Spring breaks may have come and gone, but spring travel continues, with many of us getting a jump-start on summer by hanging out on a beach. If you are like me, after a long winter, you want to get to the surf and sand asap. Carry-on luggage is the only way to go.

Carry-ons allow us to skip lines and forgo waiting at baggage claim. For international travel, packing light means a quicker route through customs, too. So whether you’re headed to Cabo, the BVIs, Hawaii, or Charleston, here’s what you need for traveling light and looking great when you arrive:

1.  A cute travel bag. Since the destination is warm, you don’t need much, so use this opportunity to pack one of your cute duffle bags that’s too nice to get tossed around as checked luggage. I chose a Lisa Perry stylish duffle in gold for my trip to Playa. Kim has a one in bubblegum pink. We both get showered with compliments when we use them for weekend jaunts to Vail. Lisa Perry is available at Barney’s, – or from a generous friend in New York. (Thank you Alison!)

2.  Lots of bikinis and a little more: On a beach vacation, bathing suits rule. Since you’ll be spending most of your vacation wearing one, update your collection with a few new pieces of swimwear. Take as many as you wish as they don’t take up much space in your carry-on. In addition, you don’t need more than one sundress per day, 1-2 pair of Tkees flip flops – either coco butter or metallic to go with everything – and a sunhat. If you want to squeeze in some exercise to ensure you look buff in your new bikinis, add a pair of running shoes and 1-2 workout outfits. Oh, and your littlest nighty might add to the fun. As a real clothes horse, it took me years to figure all this out, but packing light is packing smart.

3.  Toiletries of 3 ounces or less:  Let’s face facts: you don’t need all that makeup you carry in your bottomless pit of a cosmetic bag. Take what you will really wear: a tinted moisturizer with SPF from Bobbi Brown, mascara, blush, lip balm with SPF, and one lipstick shade. Remember you’re at the beach, so heavy makeup is inappropriate. Choose items with SPF so you don’t have to double up on products. For skin care you need a facial cleaner, an antioxidant night cream from Astara – mainly because her products are all 1.3 ounces so a no brainer when it comes to travel –  and an all-over body sunscreen. Don’t forget your toothbrush and paste.

4.  Appropriate travel clothes: Wear clothes that work with both your departure and arrival cities by layering. Don’t show up in Saint Barts in blue jeans and boots, even if you’re leaving from chilly Boston at 6am. Choose a pair of colored jeans – turquoise is perfect for the tropics– and wear a lightweight knit top over a tank, so you can shed a layer when you disembark the plane. Footwear is easy. Always wear flats for comfort and ease around the airports. Ballet flats rule as they keep your feet warm enough on a chilly flight, but are also springy enough to look cool at check-in. On the way home, wear a sundress upon departure and pack a cardigan and a pair of leggings that can work under your dress if you’re expecting cooler weather back home. Think ahead and you won’t look clueless.

5.  Big sunglasses: Wear your biggest pair of sunglasses on the plane. That way you don’t have to worry about crushing them or fitting them in your bag. (Have you seen the size of some of the sunglass cases out there?) Plus large lenses serve as an optimal optic sunscreen later on.

6. 1 magazine, 1 book:  A magazine for reading up on trends and a book for brain food.

Happy travels from Two Skirts!

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