How to Pack Weeks of Travel in One Luggage for Your Documentary Trip (#190)
This episode is created for the ladies out there who’re plan on traveling for their projects for an extended period of time. Whether you are a producer, a project manager, or an on-screen talent, trips beyond 7 days can get pretty tricky, especially when you have to look good for your part.
You know what I mean, right?
Your outfits have to look appropriate, flatter your features, and compliment other people (i.e. guests, on-screen talents, if any). It’s fun to write about this topic now, but not so fun when I was planning the trip.
With a limited budget, we (the Feisworld production team) couldn’t afford to have wardrobe stylist travel with us or help fix my makeup and hair on a full-time basis. Our PA Rosie did a great job while running around being a PA. I couldn’t thank her enough.
This article serves to include not only the things I gathered on the internet but also those I learned during my trip as a documentary filmmaker.
For the record, I took a standard large suitcase about 27 inches in height. Everything has to fit in there.
- Stick to solids. I heard floral is OK, but tiny checks, high contrast pinstripes are big No Nos
- Choose warming colors and avoid white, bright red, yellow and all black outfits
- Stay classic
- Keep jewelries simple
- Don’t make big changes before the shoot
- Bring clothes that are multi-functional. The more outfits you can create from the item, the better.
- Don’t bring too many high maintenance items (i.e. clothes made of silk, wool/cashmere, cotton) that require lots of ironing and take a long time to dry. I could do laundry only once on the road, and it was a mixed load with my producer, director and PA.
- Comfort is #1. When you are traveling, you are already exhausted. Don’t constraint yourself in clothes, unless you are someone who’s comfortable dressing in suits and fitted clothing regularly. That’s just not me on any occasion! Part of me really wanted to look polished and well put together. But don’t fool yourself by thinking you’ll become someone else because you feel passionate about your project. You are not going to.
- The shoes! If luggage space isn’t an issue, of course it’ll be great to bring multiple pairs of shoes, in different colors and shades to match your outfits. As I learned on the web, dark colored and nude shoes are the best. Don’t pick funky colors and bring extra pairs that don’t go with many outfits. Since I had planned to workout and stay active on the road, I brought a pair of sneakers that can also be worn as casually to restaurants. Nothing too fancy, just a white pair of Nike walking shoes (similar to these ones on Nike.com)
- Arrange and plan your outfits ahead of time – instead of bringing items that don’t work well as combinations, plan your outfits ahead of time. Put them on, look in the mirror. Better yet, share your outfits with your team (the director and producer usually got good eyes for them). You can create a shared folder (DropBox, or Google Drive) to share with a team and have people comment, favorite if necessary
- Simply the outfits. I’m a big fan of dresses because you don’t need to match top to bottom. This was a huge plus for me to shoot the docuseries in late summer/early fall. This isn’t an option for the entire population but simplification is key. You’ll thank yourself on the road.
- Accessories – don’t go crazy. I took a couple of necklaces, a couple of bracelets and they were enough. I’m not an earrings’ girl. Even if you are, you’ll quickly notice that there’s no room for every favorite item. Perfume, deodorant? Just pick your best one and leave the rest at home. You really have to minimize everything, in every category.
- Bring a mini steamer (this is the one I have), or a mini iron such as this because your hotel or airbnb may not come with it
- Know the look you are achieving, bring only the makeup items you need, and know you’ll wear
Sephora is proven to be a valuable resource. I rarely shop there as I’m not into high-end makeup products. However, at Sephora, you are able to work with a makeup artists (if you don’t have a clue of how to achieve certain results), plus you can try out a variety of products – eye shadows, lip colors, etc. If you are a lucky woman who has found her perfect shade at CVS, Walgreen, that’ll save you big bucks.
- Depending on the film/documentary you are shooting or you are a part of, your director will give you a good sense for what he or she wants you to wear or to avoid in terms of makeup. As for Feisworld, we decided to keep the markup part simple, natural. What I noticed in post production is that with the strong lighting setup (see video), it actually washes out your makeup quite a bit. In general, I tend not to wear much makeup day to day and I purposely spent more time on the makeup process (before my docuseries interview) by integrating a bit translucent foundation, so it looks natural and feels light on my face. I used more eyeliners than I typically would. Still, it ends up looking pretty nature on camera.
- One of my new found favorite item is the pre-moised makeup remover sheets (you can get them on Amazon, or your local TJ Maxx, Marshalls for $4.99). You can use them to clean your face, and really any part of your body. 🙂
- I do recommend bring two sets of makeup. One bigger, more complete set in the luggage, and one smaller one you’ll carry in your purse as backup. During production, our stuff was mixed up frequently and things were left behind. Makeup can be difficult and expensive to replace.
For most people, traveling with enough meds on the road should be a priority. This is also because you might not be able to replace the meds you have when you are traveling. Domestic travel in the US isn’t always an issue because the US is covered with drug stores, many over-the-counter options, and all the brands you already recognize. However, this isn’t the case when you travel internationally so be aware.
The way you organize your pills is crucial. This is the only category which I recommend you bring extras – your everyday meds, and especially the ones that will save your life. They not only need to exist in your checked bags, but also your carry-on, and your purse
Chargers, backup batteries. I love power banks that’s 10000mAh and comes with two USB outlets, such as this one on Amazon
Organization Inside the Luggage
- Luggage organizer, such as this one on Amazon (https://amzn.to/2RtWil4)
- Same for makeup bag that can have small compartments to stay extra organized, this is the one I have
- Compression bag for your luggage that will shrink everything down, this one on Amazon from Samsonite