My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

Sean and I recently returned from our big journey to Boston and New York City!  We spent the better part of a year prepping and planning, working towards what we wanted for this trip.  For me, it meant working more on my mental health and physical endurance.  It meant constantly searching for clothes I felt represented who I am now and would fit my body that is currently in a state of change.  It meant rethinking the way I travel and the things I need.

I wanted to feel like a put-together grown woman on this trip.  I wanted to be as organized and prepared as possible given all the unknowns (and feel cute doing it).  I'm living for a matchy moment!

I'll talk more about what this trip meant to me on a deeper level, but for now, I wanted to talk about the things that helped me along the journey.

- I bought the items in this post. All opinions presented are my own and without influence. This post contains affiliate links and I make a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. -

Travel is a necessity for growth and expanding the mind.  It just is.  You are pushed out of your comfort zone and have to adapt.  You meet new people and are put in new situations that may test who you are and what you believe.  You learn about so much more outside of your own little bubble.  But travel is a privilege and luxury many people don't even get to do.

I hate seeing blog posts listing expensive things people bought for their trips that seem completely excessive and ridiculous.  I had a specific budget to work with and spent a year saving and constantly checking sale prices to work towards the things I wanted. Some items I researched meticulously before I purchased, and none of these things were gifted to me by brands.  

Other things to consider:
I am a neurodivergent, plus-size woman with major travel and flying anxiety.  I prepare and pack as far in advance as I can.  My toiletries were packed 2-months in advance.  Suitcases were completely ready to go 21 hours before I left.  I have worked hard to get to a point where I don't have multiple panic attacks just thinking about the anxiety of packing.  When things are prepared, planned, and organized, I have less stress and can enjoy myself more.

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

  • Initially, I was looking at brands like Away and Monos for a high-end suitcase that would be durable and look classy.  Finally, I decided to save the extra $200+ and use it towards other things.
  • I am pleased with the size and feel of this suitcase.  It has more inner room than the more expensive brands I was looking at, but it also comes with some organizational features I liked in the more luxury brands, like an inside compression pad with zippered compartments, including a wet pocket.
  • The wheels handled well and made it through the entire journey without any damage.
  • There is a built-in TSA lock that is easy to use.
  • It only weighs 8.8 lbs.
  • This suitcase retails for $240, but I watched deals and got it for $178.

2. Ebags Belcourt Backpack in Plum
  • I absolutely love the color of this backpack (and Sean's in the Deep Teal - pictured below).
  • This backpack has some great pocket areas for organizing, a padded laptop compartment, an RFID-lined zip pocket, a matching wristlet, and a strap to fit it over your suitcase handle.
  • It was comfortable to wear and held quite a lot.  The back zippered compartment was great for storing things I needed to grab quickly while on the plane.
  • The Belcourt retails for $80, but is currently on clearance for $29.  I paid $32.

3. Samsonite Theorym Carry-On Spinner in Dahlia Purple
  • I have a large Ebags backpack for a carry-on, but it was going to be hard to carry in the fast-paced city setting we were headed into.  Sean and I both needed to make sure we had easy-to-carry options that could stack with each other and make our lives easier.
  • I chose the Theorym because it had the stackable strap to secure it to my luggage (which was a big selling point), it was not a basic color, and the wheels handle extremely well.  There is a decent amount of room inside while still being small enough to handle in and out of the airplane.
  • The Theorym retails for $260.  I bought it for $150.

4. Ebags Belcourt Crossbody in Plum
  • The purses I have specifically for travel are larger than I wanted for this trip.  I have improved at toning down what I carry daily, so I needed a slightly smaller purse for the occasion.
  • This one fit into my color scheme and prompted me to buy the matching backpack.
  • Similar to the backpack, there is an outer pocket with magnetic closure and an RFID-lined zip pocket.
  • The strap was plenty long to be a comfortable crossbody on me.  The Ebags products I have bought through the years have all been so well-made and incredibly useful.
  • The Belcourt retails for $60 and is currently on clearance for $18.  I paid $26.

  • If you are an over-packer (or trying not to be) and you need to Tetris your belongings into a suitcase or multiple bags to distribute the weight properly, take a photo of how you pack each section of your suitcase so that you can more easily and quickly do the same while on your trip.
    • Packing suitcases before we left each location was way less hectic because I thought to snap photos of how I packed our suitcases ahead of time.  (In this case, Sean and I distributed all of our collective stuff throughout our suitcases and carry-ons to eliminate overweight luggage anxiety.)

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

1. Hanging Toiletry Bag
  • I have tried every type of toiletry bag ever made.  I made sure to narrow down my list of products and the containers I used to make carrying out my beauty routine seamless.
  • My goal was to find a hanging bag that could hold everything I needed and also take up less space overall.  This bag fit that criteria.  While there were certain toiletries that both Sean and I shared that went into a separate bag, I found that all of my skincare, shaving products, teeth products, etc. fit well into one bag.
  • I ended up buying a second bag (both of mine are in Purple) for all of my hair accessories, styling products, and tools.
  • There are a few colors and prints to choose from that range in price from $23 to $28.

  • I always pack using packing cubes because I appreciate the organization that comes with using them.  It makes packing, living out of a suitcase, and unpacking so much easier for me.  But this was the first time I used compression packing cubes.
  • I had a lot of bulkier pieces for this trip because the weather was all over the place.  These cubes did a good job of compacting my items and providing a little bit more room overall.
  • Shoe bags are a packing revelation to me!  Oh my goodness!  LOVE them!
  • I bought the 6-piece set in Grey for $24.

  • I mainly purchased these clear bags to use one of them as my liquid bag for travel days at the airport.  They turned out to be incredibly useful, so I purchased a few more sets.
  • I ended up using one for my liquids for both my makeup and stuff that would be in my purse.  Then I used another for packing vitamins, over-the-counter meds, protein bars, and the like.  The rest worked well as a small makeup bag and a way to organize lots of small items together for my carry-on, backpack, and suitcase alike.
  • The bags are pretty roomy and a definite upgrade from a Ziploc bag.
  • The set of 3 is usually $20.  I bought the Rose Gold pack of 3 for $12.

  • This pouch is marketed as a cable and tech organization pouch, but I used it for holding things I needed readily available while I was on the airplane.  I tucked the pouch into the seat pocket in front of me and could easily grab it when needed.
  • I stuffed it with Kleenex, lip balm, a Vicks inhaler, my flying earplugs, bathroom wipes, gum, breath mints, tiny single-use anti-bac packets, alcohol wipes, and a scrunchie.
  • I ended up buying one for Sean that he could use as well.
  • The pouch is normally $20.  I got it for $15.

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

  • I loved the idea of the bottle taking up less space as I used product throughout my trip.  Often I will pack things so that I can toss items as I use them up to avoid going back home with extra.  Hopefully, I can be a little less wasteful with these bottles.
  • As it was, I did use one for shave butter and it did really well in terms of taking up less space and not making a mess.
  • This set of 4 is $8.

  • I had a couple of foaming products to figure out travel containers for.  This is the first time I've seen smaller foaming bottles like this.  While they weren't completely perfect, they did fine enough.  I also bought the spray bottle version as my travel water bottle for styling my hair.
  • A set of 6 5 oz bottles is $15.

  • Sean and I planned to share many of the same toiletries to save space and weight within the suitcase.  I'm not someone who wants to buy extra toiletries while I'm on vacation, because  I think it's a waste of vacation time.
  • So I used these larger 8.8 oz bottles (not even filled to the top) for our shared shampoo and conditioner.  The included waterproof labels have held up incredibly well and these bottles did not leak.
  • A set of 4 is $14.

  • I've been using Velcro rollers in my hair lately to keep volume at an all-time high!  Obviously, full-on Velcro rollers might take up much-needed space in your toiletry bag though.
  • I felt like these were a decent, travel-friendly solution to rollers.
  • Set of 2 retails for $10.

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

  • I only took three pairs of shoes on vacation.  They were all sneakers.  Two were some New Balance Fresh Foam styles that were super comfortable until I tried the Brooks Ghost Max.
  • Yes, these are expensive, but the bounce and comfort are worth every penny and I WILL be buying more pairs in the future.  I wore this shoe the most and wish I had more colors.
  • The Ghost Max and Glycerin styles have the most cushion.  These really made a difference for me in terms of how I felt after the end of a long day of walking around the city.
  • I own this light grey pair, which stayed pretty clean during my trip.
  • Brooks Ghost Max are $150.

  • The older compression socks I had were those thick, uncomfortable, old lady compression socks.  I hated them. They were too tight and cut into the backs of my knees.  I needed new ones because they do help my ankles during travel.
  • These are comfortable, super soft, and certainly large enough for my wide calves.  They didn't cut into me and they stayed up the whole day.
  • I wish they were a little bit thicker, but that's just my preference.
  • A set of 3 sells for $29.

  • Because I needed earplugs to help with head pressure during flying, I needed over-the-ear headphones to take with me.
  • While the sound could be richer, these did a pretty good job with noise-canceling and listening to music and audiobooks.
  • I appreciated the oblong shape of the earcups, which kept my ears from getting smooshed.
  • I didn't charge them during my trip and used them for 12+ hours total.  (They claim to have a 40-hour playtime.)
  • They only connect using Bluetooth and also have a built-in microphone for hands-free calls.
  • This pair comes in rose gold, black, blue, and silver.  It retails for $55.  I bought them for $35.

  • Well then, I needed a case to hold my new headphones and protect them during travel.
  • This case also came in rose gold, and you know I love a matchy moment!
  • Because the headphone earcups swivel, the headphones fit in this case just perfectly.
  • It held up well being smooshed and moved and stacked in my backpack.
  • The case retails for $17.

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -
These compression socks are soft and come in a variety of colors and a few prints.

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -
Listening to Hozier with my rose gold headphones

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

1. Washable Luggage Cover
  • So as to protect my luggage investment, I purchased this colorful luggage cover for flying.  It definitely protected my suitcase from scuffs.  I wish it had an opening for the side handle on the suitcase, but whatever.
  • It is stretchy and easy to fit and zip up.  I had no issues with it at all.
  • Cover was $15 and comes in a variety of prints.

  • Head pressure from flying wasn't an issue for me in the past, but now it is.  I have a little machine that helps pop your ears once you are in flight, but that can still be uncomfortable.
  • These earplugs go in once the plane door closes and come out before you exit the plane.  I put them in and had zero issues with sinus and head pressure during my 5+ hour flights.
  • FlyFits are $18.

  • I ended up purchasing two of these, one for Sean and one for myself, so that each of us would have an easy-to-carry reusable tote for hauling souvenirs or extra jackets/hats/scarves.  The weather was all over the place, so I figured these bags would come in handy.  I was right.
  • We bought black ones for the trip, which don't seem to be available at the moment, but I did just buy one of the shiny gold ones because these are durable, handy, and come with their own attached little drawstring bag to store it away.  All you have to do is smoosh it back into the tiny bag (which is quick and easy to do).
  • The bag claims to be able to hold up to 60 lbs of items.  I don't think I carried more than 20 lbs at one time, but I never had issues with it.
  • There are a few colors to choose from at $25 each.

  • It should be no surprise that I like to be organized, especially when on vacation.  You are already dealing with a smaller space and a lack of proper utilization of that space.  Hooks can come in handy.
  • These hooks are ideal for the shower and bathroom.  I use them to hang up my exfoliating scrubber, a drying swimsuit, etc.
  • A set of 4 sells for $16.

  • Like the above, hooks provide some extra convenience in a hotel room or rental space because those places generally don't think about practicality.
  • I am so happy I remembered to bring these over-the-door hooks along that gave us a few extra places to hang items and organize spaces.
  • A set of 4 retails for $10.  I got them for $5.

My Latest Travel Must-Haves & Tips - 2024 -

1. Celestial Silk Pillowcase
  • I bring my own pillowcase with me anytime I stay away from home now.  Often, the detergent used at hotels gives me hives and/or irritates my skin in some way.  Bringing my own pillowcase means that at least my face will be somewhat protected.  And because this is a silk pillowcase, my hair will be happier too.
  • There are lots of silk pillowcases out there, but I love this Mulberry Silk one from Celestial Silk.  The print is so gorgeous!
  • This pillowcase retails for $43.

  • I usually just let my hair air-dry and go naturally curly/wavy while I'm on vacation, but I have loved the way it looks straightened and/or curled lately.  In trying to pack smart, I decided to leave my travel blow dryer at home and bring this round brush dryer with me instead.
  • I ended up using this dryer almost every day on the trip and continue to use it now that I'm home.  I opted for taking this one on the trip over my more oval-barreled dryer because this one gives far more volume and a softer finish.
  • I can blow out my thick hair in record time with this thing (15 to 20 minutes tops).
  • Hot Tools is my brand of choice.  This is part of their detachable series, so there are other attachment ends for it as well.  At Ulta, this dryer retails for $85.  I bought it on a Black Friday deal for $40.

I hope these recommendations help you find ways to make your travels easier, prettier, and more manageable!

What are your must-haves for travel?  

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