June 19, 2018

How to Realistically Pack for 7 Days in a Personal Item

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I did something that I thought would be impossible a few weeks ago. I went to Orlando for a week and packed everything I needed in one, kind of small bag. There were a few reasons I chose to do this: first it seemed like a fun challenge; second, I was flying on a budget airline and I’d rather pay the money to upgrade my seat than pay for a carry on; and three, my last day of the trip I’d have to carry everything around all day in the hot sun.

How did I do it? You’re probably wondering. Hell, I’m still wondering how I did it. The main trick was to take less than I wanted to. And that’s what every single packing tip on youtube and Pinterest will tell you. Right after roll your clothes (I’m going to roll my eyes). The second trick is that if you’re wearing it, it doesn’t count as a personal item. In planning ahead, I figured if I absolutely had to, I’d wear my camera. I also ordered this adorable fanny pack from Asos to hold my plane necessities and to use at Disney.

The truth is that this was not easy nor fun. Not only did I have to worry about the bag size (Frontier Airline’s personal item size limit is 14” by 18” by 8”), but also the overall weight of the bag because of the whole walking around all day on my last day of travel. As little as I thought I brought, it was probably still too much. The bag was still heavy enough to leave my shoulders tender and bruised by the time I finally got on my plane home.

Keeping the weight light ended up being a blessing and a curse. I was able to pack more clothes but ultimately ended up being disappointed because I didn’t have my laptop and couldn’t back up my camera photos as easily. I did pick up this card reader for my iPhone but once the card started filling up it took forever to load the photos to pick quick shots to share. To keep it lightweight, maybe next time I’ll pick up a bunch of 16 gig cards instead of one 64 gig card.

My destination played a big role in keeping my bag light and small. I traveled to Orlando at the end of April and I probably don’t have to say what the weather was like but I’m going to anyway: it was fucking awesome. Shorts and bathing suits and a couple of tanks don’t take up much space in a bag. Furthermore, the rental I stayed in came with a washer and dryer so I was able to cut my sock and underwear budget in half. Also, since it was a low key family trip, I didn’t have to bring anything too fancy that might become unwearable after 6 hours in an oversized purse.

I only brought two pairs of shoes. My new running sneakers which I wore on the plane and two days at Disney (I broke them in and I even got a 20 minute run too, score!), and these sandals. As for clothes, I packed two pairs of shorts, a skirt, two tank tops, a tee shirt, a pair of legging shorts, two sports bras, 6 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, three bikini tops, two bikini bottoms, and a romper. On the plane, I wore a pair of jeans, a tank top, a normal bra, a hoodie, and a super light raincoat. And there was actually still enough space in the bag to fit the hoodie and raincoat.

It was actually the other “stuff” that became a little overwhelming. The clothes and the sandals barely took up half the bag. It was the toiletries and cosmetics that really set the bag over the top. If I were to repack for that specific trip, I’d take much less makeup. I could have gotten away with just my PUR cheek palette and used that for simple eye looks at night. Instead, I took that and two more eyeshadow palettes. Too much. I don’t think I used the eyeshadow palettes at all. Mostly because it was a relaxed family trip. Also, it was humid af down there and my regular makeup routine would have just bled off my face into a puddle on my shirt.

I was smart and made use of as many of my small Ulta sample as possible. From perfume to my face wash. I went with the smallest of everything I could. My liquid bag was still bursting. I did learn, after scouring the TSA approved item list, that wet wipes and baby wipes are allowed and DO NOT count as liquid. So, even though I don’t usually use makeup wipes, I bought some Clean & Clear makeup removing wipes to replace my regular oil cleanser. And, I soaked a bunch of cotton pads with my beloved Mario Badescu Glycolic Grapefruit Cleansing Lotion and tossed those in a ziplock bag to save even more space in my liquids bag.

Additionally, even though I didn’t take my laptop or iPad, opting to use my iPhone as entertainment, I did still have quite a few chargers and various electronics. My camera and 24mm lens were the heaviest and largest. After adding in the charger, spare battery, and the extra 18-55mm lens, my bag looked pretty tight. Plus I had my phone charger, and my vape equipment, which included the vape itself, a ceramic RDA, a titanium coil RDA, four batteries and a two-bay charger.  

Ultimately, I will boil down my experience into 5 tips:

  • Go somewhere warm because smaller and lighter clothes take up less space
  • Bring as little as possible (you’ll probably find that you still bring too much)
  • Skip as many electronics as you can
  • Wear the big stuff on the plane
  • Dig out those samples you’ve been hoarding from Ulta

What crazy things have you done to save money while traveling? Have you ever regretted leaving something behind in the name of packing light?




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