Eva Chen's Top Vacation-Packing Tips

The 'Lucky' EIC knows a thing or two about taking trips -- you might want to take some notes.
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Tyler McCall
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The 'Lucky' EIC knows a thing or two about taking trips -- you might want to take some notes.
Photo: Courtesy Lucky

Photo: Courtesy Lucky

For Eva Chen, editor in chief of Lucky magazine, there's a lot to love about the July 4th holiday -- but there's also one major downside. "For me, it also symbolizes summer being halfway over," she says with a laugh. "So it's always a wakeup call for me as well, to enjoy the summer a little bit more before the fashion week craze."

While most of the fashion set heads out east to the Hamptons for a city escape, Chen will be enjoying Independence Day in Palm Springs this year, a favorite vacation spot. It's one of the few places left where Chen -- who says that 99.9 percent of her vacations become work trips -- can stay relatively low key, enjoying biking around with her husband, and kicking back at the Viceroy or the Parker hotels.

But whether it's for work or play, there's no question that Chen has logged some serious travel miles. So we jumped on the phone with the EIC to get her best travel tips before she headed out for a well-deserved vacation.

Plan your packing carefully. Chen is a huge advocate for premeditated packing. For fashion week travels, she makes a list of every event she will need to attend and packs an outfit for each -- no more, no less. For vacation, she packs more low-key; think sundresses, Birkenstocks and a pair of sneakers in case she want to do something somewhat active. 

A sampling of Chen's skincare products packed for Palm Springs. Photo: Eva Chen/@evachen212 Instagram

A sampling of Chen's skincare products packed for Palm Springs. Photo: Eva Chen/@evachen212 Instagram

And she doesn't bother to pack things she knows she won't need. "I'm a really lazy jewelry swapper, so I rarely ever take any new jewelry," she explains. "I usually just wear my wedding band and the bracelets I always have on."

Find your work/fun balance. Some people like to do a complete work detox when they go on vacation. "That, to me, makes me want to have a panic attack," Chen confesses. "So for me I know I'll be more relaxed if every day I do a few emails and clean out my inbox slightly." 

Rather than trying to respond to emails within the hour, as she (seriously incredibly) does in New York, she checks her emails once in the morning and once at night to keep her inbox tame when she returns.

Vacation is the perfect time to try new things. "I have all these giant ziplock bags of travel products, and they're all marked -- makeup, skincare, haircare, body, etc .-- and then basically I grab what I want," Chen says. For a trip to Palm Springs, she takes plenty of SPF-laden products ("30 to 100 SPF!") and powders for mattifying. 

Or use up old ones. Anyone who follows Chen on Instagram knows she dutifully documents products she uses up on trips. "Oftentimes, if I have one inch left of beauty product left, I'll take it with me," she explains. "It sounds kind of odd, but I do that so I can finish it and leave it or recycle it in that place, which is completely counterintuitive to schlep a product somewhere just to toss it but it gives me great satisfaction."

Some books Chen packed for Palm Springs. Photo: Eva Chen/@evachen212 Instagram

Some books Chen packed for Palm Springs. Photo: Eva Chen/@evachen212 Instagram

Optimize your space. Like many in the industry, Chen recommends rolling clothes rather than folding them to make the most of your bag space. Get creative with your packed items as well. "If you're packing a lot of handbags, stuff handbags with things, don't leave them empty," she says.

Get creative with souvenirs. Chen is a big reader and prefers the print experience; she says for Palm Springs, she's packing at least four books. But rather than lug the finished tomes back home, the editor in chief pays it forward, sometimes by leaving it at the hotel for another patron, other times by sending a thoughtful gift. "Wherever I am, I'll mail it to a friend with a postcard saying they might enjoy it."