Last Updated on November 22, 2022

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On average, I travel to two destinations a month, mostly by airplane. Basically, I unpack my suitcase only because I need it emptied so I can pack it again.

Over the years, I’ve tried out a variety of travel bags, bookbags, purses

Must-Have Toiletry & Accessory Travel Items

Hanging Travel Organizer for Toiletries

First is this fabulous Vera Bradley roll-up toiletry bag my mother-in-law gifted me. One of the best presents ever!

Pro travel tip: leave this packed with second sets of everything so you never have to unpack it and risk leaving something at home. I keep mine packed with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, razor, extra razor heads, makeup wipes, q-tips, Shout wipes and more. I never unpack these things at home, I leave them in the bag, Then all I have to do is grab this back and throw it in my suitcase for each trip.

Looking for the best travel toiletry bag you can nab on Amazon? This Vera bag is available on Amazon too!

Buy from Vera Bradley | Buy from Amazon

Heat Resistant Curling & Flat Iron Cover

Heat resistant curling and flat iron cover

I often have to check out of my hotel mere minutes after using my curling or flat iron, and this heat resistant cover keeps allows me to throw it right into my suitcase without worrying that it will burn my clothes.

Buy it on Amazon

Hanging Jewelry Organizer

Hanging jewelry organizer

There’s nothing worse than having your jewelry be a tangled mess when you get to your destination. I’ve been using a hanging jewelry bag for years to travel, and when I’m home I just hang it up in my closet for easy access.

Buy it on Amazon

Headband Headphones

Headband headphones

I bought these last year when I knew I was going to be rooming with someone who likes silence at night. Me? I like to have my box fan app on my phone. So, the compromise was these headband headphones that’s comfy to sleep in and lets me play my box fan app through Bluetooth without bothering my travel buddy.

It also works great if you travel with someone who snores, and I even found it to be the perfect headphones for fitting under my ski helmet so I don’t have to worry about getting tangled in wires or losing an ear bud.

Buy it on Amazon

Must-Have Tech Gear & Gadgets for Working on the Road

For me, one of the most difficult things is simply keeping my phone and laptop charged all day when I’m not sitting in my hotel or vacation rental. I’ve tried lots of portable battery options, and these are the two I don’t travel anywhere without.

Travel Laptop Power Bank

After trying a pricier Dell laptop power bank, I tried this one with great reviews on Amazon. And . . . the reviews were correct. It’s fantastic!

Laptop power bank

Here’s what I did at a recent conference where I had nowhere to plug in: I plugged into my fully charged laptop power bank and used it for all the morning sessions until our lunch break. Then I left it charging in a nearby hallway while we ate lunch and got through another session, during which time I could use my fully charged laptop. Just as it was beginning to run out, I was able to hook back up to the power bank and get another full charge for my laptop. This got me through an entire 8+ hour day.

Supposedly my laptop battery is supposed to be good for 8+ hours on its own, but I’m lucky to get 2.5 hours from it. This power bank is awesome! It’s also slim and fits easily in my laptop bag or purse and doesn’t add a bunch of extra weight.

It can also charge my phone or iPad simultaneously, although that obviously impacts how much it can charge my laptop. It has two USB-C ports supporting 100W output and one 65W input, plus 2 fast-charging USB-A ports.

Buy on Amazon

Power Bank Portable Charger for iPhone or Android

iPhone and Android power bank extra battery

Long before I got the portable power bank for my laptop, I got this power bank for my cell phone. I’ve been using it for about 18 months, and it can charge my Google Pixel 6 Pro more than three times to a full charge. It’s a must-have if you’re going to be out taking photos and videos all day.

This power bank is almost the exact same size as my phone, just a little thicker. It fits nicely in my purse though, even when I’m carrying a clutch or other smaller-sized purse. It also fits in the pocket of most of my pants. It is a little heavy, but it’s worth it for the charging power.

It does charge my phone pretty quickly, but it takes a long time to recharge, so I have to remember to plug it in overnight when I travel to be ready for the next day.

It can also charge my iPad, but it does not charge my laptop (which is why I got the other power bank above). You can charge more than one device at a time though, as it has one 15W USB-A output, two 18W USB-A outputs and one 18W USB-C input/output.

Probably the best $35.99 I’ve ever spent on a tech gadget.

Buy now on Amazon

Dual Laptop Screen Portable Monitor

My portable extra laptop monitor set up in a hotel room

If you work at home with two monitors, you know how difficult it is on the road to adjust to using only one. I was very excited when I learned there were portable monitors that were light weight and easy to pack for travel. I’ve had mine for about a year now, and I love it!

I have this portable monitor for my 13″ laptop, but they make it in other sizes as well. It makes me so much more productive from hotel rooms and press boxes!

Buy now on Amazon

Cord and Cable Organizer

Cord and cable organizer

I hate having a mess of cords and cables in a giant knot in the bottom of my backpack when I travel. So, I bought this two-sided cord organizer years ago, and now I keep doubles of all my cords in there so that I never have to take it out of my travel backpack and thus never leave an important cord at home.

Buy it on Amazon

Must-Have Bags for Travel

I travel absolutely nowhere without the bookbag and purse below.

Rolling Backpack

rolling backpack with multiple pockets

My husband jokingly refers to this as my “mobile office,” but it’s not joke. My back and shoulders couldn’t take the weight I was lugging around airports in my backpack anymore, so I ordered this rolling backpack from Amazon to try.

I had quite a few qualifications for what would become my main carry-on item, and this meets them all:

  • Multiple sections to keep my things organized
  • Exterior water bottle pocket that fits wider bottles
  • Converts to a wearable backpack
  • External USB charging port
  • 360° spinner wheels
  • Fits under standard airplane seats when fully packed (tip: put it under top first so the platform with the wheels is closest to you)

I’ve had this for more than a year and it’s held up to frequent travel with no problems.

Buy on Amazon

My Favorite 2-in-1 Purse/Backpack for Travel

I used to have a small 2-in-1 purse/backpack I took on my travels for carrying around my stuff as I wandered through cities by day, but it was poorly made and came apart quickly. So, I set out to find a new one. It was even more difficult to find than the rolling backpack I love above.

I had a really set list of criteria for the ideal bag:

  • Can be carried as a purse or backpack
  • Exterior pocket for water big enough for a 28 oz. shaker bottle
  • Fits my 13″ laptop inside
  • Interior pockets for organization

The #1 problem I found during my search was that most backpacks with purse handles had short hand-held handles instead of shoulder handles, and I wanted the latter. My husband is an art writer, so we’re often in museums. Unfortunately, most museums don’t allow you to wear backpacks inside, which means I need to be able to easily carry it through the museum. I don’t want to hold my big heavy bag by two tiny handles. I want it on my shoulder.

My favorite 2-in-1 backpack purse for travel

Not only did this bag check off every item on my list, it also has a crossbody strap, two interior and two exterior pockets that are insulated (now my water is even kept cold!) and a luggage sleeve to slide over your luggage handle . . . which allows it to fit perfectly over my rolling backpack above.

This is the ultimate bag. I get SO many compliments when I carry it. People are always shocked when I tell them it’s actually meant to be a diaper bag. Yep, that’s right. It’s really made to be a diaper bag. That’s why the pockets are insulated! But, I just took out the diaper pad, and no one has ever known it was a diaper bag until I’ve told them.

I would buy this bag over and over again. It’s the perfect bag. If I found out they were discontinuing it, I would buy two more to keep as backups. I love it that much.

Pro tip: I keep a smaller purse inside of this one (with my wallet inside) that I can just grab when I’m leaving the hotel for dinner and don’t want to lug around a big bag. I have this Kate Spade crossbody in multiple colors and it easily fits inside, even with the other things I leave in the larger bag.

Buy it on Amazon

Also, this is a great organizer to put down in this bag if you want to keep your stuff even more separate. Grab the “Slender Medium” size.

Daypack for Hiking or Exploring

I was gifted an Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack by a destination last year, and I’m obsessed with it. This little pack folds down to basically nothing, so it’s easy to pack. It’s a great daypack for when I’m hiking or otherwise exploring and don’t want the weight of my main purse/backpack (above) or might be engaging in something where my nicer bag would get dirty.

Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack

I let my dad borrow mine on a recent trip, and I he didn’t want to give it back. I’ve now purchased him one of his own, which is perfect for him packing up sunscreen, snacks, his wallet and other items he needs when he heads out for the day on his fishing boat.

Buy it on Amazon

Best Checked Luggage for Frequent Travelers

Travelpro checked luggage

As someone who flies an average of four times a month, I’ve gone through some luggage over the years. By far the best I’ve had so far is this Travelpro Maxlite 25-inch Spinner.

It weights half what my previous Samsonite luggage weighed, and I have yet to go over the airline’s 50-pound limit since getting this luggage several years ago even when it’s packed as full as I can get it (I haven’t mastered packing light, haha).

This has held up really nicely for being checked so many times every month. It’s starting to show some wear and tear now, but I’ve been traveling hard with it for nearly four years. I’ve more than gotten my money out of it and will gladly buy another when the time comes.

Buy it on Amazon

My Favorite Shoes, Jackets and More for Travel

I’m obsessed with Sperry shoes for travel. They’re so comfy! I own all four below: white leather, white canvas, navy canvas and black leather. There’s something for every time of year. I also own a few other colors, but these are my staples.

I’m also a huge fan of LL Bean jackets and coats. The 3-in-1 jacket gets me through basically any weather. You can wear just the light raincoat, just the puffer jacket (which is surprisingly warm), or both together for maximum warmth and water protection. The only time I don’t use it is if I’m visiting somewhere in the dead of winter, and then I have the LL Bean Winter Warmer coat.

What do you think?

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1 Comment
  • Linda
    August 18, 2022

    Thank you for these great tips – I’ve already ordered the cross-body purse!