my travel essentials

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Travel Essentials Packing Tips

My apologies for the tardy post today. I just got back to DC after clocking in some quality time with the parents, real high-quality stuff that led me to neglect my usual Monday blog post, and I was surprisingly ok with that. So there I was, aboard my 20th some plane in four months, flying over Ohio, resigned to the fact that I would be skipping a day of blogging, when it hit me that I should put all of my recent schlepping to good use. You see, I fancy myself a bit of a travel and flying expert. More than once I’ve taken two-week long trips with nothing but a carry-on suitcase and bag. It can be done, people. All it takes is some smart packing (roll your clothes!) and a few trusted items to help you get there. Here are some of my tried and true travel essentials. 

1. Black luggage is so tired and drab, wouldn’t you agree? A few months ago, I made the switch to white and it’s been a real game-changer. I hate flying, but now find myself actually looking forward to packing my pretty bags. It’s silly, but true. I own the Kipling bag pictured above, which doesn’t appear to be available anymore, but they’ve got plenty more pretty ones to pick from.

2. In that same spirit, a passport cover can go a long way to jazzing things up. Plus, passports are thin little things that can get lost at the bottom of a big bag, and covers help make them more easily grabbable. Mine is from J.Crew and was given to me by a friend. I love it, but I might need to trade it out for this silver heart beauty

3. When I think back on my smartest purchases, this clear Container Store toiletry case is high on the list. I’ve proudly turned a few friends onto it, and now it’s your turn. Why pack your travel-size liquids in a flimsy sandwich bag when you can cheat the 1-quart rule a bit and fit all of your toiletry items in one place? I don’t go anywhere without mine. Now go pick one up for yourself. You can thank me later.

4. You don’t need me to dictate what you should be packing in your handy new toiletry case, but here are a few suggestions that could be of some use to you:
– Two weeks in Europe with a carry-on doesn’t happen unless laundry is involved. These Tide Travel Sink Packets are great for that. 
– Packing a perfume bottle isn’t always practical. Luckily, just about every scent now comes in a sleek rollerball version (I love Chloé), and you can travel smelling your usual best.
– Ironing is the last thing I want to do on vacation, but not at the expense of my clothes looking disheveled and wrinkly. A few sprays of Downy Wrinkle Releaser lets me pretend I took the time to iron, when I really just gave myself a few more minutes of shut-eye.  
– Same idea as above. Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, so skip the daily blowdrying hassle and turn to a can of travel-size dry shampoo. It’s a time saver and no one will be the wiser. It’s also a great thing to work into your weekly routine, so if you’re not already a dry-shampoo convert, what are you waiting for?  
– Keeping this one quick. Damp, moldy smelling toothrush containers. Gross, I know. Problem solved with the Microban line of products. I especially like their razor cases.

5. I’ll never understand why front snap buttons don’t come standard on travel pillows. It’s such a small little detail that makes a world of difference. I use this one and attach it to my bag strap for easy transport.

6. Again, roll your clothes, people! If you find yourself reaching for the larger suitcase, stop, take a moment to do some thoughtful editing of your packing list, and then give rolling a try. You’ll be amazed by how much more you can fit into your carry-on. It works. It really does.

7. My beloved Samsonite white hard-case luggage has been discontinued, which is a major shame. If you’re looking to join the white suitcase bandwagon, this one by Rimowa looks quite nice. 

8. When traveling for fun and not work, my no-checked-bag rule only applies to the way there, not back. After all, a girl needs her souvenirs. So with my shopaholic condition in mind, I always pack my Longchamp Le Pliage Large Travel Bag. When folded, it barely takes up any room, and if/when I need it, it opens up to a duffel-sized bag perfect for packing all of my new tchotchkes and chocolates. I highly recommend it. While we’re on the subject, I kinda sorta hate it when women use the smaller Longchamp bags as everyday purses. Anyone else irrationally bothered by it too?

9. Flights, no matter how long or short, always have me feeling gross and gunky. Reaching in my bag for refreshing face wipes when the plane is taxiing never fails to give me that much-needed pick-me-up.

10 If you do any amount of international travel, you have to have to apply for the Global Entry Program. It’s administered through the Department of Homeland Security, and lets you skip the long U.S. Immigration line (I once waited 2 hours. 2!) after a background check and interview. It’ll set you back $100, but lasts an impressive 5 years, and with TSA PreCheck included (covers domestic flights too), it’s the best money I ever spent. Flying through security, with my shoes on and my laptop and toiletries in their rightful spots, never gets old. If you take anything away from this list, Global Entry should be it. Global Entry and the toiletry case.

11. Last but not least, the trusted Mophie iPhone charger case. This thing has saved me countless times. Plenty of people use it as their everyday phone case, but I love my Hello Kitty case too much to commit to that. The Mophie is my go-to whenever I know I’ll be out and about, whether it’s for work or for travel and incessant picture taking. 

As you can see, I’m quite passionate about my travel and my packing. I hope you found these tips helpful and if you have any of your own to share, I’d love to hear them. Life’s a trip so we might as well pack smartly. 

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One Response to my travel essentials

  1. Teesa says:

    this was sooo helpful, yang! i definitely don’t travel as much as you, but your tips are super useful. i still remember you rolling your clothes while you packed for NYU :)

    anyways, i’m jotting down the tide travel sink packets and the downy wrinkle releaser (i seriously need an iron no matter what). and i’m considering using dry shampoo, but still a little hesitant about it!

    and it’s super cool that the global entry program lets you do all that.

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