When I’m on the go, I try to steer more towards minimalist travel. If I go on an overnight I pack just enough to fit into a purse, and if it’s a weekender then there’s a good chance I barely pack enough to fill a suitcase even halfway. I value the freedom that comes with having little to no luggage more than I value having multiple outfit options and shoes to choose from. Because of this, I’m a big fan of whittling down a packing list to just the essentials.
There are those necessary things that I almost always pack for a trip (coconut oil, a large scarf, my toothbrush, for example). But there are also a few items I use on the road that are so important I wouldn’t dare take a trip without them. They make traveling a breeze so I’m easily able to do it as often as I’d like, and they also make it possible for me to post content from anywhere. I’m talkin’ gear here–luggage, planning tools, and electronics. Here’s what I never leave home without:
Really, the only perk to having a rolling suitcase is that it’s pretty easy to carry around. Other than that, they actually make traveling a bit of an ordeal. I find that they’re cumbersome, have a lot of weight to them even when they’re empty, and when you lay them on the floor they zip open to take up twice their size. I used them for a long time, and still do occasionally. For a trip home at Christmas, when those problems don’t really interfere with my travels, they’re perfect.
In the past year, though, I’ve really come to love using duffel bags. Even when they’re full, you’re more able to squish them into tiny overhead spaces on planes. Also, your bag will only ever weigh whatever contents you put into it–which I find actually encourages me to remove unnecessary items from time to time. And if you do happen to pack light, then the space your duffel bag occupies is significantly less.
My only problem with duffel bags, though, is that they’re a little more of a chore to carry around. The strap that goes across your body can dig into your shoulder, and I personally feel like a Weeble Wobble walking around with it in one hand as I teeter around. You can imagine my joy, then, when I discovered that Patagonia created a duffel with genius backpack straps on it. I seriously couldn’t believe it, and I have to say it is now my primary suitcase. Not only can I just whip it onto my shoulders and go, but it comes in super snazzy colors (hellooooo, purple). In the future, I do hope they add a hip strap to the bag, but even without that it’s convenient times infinity.
Aside from my duffel, I also have my designated personal item. This is always one of my Fossil bags. My first Fossil purse was purchased over five years ago. At the time, I’d just ruptured my achilles and had to find a sturdy cross-body bag that would not get in the way of my crutches. The one I purchased quickly became my favorite purse of any that I owned, and while it could use a few minor repairs, it’s still kickin’.
My other Fossil bag is about six months old now, and it goes with me everywhere. I love how roomy it is, how well it’s made, and how it goes with practically everything I wear. Yes, there are tons of great companies out there for you to purchase a sturdy, reliable bag to schlep your stuff around–many of them geared towards travelers! But I can use my Fossil bag to carry all the things I need, and I look damn good while doing it. Win win.
MY PLANNING TOOLS
To keep up with Tremendous Times, I have to stay super organized. I love organization and planning in a really weird way. For example, my brother and his fiancee recently asked me to help them plan their honeymoon, and I’ve not only broken down the information into separate emails, but I organize each email with headers for each topic (transportation, activities, etc.) and detailed explanations of each option. I’m so cool, right? Right?
Um anyway, to stay on top of things, I always travel with two very small notebooks I purchased from Poketo–one is an agenda, and the other is a travel journal. Both are so perfectly sized and wonderful that they make my heart go squee every time I take them out. My planner, as you guessed, keeps tabs on my daily to-do’s, activities, and it even has pages for writing down notes. The travel journal is similar–there’s a section for notes–but also a page per day to list the detailed itinerary of what I did. If it weren’t for these two tiny notebooks, I’d 1) definitely lose track of what posts should be published on which days and 2) have a hard time remembering my experiences when I’m on the go.
I’m tech-savvy, but not that tech-savvy. With my electronics I like to keep things simple, so the things I use when I travel are the same ones I have and use daily at home.
I use a MacBook Air that is on loan from my boss. Honestly, if I didn’t have it, I would have a difficult time traveling with a computer in my bag. The MacBook Air is super light and thin and easily fits in my purse. It’s light enough that I sometimes don’t even notice I have it with me. My other functioning laptop, which I’d purchased prior to working for him, is a blunt object that could do some serious damage. It not only takes up significantly more space, but it weighs way more, too. It would be a challenge to want to bring that with me wherever I go, so I’m fortunate that I have a different option!
Aside from a computer, I also never go anywhere without my iPhone. I’m not glued to it every hour of every day, but if I leave the house, it’s my map, means of communication, and my way to reach someone in an emergency. While I sometimes get irritated with it–particularly when it just decides to turn off, like, whenever it wants–it works for me.
My phone is also my camera. I do own a nicer Fuji camera and a few instant cameras as well, but they take up valuable space. So if I’m really trying to pack in a practical way, my iPhone is the smallest camera I have that still takes good photos.
I also can’t ignore that I have a lot of helpful apps on my phone as well. Some of my favorites when I’m on the go (and even when I’m not): Instagram, Twitter, Afterlight, Mextures, Google Maps, Wi-Fi Finder, Transit, Trover, Lyft, and Spotify.
So there you have it. Those are the things that I literally couldn’t leave home without, and that make frequent travel possible and easy for me. Perhaps the luggage, planning tools, and electronics that I use are not the best of the best, but right now they’re certainly the best options for me!
What luggage and gear do you like to have when traveling?
Here’s where you can purchase some of my favorite things!
Death to the Stock Photo