3 Tips for Packing Toiletries

Packing toiletries is never an easy task.

 

How much of your favorite shampoo or face cream should you take on your next trip? What’s the best bag to put them in? What if they explode? These are just a few of the questions that might run through your brain when you’re packing toiletries. There’s a lot to consider

Follow these three tips for packing toiletries to help take the anxiety out of the task.

packing toiletries

1. Pick the Right Bag

How do you know which bag is right for you? That all depends on what you want to get out of it. Some help you stay better organized, while others are simply easier to fit in your bag. Let’s look at a few basic types.

Cube

The cube is cute and compact, so you don’t have a ton of room to overfill it. And if you pack a lot of bottles, you can stand them all upright in organized rows. But if you have lots of random stuff, it gets lost in a big pile. Not to mention the cube can be clunky. If you’re planning to take just a carry-on, it likely won’t fit well inside. Most cubes are a bit too tall to fit on one side of the carry-on bag.

Pros: Compact and easy to organize bottles

Cons: Everything could end up in a pile and too tall for most carry-ons

packing-toiletries-square

Hanging

Hanging bags are great if you want to stay organized once you arrive at your destination. Just hang it on the towel rack, and presto! You’ve got everything you need right at your fingertips—you never need to fully unpack. But the con of a hanging bag is that it’s easy to over stuff. This makes it hard to fold up neatly for packing.

Pros: No need to unpack

Cons: Hard to roll up neatly to fit in your suitcase

packing-toiletries-hanging

Pouch

The great thing about a pouch is that it tucks neatly any to any nook and cranny. You can squish it between stacks of clothes or in the side of your bag. But it’s really impractical if you want to find anything easily. All of your toiletries get dumped into one cavernous space.

Pros: Tucks into any empty space

Cons: Difficult to organize neatly

packing-toiletries-pouch

Square

My personal favorite is the square bag, particularly the kind with two distinct sides that come together when you zip up the bag. I put all my liquids, like face creams, sunscreen, contact solution, perfume, and shampoo on one side and all my dry goods, like my comb, toothbrush, and Band-Aids on the other side. No matter how much I cram inside, it always closes up flat. And it tucks perfectly inside a carry-on bag.

Pros: Fits perfectly inside a carry-on, hard to overfill, and easy to organize

Cons: Can be a bit on the large side

packing-toiletries-cube

2.  Sample Sizes

Take only what you need with you on vacation. I know a lot of women who take a big bottle of shampoo or lotion for a weekend getaway. You simply don’t need all that stuff. Think about what you’re really going to use, and take just that.

Nowadays, you can get sample sizes of just about every kind of toiletry—soap, shampoo, hairspray, Vaseline, deodorant, and more. Head to your nearest big box department store or even a dollar store, and you’ll find a vast selection to choose from. They come in appropriate package, making a spill or explosion much less likely. I don’t take anything I can’t get in a sample size.

Packing toiletries

If you simply can’t find what you’re looking for, get a set of travel bottles and make your own samples. But again, only take what you need. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve filled an entire bottle with my favorite shampoo only to forget all about the leftovers when I got back from vacation. By the time I got around to me next holiday, it was either a goopy mess or no longer my preferred brand. The same thing goes for just about any type of lotion or potion. And that stuff’s not cheap. Don’t pour good money down the drain by taking too much.

Pro tip: Get the squishy travel bottles. With these, you can squeeze out every last bit of lotion or shampoo, unlike those hard plastic bottles. They may be a bit harder to track down and cost a few extra dollars, but you’ll waste a lot less product.

packing-toiletries-squeeze

3. Don’t Unpack

If you travel a lot, have a bag pre-filled with all your favorite stuff so you don’t have to worry about packing toiletries for each trip. Just grab and go. For example, I travel at least three or four times per year. Plus I go camping 15 to 20 weekends each year. I use my toiletries so often that it’s not worth unpacking them. I have doubles of all my standard stuff. packing-toiletries-double

These are just a few ideas for packing toiletries. What other ideas do you have? What’s your favorite type of toiletry bag? Share your ideas on the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

Perfect Folding: The Secret to Fitting More in Your Carry-On

Perfect folding is the ultimate tool for fitting more stuff in a smaller bag.

 

But what is perfect folding, you ask? Well, it’s exactly what its name implies: a way to fold your clothes perfectly. The more perfectly your clothes are folded, the flatter they lay. This means you can fit more of them in your suitcase.

I first learned to perfect fold when I worked at the GAP in my teens. Gap was meticulous about folding everything just so. Nowadays, this same technique is common across most retailers. You’ve probably seen store associates standing at a table with a plastic board and a pile of shirts and wondered what they were up to. The answer is perfect folding.

While you can purchase a board to help you with the task, it’s not necessary. You could also use a sturdy piece of cardboard cut to the right size. But I prefer to fly solo. After a few practice attempts, you should be able to as well. Follow these five easy steps for a perfect folding experience every time.

Step 1

Lay your shirt face down on a solid surface. Be sure it’s flat, and smooth out any wrinkles.

Perfect Folding

Step 2

Fold back the right arm. Make sure to include at least 1 or 2 inches of shoulder as well.

Perfect Folding

Step 3

Fold back the left arm and shoulder in the same manner.

Perfect Folding

Step 4

Flip up the bottom 5 or 6 inches of the shirttail.

Perfect Folding

Step 5

Fold in half.

Perfect Folding

And voila! You can apply this technique to all types of shirts and dresses.

Perfect Folding

For pants, follow these three steps:

Step 1

Hold the pants by the waist and fold them in half vertically.

Perfect Folding

Step 2

Make sure the crotch seam is pulled out flat, then flip-up the bottom of the pants to about the knee.

Perfect Folding

Step 3

Fold in half.

Perfect Folding

You’ll be shocked how much more you can fit in your bag by simply perfect folding your clothes. On my most recent vacation, I packed an obscene wardrobe selection in my carry-on bag. It included:

  • 3 dresses
  • 4 pants
  • 4 tank tops
  • 2 kimono sweaters
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 4 blouses
  • 1 jumpsuit
  • 2 scarves
  • 1 swimsuit and cover up
  • 4 pairs of shoes
  • 1 hat
  • Multiple necklaces

Let’s not forget all of the underwear, toiletries, hair appliances, and travel pillow I also packed into that small carry-on bag. I’m not saying it was easy to close, but it made it there and back, and I wore every single thing I packed at least once.

Perfect folding is my secret packing weapon. What’s yours? Share your ideas with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

Layer Up: Packing for the Transition Season

The transition season can be a packing nightmare. The only way to go is to layer up.

 

As we move from summer to fall, we start to see cooler mornings and evenings. But the afternoons are often still sunny and warm. And if you’re on a road trip or cruise where you start in one place and finish in another, you may experience many climate shifts throughout your vacation. For example, on an autumn cruise up the east coast from NYC to the Canadian Maritimes, temperatures can range from 50 to 85 degrees, depending on the location and time of day. What’s a girl to do?

You don’t want to lug around a lot of heavy cold-weather gear, but you do need to stay warm. Here are some stylish ways to layer up for your transition season travels.

layer up

Kimonos and Capes

Even in warmer places, there’s a nip in the air in the very early or late hours of an autumn day. Pack a lightweight kimono or cape sweater in a neutral color to keep out the chill. Paired with skinny jeans or leggings and a super-soft tee, you’ll look great and feel good. Not to mention, you won’t have to worry about lugging around a heavy jacket when the weather warms up later in the day. Kimonos and capes fold up pretty small and should fit nicely in your purse.

Layer Up Kimono

Sweatshirts

These days, sweatshirts are about as stylish as they come. Whether you prefer something casual with a punny slogan or one with some embellishments, there’s something for every taste. From lace to beads to embroidery, there are so many styles to choose from. Throw one of these on over top of a chambray shirt, white button down blouse, or plaid shirt, and you’ll look adorable in your layers. When the sun comes out, simply tie your sweatshirt around your waist, and you’re ready to go.

Layer Up Sweatshirt

Vests

Vests add a bit of pizzazz to any outfit. They look amazing with skinnies and ankle boots, and don’t even get me started on how they look popped over a cute little jersey dress. For the perfect neutral, toss a military-style, olive-green vest into your suitcase. That color and cut will go with just about anything you can think of.

If you’re planning of a lot of morning or evening walks, a puffy, down vest will do the trick. The best thing about a vest is that it’s not bulky. Your arms aren’t bogged down by the weight of a full jacket, so you can take pictures more easily and shop for souvenirs without the fear of knocking knickknacks of the shelves with your bulky sleeves.

Layer Up Vest

Jackets

Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid taking along a jacket. The east coast cruise vacation is a perfect example. Some days will simply be too cold not to have something with a little extra heft to keep warm. Luckily, there are a lot of options. A denim jacket is a classic that goes with everything. These days, you can even wear it with your favorite pair of jeans.

A black or brown moto jacket is also a good option, especially if you’ll be going for a night on the town. It’s a bit edgier and can be dressed up in a way a jean jacket can’t be. Like the vest, a lightweight, military-style, olive-green jacket is a nice neutral. It will likely have a bit more length than the other jackets, giving you a some added warmth.

A personal favorite is a down jacket that folds into a travel pouch. They are ultra lightweight and fit nicely inside your purse. I used one of these on a spring vacation in Spain, and it was the perfect antidote to transition-season climate changes.

Layer Up Jackets

These are just a few of the ways you can layer up during the transition season. Use the #wanderlustwayfarer on Instagram to share your wardrobe ideas.

Transition Season Travel Shoes

It’s hard not to pack 10 pairs of shoes during transition season.

 

With a cool chill in the autumn air, it’s tempting to pack everything from flip-flops to winter boots. Finding the balance can be a bit of a nightmare. Pack one of each of these four types of footwear, and you’ll have your bases covered for a transition season trip.

Transition Season Travel Shoes

Sandals

After Labor Day, it’s time to put away bright whites and summery styles. It’s okay to still wear sandals, but make sure they’re autumn appropriate. Keep it simple with dark or warm neutrals. And make sure you’ve got a little more coverage. Strappy, tan, gladiator sandals might work well when the sun is high in the sky, but they’ll seem out-of-place in the early morning when the temperatures are low.

Transition Season TRavel Shoes Sandals

Walking Shoes

Depending on your plans, a good pair of walking shoes will mean different things to different people. For typical tourist activities, like hop on hop off buses or shopping, a pair of canvas sneakers should do the trick. Think Converse or Toms. If you’ll be on your feet for hours at a time, you may want to consider something with a little extra support. Skechers Go walks will make you feel like you’re walking on clouds. If you’re thinking of climbing mountains or chasing waterfalls, a good pair of hikers is in order.

Transition Season TRavel Shoes Walking

Pro Tip: If you’re going someplace where it’s expected to get a little wet, you may want to swap out your sandals for something a little more practical, like a pair of wellies or duck boots.

Flats

You can’t go wrong with a good pair of flats. They don’t take up much room in your bag, and you can wear them a lot of different ways. For a casual shopping day, they’re a great way to dress up jeans and a tee. And they look great with shorts or even a cocktail dress. If you’re not into black, try a jewel tone for fall. Dark green, for example, is a great alternative to a neutral color. For a flirty look, choose a flat that has a little glitter or a funky pattern. Yosi Samra makes an amazing array of flats that fold up so you can take them with you wherever you go.

Transition Season TRavel Shoes Flats

Fancy Feet

To cover all of your bases, pack one pair of dressy shoes. As with the sandals, for the transition season, darker or neutral colors with more coverage work best. But it’s okay to have a little fun still. A pair of black, lace-up, block heels or a burgundy peep-toe ankle boot will spruce up any fall outfit. And, of course, you’re always safe sticking with a traditional pointy-toe black or champagne pump.

Transition Season TRavel Shoes Fancy

Pro Tip: Wear your biggest pair of shoes on the plane to save space in your bag. This may be your hiking books or a pair of heels. Cheat a bit, and toss a pair of $2 flip-flops in your purse as your fifth pair of shoes. You can slide them on for comfort once you’re seated on the plane. (And they can double as your pool shoes later in the trip.)

These four styles of footwear will keep you looking good through the transition season. Tag your travel shoe pictures on Instagram with #wanderlustwayfarer to share your ideas.

 

Swimwear: What to Wear Poolside on Vacation

Choosing the right swimwear for a week away is a daunting task.

 

No matter how much you work out or how body-confident you are, everyone gets anxiety over swimwear. Amplify this anxiety tenfold when you go on a beach vacation. Follow these easy tips to know just what you need to pack for a week anywhere there’s water.

swiwear

  1. Lazy Days

Will you be spending most of your vacation on the beach or poolside on a cruise ship? Then, swimwear should feature prominently in your suitcase. You’ll need several swimsuits in various styles. For a lazy week sunning yourself, it’s completely reasonable to pack three to five swimsuits. Keep in mind you can change-up the look by adding accessories, such as fun flip-flops, statement necklaces and cute kimonos, to a few neutral swimwear styles.

swimwear kimono

2. Bikini Babe

What’s your personal style? Are you at home exposing a little extra skin? Go for it! Just be sure to consider your surroundings when deciding how much skin to bare. If you’re on a family beach, opt for swimwear with a little more coverage. Try a brief-like bottom and fuller bra top. But if you’re on a beach in Rio, anything goes. Break out the thong, and have a blast.

swimwear bikini

3. Pretty One-Piece

At one time, one-pieces were considered a major faux pas. But not anymore. These days, comfort is king, so if you feel at home a little more covered up, fear not. There are so many options available, it’s almost impossible not to find one that flatters your figure. Fifties vintage swimsuits are adorable, but you can also get super sexy styles with cut outs and plunging necklines.

1 piece swimwear

4. Keep It Covered

Regardless of where you are, most places want you to cover up inside eateries. All this means is that you’ll need to shop for a few cute cover ups to throw over top of your swimwear. There are dozens of styles, from kimonos and muumuus to rompers and tunics. For evenings consider something with a little sparkle. Glittery stripes or an embellished neckline are a nice touch.

Keep in mind that cover ups offer a big benefit. Under the scorching sun, they add an extra layer of protection. Not to mention, if you’re feeling self-conscious about being half-naked in front of strangers, they can help you feel a bit more relaxed.swimwear coverup

5. Other Options

Not everyone wants to wear a swimsuit around the pool. And that’s okay. There are plenty of other outfits you can sport. Leggings and an oversized tee, cutoffs and a tank, or a flirty skirt with a cold-shoulder blouse are just a few fun options. The key is to be comfortable in whatever you wear.

swimwear shorts

Regardless of what you wear by the pool, your best accessories are sunscreen, a hat, and a trashy magazine. It’s all about finding your style and having fun with it. Do you have more swimwear advice? Use #wanderlustwayfarer to share your pictures on Instagram.

Autumn Camping Essentials: Packing for the Season

Autumn is a time of transition, which can wreak havoc with your wardrobe. You need to pack certain camping essentials to get you through the season.

 

I know, I know. No one wants to think about the end of summer just yet, but whether you’re ready or not, Mother Nature has her own ideas. If you’re an early riser or a night owl, you’ve likely started to notice the weather gets quite a bit cooler when the mid-day sun is not shining above you.

For those of us who spend the better part of our summers enjoying the great outdoors in a tent or RV, the change of season can make it hard to know what to wear. And the last thing you want to be on a camping trip is that girl…you know, the one who packs her entire closet. All you need are these camping essentials to get you through.

camping essentials

Tops

When the mercury starts to dip, layering is an absolute must. But comfort is king when you’re camping. I like to start with a super-soft, lightweight tee as a base. If I know the temps are going to hit a high later in the day, I substitute a tank instead. And I can’t get enough of fun slogans, like the ones from Thug Life Shirts. Next, layer an oversized, plaid flannel or chambray shirt on top of your tee.

If it’s extra cool in the early morning, I like to throw on a sweatshirt or sweater as well. Camp Brand Goods has lots of fleece styles that are perfect for the occasion. And I simply can’t get enough of the ultra cozy ionic cape from Aritzia. You could also substitute a military-style or puffy vest. Throughout the day, peel off layers as the weather warms or even just rearrange their order as needed.

For brisk nights that even a campfire can’t heat up, you may need a little something more. A classic denim jacket is always a stylish and practical choice. An utility jacket is also a great option. Either one is durable, easy to clean, and not overly bulky, which is perfect for this time of year.

camping essentials

Bottoms

There’s nothing quite like an old pair of jeans. You know the ones. They have real holes in the knees and not perfectly placed store-bought tears. They’re rugged and soft. Those are the perfect camping pants. But if you cut off all of your jeans into shorts at the start of the season, don’t sweat it. A pair of basic black leggings will serve you just as well. For an added layer of warmth, be sure to pack a pair of sweatpants. You can’t go wrong with Roots Originals, for example.

Accessories

It’s not too early to think about packing a knit beanie and gloves. In some places, like the mountains, temperatures can drop to the 50s. Not cool…well, except that it’s actually cool. Love or hate the look, you’ll likely want to toss on a pair of wool socks with your Birkenstocks, too. And don’t forget to wrap a thin scarf around your neck. You can use it to jazz up your outfit in the afternoon and add a bit of extra warmth when the temps dip.

But perhaps the number one accessory for this time of year is a good travel mug. Make sure it’s insulated and has a vacuum seal to keep your beverages extra hot. I like to use mine to keep my hands warm on a long walk. And hey, if you want to add a little something extra to your hot chocolate, who am I to judge? Whatever it takes to keep you warm on those cool August nights.

camping essentials

With these camping essentials, you’ll have everything you need to get you through the brisk August mornings and evenings. Have more suggestions for autumn camping essentials? Join the conversation in the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group.

 

Packing Light: 5 Easy Outfits for a Night Out

Packing light is always a challenge, especially when you’re cruising. Every woman wants to look good, even when she’s working with limited resources.

 

Cruises have a lot going on at night. Formal dinners, live shows, bars, pool parties—the options are endless. But most of us don’t have enough room in even our biggest suitcase to pack a different outfit every night. Not to mention you may not know the types of events you’ll be dressing for.

If you’re planning on packing light, you need some easy outfits to take you from belle of the ball to dancing diva. The good news is that there are plenty of options. And the even better news is that none of them have to break the bank.

Devine Dark Denim

packing light

It’s simply not practical to take a lot dresses and skirts when you’re packing light. So every woman needs a good pair of jeans. And by good, I don’t necessarily mean the kind that cost $200 a pair. I mean they should fit you like a second skin, hugging all of your curves and accentuating your femininity.

It doesn’t matter if they are slim, skinny, or boot cut. They just need to make you feel good. And they need to be the darkest wash you can find without being black. This is key if you’re going to make them work as evening wear. Unless it’s between Easter and Labor Day. Then you could get away with substituting white jeans.

Personally, I look my best in a pair of $40 Levi’s. They’re classic, fit like a glove, and make me look 5 pounds lighter. What more can a girl ask for? And there are many other affordable jeans brands that can make you feel like a million bucks. Lee Rider and Joe Fresh are just a few options.

Dark denim is my number one can’t live without evening wear item for cruising, especially if I’m planning on packing light. I use a pair of dark jeans as the base for nearly every outfit I wear out at night, whether it’s to dinner or dancing. Most cruise lines offer a huge variety of dining options, and very few have a formal dress code. In my experience, most women are casting aside their cocktail dresses in favor of more versatile attire. On my most recent cruise, I didn’t see a single evening gown.

There are a million ways to wear a good pair of dark jeans, which is great news for ladies who want to create a fresh look every night. Ships are like small towns—even though there are thousands of people onboard, you always run into the same ones. My wardrobe stands out—people will notice if I’m wearing the same thing every night. Maybe I shouldn’t care, but I do anyway.

Beautiful Blouses

packing light

You can create countless looks by simply pairing a beautiful blouse with your dark denim. Typically, I pack one pair of jeans and one “top” for each night of the cruise. Sometimes, I pack a few less if one or two of my blouses are neutral and can be paired with other items to give them a different look. A white poplin blouse is a perfect example for packing light. You can wear it with a chunky necklace and heels one night, and two nights later, you can pair it with a scarf and flats. No one will know it’s the same shirt worn two ways.

Fluttery, loose-fitting tops look fantastic with skinny and slim fit jeans. For a more tailored look, consider a peplum to accentuate a narrow waist and shapely hips. If you’re a boot cut kinda gal, a form-fitting top balances out the wider width at the ankle.

My favorite tops to take with me are elegant and timeless, but they pack a lot of punch. HD in Paris makes lovely lacy tops with a subtle twist. My favorite is the Lily Lace Blouse. They make a new version of it each year. It’s perfect for any season and looks great with jeans.

Abundant Accessories

packing light

Often when we travel, we forget to bring along the little things. We think no one will notice or that it’s not worth the effort. But it is if you want to look good with less. You’re packing light. You’ve got one pair of pants and a handful of tops to work with. Your accessories are going to make or break your look.

There are few things I love more than a statement necklace. A good necklace can take a t-shirt and jeans from typical to terrific with the simple click of a clasp. Remember that white poplin blouse? Well, add a long pendant necklace for a low-key look one night and recycle it three or four nights later by pairing it with an oversized bib necklace. No one will know it’s the same top because it will look so different. Pull it out a third time by accessorizing with a blazer or cardigan and a scarf. One top three ways thanks to a few simple accessories.

You can even repurpose some of your day wear by adding the right pieces. I have a black jersey jumpsuit that I wear for lounging in the afternoon. At night, I add a belt to cinch in the waist and a big necklace. It’s the perfect outfit for a poolside party.

To keep your style diverse, be sure to pack belts, necklaces, bracelets, scarves, and earrings that complement your outfits and create different looks. Accessories are small and much easier to cram into the empty spaces in your bag than more clothes. They’re key for packing light.

Hair Affair

packing light

Long or short, your hair is one of the first things people notice about you. And it’s one of your best accessories. I know the way I wear my hair impacts my look overall. If I showed up at the gym with my long waves wrapped in a chignon, people would think I’d lost my marbles. Well the same would be true if I was to wear messy topknot with a ball gown.

If you’ve got short hair, consider using a few embellished bobby pins or a glittery headband to add some extra pizzazz. For ladies with long tresses, you can wear your hair up or down, straight, wavy, or curly. You can add some sparkle or keep it simple. Regardless of length or cut, it’s important not to overdo your look.

If you’re wearing a top with a lot of beading and embroidery or a necklace that makes a big statement, there’s no need to add any extra adornments to your hair. I tone down my hair, leaving it loose waves or in a simple bun.

You can have more fun with your hair if your outfit is less likely to make a statement on its own. For example, if you’ve got on a simple white blouse, you might style your hair in a Bohemian up do. You can carefully place a few pearls between strands for a subtle and soft look that will turn heads.

 If the Shoe Fits

packing light

Every woman wonders how many shoes are too many to take on vacation, especially if she’s packing light. I try to take no more than four pairs—five if I don’t include heels. Sometimes, this means sacrificing a fan favorite for a more versatile option or going with second best for a certain look. The goal is to find a few pairs that work well with every outfit. But don’t forget comfort is king for day wear, so you need to find a balance.

Stick to a single pair of heels. This may mean a strappy sandal if you’re sailing the Caribbean, an ankle boot for European adventures, or a nude pump if places like New York or Dubai are on your itinerary. Each of these will work well with your dark denim, and if you play your cards right, any dresses you may have packed as well. I love ankle boots with a Boho swing dress—super stylish and dual purpose.

Pack at least one pair of flats. You know you’ll be sorry if you don’t. Choose a neutral color that complements the rest of your wardrobe. I wear a lot of ivory and pale pinks, so I have a blush ballet flat that I take everywhere I go. If you wear a lot of darker colors, you can’t go wrong with grey or black. For a little fun, you can try a metallic. Silver or gold are great neutrals and add a bit of spice to your look.

The other two pairs of shoes I take are dedicated to my daytime activities. I usually take a pair of Toms or Soludos because they’re both stylish and comfortable. I also toss in a pair of Skechers Go Walks if I know I’ll be spending more time on my feet. These can double as workout shoes if you want to do some light weightlifting. Lastly, a pair of flat sandals—flip flops or Birkenstocks—are in order if you’re headed someplace warm. They’re also perfect for poolside lounging.

These tips have served me well over the past few years and have helped make packing light a much easier task. I used to take countless dresses, tops, and bottoms on every trip, but now I stick to the simplest combinations I can put together.

Check out the Wanderlust Wayfarer Pinterest page for more outfit inspiration. Then, head over to the Facebook group and post your own outfit ideas.

 

 

Choosing the Right Travel Bag: 3 Options that Really Work

Every woman faces this same dilemma when we’re doing our final packing for a big trip. What’s the right travel bag to take, and do I need more than one? I’m a pretty savvy packer, and I think I’ve found the perfect balance.

 

Every woman needs a travel bag that acts as a catchall for all the stuff we think we need to take on the plane. Personally, I take crossword puzzles, a Kindle, a laptop, lip gloss, an old-school iPod, pens, notebooks, hand sanitizer, a snack, extra socks, and playing cards—ridiculous since I only know how to play Go Fish. Anyway, I need a bag that allows me to easily access all of these goodies while on board the plane. I also want it to be large enough to pop a few fragile souvenirs inside on the flight back if necessary. But it can’t be so large it doesn’t fit under the seat in front of me. I also like something that can double as a beach or day bag during my trip.

1. The Tote Bag

Travel Bag

Longchamp Le Pliage has some amazing travel options in just about every size, color, and style you could ever desire. They’re a bit pricey, but they are amazing quality and super fashionable. If you travel a lot or want to make sure your travel bag lasts the test of time, they’re worth the splurge.

I like the medium to large size Le Pliage bag because it’s manageable. Any larger, and I tend to overfill will useless items (like the playing cards), or I can’t find what I’m looking for at the bottom of the bag. The best part about these bags is that when they’re not in use, you can fold them up super small. I pop mine in my handbag and use it for shopping.

If Le Pliage is out of your budget, check ebay or Amazon to see if you can find one for a deal. I got mine at a fraction of the price from an authorized retailer. But a word to the wise, no matter how good the deal, pass it up if it’s for the bag with the short strap. Get the long strap so you can toss it over your shoulder when you’re running from one terminal to the next. Trust me, it’s worth the few extra bucks. I made the mistake of getting the short strap, and I’m still sorry I did.

Another option I love is the quilted tote bag from Roots. At under $80 it’s a great deal and very durable. It’s got a lot of pockets to help keep all of your odds and ends neatly organized. I found mine at Marshall’s for a fraction of the full price. Discount retail chains are a great place to find the right tote bag in a range of prices, styles, sizes, and brands. But remember, you want a bag that:

  • Has a long strap
  • Fits under the seat
  • Can double as a beach or day bag
  • Has a bit of extra room for souvenirs
  • Has pockets or other organizers
2. The Satchel

Travel Bag

A tote bag is great to get you there, but what do you carry when you arrive? I like to take a smallish satchel to haul around things I think I may need during the day. My favorite destination travel bag is a canvas cross-body bag that measures about 1 square foot. It stays fairly dry in rain—or on water rides—and can hold a lot. It never shows dirt, is super durable, and thanks to the wide shoulder strap, never feels heavy.

I’ve had my canvas cross-body bag for nearly a decade, and I take it on most trips. It easily holds a small umbrella, sunscreen, light jacket or sweater, wallet, camera, phone, hand sanitizer, tissues, lip gloss, and more. I can usually even squish a few purchases inside to keep my hands free.

If I plan to take both a carry-on suitcase and a carry-on tote bag, I toss my satchel and its contents inside one of them for the flight. Then I pull it out and pack it full once I arrive. For smaller trips, I don’t even need a tote bag—my satchel does the trick.

3. The Wristlet

Travel bag

Call it what you want—wristlet, pouch, clutch—it’s a small wallet-like purse that contains just the bare necessities. I use one of these in my daily life since I hate carrying a lot of stuff if I don’t have to, a necessity when you leave the hotel at 9 a.m. and return at midnight.

I often don’t have a lot of use for a wristlets when I travel except for evenings out. They are perfect to pair with a pretty dress or dark jeans and a nice blouse if you’re heading to an upscale restaurant or out dancing. I often pop my bank cards, ID, and a lip gloss inside a small wristlet to use as my wallet during the day. I keep it inside my satchel during the day, and I carry it as a purse for a night out.

Pro tip: For those times you forget to pack a little something that goes with your evening wear, I’ve got the perfect solution. Dump the contents of your makeup bag and put everything you need for the night inside it. If you’ve got a traditional camera with a wrist strap, you can use it to make a handle for your makeup bag. Simply loop the strap through the zipper. Alternately, you can use a hairband for a handle—we’ve always got those looped around our wrists anyway.

With these three simple styles, you’ll have just the travel bag you need for just about any type of activity. And the best part is that they all fit inside one another.

The Great Carry-on Debate: 7 Packing Tips You Need Now

Preparing for a vacation is hard work. Consider these packing tips to help you decide if you need the big bag or the carry-on.

 

To carry on or not to carry on? That seems to be the question of the hour. And it’s one I consider often—not daily but close.

Almost every time I open the cover of a travel magazine, the featured story offers some sort of packing tips or tricks for fitting everything into a smaller suitcase or putting together more outfits with fewer pieces.

mary-poppins-bagNow, I’m a little like Mary Poppins. I can cram copious clothing options into the tiniest bag. But I’m far from practically perfect, particularly at packing. I’ve traveled enough to know that just because I can fit something into my bag doesn’t mean I should, especially with airlines imposing loftier fees for exceeding weight restrictions. But it doesn’t mean I follow that rule all the time.

So, I as I sit here reading another review of the ultimate capsule wardrobe for a 10-day Canary Islands cruise or how to fit 40 pieces of clothing into a pint-sized shoulder bag, I can’t help but wonder…why? Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely times when size matters. But I often read comments from people stressing out because they just can’t make it work. And I’m one of them.

Travel can be stressful enough without the added packing pressure. I’m on the side of traveling light whenever it makes sense. But that’s the key—knowing when it makes sense. Here are my packing tips for figuring out when it’s best to take the bare bones and when it’s most ideal to indulge.


run1. Are you going to be moving from one place to another? And how often?

If you are moving around a lot, a carry-on is the way to go. No one wants to lug around a hefty bag to multiple locations, which many include various flight connections or plans to travel by train to several destinations. Not to mention, without a home base you can’t unpack. Digging through layers of clothes inside a suitcase just isn’t practical. Pare it down to the minimum.


clock2. Are you short on time?

If you have a tight layover, waiting for checked baggage can be a deal breaker. Pack a carry-on so you can dash from one gate to another without worrying about your checked baggage.


ship3. Do you have a captive audience?
Cruising and touring offer a creative challenge to the fashion conscious, especially if you’re like me and have a particularly unique wardrobe. Other women will notice if you wear the same thing over and over again. I find it difficult to leave home without a few extra outfits for trips where I know I’ll run into the same people often.

journal4. What’s your budget?

I’m cheap, so if I’m traveling within North America, I’m not likely going to spend the extra $25 each way to check a bag. But for overseas travel, I’ll take advantage of the free baggage allowance and check a bag if I’m not moving around a lot or short on time between flights. Why not?


woman5. How do you feel about laundry?

If you hate doing laundry, do you really want to do it on vacation? Smaller bags mean less room for the basics—socks and undies—so you’ll need to wash them throughout your trip. On the flip side, if you don’t want to be bogged down with piles of laundry when you return home, pack light and look for a laundromat. I hate unpacking. In fact, I often don’t fully unpack until I need an item that was last seen in my suitcase or until my next trip when I need to use the bag again.


bike6. What types of activities will you be doing?
If you have a lot of different types of activities planned, packing light simply may not be an option. If you’re going to climb mountains, swim with sharks, take walking tours, and enjoy the local nightlife, it might be worth the extra few bucks to check a bag that can carry everything from hiking boots and sneakers to flip-flops and stilettos.

world7. What makes you happy?

Finally, if it’s going to cause you nothing but angst to try to fit everything into a tiny bag or give you hives because you can’t take that extra sweater, just do it. Forget the hype—I know it’s trendy right now, but do what makes you happy, whether it’s delighting in the joys of fitting everything in that one small bag or throwing everything but the kitchen sink in a good old-fashioned full-sized bag.

Try these helpful packing tips to decide if you should take a big bag or a carry-on for your next trip.