These Travel Essentials Kept Me Calm & Collected On My Last-Minute Trip

Booking trips is all fun and games until you have to actually pack. What do you take on those last-minute trips that give future you plenty of options without overpacking? I had that very dilemma when Discover Puerto Rico invited me to Puerto Rico, where I was born and raised, to cover Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve Spanish countdown. It was a) the first time I'd gone out to celebrate NYE and b) the first vacation I'd taken with my significant other back to my home country. Obviously, it's a very good problem to have — definitely no complaints here — but in the midst of so much newness and excitement, how did I keep it all together? It was all in the packing, as it always is with travel.
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Whether you're a total impulsive traveler or you leave everything until the last possible second, here are all the items that kept me calm, collected, and actually able to enjoy my trip. From fancy weekenders to waterproof bandages, keep reading to see what you need to pack on your next last-minute trip.
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Last-Minute Luggage & Packing

I didn't want to check a suitcase, so I needed a carry-on and a bag as a personal item. The luggage and bag of choice is probably the most important decision you'll have to make. Here at Refinery29, we love Away and I'm no exception. For complete transparency, I actually spent the real-life cash on buying my Away Carry-On, and I've never once regretted it. It might seem extreme, but it is so worth it. Although you're better off without the portable battery — there are honestly better ones out there, like this one from Amazon that I love.
On the other hand, I was sent this gorgeous Cuyana Travel Bag to test out by the brand. While at first, the $298 price tag might seem extreme (especially considering you could get another Carry-On for the same price), I'm actually obsessed with this bag. It's big enough to hold everything you need with plenty of compartments and the perfect size to fit underneath the seat on the plane. It's comfortable to carry on your shoulder even while it's full, and the quality of the recycled materials and gold hardware look and feel luxe. If I had to spend money on it again, I would.
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You're missing out if you're not on the packing cubes game. For this trip, I had to bring more clothes than I would normally bring for a three-day vacation, and packing cubes made that possible without overloading my luggage. It also makes repacking on that last day way easier.
Speaking of bags that hold a lot but are sleek enough to fit anywhere, this Everlane travel pouch is everything to me. While it doesn't look like much on the outside, the inside is spacious enough to fit all my toiletries with small pockets and compartments for my delicate travel-size perfumes.
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Last-Minute Travel Beauty & Bath

Besides my new Cuyana bag, the real hero of this trip was Cadence. Another R29 favorite, Cadence's magnetic and compact containers made storing any and all of my skin care and hair care SO easy. I honestly don't think I would have been able to fit it all in one bag otherwise. In my Cadence, I put my medications, my Ceremonia hair routine (the scalp scrub, hair gel, and conditioner), my Nip+Fab cleanser and moisturizer.
There were two skin-care items that I had in travel sizes that didn't need to transfer to a Cadence capsule: the Skin Proud eye cream and the Tata Harper Clarifying Mask. I usually don't use the mask, but I wanted to bring it just in case I need it before the big NYE event. For fragrances, I like to bring options — and that's where those discovery sets come in handy. I need to be able to make choices in the heat of the moment, so for this trip, I brought three options. My first option is my everyday scent DedCool's XTRA Milk. The other two are from discovery sets and free spray samples: Le Labo Santal 33 and House of Bō Espiritu — strong scents for fancier occasions.
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I also love buying local items in my destination, especially if they're handmade. Puerto Rican-made products are some of the best, in my totally non-biased opinion. This coconut-based soap from Barras was luxe in a bar. It felt so soothing on my skin, especially after a long day of soaking in the sun. In all this craziness I completely forgot to pack sunscreen (don't yell at me), so this all-natural sunscreen and lip balm from Mother Flower came in real handy.
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Last-Minute Travel Miscellaneous

My love affair with Baggu is very real. I try not to go anywhere with at least one on me. That's especially true when traveling. Whether it's for your newly purchased souvenirs or sandy shoes, you're always gonna need a Baggu. But if you're a bag fiend (which I'm starting to believe I am), this limited-edition one by Puerto Rican brand Rogative with the official color of the island's sunset is a total must-have. Lastly, the most miscellaneous of them all, get yourself some waterproof bandages. You might not need them, but if you do, you'll save yourself a lot of trouble and thank your past self for thinking ahead.
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