Less than two weeks ago, I took a quick trip to Colorado. This week, I'm counting down to Robbie's and my very belated honeymoon (so belated, in fact, that it is now technically a one-year anniversary trip!) to Santa Fe on Friday. And in a couple of weeks, I leave again for Austin. I used to travel very consistently for both my work and Robbie's (and for fun sometimes too), but over the last year or so, I've spent the majority of time close to home. With this recent influx of nonstop travel plans after taking a hiatus for so long, I realized that I'd become pretty out of practice when it comes to packing like a pro.
For shorter trips like my current travels, it usually ends up being a major hassle to bring more than a carry-on. My trip to Colorado was so quick with such a packed schedule that it would have been almost ridiculous to bring a checked bag. I also wanted to start fresh and break my habit of shoving every possible outfit into several bags, only to end up wearing one or two of them (and thus lugging the extra cargo around for absolutely no reason). So I decided to think back over my past travels and compile a list of essentials - all of which will allow me to skip the checked bag, but still feel prepared upon arrival. Even if you're bringing checked bags on your next adventure, having a carry-on with essentials can make your entire trip run more smoothly. (Especially if you're like me and seem to be a target for lost luggage.)
1. A good carry-on bag. First and foremost, you need a great bag to hold your gear. Recently, Scout by Bungalow sent me this absolutely amazing piece of luggage (cleverly named the 'Hilary Duffle.') I cannot say enough good things about this bag you guys. My favorite part, aside from the absolutely adorable print, is that fact that it's water resistant. My old carry-on has been progressively stained with dirt and travel funk, and my attempts to clean it have been unsuccessful. I was able to wipe this bag clean in seconds after my last trip. I also love the coated cotton fabric, which reminds me of vintage Pan Am bags. Having lots of room is also when it comes to a good carry-on, and you can fit a whole lot inside of this one without it looking (or feeling) bulky. With two outside zipper pockets and an additional zipper pocket inside the main compartment, it allows for easy organization. It also comes with a detachable shoulder strap (which certainly simplified things when I had to run full-speed through the airport to catch to my already-boarded flight to Colorado). If you don't have one already, go get yourself a functional, high quality carry-on bag like those designed by Scout for your next trip, and you'll be one step closer to a smooth tavel experience.
2. One to two changes of clothing for each day. I realize that this sounds vague, but the amount of clothing you bring depends on several factors (the length of your trip, weather, type of trip you're taking, etc.). My general rule of thumb is to bring an outfit for everyday of my trip, and then, depending on space left at the end, one additional outfit for everyday or every other day. If I'm going on a three-day journey, I'll usually bring four or five changes of clothes. That way I'm covered for weather changes, accidents (I know I'm not the only one who spills at the most inappropriate of times), and different events. Bring a variety of types of garments, and don't forget underwear, socks, and a couple of pairs of shoes.
3. Entertainment. I always have my iPad or laptop, a book, and a magazine or two packed in my carry-on, regardless of whether or not I check a bag. This not only helps make the plane ride more enjoyable, it also comes in handy during down times on a trip when I want to relax and read. (Don't forget your chargers for electronics and earphones for music and movies.)
4. A small toiletries case. Packing toiletries can be a little tricky when you're only dealing with a carry-on due to airport regulations. I leave my full-sized toiletries bag at home and stick with a small case like the ones above (A la Heart Makeup Bag and Pretty City Travel Case). Then I fill reusable travel bottles (you can find them at almost any drug store) with shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, and moisturizer, and pack them in my case along with a travel-sized toothpaste, toothbrush, and hair brush. If there's room, you can also include your makeup, but I usually carry mine in whichever purse or handbag I bring with me.
5. A mini sleep kit. I'm an insomniac even when I'm sleeping at home, so it's pretty much a given that I'll have trouble falling asleep when I'm traveling. I actually like to assemble a little 'sleep kit' containing heavy duty ear plugs (I like Mack's), a sleep mask, and a couple of other items to encourage good rest like a container of temple rub balm and couple bags of chamomile tea. If I sleep well, I'm much more likely to enjoy my trip, so this one is important.
I hope that this quick list of essentials proves helpful the next time you get ready to pack your carry-on for a quick trip! I'd also love to hear about any items you include when packing light.
Here are three quick tips I use when attempting to save room in my bag. If my destination is going to include cold weather, I'll wear my coat and boots on the airplane (a coat or jacket can also act as a great blanket for the flight!). If I want to bring my camera, I leave my camera bag at home and instead use the removable foam inserts from the inside of it to protect my camera and lenses. And I usually roll my garments instead of folding them, which saves room and prevents wrinkling. Happy travels!
(Hilary Duffle Bag c/o Scout by Bungalow)