Essentials — The Suitcase
I am firmly on the "check a bag" side of life — there's nothing I can't stand more than shlepping a bag around an airport and then heaving it up into the increasingly smaller overhead bins. I mean, if it's a weekend in Palm Springs, I can manage with a duffle (here's my favorite) but 99% of the time, I'm bringing this bag and its contents with me.
8 Magazines — 9 Vitamins — 10 Ibuprofen / Immodium AD / Decongestant / Claritin — 11 Turmeric Ginger Tea
1 This is the best suitcase I've ever had, period. It's made out of incredibly lightweight German polycarbonate, has a built-in TSA-compliant lock and four 360° Japanese-engineered wheels — the perfect combination. I love the minimalist styling (love a bit of matte black, too) and I love the direct-to-consumer model of purchasing. I have beaten it up extensively — although not as much as the baggage handlers seem to — and it's still in tip-top shape. I know I just ranted against carry-on luggage, but I'm pining for the Away Carry-on for shorter / domestic trips. (Use these links for my referral code — it means $20 off for you and $20 for me!)
2 This packing system has been a lifesaver. I'm sometimes (read: always) in such a hurry to get out there and explore that my suitcase becomes a messy pile of laundry by the end of the trip. These double-sided packing bags help maximize suitcase space and keep clean clothes away from the stuff that needs a washing. The variety of sizes is great, too — sometimes I'll use the shoe bag for extra adaptors or tech stuff.
3 I randomly tossed this USB charger into our bag at IKEA one day, as one is wont to do, not knowing how helpful it would end up being. I have an Apple Watch (coming soon: a review on traveling with one) and an iPhone, so getting two ports into one outlet is important — especially in small outlet-challenged European hotel rooms. This gets the job done and gives you one extra port, too — perfect for charging either my B&O headphones or my massive backup battery (see the Daypack post for more details). It's not the fastest charger, but it was $8 — so I'm not going to quibble.
4 I've fallen for the pricey combo adapter before, but these are perfect — inexpensive, low-profile and enough to fully prep a hotel room for any manner of devices. We now have UK / Type G versions, too.
5 This is sort of a personal thing, but I carry this around to add stuff into my travel journal, which is a MUJI 2-ring binder. More detail on the Journal in a later post — it's quite a system!
6 These umbrellas have been incredibly useful, especially on our latest trip to Iceland and Denmark. They are pretty small, incredibly wind-resistant, and I love the push-button action.
7 This portable lint roller is perfect in a pinch — no giant standard-issue rollers to deal with, as this one is retractable! Great for handling stray dog hairs 2,000 miles away from the culprit dog.
8 I never bring magazines onto a plane via my daypack, as most of the magazines I read are incredibly large and bulky (I either listen to podcasts or read books via my iPhone). I always head to a bookstore a few days before a trip to pick up a issue each of Monocle and Wallpaper to tuck into my suitcase. It's great to have something to read in a coffeeshop or in the hotel lobby that's not a newspaper — and sometimes it can be difficult to find English-language reading materials.
9 I am a product of my upbringing — growing up in one of the fittest states in US has led me to take a lot of supplements and vitamins. My recommendations: turmeric (anti-inflammatory, and perfect for lots of walking) / melatonin (helps me adjust to new timezones if I'm not quite settled) / tulsi (this is an adaptogen, which helps your body adapt to stress and helps your body repair stress-related damage) / probiotics (helps your stomach and gut stay regular, and helps adjust to unfamiliar foods) — I'll be writing a post soon on these and more!
10 I always bring a full bottle of ibuprofen with me on international trips, as getting over-the-counter pain relievers is sometimes impossible. I know I sound like a pill-hungry American — but sometimes a wine-and-cheese headache is best and most quickly solved with 400mg of ibuprofen. Over-the-counter medicine is fairly easy to obtain in French pharmacies from experience, but in Denmark, it's an entirely different story. OTC medication is basically nonexistent, as they would prefer that you visit a doctor — and since they have universal health care, it's very easy to do so. After begging a Danish convenience store clerk for 20 blister-packed pills at the shocking price of $15, I made the mental note to keep cheap American pain relief in my suitcase at all times. I usually throw in some Immodium AD, a few Claritin and a packet of decongestant, too — for any other travel-related ailments.
11 I fell in love with this turmeric-ginger tea at the Ace Hotel in downtown LA while suffering through a particularly nasty cold. Ever since, I've traveled with a box to ward off any twinges, and remedy the often-mediocre in-room tea selections.
That's what's in my suitcase — an edited list of things I've found extremely useful on our trips abroad. Hopefully, this will help you curate what's in your bag (and leave more room for souvenirs).
This content uses referral links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.