All the stuff I packed in my under-the-plane-seat backpack
My day bag filled with all the stuff I packed in my under-the-plane-seat backpack

I’ve been obsessed with traveling light these days. I’ve read countless blogs and have watched more YouTube videos than I care to admit. Most of the advice is fairly standard and appropriate for everyone. After a recent trip with everything, including my “personal item,” fitting into my Osprey Porter 30L backpack, I’m making some modifications to the rules.

1. Minimize/Eliminate makeup: Traveling without makeup is not gonna happen. I tried going the minimal makeup route and found that I looked washed out. I tried the minimal look at home, but I should have taken pictures under various lighting conditions because my natural look didn’t come out the way I’d hoped. My bathroom mirror and light are apparently very forgiving. My solution: I will invest in a small eyeshadow palette, so I have a better variety of shadows. I’m ditching the small cheap eyeliner I packed and sticking to Stila Smudgestick which give my eyes the definition that they need. (I was trying to pare down expenses so I’d have more traveling money.) Instead of one neutral lipstick, I will take 2 lip pencils- one red and one neutral. I love Urban Decay’s Super Saturated High Gloss Lip Color. I will continue to pack Mac Studio Tech, Mac Pro-Longwear Concealer (decanted into a small vial), sample-sized mascara, and Makeup Forever brow gel. I might trade out the Mac blush for Vincent’s Longo’s cheek stain, saving me a good bit of space.

2. Pack travel-friendly mix-and-match clothes: This is great advice which I need to work on achieving. I took the bare minimum (for me) of clothes and found myself looking decent but a bit quite frumpy. The problem is that my favorite clothes aren’t the most travel friendly. I love jeans and colorful cotton clothes; therefore, I love clothes which take up a lot of space in my suitcase and take forever to dry. I don’t regret having purchased travel pants (Slim-Sations and Rei’s Sahara rollup pants) as they were flattering; I regret not being able to pull off a so-called classic look. My solution:  I will pack my favorite tie dye or maxi skirt for days when I want to feel more stylish. I avoided jeans on my last trip, but I think next time I will travel in my favorite jeans so that I can pull together a comfortable, cute outfit. That means 1 skirt, 1 pair of jeans, 1 travel dress pant, 1 travel convertible pant for a one-week trip. As for tops, four less-than-travel-friendly tops that I love should suffice.This combination could work year-round. It’s more than what’s recommended, but it’ll keep me sane and looking pulled together.

3. Buy toiletries after you reach your destination: This makes perfect sense for most people, depending on the location. My grooming needs seem to increase with my age, though. My skin and hair have become very finicky; Special products are required for fighting ash and taming the grays. For my short trip to Seattle, I packed a few small basics, knowing I could easily get anything else I needed. This would not have been a good idea for my trip to a Marco Island resort in March where they charged an outrageous price for trial-sized toiletries. (There were no regular stores within walking distance.) Another place this advice doesn’t work is at a destination with a very small black population because some of us have very special needs. Destination toiletries are particularly troublesome for a woman like me who is particular about her feminine products. (I had an unexpected cycle come on when I was in Nanjing, China. Not only were the options extremely limited, but communicating what I needed required some interesting pantomiming.) My solution: Keep it as basic as possible, using multitasking products as much as possible. Know the destination and prepare accordingly, especially when visiting a developing country- even if it means packing something I may not need but would be miserable without. My multitasking go-to products include liquid castile soap and shea butter.

As I look this over, I know that I am adding some bulk and weight to my bag. Based on the amount of leftover space that I had in my most recent bag, all of the additions would still fit. I’d still be able to travel for a week with a bag that easily fits under the seat of the plane and which would also hold my personal item. Age is not going to hold me back.