As the Christmas break draws closer, many of us are tentatively readying ourselves for travel. But after so many months spent grounded on home turf due to the pandemic, it stands to reason that packing for time away would feel strangely foreign.

I know that was the case for me, when I left my home state for the first time a few weeks back. Trying to recalibrate my approach to daily dressing was tough enough without loungewear, let alone locating and packing my long-forgotten, very dusty suitcase.

But when it came to my beauty bag, I felt thankful that I had a tried-and-true system to fall back on. A well-stocked, expertly packed cosmetic kit that had everything I need, ready to go at a moment’s notice (which was handy back when my job meant flying to events on short notice).

It made the whole process far less overwhelming, so here’s how to pack beauty products for travel, like a beauty editor.

Buy everything in travel size

I mean, I guess it goes without saying, right? Buying travel-sized beauty products will save you so much space in your luggage, which means you can actually take more products that are smaller in size – always a plus. And yes, of course, outlaying cash for extra products in smaller sizes seems like a needless cost, but the trick is to buy everything in travel size in the first place. Trying a new skincare product? Instead of shelling out on the full-size version, why not spend less and buy the mini size to try it out. If you like it, then you can invest in the normal size and keep the travel mini for your vacation beauty bag. Simple!

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Decanting means less to carry (and less disruption for your skin)

Can’t avoid packing a full-sized product? Take it on your trip without the excess packaging by decanting just enough into smaller reusable containers. That way you’ll save space, while also ensuring that you’re sticking to your regular, reliable routine – which can often mean the difference between vacation breakouts and clear skin. You’ll also have more space to pack the products or tools that are non-negotiables, such as an essential hair tool (especially if you’re off to warmer climes, because hello humidity) or a treatment that benefits from consistency, such as a microcurrent device.

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Versatility is key

Consider the likely activities for each day – where will you be going? Days by the beach might require little more than high-protection SPF and tinted lip balm, but evenings might warrant higher coverage. The trick is to pack as many products as you’ll need without adding extra bulk, so consider which of your products could do double duty. For example, instead of bringing multiple tinted moisturizers and foundation, why not opt for one buildable skin tint with SPF and a full-coverage concealer? That way you can dial up your level of coverage as you need it with the concealer, while still having a light base to wear during the day.

Or try the other way around, with a full coverage foundation to wear at night, packed alongside a light concealer to use when you want to wear less. Also consider using your bronzer and highlight to add warmth and glow to your complexion and your eyes, rather than an entirely separate eyeshadow palette – it’s easy and universally flattering, while also saving space.

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Keep your beauty bag stocked throughout the year

Noticed your favorite travel mini cleanser is essentially just suds at the end of your trip? Make a note to top it up with a fresh one when you return home, so that your beauty bag is always fully stocked. Sure, impromptu getaways haven’t really been on the cards over the last few years, but as the world continues to open up post-pandemic, keeping your vacation beauty kit fully stocked is an optimistic act of hope and self-care. It also means you won’t end up stranded on your next trip with mascara that’s long since dried out.