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8 Things I Always Pack When Traveling

No matter where or how I travel, there are several items that always accompany me. Here are the 8 things I always pack when traveling.

As always, you can click the red text for more info on each item and to shop at no additional cost to you.

Belt Bag

woman at airport wearing belt bag
ME BACK IN 2017  USING MY LOUIS VUITTON MONOGRAMMED SMALL BELT BAG

I’ve been traveling with a belt bag for as long as I can remember. They allow me to have all important documents at the ready but keep my hands free to roll my luggage and personal carry-on. The belt bag slips into my other bags once onboard and acts as a clutch throughout my trip. I used this small LV belt bag for many years until I discovered this Lo & Sons alternative.  It’s more versatile because it comes with zip closure, an adjustable strap, and is available in 20 colors.

belt bag for travelThis little convertible belt bag can also work as a crossbody or shoulder bag when needed. It comes in 2 sizes; I carry the large.

I have both the light gray and ivory in the Saffiano leather which has a pebbled texture.

Hat

Rain or shine, hot or cold, I always pack a hat. I often bring several and can only wear one to travel, so here’s how I pack a hat in a carry-on suitcase.

HATS STACKED IN CARRY-ON BAG
JOANNA STRAW FEDORA

My hats came out of the bag looking brand new without a crease on them.

Tote Bag

Different holidays call for different totes, but mine need to pack flat because I don’t use them as my carry-on.

woman walking with red tote bag
WEARING –  HAMPTON STRAW SUN HAT  –   TOTE BAG

I’m a big fan of these Longchamp Totes that come in a multitude of sizes in a rainbow of colors and fold into a tiny pouch.

hola beaches tote bag at pool
HOLA BEACHES STRAW TOTE

For my latest trip to Mexico, I brought this lightweight straw tote that carries everything I need. I flattened it, then folded it in half between Hola and Beaches. The beach motif fits my location, and it’s large enough to carry a beach towel. I was tempted by this one and this one with the pearls, but they added to its weight and I like to travel light.

Comfy Shoes

Painful shoes can ruin any day, but on vacation, I won’t take a chance. I pack shoes I know to be comfy because I’ve worn them before and know they don’t pinch or cause blisters.wokman wearing jeans and comfy sneakers

I discovered these Isle Jacobson, perforated sneakers last summer, and now want them in every color she makes. They’re a super soft suede that stretches and molds to your feet then flattens small to pack in your bag. They have no inner seams to press on sore spots and feel amazing on.

PAUL GREEN METALLIC SNEAKERS  –  ISLE JACOBSON SLIP-ON SNEAKERS

I bought gray for this trip to Mexico because they’ll hide the dirt from our dusty walks. I broke my metallic sneakers in over several trips to Canada last year so I can count on them to be as comfy as bedroom slippers. They’ve made the newer model with elastic laces, which would be very nice to have…I’ll have to find some of those laces 🙂

Sunscreen

I wear sunscreen year-round, rain or shine, but when I travel, I bring extra to be sure I have the brands that I like best.

MDSolarSciences
MDSOLARSCIENCES MINERAL CREAM  –  SOLAR STICK

This year I found a new favorite I would order by the gallon if I could. It takes a lot for a new sunscreen to impress me, and this MDSolarSciences has me smitten. This physical block was founded by a dermatologic oncologist using reef-safe and cruelty-free, natural, 100% safe ingredients. It goes on silky smooth and leaves no white pasty finish. The stick is perfect for reapplying on the back of my hands that I wash throughout the day.

Hand Sanitizer

belt bag and hand sanitizer
BELT BAG  –  EO HAND SANITIZING WIPES  –  EO ORGANIC LAVENDER HAND SANITIZER SPRAY

Long before COVID had us more concerned with germs than usual, I traveled with both hand-sanitizing wipes and gel or spray hand sanitizer. When I get to my seat on a plane, I wipe down the arms rests, inside and out of the tray table, and the seatbelt buckles. Wipes are perfect for this. Throughout my trip, the spray gets used often.

Scarf

Some holidays feel more scarf friendly than others, but I always pack a few cotton bandanas. They’re great to quickly cover my neck and chest when getting overexposed and add a dash of color to an otherwise neutral outfit. They’re also handy for days when my hair has been trashed by a hat.

woman wearing head scarf
WEARING –  STRIPED DRESS  –  SIMILAR COTTON BANDANA  –  STRAW TOTE BAG  –  SIMILAR EARRINGS  –  POOL SANDALS  –  SUNGLASSES

Light Jacket

woman wearing windbreaker and jeans
WEARING –  MY JACKETGRAY OPTION HERE   /  COTTON TEE  /  SIMILAR JEANS  /  SNEAKERS CONVERTIBLE SHOULDER BAG  /  HOOP EARRINGS

Layers are always important when I travel. I often pack a cashmere wrap, but for my trip to Mexico this week, I packed a lightweight nylon windbreaker that works for early morning walks and when the temps drop in the evening. This little jacket folds up into a tiny pouch and fills a corner in any bag.

What are your must-have travel items?

Thanks for reading ladies and remember to wear what makes you feel confident.

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49 Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer,
    I pack all the things you mentioned as well as a power bank and my own tiny alarm clock. Hotel desk neglected to call me on one of my trips.
    I tie a coloured string to one of the mirror suction cups, so it hangs down as far as the vanity and my toiletry bag . That way I see it while packing up. I’ve also left several mirrors behind.
    A little spray bottle for water. I use it on my hair and to spray wrinkles out of clothing. A blast with the hair dryer helps also.
    I pack several cotton bandanas which can be used as a little towel or cooling wrap when wet .
    A cheap plastic poncho ; the ones that fold up into a small pouch, and a folding umbrella. I especially need one since I carry a camera , and need to protect it if I’m taking photos in the rain.
    A few paper clips, elastics , a bullnose clip , 2 clothes pins , an S hook, safety pins & a few zip lock sandwich bags. You never know when something needs to be held together or pinned up 😉 All those little bits packs into a sandwich bag.
    My trips are varied and usually longer than 10 days.

  2. Patsy Heilbron Lavinia says:

    I’m interested in your luggage from the first photo.

    1. That’s my “vintage” Hartmann. I still use the top bag but have replaced the roller bag with a hard sided one with better wheels.

  3. What about your trusty travel makeup mirror? Our Florida condo bathroom mirror was designed for someone 6’4”. I want to add a small mirror to my travel essentials. Your recommendation?

    1. Wow! I can’t believe I forgot that. I swear by a suction cup mirror. I leave them in hotels everywhere but they’re invaluable. This is a favorite

      1. I can’t tell you how many mirrors I’ve left behind while traveling. So I bought myself a makeup bag to hold just the mirror. When I remove the mirror, I leave the bag on the counter to remind me not to forget it. I do the same with my electronics cords…the little pouch doesn’t get packed until I have gathered up what needs to go back inside. Haven’t left anything behind since!

      2. Smart move!!! I’ll be copying you

  4. For the elastic shoelaces… check out RopeLaceSupply, on Amazon too, lots of colors and sizes.😉

    1. Thank you! I’ll check them out

  5. Sneakers and slip-on shoes are great for walking around exploring new places. I found my feet were pretty dirty with sandals after walking around.
    Your tips on packing hats are brilliant!
    Enjoy your trip!

  6. Funny but I don’t see our one must pack item, a nightlight! These are especially helpful when you have been in several hotels on a trip and are trying to find your way back to bed. I can’t agree more with the other items suggested. Have fun in Mexico!

  7. Earplugs and a sleep mask. I never know if a hotel will be noisy or if I’ll have a neon light blasting through the curtains. Of course, they work for long haul flights, as well.

  8. Great tips, Jennifer! For myself for enroute and destination travel, I have always chosen a back-pack over a purse (they do have some lovely ones in leather now) as prefer hands-free with provision of multiple storage and less opportunity of theft or loss, though do pack a small cross-body bag with a removable strap for when an occasion might call for one. Have fun in Mexico and with wishes you enjoy your visit with your brother. -Brenda-

    1. Thank you so much Brenda

  9. Lorrie Orr says:

    What a great travel list. I do much the same. Like you, I’ve been taking antiseptic wipes along on flights long before Covid, and I wipe down my surroundings, as you do. I’ve cleaned off some gross stuff from seat backs and trays.
    I love the idea of the mineral sunscreen, and will look for it in Canada.

    1. I hope you can find it! It feels amazing and seems hydrating too.

  10. I’ve been looking at the Lo & Sons bags for as long as I can remember but not being able to touch and feel has kept me from purchasing. I was happy to hear what you selected and how you used them – made everything much clearer to me. Hearing someone say “it held everything I needed” doesn’t mean a lot as everybody’s necessities are different. Their videos intimidate me also as everything fits into the bags like a puzzle and I can’t imagine leaving a TSA or checkout line and managing to get everything back where it belongs so I can close the bag – lol!

  11. Elizabeth says:

    Love the Paul Green sneakers but they are out of my price range- I recommend Ecco soft sneakers as an alternative (which I own in many colors), with metallic my preferred choice when traveling due to its versatility. Now I need to explore the Lo & Sons belt bag which looks like it might be a great addition to my travel wardrobe! Always bring a Longchamps tote in my 21” roll aboard for treasures picked up along the way along with the other items mentioned by your readers (scarf, eye mask, ear plugs, wipes, etc).- as well as an emergency stash of nuts and M & Ms!

    1. I like how you think! I love picking up treasures on my travels.

  12. Sounds like our “must pack list” are pretty much the same.

  13. Thanks for the packing tips, Jennifer! The one thing I always pack is a wrap (as you mentioned) which can be used as a shawl or a scarf. I’m afraid of losing a good cashmere wrap so I just take an inexpensive one from Amazon; I have them in several colors and chose the one that will go with the most outfits.

    1. Great idea! They’re easy to lose

  14. Catherine says:

    Great list. I would add a packable backpack to carry for day trips. Eddie Bauer makes a great one. It folds into its own little bag.
    I do think the hand sanitizer seems a bit silly. These days when boarding an airplane, they hand out sanitizer so you can wipe down whatever you want. No need to bring extra. But honestly – do you take the sanitizer into the plane bathroom and wipe down the toilet seat, where it would seem the most useful? I didn’t think so.

    1. Liquid sanitizer is hard to use on surfaces like tray table latches. PS-I line the toilet seat with tissue. Then I open the door handle with my towel from drying my hands. Obsessive, perhaps. But I’d rather be safe than risk picking something up and get sick on holiday.

      1. I’m with you, Jennifer, regarding public bathroom sanitation! I’ve always been that cautious, and it seems to pay off, so why not?!!

  15. pat watters says:

    I have a few must-haves when I pack, as well. I always have a jacket/cardigan–restaurants can be chilly. I always pack at least one pair of pants, no matter the season. I nearly froze one weekend when the weather turned cold over the 4th of July! I pack at least one outfit that isn’t street clothes but isn’t pj’s either–if I have to run down to the lobby for something, I would not be ashamed to be seen (I don’t wear leggings, as street clothes, usually). And, oddly enough, I always pack pj’s rather than nightgowns–maybe for the same reason?

    1. Great ideas! I always pack pjs too. Fire alarms go off at 1 am in Hotels too…long story 🙂

  16. I always pack a pashmina in my carry on. It can be used as a pillow or a blanket if the plane is too cold and a shawl when I get to my destination.

    1. I love them too! I actually could have used one here because it’s cool in the mornings

  17. Great list! I’ve been eyeing those sneakers, just ordered them!

    1. You’ll love them! So comfy

  18. Great ideas from everyone. We find compression socks a must. I also wear black , elastic waist yoga pants, t shirt, cardigan, and slip on shoes for our flights, and long scarf. I bring sleep mask and ear plugs. Our flights to Europe are long , so I bring a checked bag as well as a bag to put in overhead. We go for 2 or 3 weeks, and have been on several cruises where you need formal wear and all kinds of clothes, so I don’t travel light. I start a packing list early . I bring my kindle as well. Free ebooks from the library is great. Have fun on your trip!

    1. Compression socks are a fabulous idea, Sue. I sure hope we can get back to cruising soon. I really enjoy them.

  19. Great travel suggestions. We are usually traveling on golf trips so I bring golf skirts that I can also wear with a nicer top layer. Golf hats are also a must.

  20. Great post. I hope to be able to use your very useful suggestions soon.

  21. SuzanneGabrielle says:

    I’ve been a fan of Lo& Son bags since the company launched. I use the Pearl crossbody for travel and have it both ivory and black. I also have their carry on bag which slips over a roller suitcase. Since I’ve had to travel so much over the years for work and family, I have different things depending on the type of trip it is, but scarves and an extra packable tote (my Longchamp bag is looking a bit ragged and your post inspired me to get a new one!) are staples. Packing is a subject I can go on (some say lecture) for hours about. I’m a minimalist packer, but I spend time planning exactly what I will need.

    1. I love my two Pearl bags. I’ll have to check out their carryon. They make a fabulous product!

  22. Great tips. Enjoy your vacation.

  23. Love the little bag, mine needs replacing and this is perfect.
    Otherwise we pack exactly alike except that my tote doesn’t fold up and I’ll add the Longchamp to my shopping list.
    Thanks for a great post!

  24. Ahhh Mexico🏵🌴…
    If you don’t have TSA pre-check…I wear an old pair of socks when going thru the line and toss them, and then I put new ones on. I just keep them handy in my bag. Because you never know what’s on the floor.

    1. Great tip!! I’ve done that with peds before I got my Nexus card which usually gives me TSA Pre.

  25. A variety of shoes is important to me. Changing out footwear makes it easier to walk long distances each day – which we love to do. Plus, shoes make the outfit – dress up or dress down, your shoes set the tone.

  26. Oh Jennifer, I love the sound oof soft sued casual shoes. But as usual, they don’t come smaller than a 6. More and more companies are making a smaller size range and I’m usually out of luck. I’m looking for a soft slip on summer shoe with arch support.
    I’ve successfully packed my sun hats like you do- without a hard sided suitcase. Never had a problem!

    1. Tracey Hesketh says:

      Vionic shoes start at a size 5 and have great arch support

  27. When I travel, I always pack my Kindle e-reader. If I’m finished with my book, I can just download another one as long as I have a Wi-Fi connection. I’m a big reader, so you’ll catch me reading anytime I’m waiting…in the airport, on the plane, at the beach. My e-reader is small and much lighter to pack than a book.

    1. I love to hold a book but I’m going to have to check into getting an e-reader for all the reasons you mention!

  28. Paulette Levy says:

    A great travel list! Thank you fir sharing and enjoy your vaca to Mexico! Mmmm. Sounds so nice!