I am preparing to go on a summer vacation and as I am doing laundry, gathering supplies, and beginning to pack my luggage, I realize I have built up a great collection of vacation packing essentials, and wanted to share them with you!
When I worked in Corporate America, I had a job that had me on business travel at least once a month. I had perfected my packing essentials to save space, be ready for most anything, and look polished and professional even if I was just hopping off a cross-country red eye flight. As a blogger, I have also traveled a lot for work, but with the different expectations once at my destination, packing became more similar to vacation travel and it perfected my vacation packing essentials.
Some of my vacation packing essentials are a given, some are a bit more unexpected. I would love to find out what essentials you pack; let me know in the comments. Many of my essentials are items I wouldn't have otherwise known of if it weren't for those of you in the Wardrobe Oxygen Community who have shared yours in comments here and on social!
First, let's start with what everything I pack goes in…
My Favorite Luggage: Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45
It was 2014, and a reader contacted me asking for a two-week business casual capsule wardrobe that would fit in the Tom Bihn Aeronaut. I had never heard of Tom Bihn or this luggage, and went to the site to know the dimensions to properly assist the reader and fell in love with this company. Here you can read more about Tom Bihn and why it is such a great company.
Tom Bihn saw that 2014 capsule wardrobe and sent me and my husband our own Aeronaut 45s and those bags have been our go-to for almost any trip. In 2016, I packed a two-week cross-country road trip capsule wardrobe in my Tom Bihn Aeronaut. Just last month, I used the Aeronaut to pack my summer getaway capsule wardrobe. I've even loaned out my Tom Bihn Aeronaut to friends and it has been perfect for their vacations and adventures.
This bag can be carried in the hand, on the shoulder, across the body, or comfortably as a backpack. It is designed that you can open it on a luggage rack and work straight from it, not needing to pull everything out or have it unbalanced and spill. It's soft enough to squish into an overhead compartment or that weirdly shaped corner of your car's trunk, but shaped enough that items can stack on it without toppling. This bag is seven years old, has been on dozens of trips and still looks and performs like new.
My Favorite Toiletries Bag: Bagsmart Large Toiletries Bag
I had a great water-resistant two-sided zipper bag that did me well for many years. I'd put my travel-sized products on one side, my makeup on the other, it would be the size of a packing cube and would tuck into any carryon bag without issue. The zippers eventually failed, the plastic got cloudy, and the skincare brand Pixi sent me a PR gift in a bag that was almost the same but better. This bag had a hook so I could hang it up in my hotel bathroom and still see and access all my stuff.
But as I began more vacation-like travel, I needed more room for my toiletries. On a business trip I was fine with very simple yet effective products to achieve the same look day after day. But on travel, there are bugs and sun and thigh chafing and digestive issues. There are days when you won't put on a stitch of makeup, others when you want that no-makeup makeup look, and others where a bold lip or even a glittery eyeliner is a great choice. Plus, vacations are often longer than business trips. I needed more space.
Essentially the same concept as my beloved two-sided toiletries case but bigger, I got a bag from Bagsmart. It's the same concept – water-resistant (great when a bottle opens up on a flight; keeps the rest of your luggage dry), able to hang up on a hook, clear compartments to see everything, and enough compartments to separate and organize your essentials. The shape is still similar to a packing cube, making it easy to stack it with other items or just tuck into your bag with rolled clothes around it.
The Bagsmart bag comes in two sizes; if you're concerned with fitting your entire trip into a single carry-on bag, you may wish to go with the medium. If you're heading out for more than a week, the large may be more your scene. I know some have two: one for makeup and one for toiletries. I have the striped one, though Bagsmart also has solid quilted ones and even a clear one as well as matching pouches and standing cases.
Save Space and Increase Organization with Packing Cubes
Likely, you've heard of packing cubes. And possibly, you have seen them as too complicated, a waste of money, etc. I was there. I never used packing cubes until 2014 when Tom Bihn sent me a couple with my Aeronaut. Even then, I resisted them. But once I started using them I was hooked.
If you've mastered rolling and folding and have plenty of space in your luggage, you may not see a difference when using packing cubes. Those who are sort on space have seen that by zipping clothes into these cubes, usually made from a mix of tech fabric and mesh, will compress items to provide more space.
But another benefit of packing cubes is when you are visiting multiple destinations or will have a variety of activities and situations on your vacation. For example, our family took a road trip to Vermont a few years ago, with stops on the way in Philadelphia, NYC, and Boston. I used packing cubes to separate the clothes I needed for the cities from when we would be staying in a cabin. I wouldn't need a fleece or hiking shoes in NYC, and I wouldn't need a nice dress and clutch purse while in Vermont. This way, I could just pull out the cubes for my destination.
Also, packing cubes help you separate dirty from clean. Great for your return trip, but also great for a long vacation when some things have been worn too much and need to be separated until you get home or to a laundry.
I own packing cubes from Tom Bihn, but our family also owns packing cubes from eBags' brand and they're also quite durable and come in different colors so you can color-coordinate based on leg of your trip or family member.
Okay, and on to my favorite vacation packing essentials to go in said luggage!
My 10 Must-Have Vacation Packing Essentials
I have several vacation packing essentials I tuck into my toiltries bag (cuticle or embroidery scissors, a small sewing kit, In Case Of meds, a couple shelf-stable snacks and protein bars for when your next meal is a while away) but decided to share my 10 more unexpected essentials below.
Now I'd love to hear from you! What are your vacation packing essentials? Anything I need to add to my arsenal for my next getaway?