Part of the reason I took my current job was for the travel.
I LOVE traveling. I always have.
Because of my job, I’ve had the opportunity to go to some pretty great places recently: Nashville, Las Vegas, San Antonio and New Orleans.
But those weren’t enough to satisfy my travel itch this year. I’ve also spent time this summer in D.C., Richmond, Myrtle Beach and Montana. And now, I’m off this Thursday to embark on a week-long road trip with Tom: Montana —> Denver, CO —> Kansas City, MO —> Nashville, TN —> Home.
I’m so excited. But since I only want to take a carry-on bag (checked luggage is such a hassle and an added expense), that meant that I had to get creative with my packing.
Luckily, I’ve gotten this down to a science. Here are a few of my must-have items that make any air travel or long drives a little easier.
Vera Bradley Weekender Bag
Confession: I am not a Vera Bradley fan. I know some people go gaga for her patterns, but I’ve always found them ‘meh’ at best.
But you really can’t beat her bags’ functionality.
From their wristlets to their lunch boxes, the physical design of each item is well-thought out and practical. That holds true with her Weekender bag, which has become my all-time favorite carry-on.
The bag has lots of pockets for your small items, holds a ton of clothing, has a hook that makes it easy to place and carry on top of your rolling bag and, since it’s a soft bag, it fits easily underneath the seat in front of you on a plane. That’s a Godsend when they make that dreaded announcement that the flight is full and those with rolling carry-ons need to check their bag. I love this bag and will forever use it to haul my approx. 2,000 items per trip. (I’m a perpetual overpacker and this bag feeds that addiction).
Usually, those tiny travel items cost WAY more than it does taking a full-size product and just dumping it into travel containers. There are, however, a few mini items I spring for for a trip.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. This stuff is amazing and great to have on hand. It’s all natural and you can use it as a body wash, shampoo, laundry detergent, face wash, even as toothpaste! They sell big bottles of this stuff, but I like having the mini version tucked into my bag since it lists some of the common uses. I’ve used it as a body and face wash before, or if I have limited packing room and need to wash my clothes.
Dry shampoo. Since I’ll be on the road, and we’re planning on crashing at friends’ houses along the way, having a small dry shampoo to refresh my hair in the car is a must. This adorable Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak can works perfectly, and has a light, clean scent. Plus, the small bottle saves room and is neater than jarred powders.
Mario Badescu Mini Glycolic Foaming Facewash. I use this facewash every single day. It’s become my go-to after a lot of searching. The big bottle is too much to take through TSA, though, and it’s designed in a way that makes it annoying to transfer into a smaller container. Luckily, I found this mini bottle packaged into a “bright skin” pack which had samples of some of Mario’s best anti-aging and brightening products. It makes packing so much easier, and it keeps my skin clear on the road.
Hotel Minis of Everything. Tip: Whenever you go to a hotel, hide the mini bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash EVERY DAY even if you don’t use it (I just put them in my bag). Housekeeping typically restocks your room daily if the bottles are gone or used. By doing this, I have a collection of travel items in the closet that I can grab and go.
A Good Book
So important! I used to tell myself, “No, I don’t need to lug a book with me. I’ll just use my phone to read or waste time on social media.” Then, all of a sudden you’re sitting in the airport with a 2 hour layover without an outlet in sight to charge your phone. Keep a book handy for entertainment on the plane or something to do during a long layover.
A super simple thing that helps make packing for the unexpected a little easier? Magazine samples. I get a few magazines a month, and I always rip out any samples and store them with my other beauty items. Then when I’m traveling I’ll stash perfume samples in my bag to keep my clothes fresh and throw in different serums or masks or moisturizers for fun. A lot of times, I’ll pack a serum or moisturizer sample in my carry-on so I can slather the product on my dehydrated skin before landing. Plus, it’s a great way to try out products that are maybe out of your price range in real-life situations (I’m not the only one that feels like a raisin after long flights, right?), since a lot of luxury brands offer these samples.
Give me these essentials, a giant bottle of SmartWater and a good pair of headphones, and I’m good to go.
Have a travel tip or spot I should check out on my road trip? Let me know in the comments below!