I am sitting at the registration desk of October event #2, finishing up this blog post from two weeks ago. Time sure flies during busy season in the field- Today, I am writing from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
Although I am only 45 minutes from home, it’s been a weekend of hotel living and in the spirit of smart travel, I’m opening up my suitcase and am excited to share my packing secrets. Yes, I have some street cred: In addition to wandering leisurely around the world for most of my adult life, I have worked as a road warrior for the past five years. My current career involves frequent, national travel, servicing event registration for a variety of corporations and organizations, using my company’s advanced meetings and events technology. I have been to 54% of the country (that’s 27 states) and am working through the rest, one client onsite at a time. (To track your own US and worldwide footprint, download the super simple “Been” app!) Louisville, Kentucky- I am coming for you next!
There are many blog articles already out there regarding packing best practices, so I have been holding off on posting my own recommendations in resistance to the saturated topic, but I will admit: My list is on point. With consistent travel, I have gone through my fair share of neck pillows, luggage sets, water bottles and more. And I am finally at a place that I don’t have to purchase anything else- I am loyal to the brands that have held up, have proven their worth.
- I went on a 14-day trip to Italy in 2018 and was able to fit a full wardrobe in a 24” roller suitcase. How, you ask? I compartmentalized my items. Luggage cubes allow you to organize your clothing by type (intimates, dresses, work out clothes, etc.) while maximizing space overall. Rolling clothes rather than folding them provides ample space inside of a cube, and everything stacks neatly without the bulk. Especially for large trips, I highly recommend investing in a cube kit: They are inexpressive and go a long way. This one from Amazon is $18.00 for a 7-piece set and has over 2,200 reviews with 4.8 stars.
- My husband just bought me a BOACAY hanging toiletry bag and its honestly the best one I’ve had. I can fit so much inside with multiple pockets, but the overall dimensions are much more compact than most. On Amazon, the bag has 4.6 stars with over 500 reviews and is only $19.00. It also comes in a variety of colors! My favorite part though is that I can fit it in a true carry on without taking up half of my bag.
- While I am a sucker for luxurious and fragrant hotel toiletries, it is imperative that I bring my face wash regimen with me while traveling. I’ve tried using the silicone containers before and I despise cleaning them; They have also been prone to leak. I therefore started putting my facial scrub and creams in small glass jars and I haven’t had any issues. I love that I can pop the jars in the dishwasher when I get home for a thorough clean and feel safe and sustainable with glassware, BPA free. Mason jars also do the trick but I love these for $9.99 on Amazon, 4.5 stars with 206 reviews.
Carry On Must-Haves
- I have used a lot of neck pillows in my day, have purchased the overpriced ones at the airport, have lost favorites on plane floors and Uber backseats. I therefore try to find a happy medium between functionality and cost-effectiveness: The Trtl Pillow surprisingly meets my criteria best. There was a lot of hype about it a few years ago- I bought one for my husband and ended up keeping it because “it makes him too hot.” I use it all the time though, have slept soundly on not only planes but car rides and at the airport. Once you learn how to wrap the scarf piece, it’s a dream come true. Don’t take my word for it- The item has an Amazon star rating of 4.1 with an impressive 11,000 reviews.
- Hydro Cell stainless steel water bottles are the bees knees, and 4,200 Amazon reviewers agree, giving the product a 4.5 star average. For $20.00, I vouch for the quality: I’ve dropped my water bottle on concrete before and it barely made a scratch or dent. I love that there is a straw included, something that you rarely see with stainless steel bottles (think Swell) and wow, does this thing hold a temperature. I’ve emptied water out hours after a refill before to find ice cubes still intact. Cold liquids stay cold for 24 hours, and hot liquids will stay piping hot for up to 8 hours- I want one in every color!
- This one is a personal preference for me: At home, I have a fan by my bed and run it, no matter the season. I love the breeze and the noise. So many hotels have regulated AC units now and I can never get my room just right; I have also stayed at a few Airbnb’s that have felt stuffy without bedroom air circulation. I therefore purchased a small USB fan that fits in any suitcase or carry-on. It is the perfect size won’t cool down the room, but sure feels good on my face. This one clips onto nightstands, plane trays and more and is $18.00 with 660 4.4 Amazon reviews.
- I will qualify the remaining items as luxury products: They are “nice to haves,” and do nothing but make me feel more comfortable or aid in my entertainment. The first item on the list is my Amazon Fire: It can keep me gloriously occupied for hours on end. It primarily serves as my electronic reader: I used to carry books around with me wherever I went: Two, to be exact, just in case I finished my first one while en route. I would then venture to a couple of bookstores in my travels and would come home with a bag, too heavy to lift. Now, I can pack a little lighter. My fire also runs Netflix, Amazon Video, Audible, tracks my reading progress on Goodreads, and contains other nifty plug-ins and apps. The Fire is currently on sale for $60.00 and has 20,000 4-star Amazon reviews.
- When two great companies come together, they make magic, and the Tile/ Away duo is no exception. I have been on the receiving end of lost luggage and other important items, so I was very excited when I found the Away x Tile Luggage Tag. The handy Tile app allows you to use your phone to find your luggage, whether it’s waiting at the carousel, stowed under the plane, or trapped in your closet. You can also use the tile in your suitcase to find your phone!
- My best friend used to work at Bose and got me on the bandwagon, gifting me the most incredible Bose QuietComfort noise cancelling headphones and changing my world forever. The quality of this product is unmatched so it continues to end up under Christmas Trees and inside birthday- themed giftbags- my husband uses them while working out, my father uses them while mowing the lawn, and for me, it’s a travel staple. The padded earmuffs drown out even the loudest, closest conversations and I have the option to either listen to my music wirelessly or plug into the seat entertainment center with a wired adapter. I actually purchased another Tile to stick into my headphone case because it is one of my favorite (and priciest) possessions. At $349.00 and with an average rating of 4.4 with 3,600 rave reviews, these are definitely worth the investment.
- And last but not least, there is nothing worse than having all of these gadgets accessible but without a full charge. I therefore fuel up my power block the night before a flight, then keep it in my carryon to service my headphones, phone, Alexa Fire, Apple Watch, etc. Everything these days uses a USB adapter and I am grateful; It allows for easy packing and assembly. This power bank allows you to charge two electronic devices at a time and although pricier at $49.99, boasts a whopping 16,600 4+ star reviews.
There you have it! A peek into my luggage and carry-on. There are so many other items that my colleagues and I swear by: I could write another five articles on baggage favorites, the benefit of purchasing TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry, road warrior self-care essentials, and more.
Do you have “must pack” items that need to be added to this list? Let me know about them in the comments below!