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I know most of you absolutely hate packing so I thought I would put together a super long, detailed post on how I pack for vacation.  I actually love doing it, as it gives me an opportunity to organize and to sort through everything I have and find things I had forgotten about.  I also love reading other posts on how people organize and pack their vacation necessities.  Hopefully some of these tips will help you be more organized and not procrastinate so much (most people say they wait until last minute) next time you need to pack. Most people choose to take as little as possible, but I like to take as much as I can fit into my suitcase.  I’d rather have something I don’t need than need something I don’t have.  With careful organizing, I can always fit everything I need into one suitcase and a carry-on or purse. 

The trip I am packing for this time will be by car, but I still take a “carry-on” to keep up front with me that contains basically the same items that it would when I fly minus some toiletry basics and a spare set of clothes.  There is nothing more irritating than realizing your sunglasses are packed in the trunk of the car in your suitcase when you’re driving down a sunny highway! 

This trip will be to a convention and mini-vacation for five days and four nights.  The weather is still unpredictable for this time of year and I really don’t know what type of plans we will have in the evenings so I will be planning two outfits for each day plus some lounge clothes for in the hotel.  Also, I never wear anything more than once without washing it which is contrary to what a lot of people seem to do on vacation, so I tend to pack more clothes than most.  If there is any extra space in my suitcase when everything is packed, I will throw in anything that didn’t quite make the cut, such as an extra pair of yoga pants or an extra sweatshirt.

First, I keep a checklist on my computer of all the items I may need to take.  When I’m ready to pack, I print this list to check each item off as I pack it and this way I am able to pack as early or as late as I want without forgetting anything.  It takes a lot of stress out of trying to get everything I need rounded up.  The list is separated into sections depending on where the physical location of the items will end up.  For example, I have a section for “bathroom” that contains all the toiletries, a section for “nightstand” that contains all the items I’ll want by my bedside, a section for hair products, clothing, carry-on and makeup/misc.  That way when I get to the hotel, I can take each of those separately bagged items to their destination and unpacking is done in under five minutes!

These are the bags I will be taking and what they will be used for.  I’ll go into more detail with photos as I pack each one below.

Suitcase-everything I don’t need in my carry-on goes in here.  I had no idea what I was doing when I bought this though.  It is black inside so it is difficult to see where things are sometimes and it is extremely heavy even when empty so it has become a challenge to check at airports now that there are weight restrictions on bags.  Also, the compartments on the outside are fairly useless because anything you put in there is going to get smashed.  It has lasted many, many years though with no signs of wear other than the heavy leather handle that got ripped off the first time I used/checked it.  Assholes.

Bathroom Bag, Nightstand Bag, Makeup Bag & Brush Roll, Jewelry Bags, Shoe Bags, Carry-On/Purse

Hair Product Bag-I don’t have travel sizes of most of my hair products and I can’t really downsize my flat or curling iron, so I usually pack these things in a separate bag inside my suitcase when flying, but since I’ll be in charge of my suitcase on this trip, I will be packing these items in the outer pockets of my suitcase to make room inside for any extra items I might want to add.  I will just keep barrettes and clips in a small bag inside.

Packing Cubes for Clothes-also black and hard to see in my black suitcase.  Want to replace them with pink ones that have handles!!!

Purse or Clutch if not using the same one I am currently.  I usually put this inside my carry-on, as I rarely want to carry a large purse around on vacation.

Packing takes up the same amount of time no matter when you do it, so I like to hang all my clothing on a garment rack the week before I leave.  If you don’t have one, you can also lay it out anywhere it won’t be disturbed too much for the following week.  Packing clothing the week before means I have all my outfits planned out (including accessories and jewelry) and this means less stress the day before I leave.  It also means I’m not stuck doing laundry last minute because I need to take something that is dirty.  Reserving the clothes the week before ensures they are all available and ready to go on time.

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Here are the outfits separated by each day, including my travel outfits. More details to come on OOTD posts. I don’t actually fold and pack these in the cubes until closer to the time I’m leaving to decrease the chance of wrinkles.  I also start packing anything I have in travel size at this time that I know I won’t need at home, such as mini containers of my toiletries, my spare brush, etc.

The day before or morning of leaving, all my items that I have been using daily will go into their bags.  I will then package them in the suitcase.  My suitcase has an expander so I know that as long as I don’t use that on the way there, I can use it on the way back for anything I might purchase while there.

Here is everything ready to be placed in the bags.  Feel free to make your own list using mine as a guide:

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Bathroom Bag: q-tips & cotton balls, makeup remover for eyes (Estee Lauder since that’s what I have in a sample size) and wipes for face (from an Ipsy bag), face masks or treatments (I’m taking Eye Solace to relieve my red, dry contact eyes and a little container of lip scrub), floss, toothbrush, toothpaste (Marvis and Toms samples), mouthwash (I use Act or Listerine and just keep refilling the little Scope bottle), hair wrap or shower cap, shampoo & conditioner (this is probably KMS Moisture since that’s what I was using last time I filled these), deodorant (Secret), travel loofah (throw in washing machine when you get home and save for next trip!), body wash (samples from C.O. Bigelow), face (Proactiv) & eye cleanser (Clinique sample), razor & shave cream (I use conditioner in place of shave cream when traveling), toner (Proactiv), eye cream (right now I’m using Clinique Laser Focus), moisturizer (Philosophy Miracle Worker), contact solution (Bio-True), extra contacts, baby wipes. Add any personal items of your preference.  The clear plastic zipper bag came with my suitcase and I chose to use it for these items for this trip.


Hair Bag: brushes & combs, clips, barrettes, heat glove, hairsprays & oils (Suave Moroccan Infusion Styling Oil, MoroccanOil Finish Strong Spray, Joico Root Lifter, Joico Protective Hairspray), straightener & iron.  Again, these larger items will be placed in the outer pockets of my suitcase for this trip rather than in their own bag.


Nightstand Bag (Tokyo Milk bag, still available HERE): lotion (Pacifica Indian Coconut Nectar from my Ipsy bag), linen spray (I use an essential oil blend with cinnamon and eucalyptus to kill dust mites), supplements, vitamins, chapstick (Weleda Everon Lip Balm), phone charger (to be added).


Makeup/Misc. Bag (Forever 21, still available HERE.)  I thought this was going to be a third of the size when I ordered btw!  Decided to take it anyway, even though it’s too big for my suitcase.  I took a lot more makup and jewelry than I normally would since I have this big bag to fill up.

 Makeup: J.Cat & Urban Decay lashes, tweezers, MAC Paint Pot-Camel Coat, Pixi bronzer, Kat Von D Esperanza palette, Too Faced Boudoir Eyes palette, Bobbi Brown Caviar Couture palette, MAC Studio Fix liquid foundation in NW20, Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream in light/medium, Estee Lauder concealer, Clinique Airbrush concealer to use as highlighter, MAC Shadow in Time To Tango, brow pot, Tarte cheek stain, Tarte finishing powder, NYX palette that I’m taking for one of the lipsticks, Chanel Glossimer #2, Stila Stay All Day liquid liner, Urban Decay 24/7 liner in Zero, It Cosmetics Hello Lashes mascara, clear brown gel, Tini liquid shadow, Too Faced Color Bomb in Bee Sting, Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in Watermelon, Bath & Body Works pink gloss, Lorac Multiplex 3D gloss in the color 3D, Urban Decay Heavy Metal Liner, Estee Lauder Illuminating primer, Lorac shadow primer, Nars blush in Orgasm, Urban Decay setting spray, Tarte Lip Surgence in Adored, NYX lipstick in Gem.  I always take some kind of monoi oil when I wear shorts.  It smells great and makes legs glossy and soft.  The one shown with my makeup is from Bath & Body Works and is actually meant to be used as massage oil but I like it for this instead.

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Brush roll: I made this myself.  I’m also taking the little towel above to wipe my brushes.  It’s not dirty, some of the makeup just stained it.  Brushes: TJ Maxx unsure of brand but the handle is filled with little crystals, Estee Lauder concealer #5, The Creme Shop fan brush, Coastal Scents BR-C-N02 (got this in an Ipsy bag and it is literally the best shadow brush ever!), Coastal Scents BR-C-S22 (got this in an Ipsy bag and it is the worst foundation brush ever, but it works great to blend liquid highlighter), blue and black Lancome powder brush from a brush set, Royal & Langnickel Silk Pro Contour BC120 (amazing!), Lorac shadow brush from a set, Sephora crease shadow brush 73, Tarte blush brush from a holiday set, another Lorac brush from a set, Hello Kitty shadow brush, Clinique eye contour brush, Estee Lauder foundation brush F1, brow comb, Hello Kitty shadow blending brush (underneath the brow comb).

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 Jewelry: I found the hard travel case at Hallmark and my jewelry bags mostly came with purchases from Bauble Bar and Tiffany & Co.  Carved skull necklace and bracelet from Etsy seller QuietMind, silver chevron cage ring still available in gold at Bauble Bar, “Foxy” rose gold necklace from Wildfox Couture, Tiffany & Co. sterling heart bracelet, Tiffany & Co. return to Tiffany necklace, shooting star tassel earrings still available from Un-Ruly Accessories, street chic woven bracelet from Forever 21, bangles from Forever 21, long Betsy Johnson layered heart necklace, oil slick bracelet from Forever 21, geometric collar necklace purchased from RocksBox, geo stack rings from Forever 21, crystal ladder ring still available at Bauble Bar, pave triad stack ring from Bauble Bar, custom hippocampus ring, octopus ring from Etsy seller WesternMountain

 Open Cubes Open Med. Cube Open sm lg cubesFilled Cubes

Clothing Cubes/Main Suitcase: The large cube contains my pants/shorts, PJ’s, slippers, sweatshirt. The medium cube contains my rolled shirts and skull cardi.  The small cube contains undergarments, socks, swimsuit.  Belts/scarves/hats, shoes, jacket will be fitted into the main section of the suitcase where there is room.  I try to wear my jacket and hat, if taking those, and my bulkiest pair of shoes so they don’t take up space in the suitcase.

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Shoes:  Jeffrey Campbell Moto Boots (wearing these on the way there), Jessica Simpson Aniece heels still available HERE, MIA Alex sneakers still available HERE.  I may decide to throw a pair of black wedges into my carry-on before I leave so I have another option.  Two shoe bags came with my suitcase and others came with different shoes so I just saved them for travel. 

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Everything is packed except for my massive makeup bag that will fit into my carry-on.  The purple dust bag is housing my fluffy black Hoodwinked Cardi from Showpo that was in the packing cube photos above.

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Carry-On Bag: BC Footwear All I Want wedges still available HERE, my big makeup bag, yogurt raisins, Victorias Secret Sugared Lilac hand lotion, Victorias Secret weekender bag, the green document protector has my travel itinerary inside, my GPS, my studded metallic clutch from TJ Maxx (with money, credit cards, ID, tissues, hand wipes, gum, etc.), my Hello Kitty clear makeup bag with some sunscreen, flossers and EOS lip balm, my travel pillow, a new book I just started reading called Night Circus, my IPod and charger, aviator sunglasses from Tiffany & Co., my contact case and glasses from Banana Republic.  Essential oils (or Advil if you choose that route), cell phone, water still to be added on my way out.

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Lastly, I may add my laptop and charger to the top sleeve of the suitcase depending on if I think I will need it and if the bag is getting checked.  I might also add a travel sized candle and a book of matches, the nail polish I am currently wearing, or anything else I may feel would be nice to have if there is extra space.  I always keep a couple of band aids and some friction stick (to keep shoes from rubbing) in my purse or clutch, so don’t forget to pack those if you don’t already keep them with you.  I use essential oils, but you may also take Neosporin or something similar for cuts. 

Obviously you may need more or less items depending on your normal routine and where you’re going.  For example, if I were going to the beach I would need to add additional items to my list and take others off that wouldn’t be useful at the beach. 

Hopefully this helps with packing organization.  Feel free to leave any comments below if you have any tips that might be useful!