Travel Gear Essentials for a Luxurious Life Abroad
Make living out of a carry-on suitcase more comfortable than home with these luxurious minis & essential travel-friendly tech.
My grandparents traveled the world with two Jansport backpacks. “All you need is your swimsuit, toothbrush, underwear, a summer dress & the clothes you’re wearing” Grammy would always tell me. Thanks to them and my like-minded parents, I’ve never had a problem packing a year in a carryon.
For the last decade, I’ve traveled the world photographing weddings. Summers in Europe, adventures in Morocco, wedding road trips across the West Coast, all with just a camera bag and rollaway. Camera gear filled my carry-on baggage leaving room for my toothbrush, wedding-ready dress & my essential travel bits. Nothing could weigh me down.
Now, without the wedding camera kit, I’ve got some extra space. In that space I’ve splurged on luxurious travel gear meant to last the year. Living out of a suitcase doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, in fact my toiletries & tech have experienced a serious upgrade since moving abroad.
A blanket, a beach towel, a scarf or shawl, my Turkish towel has circled the globe with me a few times over. Warm enough to allow me to doze off on a red-eye flight yet small enough to roll up into my purse, my red striped Turkish towel is by far my most coveted piece of travel gear.
I scored mine in the souk of Marrakech years ago (so I suppose it’s technically a ‘Moroccan towel’) but lucky for you they’re available on Etsy & Amazon in so many pretty colors and patterns. They are totally machine washable lending them an enduring lifespan.
Three years ago, Jack and I were in Saigon and I ran out of tampons. Fighting through traffic in ninety degree heat we searched for them at every pharmacy to no avail. When we did finally find a box, they were suspiciously low-grade compared to my preferred organic cotton selection back home. From that point on I’ve become acutely aware that I could not depend on finding tampons while traveling abroad.
Enter THINX underwear - eco-friendly, comfortable, functional & actually cute. I discovered THINX on a NYC subway advertisement just after our trip to Vietnam, purchased three high-waisted pairs as a test, then quickly ordered a larger set.
While they have become essential to my life in general, they are particularly useful for travel. Wear them, rinse them, wash them (or in my current situation, have your amazing hotel staff wash them for you) and they’re ready to be worn again. No desperate searching through busy foreign cities, no more polluting the Earth with tampons.
Oh man, I was so on the fence about these. I am more part of the ‘will suffer for fashion’ camp and finding an all-encompassing, adventure-friendly, multi-terrain, perpetual summer shoe that didn’t hurt my eyeballs was quite difficult. After a telling Instagram poll, I took the plunge and ordered pink Teva sandals from Free People (leave it to them to offer cuter pairs).
Since we landed in Asia three months ago I have not taken them off. I would have never believed I was so into such “outdoorsy” shoes. They’ve proven great for hiking, stomping through puddles, actually staying on my feet while running through sand & secure enough for riding my bike.
Best of all, they’re not hideous (really the point here). Will they make an appearance while in Paris? Maybe not. But they’ve got at least another four months of wearing to do.
Lunya Sleep Mask
A birthday splurge for myself, I love my Lunya sleep mask. A major pet peeve of mine is how cheap sleep masks always slide around on the back of my head with their thin elastic strap. Lunya’s masks are wide, comfy and made of moisturizing washable silk. Fall asleep on your flight quickly, and wake up with glowing skin.
Silk Robes & Slips
While my wardrobe of nothing but loungewear & silk slips may be laughable there’s a practical point to my ensemble: they pack so well. In the space that Jack fits six pairs of underwear I’ve got three slip gowns & two silk robes, silk pants & a silk top. Tiny, fashionable, hand-washable, and as casual as they are fancy, my silk closet has left me quite a lot of room in the rest of my suitcase.
Stop fighting to seal that quart-sized ziplock bag at TSA, solid toiletries are here to save the day! I’m obsessed with a variety of solid face washes, like this healthy black clay facial bar from Osmia and this natural cleansing stick from Origins. How do they work? Just add water and lather, simple as that! Not only can you avoid cramming them into your approved liquids bag, but they last forever. I doubt my two solid face washes will even been finished by the end of the year.
You can switch a remarkable amount of toiletries to solids to earn even more space in your TSA approved liquids bag. Jack has the sexiest solid fragrance from Le Labo (that is even refillable!)
Now that you have all that extra liquid space, time to stock up on luxurious minis of your favorite products. Jack gifted me maybe the fanciest hand sanitizer known to humankind by Byredo, and a sweet travel-sized roll on perfume from them as well. I like to fill up my bag with DIY home-spa items like charcoal masks & fancy exfoliants, so every day of travel feels fancy.
Wet Clothing Bag & Beach Bag
You’ll usually find me in the pool up to the very last minute when we travel (outcome of a kid who grew up in a rainy Seattle climate with little pool and beach time). This means my swimmies are almost always wet when packing up to move to the next destination. Luckily, years ago I bought this Flight 001 Wet Bag to separate my wet items & laundry from the rest of my travel gear. Additionally, the bag keeps them from mildewing in my suitcase. When not in use it folds up into the tiniest pouch.
Also super handy is my foldable, recycled Baggu beach bag that Jack sweetly gifted me for Christmas. Equally slim & tiny when packing, having this extra bag saves me from ruining my swankier totes in sand and saltwater.
Sony Alpha Mirrorless Camera
Just because I haven’t packed my full wedding kit doesn’t mean I’m traveling camera-less. My backup work camera is the pint-sized mirrorless Sony A7. With a tiny 35mm lens and a few extra batteries, my travel camera kit barely weighs a pound in a half and nearly gets lost in my travel purse it’s so small.
Jack and I are famous in Hoi An, Vietnam. Riding through town with our bluetooth speaker blasting Destiny’s Child. People both wave and scowl, regardless, everyone knows it’s us rolling into town. Jack found this Ultimate Ears Boom 2 Speaker and the sound is so fabulous. Light, travel-friendly & featuring excellent quality we have epic movie nights & bike rides (dance parties soon to come).
True story, I’m actually working on this trip, like 9 - 6 Monday - Friday working. As essential in my home life as they are while traveling are my computer glasses. Non-prescription, these frames shield my eyes from harmful computer light & slightly magnify for easy reading. Since wearing my glasses, my constant headaches have virtually disappeared. I bought mine from Eye Buy Direct and they came in a great leather travel case.
Bag of Money
Okay, here’s just a funny look into the mind of Claire: I save all leftover foreign money, throw it into a communal bag, and keep until my next return trip (which may be years later, or never). Right now in my trustee ol’ bag-o-money you’ll find Croatian Kuna, Moroccan Dirham, Mexican Pesos, Polish Zloty & more!
I know it’s silly, and it never amounts to much. But here’s why I do it: 1) it gives me hope that one day I’ll go back and 2) have you ever been in a taxi from the airport to your first hotel in a foreign country and realized '“Shit, I don’t have any cash yet!”
Many times my leftover Euros have come in handy at the train station in Paris - you never know, man.
Believe it or not this is just the tip of the iceberg in what I managed to fit in our carryon luggage for our trip. Thanks to all the space we saved with the travel essentials, we managed to fit our slim computers, hard drives, work out clothes, multiple swim suits, sneakers, heels and even a few books! Thus, life has been pretty comfortable on the road.
To follow along on our adventures, follow my Instagram account Adventure Claire for daily stories & updates.