gave me an excellent welcome, too, which involved several bites on my left wrist and a marathon biscuit-making session on my tum.

I really missed you and the blog. It felt weird not being able to check in as much as I usually do, but international data charges are pretty bootsie, let me tell you. AT&T, you guys can suck it. πŸ™‚

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



Like this post? Tell your friends!

So far, 46 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Tavi says:

    Karen, you are super organized! Can’t wait to hear more about your top secret trip πŸ™‚

  2. Rica says:

    It sounds like you had fun in our city. Sadly, the Toronto makeup addicts didn’t have a chance to meet you. Hopefully you like our city and come back to visit again =D.
    Rica recently posted … 1st Bloggaversary Giveaway 3 – Lips Slot

  3. Amber says:

    Karen, I love that you have a ‘cat ring #2.’ πŸ™‚

    I use to make obsessive lists before traveling. I don’t know if you can use it on your mobile, but it’s pretty awesome for dividing lists up into subcategories.

    I was on vacation last week and I squelched the urge to bring as much makeup as my comfort level usually dictates. I brought one Dior quint and a couple loose MACs for eyeshadow. Only ONE lip gloss. That one took willpower, but it worked out!

    I also packed what felt like minimal clothing because I knew we had a washer. Obviously I need to work on my definition of ‘minimal,’ because I didn’t wear half of what I brought…
    Amber recently posted … Playa del Carmen- under the sea- part 1

  4. Kaelin Chan says:

    oh goshness. I am a serious packing flunkee. I always seem to bring too many things i don’t need, and leave behind about seven things I do need. *le sigh*. Something I’ll have to work on.
    Kaelin Chan recently posted … Be a Polly Packrat no more! How to Depot Eyeshadows

  5. Laurz says:

    I love the third tip!! I don’t think anyone is a worse packer than I am…it is a seriously stressful event for me, and I usually just bring everything in sight. My only useful tip is to pack once, then go through it and weed out, and repeat until you have much less than you started with.

    I know a few of you bloggers were up here in my wonderful country this week, and I cannot wait to hear why!!!

  6. Lisa Marie says:

    I have become the ultimate packer since I started riding motorcycle. Getting a weeks worth of stuff in three bags can be a challenge! I roll my clothes and place them in ziplock baggies as well. It keeps water out of gear if it rains in my case as well. Another thing I do is use samples of skincare and makeup to decrease makeup space. I actually hold a mary kay consult agreement and use my access to samples during travel. (MK isn’t the only product brand I use, just have a few favs). Checklists are definitely key in my travels!

  7. Jessi says:

    Thanks so much for the post! I’m TERRIBLE at packing. I either bring too much or too little- I can’t find a happy medium. And I really need to learn how to compartmentalize; I hate how everything ends up in one big messy wad. These tips are super helpful Karen! I’m glad you made it back safe and can’t wait to find out the secret!
    Jessi recently posted … American Apparel Nail Polish Swatches

  8. Elaine says:

    you brought my favorite MAC shadows πŸ™‚

  9. Flaaay says:

    I live in Toronto! I LOVE it here-hope you had fun! And lol yes…”beaches”

  10. Rolling the clothes when packing really saved me on my last trip to New Orleans. It’s too expensive to have a checked bag anymore, and because of the rolling trick I still managed to bring back a vintage birdcage in my carry on. Thanks for the e-list!
    Lizzie Montoya recently posted … Eyeshadows- Wet N Wild I Got Good Jeans Palette

  11. EH says:

    Snap…I also plan my outfits. I love the ziploc bag idea. Will use it next time I’m going on a business trip. Waiting in anticipation for the “secret mission” details. x

  12. Natashia says:

    Loved your tips … think i will use the ziplock bag idea as going on a trip soon πŸ™‚ Thanks Karen

  13. Vera says:

    I’ve been rolling my clothes for trips for a while. I love that it saves space, which means I can pack more. lol I went to Toronto two years ago, and I loved it. I have an upcoming trip next month, and I’ll be sure to use your third tip. I know I’ll be sharing that with my mom, too.

  14. Yogirl says:

    Thanks for the tips! I travel a lot on business, the ziplock bags idea is fantastic and I will try this!

  15. Polarbelle says:

    My family thinks I’m a quirky packer, but it works and I have no wrinkles. The problem I have is not taking two lipgloss per day, and one lipstick a day plus a couple extra…if I could just narrow down the lip products, I’ll be doing perfect. The ziplock idea is fab. And actually, I have to spend today packing so this post cma ejust in time!
    Polarbelle recently posted … Chanel Summer 2011 Lilium Les 4 Ombres Eyeshadow Quad Review and Swatches

  16. Kaoyee says:

    I’m totally taking the ziploc idea. I can’t wait to hear about your M_C adventure πŸ˜€

  17. Paris B says:

    I LOVE the outfits in ziploc bag idea!! I’m so going to steal that. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to hear about your adventure πŸ˜‰
    Paris B recently posted … Save and Splurge- Lightweight Non-Sticky Body Lotions

  18. Shay says:

    When I coordinate outfits for travel, I try to make sure any one of my tops can match with any one of my bottoms. And of course, my accessories can match with all the outfits as well.

    For my makeup, I’ll just bring basic items.

  19. Winnie says:

    I agree with you totally! Hubby always finishes packing in 10 minutes tops!
    can’t wait to hear or read about your secret MAC trip. Rest well and see you soon πŸ™‚

  20. Tiffany says:

    Welcome home! I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

    I love your packing list; I do something similar. Please tell me you brought some lip products?! πŸ™‚

  21. Chris25 says:

    We missed you, Karen! I also roll up my clothes when I pack for a trip. I bought a bunch of little empty bottles from a beauty supply store for cheap and I used it to hold my shampoo, lotion, etc. It worked well for me.
    Chris25 recently posted … Review- Smashbox Hyperlash Mascara

  22. lo says:

    I totally did the Ziplock thing when I spent a week in Seattle! It seriously saved me so much time and headache, and since it was a group trip, I didn’t have to worry when I was changing with 9 other girls at 6am, and didn’t have a lot of space to get dressed. And I have a beauty/personal items list, too πŸ™‚ I’ve had so many days where I’d be sitting in my last class before I’d have to leave for a trip, and I’d spend the entire time making outlines of stuff I need in my dayplanner.

  23. Liz G. says:

    Awesome tips! Especially separating your outfits and putting them into individual bags.

  24. Coral says:

    The last time we went on a vacation I started my own list of items to take. My boyfriend make fun of me for making it and then started saying “Oh yeah…” When I’d remind him of something he probably didn’t already have in his bag.
    That outfit idea is amazing though. We usually aren’t gone that long, but it would be helpful on some trips.

  25. I thought i was alone in this world! haha I do these obsessive lists all the time when I travel. I try to see myself as an extremely organized person because anyone else would see me as having OCD haha Your packing list came in so handy to me, because im traveling tomorrow. Love your page!
    Ana Lucia Gutierrez recently posted … packing

  26. Emmaline says:

    Mac needs to do a collection called mac’s most wanted. They will release a 10 piece collection and let the fans vote from best selling LE items. For example give fans a list of top five LE blushes, people vote and the two with the most votes are released in the collection! It would be HUGE!

  27. niche says:

    I love that you got jet-lag from a 3 hour time difference. You must have a very regular sleep time.

  28. Shirley says:

    Karen, these packing tips rock! I’m actually going to Napa for a wedding soon so these pointers will come in handy =)

  29. Nina says:

    awesome tips and welcome home! πŸ™‚

    Tabs missed you! <3

    i think ill do the gallon ziploc tip – bec when i pack, i pack for the hubs too. so much easier that way! πŸ™‚

  30. Elle says:

    I love that I no longer feel alone in my obsessive list-making with travelling. I’m not a huge list person, but I always need a list when traveling. Thanks Karen!

  31. Charisse says:

    Wow Karen, really great idea about separating outfits in bags! GENIUS!

    What makeup removal wipes do you use btw?

  32. raquel says:

    u r packing skills are those of a pro! kudos! glad u enjoyed toronto, its a great city and can’t wait to hear about your secret mission πŸ˜‰

  33. Melissa says:

    Love the L.A.M.B. heels!! They’re gorgeous!!

    Thanks for idea of taking a copy of the list with you! I always seem to forget to repack something!

  34. Carrie says:

    That cat ring is ADORABLE.

  35. Josie says:

    Glad to hear you had a great time hear and love your pics! That beach gets very full in the summer or anytime it warms up here!

    So did you have time to do any shopping while you were here? Get anything good? πŸ™‚

  36. Joy P. says:

    I’m so impressed especially with #s 1 & 3! I almost left my mouth hanging open as I was reading your guide, seriously! Your right about the OCD thing πŸ™‚

  37. Sri says:

    I think you missed the lipstick / lipgloss part πŸ˜€

  38. Janet says:

    Hi Karen!!

    This is so helpful as I will be going out of the country soon on vaca for a couple weeks and def need guidance to avoid over packing! What suitcase is that that you used?

  39. Lily says:

    the trip had everything to do with a three-letter word that starts with M and ends with C
    Could it be… MEC? πŸ˜€ (Mountain Equipment Co-op – Canada’s answer to REI. πŸ˜€ ) Can’t wait to hear the details of your top secret mission to my hometown! πŸ™‚

  40. Hayley says:

    Oh cool, I live in Toronto and I recognize everything in your pictures. Hope you enjoyed your stay πŸ™‚

  41. kail says:

    the flying canadian school bus is on top of the hq of the place where I get my uniforms for school.. neato! πŸ™‚

  42. Issa says:

    wow, these are amazing tips especially keeping seaparate outfits in ziploc bags! i’ll keep these tips in mind for my next trip! thanks! πŸ™‚

  43. Jae says:

    ooooh, i really heart the ziplock bag idea for the outfits! i’ve become (by force) a pretty efficient packer the minute we started traveling w/our kids. i cannot tell you how many “wth, honey?!” looks i would get from my husband when the airline counter clerk would weigh my luggage and we’d have to shell out quite a bit for going over the limit. in my defense, i was packing for 3 people, but i’ve gotten sooo much better. anywho, i heart the ziplock idea cuz it just dawned on me that it would totally come in handy if one of the kiddies threw up on themselves…no frantic dashes for a container cuz hello, there’s the handy ziplock it came in! thanks, karen!

  44. Isabel says:

    Hah! I hate packing.. I do pack for my Bf though. I can’t stand it that he simply stuffs everything into his bag like it’s a turkey. I roll all his clothes up and organize them (yes, I love organizing stuff lol). I like the idea of the zip lock bags. So much better than bulky plastic bags.
    Isabel recently posted … Ministry blacklists six cosmetics products

  45. I love your idea of packing a complete outfit into its own bag. It sucks I have gone through 15 years of travelling without this tip. My next trip to the US is going to be sooooo much simpler (although I tend to buy everything new anyway, lol).

    Gosh, your brain is so smart!

  46. Angela says:

    Thank you for this!!! πŸ™‚ SO helpful! πŸ™‚

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