The pack-in-10-minutes epiphany-packed guide to packing

Laura Metze
Apr 13 · 5 min read

I love to vacation and hate to pack — it takes too long and there’s too much to remember. Or, put another way, I’m impatient and forgetful. One day in the hospital, l had an epiphany that solved all my self-imposed problems and now I’m duty bound to share. Read on, traveling girls.

Four years ago, I was riding motorbikes with my husband and two of our sons. A man I didn’t know rode up to me fast, braked hard and waved his hands wildly in the air, inciting my instant panic. I followed him to find David lying on the ground next to his overturned motorcycle, surrounded by concerned, yet morbidly interested people. His leg was unnaturally bent to one side and he was joking around, pain-free thanks to a megadose of adrenaline. While the ambulance took the two of us to the hospital, our oldest son Kevin took the bikes and his brother home with instructions from me to dump the entire top bathroom drawer into a plastic grocery bag and bring it to me in the hospital. That was the day the travel preparedness kit was born.

One week later, David was sporting a newly bionic leg and I was embarking on a quest to create the ultimate travel preparedness kit. This kit was going to be awesome — a no-compromise, leave-nothing-behind version of the 5-product (sad) convenience store staple. This bag would sit at the ready in my bathroom cabinet until the need arose whether that be a business trip, a surprise romantic overnight (it’s going to happen any day now), a hospital stay, a storm evacuation, anything. With this kit, I would be able to pack everything I need in 10 minutes or less, which, as luck would have it, is my actual attention span.

It was a raging success.

I no longer have the pre-trip worry that comes with thoughts of, “What am I forgetting? Did I remember tweezers? ” Plus, I must also be prepared enough for the rest of my family or else one of them may become uncomfortable or have to fend for themselves. When my son asks, “Do you have a pair of scissors?” I now say, “Of course. Do you need a hair tie? A towel?” I am prepared.

My new packing routine:

  1. Pack clothes, purse and shoes.
  2. Pack travel preparedness kit.
  3. Done.

How to build a true travel preparedness kit (follow these instructions exactly to leave nothing to chance):

1. First, you must buy duplicates of the exact makeup items you use every day. Do not try to skimp. Do not compromise with cheap alternatives. No, you won’t remember to tuck your lipstick in on the way out the door or if you do, it will still cost you a stressy extra minute. Buy two lipsticks. Buy two of everything.

2. Buy Humangear GoToobs to hold your own shampoo, conditioner and face soap. Just before a big sales pitch is not the time to try new products and hotels provide awesome-smelling, horribly performing bath amenities. The 3 oz. size GoToob can hold one week’s worth of product. If you have self-control, maybe two.

3. Don’t count on having a useable hairdryer (I have waited an hour for a replacement in a five-star hotel) — buy and pack a BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium Bambino compact dryer. It’s tiny and powerful, handily putting all other travel dryers to shame.

4. Everything needs to fit in ONE kit, always packed and ready to go. I recommend a suitcase-style cosmetic bag that unzips and lays flat on the counter.

A complete list of travel preparedness kit contents I chose due to their fabulous performance on the road (and not because I received any money at all -because I didn’t):

Bornku compact mirror 10x

Stila Stay All Day liquid lipstick in nudo shimmer (unbeatable for long flights and long days)

Revlon COLORSTAY foundation for dry skin in nude (won’t rub off when you sleep on the plane)

Almay pressed powder in light/medium

Sephora Collection waterproof contour eye pencil in tiramisu

Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume Mascara in Black 805 (hands-down beats all expensive mascaras)

Sephora Collection compact blush in hysterical (that’s the color, not a commentary)

Urban Decay eyeshadow in snake bite (because who wouldn’t want to put decay on her face?)

Urban Decay eyeshadow in midnight cowboy rides again

Olay Complete Daily Defense moisturizer, 2.5 oz

Tiny trial size container of Sephora waterproof eye makeup remover (free gift because I buy a lot)

Clinique Even Better Eyes (for perpetuating the myth that I don’t experience jetlag)

IT Brushes for Ulta — Your Mult-Tasker deluxe travel brush set (love!)

One full-size can of the best hairspray on the market, Aussie Instant Freeze

3 Humangear GoToob travel tubes 3 oz, to bring my own face soap, shampoo and conditioner

Clean & Clear Morning Burst facial scrub in a GoToob

Bain de Terre color preserving shampoo and conditioner, in passion flower, each in a GoToob

Aveeno travel-sized daily moisturizing lotion

Gillette Venus razor

Conair Pro hot curling brush, small

Conair Pro hair brush, purse size

BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Bambino travel hairdryer (best in class)

Lysol To Go (peace of mind for the germ phobic)

Cocoon Ultralight travel towel, size medium (it won’t keep you modest, but will completely dry you off)

2 individually wrapped makeup removal wipes by Diamond (in case I run out of energy or face soap)

2 pairs of Under Armor Pure Stretch Sheers bikini panties (always say yes to a vacation extension, plus they air dry in 20 minutes after being washed)

2 Woolite single packs of detergent (an absolute travel miracle)

U by Kotex Click Compact tampons (it’s about time something innovative happened in the world of feminine hygeine)

3 black Scunci hair ties (can wear pain-free on wrist as needed)

Bememo plastic hair claw

8 band aids

10 Oral-B sword flossers

Colgate Total travel-size toothpaste

Secret deodorant, travel size

Travel-size Scope mouthwash

Walgreens folding travel toothbrush

Bona Fide Beauty glass nail file

Tweezer Guru slant tweezers

MrGreen portable nail clippers

Manicure scissors

Travel size Advil PM (vital to speed time zone adaptation during European jaunts)

Every bit of the above fits inside my Kestrel Weekend Travel Case — amazing, yes.

Ah, the TSA

Do keep in mind that this kit cannot pass through TSA unscathed. Technically, one is supposed to put liquids in a clear quart bag, but I unzip the travel case, lie it on the belt, smile and no one has complained yet. The full-size hairspray must be left behind if carrying on, but is available in nearly every grocery store and drug store worldwide to buy once you reach your destination. I’d advise you to buy a travel-size hairspray, but I am not an advocate of settling and there just isn’t one that I’ve tried that meets my standards.

Pay it forward, girls

Now you too must pay this miracle forward. Every minute you don’t have to spend packing is another minute added to the end of your life. Remember that when you’re in your 90s and think of me. Until next time, traveling girls!

Laura Metze

Written by

Laura Metze, a passionate traveler & travel writer, has covered 200+ luxury hotels worldwide over 9 years. Exploring European castles is her favorite pastime.

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