2 Pair of jeans – A pair of semi dark skinny jeans are perfect because they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I bought this pair from J.Crew in June and have taken them on the past four trips – they definitely pulled their weight! Plus, they don’t stretch out so you can wear them multiple times before washing.
I almost always pack a pair of white denim. If that is not your jam, then consider a boyfriend jean or black or gray skinnies.
1-2 Pair of leggings – A cheap pair from Target always come in handy for travel days or even for pajamas. I always make sure to have a pair with me.
An upgraded pair is also a necessity. I wouldn’t wear the Target leggings out to dinner but I would wear these (and often have)! I also have this pair (similar pair) and wear them quite frequently at home and abroad – the space they take up rolled in my suitcase is negligible.
Slouchy pants – By far some of the most comfortable pants out there. The fact that these pajama-like pants are considered fashionable is great news for travelers – now we don’t have to worry about what to wear on the plane!
Pair these with a t-shirt and sweater with a pair of flats and you’re ready to go. My favorites include these from H&M and these from Old Navy.
1 Wool Jacket – This is a great option from Amazon.
1 Packable Puffer – This piece is perfect for layering or on those days you are doing more active activities. This Patagonia puffer is actually warm and can easily fit under a more structured jacket on those especially cold or damp days on the road.
1 Blazer (optional) – A black blazer is perfect for elevating any look to something extra special. It easily fits folded at the top of your suitcase and pairing it with a scarf and skinny jeans makes for a seriously chic evening look. A good blazer is worth the investment and I turn to J.Crew for the best versions.
1-2 Pair of running leggings
1-2 Sports bra
1-2 Active tops
1 Pair of Flats – Buy the most comfortable pair you can find – remember, you want to be able to walk around all day without blisters. My favorites are usually from Madewell and J.Crew.This pair will elevate any look and can be worn while sight seeing and then out to dinner. I also have a classic pair (similar to these but older) and they have held up well for the past three years.
1 Pair of Sneakers – My favorite pair of sneakers for travel are my Nike Internationalist – and not just because of the name! They are the most comfortable waking shoe and can even be worn for a run if I don’t have running shoes with me. If you want a running shoe, the most fashionable pair are neutral colored (I love black and white) Nike Frees.
1 Pair of Boots – I typically pack a pair of ankle boots or riding boots for those trips with cooler weather. I find ankle boots to be more versatile in fluctuating temperatures because you can wear them with long pants or with shorts and dresses if the weather is warmer. My favorite pair are Sam Edelman (pictured above but are sold out). Here is a similar pair – Sam Edelman Petty Boot.
1 Pair or Heels (If the occasion calls for it – otherwise don’t bother.)
Bonus – A simple pair of flip flops is a good idea to bring on every trip. This way you are prepared for a jaunt to the pool or spa.
2 Pair of Dainty Earrings – a simple pair of studs works with every outfit any time.
1 Pair of Statement Earrings – swapping out a pair of studs for statement earrings is an easy way to transition from day to night activities.
2-3 Dainty Necklaces – My favorite necklaces are from Layered and Long. I wear these constantly whether we are at home or traveling. (You can use the code EPOP10 for a discount).
1 Statement Necklace – Another easy way to take your look from day to night. The best necklace (and one I am currently coveting) is this versatile piece from Stella and Dot. You can wear the Plume Necklace in several different ways which makes it the perfect piece for travel!
1 Watch – My current favorite is this Michael Kors piece, which I wear practically everywhere.
Suitcase – Trav prefers to travel with a backpack but I love having a suitcase because I really hate schlepping a backpack over my shoulder all the time! I have had a very sturdy canvas Samsonite for the past three years. This is a great suitcase but I would love to upgrade to a sleeker option such as this Delsey hard shell luggage.
Tote Bag – I take my Cuyana tote with me on every trip. It is very resilient and looks great as well. If you prefer a day pack I also have my trusty Osprey (similar version) which I will take on occasional trips.
The above list is intended to take the guesswork out of packing and help you minimize your travel stress and your suitcase.
A dressy option – I love these from Zara and these wedges J.Crew (wedges are the most comfortable dressy option, especially for walking on cobblestone streets).
A plastic flip flop – (for the beach or just in case your accommodation bathroom is not up to par) My favorites are Havaianas.
*See what I did, I even snuck in an extra pair here!*
I try to pack something casual and something dressy.
My favorite picks are:
Utility jacket– for every day use in any country and any situation. It is the perfect jacket that always looks fashionable and put together. (Other options include this from H&M, a removable hood from Nordstrom, and these from Amazon).
A black blazer– this is perfect if you need a nice jacket for a night out and can transition into many different looks with a scarf or accessories. (Other options include this navy version from Zara, this black one from Zara, and this casual one from H&M).
Wool coat – this is only necessary if you are traveling during winter seasons. All other seasons you can layer sweaters under the utility jacket or the blazer.
A packable puffer coat – the compact puffer is great to throw in any bag if you think it’s necessary. Many companies make light, packable ones. I have this one from Land’s End. You can also layer it under your utility jacket.
I go between using a backpack and a suitcase. Backpacks are great for Asia and South America where the travel is a bit harder and rolling a suitcase behind can be more difficult.
Don’t be confused about what to pack. Grab these 22 essentials and head out!
I’ve done a lot of traveling over the last 3 years and to a range of different climates and locales. But no matter where I go, there are some items that ALWAYS find their way in to my luggage.
Since I travel with just a carry-on 90% of the time, one of my main focuses is finding high quality items that don’t take up a lot of space.
If you’re schlepping around a huge checked bag, or heaven’s forbid two, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Minimize your stuff and maximize your fun.
Behold, the 22 essential items that I always carry with me whenever I travel.
Osprey Farpoint 70 with detachable daypack. The best travel pack out there!
Osprey Farpoint 70– The ULTIMATE pack for traveling. It’s lightweight, roomy, durable and comes with an super handy 15 liter day pack (that can zip on to the main pack). Also, the backpack straps can be stowed away and hidden so they don’t get caught. While it’s “technically” too tall for carry-on dimensions, I’ve had it on over 30 flights (including with strict airlines like Air Asia and RyanAir) and never once had a problem.
Dressy or casual, easy slip on and off…these Clark’s Fury Loafers can do it all!
In hot climates, these sweat wicking boxer briefs are an absolute lifesaver!
Clark’s Fury shoes (men)– The perfect traveling shoe. Easy to slip on and slip off for security checks, can be worn casually with shorts or to the nicest restaurants, and takes up very little space in your bag.
Adidas Climalite Boxer Briefs (men)- Traveling to a hot location? Cotton underwear just isn’t going to cut it! These will keep you dry all day and can be washed easily in the sink if need be.
1 pair of heavy socks– You never know when the temperature will drop. If you’re feet are cold, so are you!
A few pair of lightweight socks– Nothing stays wet longer and gets grosser than heavy cotton socks. Grab a few pairs of cotton/mesh/polyester hybrids and thank me later.
Rubber sandals- Wear them in the shower or wear them on the beach. They’re super cheap and pack really easily. Get a pair with a unique design (Go Gators!) and never have to wonder which pair is yours.
Sunglasses– If you’re traveling, it better be to somewhere sunny! I prefer cheapies from a roadside stand over expensive ones because I tend to break/lose/scratch them.
Monster Outlets to Go plus Travel Adapter. Want to charge your electronics? Don’t forget these!
Tripshell World Travel Adapter– Don’t show up in a country unable to charge your electronics. Grab this baby and be safe in over 150 countries. Bonus: It’s got two USB ports to charge phones.
Monster Outlets to Go Power Strip– Provides four outlets and also folds up flat, which minimizes the space it takes up. This means you only have to carry one universal travel adapter and you’ll have 4 plugs available!
EatSmart Digital Luggage Scale- Find out exactly how heavy your luggage is BEFORE getting to the airport. At only 5.4 oz, this won’t be the reason you’re over!
Macbook Air 13 inch– Does everyone NEED a computer for traveling? Probably not, but if you do, there is nothing that comes close to the slim, light, and yet powerful Macbook Air. As someone who used to carry around a 15″ Macbook Pro, my back thanks me now!
iPhone– When trying to save space, nothing does a better job than substituting your old, bulky guidebooks for the convenience of an iPhone and the corresponding apps (if traveling Southeast Asia, I HIGHLY recommend Travelfish apps). I also use this in lieu of a camera most of the time.
Book Light– Perfect for when you can’t sleep and want to stay up all night reading your guidebook, planning your next day’s excursion (and those around you aren’t quite as excited)!
Hearos Earplugs- Never leave home without ’em!
Hearos Earplugs– Drown out the crying baby on the plane or the late night parties on Khao San Road.
SleepMaster Eye Mask– Blinds not cutting out the early morning sun? Don these puppies and sleep for days!
Dramamine- The quickest way to make it through a 10 hour international flight? A few Dramamine and a few choice beverages!
Miscellaneous Must Haves
Packtowl Ultralite- Dries quick and takes up no space.
PackTowl UltraLite quick drying towel– When I get home, this is the one item that never gets unpacked, and therefore, I never forget it. Is soft, takes up almost no space and dries in a flash. I’d recommend the XL size. Absolutely essential.
Moleskin Pocket-sized Notebook and pen- There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting in line for a pen to fill out your customs form…to then wait in another line. Slip your Moleskin out of your pocket and always be ready to write things down, from the address of your hotel to a recommendation from a local.
Laundry Bag- Keep your dirty and clean clothes separate so when it comes time to do laundry you’re not stuck sniffing them all! A simple plastic grocery or trash bag works well too.