I'm going to glitzy Paris Fashion Week on a shoestring budget — and travel shampoo will not be in my bag

Yahoo Lifestyle is going to Paris Fashion Week on a shoestring budget, and we’re taking you along with us. Every day for a week, we’ll give you tips on how to pack, where to stay, and how to enjoy the French capital without breaking the bank — or forgoing any of the fun. Follow us on Instagram for daily stories. Today’s lesson: How to pack.

Perhaps you’ve only heard about Paris Fashion Week (PFW for short) through movies like The Devil Wears Prada, in which fictional-not-at-all-based-on-a-real-person editor of glossy fashion magazine Miranda Priestly embarks to the French city along with fashion underdog Andy Sachs to view the latest runways and designer collections.

If you didn’t know any better, you might guess that everyone who goes to PFW is a multimillionaire adorning herself with $10,000 Saint Laurent crystal boots, put up at luxury hotels where Moët & Chandon spews from faucets.

Shockingly, what you see on Instagram doesn’t fully paint the picture. It’s true that editors, bloggers, and fashion fanatics travel to New York, London, Milan, and Paris for what’s called “fashion month,” where a week is devoted to showcasing each city’s design talent. The cost of those trips (by some estimates, $10,000 for a three-day project alone) used to be furnished by publishers with generous travel allowances. Today the pay-for-play influencer economy offsets the cost to the humble blogger.

I’m due by now to introduce myself to you, dear reader. My name is Alexandra, and I’m a writer at Yahoo Lifestyle. I’ve been tasked with attending  Paris Fashion Week on a shoestring budget — that’s under $2,000 — and seeing just how fabulous I can make it.

That means redeye flights in place of first class, the Paris Metro over black cars, and a stay at a modest apartment, not the Shangri-La. My trip might not garner the AWOK stamp of approval, but it will be real.

Luckily, I’ve been to Paris before, so I have a sense of some money-sucking tourist traps to avoid. And as for packing, there really are a few tips that can make outfit planning bearable, without blowing the lid off this humble style writer’s budget. Below, my packing magnum opus.

Consider your airline’s baggage fees

When you’re searching for an affordable airline ticket, don’t be duped by budget carriers that advertise a low airfare but gouge you later on baggage fees. Travelers who pay for at least one checked bag “paid more in total for the airfare and bag fees than they did when airfares included checked baggage,” on average, according to the Government Accountability Office.

On most airlines, international flights grant you one free checked bag, usually between 40 and 50 pounds. United and Delta airlines offer your first checked bag free on international flights, and plenty of other carriers offer the same on domestic flights.

Make a list

Before every trip, this writer finds herself wandering Manhattan for new “must-have” outfits that are, truly, unessential. To avoid a pretrip shopping spree, make a list of clothing that’s weather-appropriate, functional, and fashionable. (We’re not saying you have to make a Venn diagram, but we’d be impressed if you did.)

Think about outfit planning by occasion: What kind of excursions will you have? Will you go to any formal events? And remember, day-to-night transitional pieces are headache-reducing. Overcome the urge to pack 15-plus pairs of shoes. Marie Kondo your suitcase, people! (For more on what not to pack, read this.)

Also, consider where you’re staying: If you’ve booked an AirBnB or some other home-booking service, your host may have laundry in their apartment. Save space in your luggage by washing your clothes on your trip. (Dirty laundry is fashion week’s dirty little secret, after all.)

Rethink items you already own

Do your best to avoid impulse purchases that will throw your budget into disarray, and keep in mind that comparing yourself to style bloggers — whose wardrobes seem like infinite collections of It-bags and designer frocks — is a losing game. (The truth is, most of those people borrow clothes from brands or receive them as gifts in exchange for posting advertisements. #Sponcon)

If you think your wardrobe lacks the pieces needed for Instagram-worthy shots, download a styling app like Cladwell — designed to save you money and change your shopping habits — to help you take stock of what you already own and think up new ways to style an outfit.

Forget travel-size items

When you calculate the cost per ounce of common travel-size items, it turns out things like shampoos can be three times as expensive as the standard-size versions.

So don’t waste money on those alluring travel-size items at the drug store (not to mention the “ultimate travel bags” that specialty beauty stores try to sell you on). Instead, purchase refillable travel-size containers (you can find these, too, at a local drugstore or beauty supply store). That way, you’re using what you already own at home and can reuse the bottles for later trips.

Weigh your luggage before you leave

If you have a scale handy, use it before you leave to measure the weight of your luggage. (The easiest way to do this is to first weigh yourself, then weigh yourself again, this time holding your luggage. Subtract the first weight from the second and you’ll know how much your luggage weighs.) This keeps you from having to pay any additional baggage fees and saves you the embarrassment of transferring items from your checked bag to a carry-on at the check-in window.

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.

Alexandra Mondalek is a writer for Yahoo Style + Beauty. Follow her on Twitter @amondalek.


By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes