Once you’re at your destination, traveling always feels worth it. It’s the getting there and back part that can leave you questioning why you ever left home in the first place. Long gone are the days when air and train travel were a glamorous experience. Despite what social media wants us to believe, most of us don’t get to enjoy first-class flights every time we fly. To help make long travel days feel less chaotic, I like to get ahead of the stress and mess by packing elevated travel essentials.
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My top trick? Pack less, but better. The more clutter you have on hand, the more stressful traveling becomes. From type-A organization must-haves to mess-free beauty products to prioritizing self-care, I do my best to make the journey feel as comfortable as the destination with a curated list of travel-friendly products. Keep scrolling for everything I do for a luxury travel experience, plus the elevated essentials I always turn to when packing for a trip.
Elevated Travel Essentials & Tips for Every Trip
Bring the Best Baggage
I’ll never forget my first experience flying alone. I went to pull down my relatively new rolling suitcase from the overhead bin, and suddenly, a wheel popped off and rolled down the aisle. I vowed from that moment on to invest in good travel bags that would last me for many journeys to come. Over time, I discovered the perfect travel bag combination.
I prefer to travel with a rolling carry-on suitcase whenever possible. I used to bring a backpack as my personal item (it seemed like the practical choice), but an overstuffed backpack can lead to a lot of back pain. Now I go for a small weekender bag with a very important feature—it has to have a passthrough pocket that slides over my suitcase handle so I can roll it alongside me instead of carrying it. And for short flights and quick weekend getaways, I will bring a tote bag instead that can double as a purse.
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Leatherology is my go-to for major quiet luxury vibes, and the Hardwood Weekender has all the pockets you need to stay organized. Plus, you can monogram it with your initials, which is so chic and all the rage right now.
10 colors available
The vegan leather material on Freja’s bags looks so luxe but is much more lightweight than real leather. Again—the Paloma Tote has plenty of pockets, which makes it perfect for staying organized while traveling.
3 colors available
This under-$100 duffel bag is perfect as a weekender or a carry-on item. Its spacious bottom compartment keeps things separated and organized (perfect for dirty shoes or clothes!), and the luggage trolley sleeve makes for easy carrying.
9 colors and patterns available
Made from recycled materials, this roomy tote bag is the ideal personal item. It has interior pockets for your laptop, water bottle, and small items, as well as multiple strap options and a key leash.
2 colors available
Now—let’s talk small bags. I hate rifling through my bag on a cramped airline seat and not being able to find what I’m looking for. That’s why I also back a variety of tiny bags to help me stay organized.
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I love how elegant this neoprene toiletry bag from Quince is and that it has slots for makeup brushes.
3 colors available
Is there anything more annoying than opening your bag to find a tangled mess of cords? For all the tiny but very important tech items like chargers and headphones I can’t afford to lose while on the go, an organizational tech case is a dream.
12 colors and patterns available
Dress Comfortable But Put-Together
It is very tempting to throw on a pair of sweats when traveling, but I really like to step things up a notch. That way, I can hit the ground running once I land if I’m not able to check into my hotel. The trick is to find wardrobe basics that feel like loungewear but that you can dress up or down for the rest of your trip.
Of course, comfort is still key, so I like to pair elevated leggings with easy-to-wear jersey T-shirts or turtlenecks. Soft knits are as comfortable as any loungewear but make me feel so much more put together. Last year, I invested in a few versatile capsule wardrobe pieces from Refine—I only bought six pieces of clothing throughout the whole year, and four of them came from there. And while I love those items, it’s definitely possible to achieve the same look with a more budget-friendly price tag.
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I also never travel without my Marche Hare Kimsey Watch. I like to unplug while flying and preserve my phone battery, so having a watch at hand makes it easy to keep an eye on the time without turning a device on. There’s something about wearing an actual watch that makes any outfit feel more polished.
3 colors and 2 finishes available
Embrace Non-Liquid Beauty Products
Because I’m a carry-on only girl for life, I always have to battle with liquid limits. Over the years, I realized I actually prefer to travel with primarily non-liquid beauty products. There’s no leaking, and they are often lighter weight. It would surprise you just how many great solid alternatives there are out there for all the beauty essentials.
Another beauty travel hack I live by after writing about beauty for nearly a decade is to avoid powder cosmetics since they can break easily during travel and make a total mess. I also like to pack products that are almost empty with the goal of being able to toss their empty containers on the last day of my trip and lighten my load returning home.
And while I’m not a big makeup wearer while flying (it’s really bad for your skin), I like to nail a quick and polished hairstyle before a long travel day, so I feel more confident and pack a few beauty tools that make getting the job done easy.
Shop Non-Liquid Beauty Products:
This cleansing balm removes makeup like a dream and doubles as a cleanser and a moisturizing mask if you leave it on for a bit.
Sick of flaky skin while traveling? Mix this gentle powder exfoliant with water and use it anywhere on your body that needs a little TLC.
I like to pack as light as possible when I travel to keep clutter to a minimum. This highlighter stick works as a bronzer, blush, or eyeshadow, so it’s all I pack in the color cosmetics department.
Worried about your Airbnb not having shampoo? This solid formula works great and doubles as a bar of soap in a pinch.
I can’t bring myself to apply a full sheet mask on a plane, but will gladly slide on these soothing eye patches after a long, drying, red-eye flight.
Dry skin? Pesky flyaways? Peeling hands? Chapped lips? Get some moisture back in your routine with this miracle moisturizing balm that can do it all.
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When it comes to my hair, I feel so much more pulled together when I travel with styled hair. A bouncy blowout can be a real confidence boost but can be hard to pull off when in a rush. Enter the Calista FAUXblo Thermal Brush, which makes mastering that professional blowout look so easy. To save room in my bag, this is the only hair tool I pack, and I love how sleek it is.
6 colors available
To help make my faux blowout last, I throw a boar bristle brush in my bag under the seat. The bristles naturally break up oil on your scalp and redistribute them throughout your hair. In other words, you no longer need to pack dry shampoo or anti-frizz products.
Get Clean and Stay Warm
Traveling can make you feel dirty, even if you spend most of the day sitting. This is why I will pack anything that can make me feel cleaner, especially after running to catch a layover or eating something sticky. You never know when you’ll miss a layover or your flight will be delayed, and travel disasters become much more tolerable when you feel less grimy.
Speaking of travel mishaps—from overzealous air conditioning to unexpected overnight airport stays, ensure you have a plan for staying warm. Cashmere is always a winner here.
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These expandable hand wipes are dehydrated and compressed and come with a carrying case to stay nice and clean until you’re ready to add water. Once you do, you have an 8×8 moist towel to freshen up with.
Refreshing body wipes are also great to have ready and waiting when you know you won’t get to shower any time soon.
As a reward for all that hard work, I also always pack a nice pair of pajamas so I can feel extra good when I finally collapse into that hotel bed—like this unbelievably soft pair from Minnow. I plan to include my little one, who is arriving soon, in the fun once we take him on his first vacation since they have matching sets for mom and baby.
5 patterns available
sizes XS – XL
I also love all of Quince’s cashmere pieces for traveling, especially this cashmere wrap that is under $100 and can double as a blanket.
8 colors available
If you have an overnight flight planned, it also never hurts to pack a cozy blanket—again, nothing feels more luxurious than cashmere—that you can use as a blanket or roll up as a pillow. If you are vegan or allergic to cashmere, this vegan cashmere blanket from Ettitude is super cozy too.
6 colors available