Packing Lists

Travel Packing Essentials

I think a good 40% of my stress around traveling revolves around packing. (Another 50% is usually from having to leave my pups behind!) I am, for sure, a homebody by nature. I like to be in my space with all of my things. A mantra I repeat to myself over and over again is that I can buy whatever I need when I get to wherever I’m going if I need to. A forgotten toothbrush, set of pajamas, or even underwear really isn’t that big of a deal. I either buy while I’m there (like underwear) or make do without (like the pajamas). Even with all of my lists and preparations, sometimes things get left behind.

With that said, I have my traveling system down pat! With so much travel coming up this summer (yay!), I thought I’d share my essentials for packing. Depending on where I’m going, how long I’ll be there, and what I’m bringing, I bring a combination of these things!

Travel Essentials

SUITCASE // I currently use this monogrammed roller suitcase as a checked item. I get a thousand questions (not an exaggeration) about it whenever I post a photo on IG stories. It’s not the ~best~ quality suitcase, but it gets the job done and I haven’t had issues with it since I purchased. (I’d recommend Bric or TUMI for the very best quality.) The reason why I wouldn’t get a bigger suitcase is that this size ensures that I always stay under the 50 pound limit for airlines. I’d rather check two bags (because I think it’s easier to manage two smaller bags versus one giant one) if I really needed to travel with more.

I have the suitcase in white and I absolutely love the way it looks. Unfortunately, it does get a little dirty and banged up whenever I check it, but a little scrub with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser does the trick.

I currently don’t own a roller carry-on bag, but with some of my shorter trips, I’ve been contemplating investing in one. Top of my list is the smaller checked bag version of the one I already have and I’ve also been eyeing this Steamline-lookalike bag from Amazon. (I’m so nervous about “getting what you pay for” though, so if anyone has it, let me know what you think!)

WEEKENDER // I either bring a weekender alone, as the main bag, or carry it on the plane with me for extra packing. If I’m going on a weekend trip, this is the bag I bring 99% of the time. It fits everything you could possibly need for two-three days, even if you’re an over-packer like I am! I fully believe that everyone needs at least one great weekender in their arsenal. I use this more than anything else and absolutely LOVE it; they’re just so functional and practical.

(I also have/love this faux leather weekender.)

TIP: Look for one with handles and a long strap for easy carrying. Weekenders can get heavy (especially if you pack a few pairs of shoes!) so a long strap makes it easy to throw over your shoulder and distribute the weight better.

TOTE // I have too many tote bags to count, but the ones I reach for over and over again are my LL Bean Boat and Totes. (Here’s my reference guide for what size to get!) You can’t go wrong. I have the large and x-large and bring one or the two on just about every trip I take. I might use one as my carry-on (x-large!) or “personal item” (large). If I’m going down to the beach or even the gym, I definitely bring one as well.

TIP: they’re priced perfectly for gifts too! I buy these ALL the time for gifts. The personalization takes it to the next level. 

COSMETIC BAGS // I have an older set of cosmetic bags that I bring everywhere I go. I get tons of questions about it but unfortunately, they are no longer available. Sometimes I’m tempted to donate or give away something that isn’t available anymore because I get so many questions about it, the cosmetic bags and my quilt are two examples; BUT I love them too much to give up on them. GOOD NEWS THOUGH! I found the bags from another brand and they look identical (just a different print). I cannot recommend these enough. At first glance, they don’t seem like cosmetic bags, but the pouches seriously do a great job at keeping things organized. I use the big one for all my big toiletries, including my hairbrushes! The medium one is perfect for makeup and the small one can be used for jewelry. GET THESE, you won’t regret it!

This large monogrammed pouch would be cute and my friends all have this matching cosmetic bag set.

TIP: Keep your cosmetic bag packed at all times with travel sized products. If you’re a frequent traveler like I am, it saves SO much time and I never worry that I’ve left without something I need. I bring: a razor, mini toothpaste, q-tips, makeup wipes, cleanser, dry shampoo, shampoo/conditioner, shower oil, shower cap, face sunscreen, etc. I try to get mini sizes of my favorite products at Sephora and the drug store. It’s so nice having everything packed so I can just throw in my toothbrush and hit the road!

 

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30 Comments

Kate

Yesss to LL Bean totes as gifts! I’m about to order two for friend’s new babies!
I know it’s not a very blogger look, but I love our Travelpro carry-ons. The spinners are super functional and smooth. Both of ours are built for holding suits/business clothes, which makes sense for our lifestyle. The interior pockets are well thoughtout. Both of us have used them for 12 days in Europe as our only luggage.

I’m interested- do you feel like you have to make practical purchases (like carryon suitcases) be “on brand”? I totally get it if so- this is your business!

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Kate Cahill

Carly
Great post! I have the terminal 1 roller carryon and it’s perfect for flying . I get so many compliments also when I travel. My other go to bag is Longvhamp Le Pliage expandable bag which I use also. Thanks for the great tips!

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KRISTEN WALSH

Kate – how has this held up for you? I want to order it so bad but I am afraid of it getting marked up. Thanks!!

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Katherine

I purchased the Sole Society faux leather weekender for my trip to Berlin earlier this month and LOVED how much it can hold. It allowed me to just have a carry-on for a 5 day trip to Europe. Unfortunately, the shoulder strap broke as I was headed to the airport to go home (ugh). I’m deciding whether to invest in a super nice leather weekender bag (I am long distance with my bf so I use a weekender at least twice a month and would be willing to invest) or to stick with a canvass bag like the Tuckernuck one you linked. How comfortable/sturdy is the strap on that bag? I usually have to take my bag to work (which I walk to) and then catch the train from there so it spends a lot of time on my shoulder. Thanks! I hope you enjoy your trips.

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Katie

I have the Tuckernuck weekender and the strap is VERY sturdy. I’ve used it for several years as my carry on and have definitely used the strap heavily- still going strong. I also like that you can change the length of the strap, so you can even wear it across your body if you are walking through airport, train station, etc.

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Madeline McClish

I have a roller carry on from Away and I absolutely love it!! The suitcases are designed so well and even come with a built in charger so you can charge your phone on the go. I also find the pockets and dividers on the inside really helpful, especially the fold-away laundry bag. This bag has definitely changed the way I travel!

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Taylor

Loved this post! I’m actually leaving for Washington DC this afternoon for the weekend, and I feel like this was the first time in a while I wasn’t too stressed about packing. I bought a set of packing cubes, and while my carry on can’t hold more than 3 of the cubes, I already love them!

Also love the tip about keeping cosmetic bags stocked with travel sized items all the time. It makes packing for trips a breeze!

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Kristie C.

Packing always stresses me out! Have you tried the app PackPoint? It’s changed my life!! 🙂

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Molly

I would be all about a post that talks about traveling with and packing for your pups! We have a cavapoo, and our experience traveling with her is limited to weekend trips to visit parents or our lake house. We have yet to tackle a longer trips or flying, mostly because the planning part seems so daunting and its never hard to find a sitter when you’ve got a cute pup 😀

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Jess

can you write about why the Mark and Graham isn’t the best quality? I’ve been debating buying their roller carry on, but been frustrated that their websites don’t allow people to write reviews, and every review I see by googling is a paid sponsorship. It’s very frustrating to try and figure out people’s thoughts on it!

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carly

It’s totally fine by all accounts! It’s just not the sturdiest possible material… Like if you want something that’s indestructible, this is not the suitcase for you!

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Katie

Along with having travel bathroom items in one pouch, I also have a “charging pouch.” I have an extra charger for my phone, Apple Watch, portable power bank, and headphones. That way I can toss in a work bag, gym bag, suitcase, etc.

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Linda Wiernusz

Carley just leave a 2nd tooth brush in your travel bag with a brush cover on it.

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carly

I try to…. but I can’t tell you how many times I leave it behind in hotels!

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Aliya

Hi Carly! Invested in a “Lipault” roller for a carry-on, and could not talk highly enough about it. I am SO impressed. Light, great colors, and amazing bag. Thought I would share 🙂

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Juyoung Shin

Carly, do you ever wish your tote had a zip-top when you use it as a carry-on?

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carly

Even when I have zippers, I tend to leave it unzipped… (unless I’m traveling and have a passport/cash on me). I do get the zipped version as baby gifts for moms though!

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Weekend Reading

[…] Travel Packing Essentials by Carly the Prepster– Carly always has the most amazing luggage and I am so grateful she shared her favorites with us. Check them out for your next trip! And the idea to keep a packed toiletry bag, amazing! […]

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Kayla Michelle Pelletier

I just learned the travel sized lesson and dropped $30 at target on my last trip running for minis 🙄 I was definitely kicking myseld

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Becca

Hi, Carly! Love the blog! Wondering if you have any tips for keeping the shape of ‘packable’ sun hats? I fold them in half and roll them, but I find it impossible to get them back to their original shape, and the brim winds up bent and curvy. Love to hear if you’ve got a solution!

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Kia Williams

The set is so cute! I love monogrammed bags and I love how all your items have your name on them. It must make it easy to find your bags at the airport! Did you have to pay extra for the letters to be added, or was it included in the price?

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