Beauty Q&A: Pack and Travel, Pack and Travel

Summer means music festivals and camping. And for me, music festivals and camping mean trying not to look like I haven’t properly showered in three days even though I haven’t properly showered in three days. It doesn’t help that somehow everyone else learned how to make being dirty chic, but I just always seem to nail “unkempt.” Any tips on becoming one of those people who look fantastic even though it’s 90 degrees out, Phish is only 45 minutes into their second set, and we’ve all been drunk since yesterday?? Now, it’s not as if I want to don a full-face of make up and a ball gown at Burning Man, but there are only so many ways one can wear one of those tiered “hippie” skirts… and baby wipes don’t leave you feeling THAT clean. Suggestions?!

Here’s a suggestion: Stop going to Phish concerts! I kid, I kid. OK, first, get a mani-pedi the day before you go. I know it sounds ridiculous and like a waste if you’re just gonna be all dirty and barefoot, but trust me that it will do so much to eradicate that “unkempt” feeling. Now get one of those Ziploc bags that they let you take in your carry-on and fill it with 1 travel sized thingy of your favorite deodorant plus the following.

– Travel size Listerine.

– Some cooling facial cleansing wipes which will leave you feeling a ton fresher than baby wipes. Plus you won’t smell like a baby wipe. Swisspers and Wet Ones make the cooling variety and trust me, you can use them for underarms, the back of your neck, etc.

– One of those tiny bars of soap you hoard from hotels because, let’s be honest, there is no substitute for a real soap and water scrub down. At least once while you’re there buy a bottle of water, grab either a washcloth that you packed or some paper towels and get down to biz behind someone’s tent. I’m sure no one will mind if they accidentally get flashed in the process.

– A travel hairbrush and travel sized dry shampoo — readers love this one from Klorane. If your hair is long enough, practice doing a braided look like this. If it’s shorter, get some elastic headbands to keep sweaty fly-aways tamed.

Tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 is the key to your “I don’t care what I look like, I’m only here for the music … but I just happen to be one those girls who looks like a beautiful woodland fairy even after shrooming for days in the mud” look.

– Next, Mac makes a little compact called Cream Colour Base to revitalize your cheeks and lips. Shell and Copper are universally flattering and a bit shimmery. Plus, Mac makeup has insane staying power in icky, sweaty situations. A hint of a rosy color like this is the best way to counteract that “I’ve been drunk since yesterday” peakedness.

– Waterproof mascara like Maybelline Great Lash.

– A lip balm with SPF like this Burt’s Bees one.

And finally, try to forget you’re at a Phish show and have fun! JK! Again, JK.

A question arose this weekend among lady friends over brunch. How does one pack for a week long business trip? How do you pack suits? Can it be done in one carry on? I’m having stress dreams that TSA will pull me aside in front of my new boss and unzip a suitcase filled with balls of dirty clothes. Please help.

Dude, you have come to the right place. I pretty much never check luggage, even on, say, a 10-day trip to two different climates where I gave a lecture, went out to a nightclub, and also went to the beach? It all starts with the right luggage, of course. Invest as soon as you can in one of those rolling carry-on bags that seem almost too big to carry on. Mine is a non-fancy but totally durable and fine looking number from Nine West of all places. I think my stepmom found it at T.J. Maxx. Anywho, before you pack, plan what you’ll wear on the flight that would maybe take up a lot of room in your luggage. A big sweater and boots perhaps? Or your gym shoes if you’re planning to work out at the hotel? Once you have your travel outfit set, it’s time to load up. I think showing you in pictures how I do it will be easiest, so here we go:

My smaller carry-on is usually a large tote that contains my itinerary, wallet, liquids bag, makeup bag that will double as a clutch if I plan to go out, snacks, phone and headphones, little jewelry bag and of course keys and Valium and shit.

In the outside pocket of my large carry on, I put books and magazines and my laptop if I’m bringing it. I don’t worry about the computer not having a bunch of protection since I’ll be the only one tossing the bag around and I can be careful. And I keep an inside mesh pocket stocked at all times with a nail file, little flashlight, hair ties, eye mask, ear plugs, face cleansing wipes and dry shampoo. That stuff never comes back out of my bag.

Inside, I start with shoes and hair tools. Anything big and hard goes in first (TWSS?). I try to take one pair of nice flats and two heels. Rather than clean them like an adult, I’ll put shoes that might have dirty soles in plastic grocery bags. My luggage has these little pockets on one side that are good for these things, too. Next, I take all my soft, non-fancy clothing and roll each piece up very tight and neatly, and use these rolls to start filling in spaces in the bottom of the bag. These are things like pajamas, leggings, tanks, hosiery, bras, etc.

For my fancier clothes and business attire, I usually pack something like two dresses, one black pencil skirt, two blouses, and a blazer or two — you’ll pack however many suits if you have suits. I’ll lay out the largest piece, in this case a dress, and start stacking my other nice stuff neatly on top, centering at the middle and smoothing out any obvious wrinkles as I go. I save one not-fancy thing — jeans usually — to make a wide roll that I place in the middle of my nicer things and then fold them in half over the jeans. This prevents there being a major crease.

I’ll still probably iron them when I get to wherever, but I’d rather not make more work for myself than is necessary. These items now fit perfectly and tidily on top of the bed I’ve created in my bag.

So this summer, a friend and I are going to go do a whole post-college, backpacking, hostel-staying tramp around Europe. Which is great! And I’m super excited! And I know this is a problem I’m lucky to have, but I’m finding the idea of packing for something like this completely overwhelming. I’m mostly a dresses-and-heels girl in real life, and whittling down my wardrobe into a handful of basic pieces (probably involving pants and flat shoes, right?) feels impossible. Is it possible to live out of a backpack for six weeks and not look like a ragamuffin?

Yes! And you are going to have so much fun Iamsojealouspleasetakemwithyou. What? While I never did the backpacking around Europe thing in my 20s, I’ve been doing a lot of weird travelling on my own the last few years and I’ll share a few nuggets that will make planning less overwhelming and maybe even fun? The most important thing to remember is that you and your friend will be the only people all summer who will know how many times you wore that one outfit. There’ll be plenty of places to do laundry, so go easy on yourself and keep it light. Here’s how:

Two (four) words: cotton rompers and skorts! Do these while you’re young. Here’s a cute romper, and another cute one, and another, and a cute skort. These take up hardly any room; are lightweight, breathable, and easy to wash in a sink; and allow you to mix it up and feel cute!

Choose whether you want to get the cutest “comfortable” sandals you can find or a great pair of cross-trainers, or, if you’re doing actual hiking and mountain climbing, some sturdy hiking boots. Go to your local Erehwon or REI outdoorsy type place and tell them your plans; they’ll hook it up. And most importantly: Break them in before you go!

And remember: If plans to go to a nightclub or something suddenly arise, you can buy hot shoes and a dress super duper cheap pretty much everywhere. I build this into my budget and that way if it never comes up, I have extra money and I haven’t been carrying useless crap around the whole time. If it does come up, I can get a $7 dress from some street vendor that I never have to wear again if I don’t feel like it.

Safety first, ladies!

Previously: She’s Got Legs.

Jane Feltes produces the radio program “This American Life,” and no one pays her to say any of this. Do you have a question for Jane?

Photo via Flickr