While it's great to share stories about designs and practices that help us live comfortably and contentedly in small spaces, I think it’s just as important to discuss the things that we can happily live WITHOUT— particularly during the holidays, when “stuff” just of all sorts just seems to swell. After all, making a home of a small space isn’t mainly about figuring out how to cram as much stuff as possible into your compact quarters— it’s about experiencing more by owning less. As always, before we jump on in, here’s a lil’ disclaimer: To each her or his own. While these items might be easy for easy for some folks to forego, they might be gems elsewhere. You know your own needs and space best. Habits shift, tastes change, lives and practices evolve. Design and decor should be different and enjoyable for everyone! The following is just a small sampling of travel items you may want to reconsider. (View all the entries in this series here.)
The Overzealous Skincare Routine
At home and on-the-go, I used to use an obnoxious (and expensive + space-space-consuming) number of products: makeup remover, face wipes, cleanser, toner, face oil, serum, add-in powders for the serum, moisturizer, under-eye cream, sunscreen, and primer. It was absurd, costly, cumbersome, and wreaking havoc on my skin. Meanwhile, Adam had his small arsenal of products as well. We finally look a long-overdue plunge and tried Vintner’s Daughter, and it instantly became my favorite for many reasons.
When my hormones went wild after West stopped nursing at 18 months, this little bottle of magic saved the day. (I’ve not had a notable breakout since, nor have I had to visit the dermatologist or get a corrective facial.) Adam and I can BOTH use Vintner’s Daughter. Despite it’s higher price tag, it ultimately saves us money by reducing the number of products we buy. Plus it helps us greatly cut back on waste from packing/shipping/trash, time spent our morning and bedtime routines, and it preserves space within our home. The bottle lasts for months, yet is small enough to slip into your pocket. Now I remove makeup with a dedicated reusable wipe, wash with a mild bar soap, apply toner via a washable cotton round, use Vintner’s Daughter, and, when needed, top off with a clear sunscreen that can double as a primer. VOILA. (Adam does the same, but uses his own SPF-moisturizer afterward.)
These silly things always, always make me laugh… until I imagine how many are likely disposed of between trips, and how many new ones are purchased daily. Try rolling up a scarf or a sweater… or dare we simply make-do with ever-so-mild discomfort for a few hours and then move on with our clutter-free lives.
If you have a regular scale at your home, then you have a luggage scale. If your bags are hard to weight by themselves, just weight yourself with each suitcase in your arms, and then subtract your weight sans-suitcase. My 5 year old nephew can manage it— you got this.
Disposable Makeup Remover Wipes
I was guilty of keeping a stash of these disposable goods in my bedside drawer, in the medicine cabinet, and in my travel toiletries pouch for years. Then, recently, we were paddling down the canals and I saw a crane pecking the discarded plastic packaging from the same product. So… no more. I now have three reusable makeup remover pads, which can be washed up to 200 times each. If I’m wearing particularly stubborn eye makeup after a en event or shoot, I just use a bit of coconut oil on a washable cotton round and it’s managed.
Pre-Packaged Travel Convenience Kit
These drugstore kits are usually filled with plastic bottles containing filler-laden formulas with toxic ingredients. And, most likely, you probably don’t even need (or want) all the products, but accept them as a bundle. Invest in a few reusable travel-sized bottles and containers instead— then just syphon off an appropriate amount of your everyday necessities within them and go. Sample sizes work well for this, too.
I’m not going to lie— we have these. I bought a handmade trio for our first trip out of the country with West, simply because I was so excited about the journey. But it was silly of me. As long as you keep your passport safe while at home and on the go, you don’t need a dedicated cover. And, according to NPR, e-pickpocketing by RFID-hackers can be blocked by wrapping your wallet, cards, or passports in aluminum foil when you’re in places in which they’re potentially more vulnerable. (Consumer Reports claims that this works just as well as most RFID protectors on the market.) Our passport envelopes are pretty for sure, but we really only see them for a minute or so per year. I should’ve taken that bit of money and put it into West’s education account instead.
What? No. These are on par with neck pillows. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you require a deck of cards to carve a path through your social interactions during long rides.
Some people have injuries and conditions that require special gear for travel. However, if you don’t have a medical issue, then you probably don’t need things like airplane footrests. Can you prop your feet on your under-the-seat bag or nearby hardware? Can you perhaps walk up and down the aisle, or do some basic stretches if you get achy? I have faith that most folks can make-do without their own suspended footrest.
I wrap up my shoes when I travel, but I do so with washable canvas totes, cotton drawstring sacks, or even the unfortunate plastic bags that still come with various deliveries. (Does your dry cleaner wrap your attire in plastic, even when you’ve asked them not to? You might as well get some more milage out of it all… better than just throwing it directly in the trash, right?)
These dedicated blankets roll up tight into their own clever little built-in pouches, but they’re likely unnecessary, and usually manufactured in conditions and with materials much like fast-fashion apparel. Just use your coat or an oversized large scarf when you get a bit chilly in-flight or on a drive. Adam, West and I wear our larger LSA scarves (as seen above in a photo by Sebastian Artz) when we travel for this exact purpose.
Travel Accessories With Which I’m Unapologetically, Totally on Board
I personally like the following because I use them to stay organized every day, whether in our tiny home or when we’re away: