In my carry-on (as of late).

With no irony intended, I type this to you as I pack my bag for a trip to California.

A short while ago, I was in a role that required quite a bit of travel. I use the phrase “quite a bit” fairly loosely — I was traveling almost every week, Sunday to Friday, and it was quite an adventure. I went to Louisiana, up to Oklahoma, into D.C., and to a small town in Michigan, and what made it interesting was the fact that these were places I would never otherwise visit. 2018 has certainly made me no stranger to travel.

But airport after airport after airport takes its toll, and I went from backpack to briefcase to a weekender bag I could align atop my suitcase. I went through a serious re-evaluation of what I was carrying, why I was carrying it, how I carried it, and if there was a way I could minimize the load (and, honestly, the threat of losing what I had, too). It became a game of strategy; finding a way to take as little as possible while still feeling like it was sufficient, and ensuring that everything I took, I could carry with ease.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things I’ve carried on different trips — just what I have on me, right now.


My carry-on suitcase of choice for the past 3 or so years has been a Samsonite. It’s survived many a jam into overhead bins, and has quite a few miles in those wheels from airports around the world. I’ve been eying newer bags that have the tech to charge a phone/etc, but can’t justify the risk of being stranded in a small airport overseas for it, just yet.

I bought a leather briefcase online several years ago for $28. (It remains one of the best gently-used purchases I’ve made to date). I’m fairly certain that it’s for men, but I love it nonetheless. I’d recommend looking into men’s leather briefcases and messenger bags for reasons of quality and space, and the best suggestion in mind would be something by Coach (here’s one on eBay that’s pretty similar). ONA bags has a strong line of leather backpacks and messenger bags that I’ve had my eye on for a while - they’re expensive, but appear sturdy, and might be a better bang for your buck in the long-term.


Because crying babies, and the person who brings chips on the flight. These Bose headphones were the most popular ones I could find on Amazon, and for flights that go long, I wouldn’t go without them. I haven’t yet fallen into the AirPod hype (namely due to a strong history of losing small, portable things), but they’re definitely on my list of things to look into.


My laptop of choice has recently become a MacBook Pro, a gift from my husband. It’s a powerhouse in terms of photo and video editing, and I cover it up with this case I found on Amazon. As a PC user for most of my computing life, I quickly realized a MacBook would require quite a few USB-C attachments to catch up. I use a Mokin USB-C adapter to hook up my regular USBs and my SD cards, which is incredibly helpful when I’m diving into Lightroom in a rush. I recently bought a LaCie external hard drive to hang onto the RAW files of every photoshoot. It’s annoyingly orange, but I’m over it.



I use an iPhone. Before any other gadget you can throw on this thing, invest in a portable charger. I use an Anker I bought off Amazon, and it is incredible. I’ve heard quite a bit about Moment lens, but I’ve never tried them. From the looks of Instagram, they appear a worthy investment if one isn’t going to go down the route of getting a camera.


I currently shoot with a Nikon, the d750. I saved up for a while before taking the plunge to buy it, and thus far, it’s been wonderful. But as anyone who has delved into photography will know… most of your costs will come across in lens, and not necessarily in the body of the camera. The body itself is fairly pricey, and it’s worth analyzing both the cost/benefit and planned usage before investing in any sort of DSLR/mirrorless. One of my regrets going deeper into photography was investing in lens on the front-end without necessarily having the knowledge or the know-how to back up the purchase… and months later, I’m still sitting on lens that are slowly depreciating over time. When I went to Europe, I took one lens with me — my beloved 35mm — and learned something priceless:

The lens won’t matter as much as you gaining the skill to shoot with it.

That’s really it. Use what you have until you know how to use it as well as anything else you can get out there.

everything else

Hand sanitizer. Tissues. Hair ties. Many a pair of socks (I always take off my shoes.) And I’ve gotten into the habit of opening up articles on Longform in a ton of tabs to read in-flight, if there isn’t Wifi to be had.

I feel as though I’m forgetting a ton of things (I have no doubt), but this is the general consensus of what I throw down when I’m going anywhere outside of town. If I’m missing something, or if you have something in mind that has worked wonders for you — let me know! I’d love to look into it.