I love packing for a trip, and my recent sojourn to Bali, Indonesia was no exception. I think I love packing so much because it allows me to feel excited and to dream in a childishly happy way, and the tangible act of preparing and packing takes me that little bit closer to the actual holiday. I was not always the best suitcase commander though: excitement oftentimes gives way to excess in the form of too many clothes, too many shampoos and random unnecessary things like a ‘travel candle’ (who ever really lights a candle in their hotel room?) or an evening purse – only random and unnecessary when packed for a weekend out bush. Over the years though I have become more disciplined, and when packing for Bali I thought I had the art of packing perfected. A tropical holiday however is a particularly unique thing, especially when the primary intention is to relax and unwind. It thus requires a special set of packing guidelines – guidelines I only realised existed once I was in tropicana and staring blankly at a pile of objects I didn’t need (and no I did not pack candles of any description). Here are a few little (beauty and style) things I learned.
Things I was glad I did:
Tinted my eyelashes and brows beforehand. I regularly tint my eyelashes but because the little hairs are long but fine I usually still wear mascara over the top. But in Bali I was so relaxed and at ease with my inner self (and just a little bit lazy) that I did not wear mascara at all. Tinting my naturally fair brows added definition to my paleface, lessening my paranoid ‘need’ for makeup. I use 1000 Hour Eyelash & Brow Dye Kit in Blue-Black for my lashes and Dark Brown for my brows.
Packed a foaming cleanser. I usually prefer non-foaming cleansers like a gel or a milk, and planned to pack such a cleanser for my holiday, thinking that all the chlorine and sunshine and baths would strip and sensitise my skin. But I also suspected the humidity and reapplications of sunscreen during the day would clog my pores so on a whim I packed a travel-sized Yves Saint Laurent Instant Pur self-foaming cleanser (which I think has been discontinued and replaced with a similar but sadly different version). I am so glad I did as this cleanser is very gentle yet it cleans thoroughly and my skin was smooth and glowing the entire trip. I did however pack some sample sachets of Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser just in case I had a reaction.
Packed a rich moisturiser. I packed a travel size (15ml) jar of MV Organic Skincare Rose Soothing and Protective Moisturiser which this beautiful Australian brand sells through their website. Many people had suggested prior to the trip that I pack a very light, non-greasy moisturiser, predicting that the climate would play havoc with my oily skin. However I’ve always found my skin responds beautifully to humid climes as it always looks clear, calm and plumped. So this secret knowledge, coupled with the knowledge I would be spending lots of time in the pool, led me to pack MV’s rich but non comedogenic cream. It is also calming as the name suggests, making it ideal after long hot days.
Had a bikini wax. This goes without saying. Just don’t leave it to the day before you leave , especially if you are susceptible to post-wax rashes. I like to give the skin a couple of days to heal.
Packed a tinted lip balm. Well to be honest I also packed a lip gloss and lipstick but really, my Korres Pomegranate Lip Butter was all I needed to take me through a happy haze of makeup-free days. The Pomegranate is a fresh, bright pink which brightens the complexion and can be dabbed onto the cheekbones as a pretty blush.
Packed a decent-sized body lotion. Again, my life at the pool dictated this decision and I was glad I packed more than a travel-sized bottle. I was slathering on my Decleor Systeme Corps Moisturising Body Milk around three times a day – after my morning shower, after my evening shower, after returning from the pool. The Decleor is light but silkily hydrating and the scent is perfect for a tropical island: not a rich sweet coconuty smell but a light, watery floral smell, like white flowers after rain. Because of this it also took the place of a perfume for me.
Packed a full-size conditioner. For the same reasons as above – my hair was very dry and thirsty from all the paddling around so I used heaps of the sweetly scented Kevin Murphy Hydrate Me Rinse. I only packed a small shampoo but my hair thanked me for packing a ‘real’ sized conditioner. I also wore the original Moroccanoil every day (decanted into a travel-friendly plastic bottle) to keep my locks super hydrated and frizz-free.
Packed a jacket. I did not wear a single item with long sleeves or legs during my holiday – except for on the plane. If you are like me and find planes oddly chilly then don’t forget a light jacket or you will be shivering and grumpy for however many hours it takes you to move from A to B.
Packed little. Except where mentioned I packed sample and travel sized products or decanted into smaller bottles.
Things I did not need to do:
Or pack, really. I carefully planned a weight-compliant suitcase full of light and easy to roll dresses, shorts and cotton tees, packing one small outfit for each of the 10 days we were away. What I didn’t anticipate was the amount of time I would spend in my bathers and nothing else – a significant portion of every day was spent swimming or reading or drinking lovely beverages by the pool which meant I hardly needed a dress a day. I really only needed a couple of dresses, a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt or two. The only jewellery I took with me were my diamond studs, which I sleep in anyway, my watch and rings.
I also did not need to pack most of the makeup I did. Again, I didn’t over pack my makeup purse at all – in fact it was a carefully edited collection of multitasking, easy to use products including a lipstick for evening, a natural lipgloss, my aforementioned Korres Lip Butter, tubing mascara, a neutral bronze eyeshadow, a peachy earthy blush, a tinted moisturiser, and black eyeliner for sexy dinners by candlelight. But I also did not anticipate how deliriously relaxed and content I would be: once in Bali I felt an odd but overpowering disinclination to groom or fuss with my appearance at all. I did very occasionally slap on some Stila Tinted Moisturiser (a travel tube) and twice wore my Chanel Rouge Allure lippie to dinner, but for 99 percent of the time I was happy with my mineral sunscreen and tinted Lip Butter, thus leaving everything else lonely and unused in my makeup purse.
Other holiday essentials:
I packed a generous selection of magazines and a good book (Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend) in readiness for long days in dappled sunlight, as well as a floppy straw hat, my reliable Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Body Mist SPF 30+ and Invisible Zinc Environmental Skin Protector, Lucas Paw Paw Ointment for cuticles and extra dry bits, hair elastics, my camera, my Moleskin journal and pens, sunnies, sandals, and my little red Jets by Jessica Allen bathing suit.
Do you have a packing routine for tropical holidays? What always travels with you?
Read about my other travel adventures here!