Travel Essentials

Weird fact about me: I love packing and I’m also hella good at it. I’ve been referred to a couple of times as a packing god (one of my many titles on my resume). With summer here and vacation and road trip season in full swing, I decided to share some packing tips. Warning: this post may be long as it’s a testament to my love for packing. 


Packing for a weekend away is completely different than packing for a flight or long vacation for me. When I leave for a weekend, I try to pack as light as possible usually just with a duffel and a backpack. Since I go to school in a different town, I decided to invest in a quality duffel so I wasn’t emptying my gym bag every time I needed to pack for home. I currently use the Barrington Captain’s Bag, which I absolutely adore (Barack Obama also has one that he likes to use for flights #twinningwithobama). The bag fits much more than you would expect and the leather is extremely durable and easy to clean. I have used mine for over a year and it shows no wear or tear whatsoever despite being shoved on plane cabins, car trunks, and the storage compartment of coach buses.


When I pack, I always start with outfits. This is the same regardless of the nature of the trip. I find that it helps to lay out outfit options before packing them. It’s a visual way to see each outfit and it helps to maximize the amount of looks with the same pieces. This technique has helped me over the years not to overpack with clothing, which is something that I feel everyone tends to do. I usually pack an extra outfit in case something happens. Usually at this point, I will pack an extra t-shirt or an extra sweater and my pjs. If you need a bikini and beach towel toss that it too.

As a rule of thumb, no matter how long my trip is I try to pack only two pairs of shoes. Along with the pair that I will wear to travel, that gives me three pairs of shoes. I feel that three pairs is sufficient and it allows you to have every type of shoe you need. Usually, I also pack a cross-body bag as well.

The last major thing that I pack is my cosmetics and toiletry bags. Some girls are notorious for bringing their entire makeup collection (me included) and something that I found that helps is a couple days before your trip, do a full face of makeup. While you’re doing this, drop every product that you use into the bag. Realistically speaking, you won’t need anymore makeup than what you have already included but I toss in one or two extra lip products, and that satisfies the makeup hoarder in me.

That is usually all that I pack in my duffel. Everything else I usually throw into my backpack. Using a backpack is kind of a new thing for me since I haven’t had one since sixth grade. I recently bought the Lululemon Cruiser Backpack and it is awesome in my opinion. Before that I was using basically a purse for school and it was such a great change switching over to a backpack (duh, chels). Even though this is a men’s backpack (Lululemon really needs to step up their female backpacks) and it’s made ideally for hikes or yoga, it still remains extremely versatile. I decided to purchase it since it was waterproof to combat the London winters and it had numerous compartments on the front and the inside the bag to store everything. It also has a separate compartment for your laptop and running shoes and even a yoga mat holder (as I said, it was designed to be more of a gym bag).


What I usually pack in this is my laptop and chargers. I also usually pack a book, or I download an ebook for the trip to help pass some time. I’m the kind of person who gets hangry so I always make sure to pack some snacks. I also recommend bringing a reusable glass water bottle or in my case some coconut water, and I know that a lot of people think it tastes like ball sweat but I love it. I love it enough to ignore the ball sweat comments. Usually what I pack after this is the miscellaneous things that you usually forget and regret forgetting. This usually includes sunglasses, sunscreen, after-sun (do you see a trend), gum, hair ties, tide-to-go, body mist, extra moisturizer, lip balm, pens, earbuds, tampons, you get the gist.


For longer trips or trips involving a plane ride, I allow myself to pack a little more than I probably need. I hate to check my bags in the airport as it creates a whole nightmare if your bag gets lost or damaged (this has happened almost every time I’ve check a bag). So when I pack, everything is carry-on. Since airport regulations only allow two bags for carry on, I use a suitcase that meets the required size and weight. This can be really difficult, especially when it comes to weight because I am not about paying that extra fee to get my shit on the plane. I also try to bring luggage that still allows me to get around the airport easily since I do have to carry it as I go through security and find my gate. I find that Heys does the best luggage pieces. They’re lightweight taking up very little of your allowed weight and with four wheels, it allows the suitcase to move in all directions making it much easier to lug around the airport with you. I bought my 4WD spinner lightweight about five years ago and it’s still going strong. If you’re looking for a new suitcase, this is definitely my recommendation.


Usually, I pack clothes on one side of the suitcase and shoes and hair tools on the other side. I find that this helps to keep things organized and it’s easy to unpack once you get to your destination. For clothes, I use the same technique as I do with weekend trips. I lay out all my planned outfits and try to maximize the amount of outfits with as little pieces as possible. However, I usually bring an extra of some things. Usually this means an extra pair of pjs and an extra bikini and beach towel. If I know I won’t be shopping too much once I get there, I allow myself to basically pack until that side of the suitcase is full. Also, I never use the expander when I pack for a trip, I only use it when I return and this helps to make sure I don’t overpack.

Again, I usually only pack two pairs of shoes so including the pair I wear to travel I will have three. Sometimes, I throw in an extra pair of sandals or flip flops as well. It helps to wrap your shoes in shoe bags or dustbags to keep everything clean. For hair tools, I usually like to pack a hair straightener since I can do curls as well as iron my clothes with it if need be.

For my toiletries, I pack according to airport guidelines since I do have to take my bag through security. Saving travel sizes of makeup and skincare products is a good way to reduce the bulk in your bag and follow airport regulations. If a travel size isn’t available for some of your products, you can always get travel-friendly containers to transfer them into. An essential for when I travel longer than a weekend is tweezers. If you don’t bring them, you’ll find a stray eyebrow hair the moment you get to your destination, I swear. For makeup, I follow the same procedure as for my weekend trips.

If I’m not leaving for too long, I usually bring a cross-body bag as my second piece of carry-on. I travel quite frequently with my Marc by Marc Jacobs Goodbye Columbus bag as my laptop fits perfectly into one of its zippered compartments. It also usually holds my chargers, wallet, phone, makeup wipes, hand sanitizer, earbuds, sunglasses and sometimes a face mask. If I’m travelling for a longer period of time, I’ll bring my duffel bag as my second piece of luggage instead. It’s not as compact as my purse but it allows me to pack more and to have space for everything that I want to purchase. A trick I learned for making sure things aren’t rolling around in the duffel, is to put everything all in a small bag or zippered pouch. That way, you won’t spend ten minutes fishing around for a hair tie at the bottom of your bag.


For plane rides, I like to also bring a neck pillow and some fuzzy socks since it tends to get quite cold on the plane. If the ride is especially long, I sometimes even bring a face mask with me to have a mini pamper session on my flight. I would also recommend bringing an eye mask and some ear plugs if you plan on napping on your flight.

One tip to ensure that your luggage is not over the maximum weight is to invest in a luggage scale. They are affordable and can save you loads of time in the airport trying to sort out your luggage to make it lighter. Something else that can help is wearing your bulkier or heavier items while you travel instead of having them packed.

Before I board, I always make sure I stop by Starbucks for a coffee and something to munch on during the flight. You do not want to pay $9 for a cheese platter on the plane, trust me.


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