Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer Travel Survival

what's in my carry on

Welcome to week 3 of the summer survival collaboration I have going on with four other amazing bloggers! You can catch yourself up on beach/pool survival here and Olympics inspired survival here. This week is all about travel survival! While this is technically a summer series, my travel tips are applicable year-round. There's really no way to share my thought process for packing without having a photo and word heavy post, so I will just get right to it! Oh, wait, before I begin--- if you're lucky, you were able to catch all of this in video form on Snapchat. I tried to export my snaps to my camera roll so I could just upload it to YouTube, but the formatting is all funky. I do still have the snaps though, so if there is any part of this you'd like to see in more detail, I can send you those particular snaps in a direct message! Just let me know in the comments.

First, it's worth noting that I travel a lot for work. Being in the architecture/ development industry, there's just no going around it because we have projects all around the country. It's not unusual for me to travel 1-4 times a month. Multiply that over the last 10 years or so and that's a lot of flights! I've managed to get my packing down to a science, so hopefully you are able to find useful info that you can apply to your travel life as well!

All of that said, the "good" thing about having to travel all the time is that I can essentially keep my bags packed so that all I'm changing out are clothes and shoes. I have a set of travel toiletries that I always keep stocked, and some of my necessities I have two of so I don't have to worry about forgetting something or having to pack/unpack things. Obviously, this isn't ideal for someone that only travels once or twice a year, but for someone with my travel schedule, it certainly made sense.

lo & sons OG bag

I remember when I first started traveling for work, I used to check a bag EVERY time. I didn't want to worry about whether or not I could lift the bag over my head into the overhead bin by myself. I didn't want to stress about limiting myself to a certain amount of liquids. So yes, I checked a bag every time. The more I traveled though, the more my bag got "lost" and the more I became aware of how much time I was spending waiting for my bag. After a long work trip, you just want to get in your car and drive home asap! The last thing I wanted to do was wait a half hour in baggage claim and hope my bag didn't get lost again. Plus, I travel with co-workers a lot, and I would be slowing everyone down if they had to wait for me wait for my bag! Live and learn! Now I'm to the point where I only check a bag if I absolutely have to, which is usually when my trip is over a week long and I can't fit everything into my carry on bags or have way too many liquids.

All that said, I was on a constant hunt to find the most efficient carry on luggage possible. You're allowed one carry on item (i.e. roller bag) plus one personal item (i.e. purse, briefcase, laptop bag.) I've seen a lot of ladies think they can actually bring 3 items because their purse doesn't count as one of the allowable 2 pieces, and that's not the case. Though, to be honest, not all gate agents are good about enforcing that rule. Just to be safe, you should always make sure that you can consolidate your carry-ons into two pieces and only two pieces. The two pieces that I have found to be the most efficient are the Lo & Sons "OG" bag and a hard-sided clamshell type roller bag.

Let's start with the shoulder bag. I've had the Lo & Sons "OG" bag now for almost 4 years and it has held up remarkably well! It's called the "OG" because it stands for Overnight and Gym bag. Personally, I don't think I could use it as an overnight bag. I think it is a bit too small for that and awkward when it comes to folding clothes into it. On the other hand, it's  too big to use as an everyday work bag for me. However, as a carry on bag, it's perfect. There are so many little compartments in it that I could find anything in my bag in the dark. So what do I keep in here?

What's inside my lo & sons OG bag
What's in my OG

1. Eyeglasses: I always travel with both my prescription glasses as well as one pair of sunnies. (Bonus read: see last week's post about shopping for sunglasses here.)

2. Lululemon vinyasa scarf: It's the perfect weight to use as a blanket/ cover up on the plane when it gets chilly, but still small enough to comfortably pack in my shoulder bag. (It looks pretty darn cute on as well - see it here.)

3. Charming Charlie Carmel Crossbody bag: I'll go into more detail about what's inside this bag in the next section, but I keep all of my most important travel necessities in this bag. As I'm walking around the airport, I wear this across my body so I have everything within reach. Right before I board, I simply throw it into my OG bag so I'm back down to my limit of 2 carry on items. 

4. iPad: It's nice to have a secondary way to access the internet other than my phone (or my laptop), and I also use the Kindle app to read on the plane. The case I have it in is nice and thin so it doesn't add a lot of bulk to the iPad, but the genuine leather keeps it protected.

5. Longchamp "Large Le Pliage" tote: I mentioned that the OG bag is too big for everyday use. Well, my crossbody bag is certainly too small for everyday use. That's where this Longchamp tote bridges the gap. It's so compact and folds up nicely so I can store it in one of the sleeves of my OG bag, but as soon as I get to my destination, I whip it out and use it as a carry-all tote. My laptop even fits inside it! The nylon material makes me not have to worry about getting it dirty. Less stress is always nice!

6. Work laptop: No explanation needed. I will say that this is too big to fit in the dedicated laptop sleeve of the OG bag, so I just store it in the main center compartment.

7. Small makeup case: I have a few makeup items that I don't have duplicates of and that I don't want to get thrown around or banged up in my roller bag (i.e. blush and eyeshadow, and other misc. things.) I store these in a little makeup bag that I can throw into my OG bag. Since I'm more careful with the OG with my laptop inside, I know the makeup will be safe in there also.

8. Toiletries: My travel toiletries/ liquids as well as some tissues. I swear I always need tissues on the plane!

9. A small wristlet to hold cords: I don't know about you, but there was a time where every Christmas someone would buy me a cute little Coach wristlet as a gift. I realized that they make the perfect cord keepers for travel. Your Ipsy bags would work well for this too if you have any! Fossil also makes cute options like this one!

Travel bag necessities
What's in my crossbody bag

Now onto the contents of my crossbody bag. I hate having to dig around in my bags, especially when I'm reaching for the same things often. Like I said, the crossbody is perfect for keeping things close to me but still being small enough for me to stuff in my OG bag. It has small card holder slots as well, so I can store my travel credit cards in this also.

1.  Charming Charlie Carmel Crossbody bagThis is only $19 (my yellow version is on sale for $14!) and comes in a ten colors. Highly recommend!

2. Passport: I do travel with my passport because it's easier for me to reach in and find my passport than it is for me to fumble around and find my driver's license. I know that I mentioned this bag having credit card slots, but what happens is, I remove my license out of my day-to-day wallet, then place it in my travel crossbody bag. Then when I'm back from my trip, I switch back to my day-to-day purse completely forgetting that my license is at home in my travel crossbody. The least amount of items I have to transfer from travel bags to real life bags, the better! Despite how often I travel, you have no idea how many times I have forgotten my license at home because of this! Obviously, not everyone will have a passport, but for me, it's super convenient to not just save it for international travel. I scored my passport holder on crazy sale. You know I love Kate Spade! She always has cute designs like this one on sale.

3. Charging stuff: I have multiple sets of charging blocks and phone cords with me when I travel, but I always make sure that one set is physically in my crossbody bag because you never know when you'll need it. There have been so many times where I will have my crossbody bag on me but my charging stuff is in my OG bag in the trunk of the car! I learned to just keep a set on me (in my crossbody) at all times.

4. Portable charger: This is also self-explanatory. This particular one came from one of our vendors, but I also have the Mophie chargers that I have used in the past that I like a lot.

5. Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm and Carmex: I'm constantly reapplying my lip color and Carmex throughout the day. I can survive without a compact, but don't take away my lip stuff!

6. Mentos gum: Fun fact - I hate chewing gum. HATE it. I literally only chew gum on the plane, and only when we are descending so I can keep my ears open. As soon as we are off the plane, the gum gets spit out! I hate it when my bags smell like gum, and I've found that the candy-coated kind like Mentos keep the smells locked in. Plus the case is convenient and reusable even for non-Mentos gum.

7. Earplanes: I went into detail about this in my Snapchat story, but long story short, I used to have massive issues with my ears not popping for weeks after flights. I even went through about a year's time when I had tubes in my ears (much like a 2-year old) so they were permanently open. I had a really bad experience when it was time for the tubes to be removed (the doctor pulled the tube off my eardrum without applying a topical anesthetic first…) and ever since then, I have refused to go back. These Earplanes make the pressure change in your ears more gradual, and they're also nice as a sound blocker!

8. Charming Charlie Pill case (similar here): I always have to have Excedrin on me. It's the one medicine that works for any and all of my ailments. This little pill case is the perfect storage for them so I don't have to carry around a ginormous pill bottle that ultimately opens and spills in the bottom of my bag anyway!

9. Sudafed PE: These little red pills in conjunction with the gum and the Earplanes have changed my flying life. I take these 2 hours before my flight, and they help keep my ears open from take off to landing. They are non-drowsy, too, which is an added bonus because I'm usually already tired as it is when I'm traveling!

Travel liquids, quart sized bag
My liquids

Your liquids are all supposed to fit in ONE quart sized ziplock bag. It cracks me up when I see people travel with 5 of these bags filled with liquids, or with one GALLON sized ziplock bag filled. Again, not all TSA agents will enforce the rules or even notice if you're breaking them, but to avoid getting stopped in the security line, just make sure everything fits into one quart sized ziplock bag.

Travel liquids, quart sized bag
What's in my ziplock bag

1. Contact solution: Opti-Free is my personal favorite.

2. Batiste Dry shampoo: Notice that I don't travel with shampoo or conditioner. I usually just rely on the hotel for that. Sometimes it can be hard to find travel sized dry shampoo, so I usually buy 2-3 bottles when I do see them, even if I'm not traveling any time soon just so I always have stock of these at the house for when I do need them!

3. Hairspray: I had some samples of Big Sexy Hair, but I prefer TRESemme.

4. This is a spray bottle filled with a water solution that I use to clean my lash extensions every night

5. Perfume stick with roller ball applicator: the perfect size for travel. I use Live Your Life from American Eagle.

6. Neutrogena Healthy Eye cream: I have two of these, one for home and one for travel. It works like magic and instantly de-puffs my tired eyes.

7. Face primer: This is from one of my Ipsy bags. I love using my Ipsy samples for travel!

8. Body Shop BB Cream: Instead of using my normal moisturizer plus foundation combo, I simplify my makeup for travel and just use a BB cream instead.

9. Philosophy Help Me retinol night treatment: This is actually most used during the summer. On beach vacations, I usually spend a lot of time in the sun with sunblock caked on my face. At night, I use the Clarsonic then sleep with this retinol night treatment on my face to keep my face from becoming overly dry or bumpy, and my pores clear.

10. Toothpaste: duh. Though I admit, this is the thing I forget the most when I travel! I use it up so quickly, and thankfully you can usually ask the front desk for it anyway, but still!

11. Urban Decay Eye Primer: I only have one of these that I share between home and travel. One tube lasts forever, which is why I don't just have two of them. This is so important when I travel because the longer days mean my makeup needs extra staying power!

12. Trish McEvoy Eye Lift Cream: I have two of these, one for home and one for travel. It gets rid of dark spots and really does give my eyes a lift.

13. Physicians Formula Liquid eyelinerI have two of these, one for home and one for travel. Paired with my Urban Decay eye primer, this liner stays put all day!

14. After Bite: This may seem weird, but mosquitos love me and After Bite is magical when it comes to erasing the itch! I always make sure I have some of this when I travel year-round just in case. DEFINITELY make sure you have a little tube of this for all your summer travel! I could not have survived all those trips to Mexico without it!

clamshell style roller bag, carry on

Unfortunately, my roller bag is long gone. I've had 2 of them now over the last 5-6 years or so and it deceivingly holds a lot of stuff. I will be devastated when this one dies on me! What I love about it are the two separate compartments. I can store clothes on one side and toiletries on the other side. Each "shell" has these pockets over them with adjustable straps which help keep everything in place and not getting all mixed up and disheveled. I've packed a whole week's worth of outfits in this little thing before! I know that sounds hard to believe, especially for someone who has a bedroom for a closet… but I'm a firm believer in remixing when I travel. If I can bring one pair of shoes for the whole trip, it's golden! I always try and make sure I can make more outfits with what I'm packing than the number of days we will be at our destination. Here are a couple of remix examples from previous posts that you can reference:

summer packing remix

See original post HERE

fall packing remix

See original post HERE

Whew! I told you this was going to be a long one! There's definitely a lot of strategy that goes into packing! This is A TON of information and products to absorb and remember, which is why I have it all permanently pre-packed as much as possible so I only have to worry about my outfits when another trip comes around. It's hard enough to plan outfits, I may as well get the easy, unchanging stuff figured out ahead of time!

Please let me know if you have any questions! I really hope you're able to pull some helpful tips from this post!


Follow through our coast-to-coast blog hop by heading south to Miami for Rachelle's take on this week's theme, or simply use the links above to meet each blogger in this series.



  1. You are a pro at this, I love your packing tips and know I will come back to it when it's time to pack.


  2. This might be the best packing tips post I've ever seen...you are a packing genius :)

  3. Oh my word, this post is amazing. I agree with Tara- it might be the best tips post I've ever seen. You've certainly put in your dues (and the time to create an amazing post) for this one! I love the attention to detail on everything from pill cases to liquids to outfit planning! Sooo many great suggestions. I'll be coming back to this before I take another trip!
    Gina || On the Daily Express

  4. WOW, absolutely love this post! Great packing tips...you definitely have this thing down! :)

  5. I thought I was a packing pro but Even I picked up a couple of new tips. Thanks for a great post!

  6. Can you please come pack for me on my next trip? :) Such an in depth and helpful post Carylee! -Julie@MomFabulous

  7. You are a packing pro! I love seeing what people bring and how they pack it all!

  8. You are quite the packer! You've got it all figured out. I love that pill case. :]

    // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

  9. This is an AMAZING list of tips. I am going to access this post next time I fly.

  10. I used to travel a lot and packed just like you. Love the tips- it was a nice refresher as I'm back to packing up and traveling a bit more these days. LOVE that idea of using a wristlet for cords!!

  11. You are very strategic packer, I am so envious!


    Hope to see you Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.

  12. Love your tips! As for me, I recently got a Kindle and now I can't travel without it. While I generally prefer paper to ebooks, it's just so convenient when you travel a lot! I also usually pack snacks cause I'm hungry all the time haha!

    XO Konstancja