When you travel as much as I do, you get used to living out of luggage, and sleeping in hotels is the norm. One thing that alleviates my travel stress is the ability to pack efficiently. That starts with creating a list of things that make me feel ready to go. The items in this list are a MUST whenever I leave the U.S. They work, last long, are rare (unavailable or expensive) overseas, and they help me feel comfortable in foreign places. Click the links to try these products out for yourself. Enjoy!

The Best Carry-On Bag

Away Carry-On with Pocket

Everything about this bag makes it a flyer’s dream. The larger front zipper pocket is flat, sleek, and holds much more than you’d expect. I use it to easily access my laptop, iPad, and other electronics typically removed during security checkpoints. The smaller front zipper pocket is perfect for storing your passport, boarding passes, or other small things you have to keep taking out; it’s also a good spot for extra PPE masks during longer trips. One side has a mesh zipper closure on the interior, while the other has two securing straps and a larger, flat zipper pouch. I also take this bag on short 2-day trips instead of my weekender duffles. Why tote a bulky load on your shoulder when you can 4-way roll it?!

I know I’ve convinced you to consider this bag, but keep a couple of things in mind. Away luggage carry-on bags come in two sizes — this one and the “bigger carry-on.” Do not get the bigger carry-on. It won’t fit in the overhead bin of smaller aircrafts. It’s super annoying when you have to check your roller bag at the gate, leaving your precious electronics vulnerable, a problem I’ve not had with this smaller carry-on. Second, these bags come with removable lithium-ion rechargeable battery packs. Great for convenient charging on-the-go, dangerous in-flight. But no worries, remove the battery before checking the bag or boarding the plane, and you’re all set!

Favorite Haircare for My Coily Curlfriends

Pattern Beauty

Since I went natural, I spent years loving and hating countless products. I’d try anything for voluminous, moisturized, and defined curls and coils like the hair videos I watch on social media. Once I started using Pattern Beauty in 2019, I never stopped. My hair responds so well to the Pattern regimen. I use the clarifying and hydrating shampoos, intensive conditioner, leave-in conditioner, argan oil, curl cream, scalp serum, edge control, and tools. I love everything but the leave-in conditioner. IT’S INCREDIBLE—my favorite hair product ever.

The gel was the only Pattern Beauty product that didn’t work for me. I love the texture and how it smells, but when I cocktail it with other products, it turns white, and when I use it for my slick-back bun, it flakes. If you try it, let me know what you think. If you have the same issue with the gel, the Eco Styler below is a good alternative.

Eco Styler Argan Oil Styling Gel

For me, a great gel product has a strong hold, isn’t drying, makes my hair soft and not crunchy, doesn’t flake, and if it’s nourishing, well, that’s a bonus. I’ve tried each of the Eco Styler gels, and this is the only one that checks every box of my criteria.

BetterLength Afro Kinky Curly Clip-Ins

I enjoy switching up hairstyles, but I also try not to manipulate my hair too much to avoid breakage. The problem: I’m constantly in need of quick, protective styles. The solution: these clips! They match my hair texture EXACTLY. I have different curl patterns throughout my hair, and the more I wear these clips, the more they mimic my natural hair. They’re amazing. Not to mention, there are so many different ways you can use the clips to achieve quick, cute looks. I usually braid down my hair and install the clips over my cornrows. Then I style them out or in a big, low curly puff. I remove them before I go to sleep and quickly re-install them in the mornings (when I’m not lazy, haha).

Before you click that link, let me tell you the most apparent shock — they’re expensive. No, I’m not crazy. I promise these clip-ins are worth the price. You only need to purchase one set to achieve a full head, and if you care for them properly (don’t use heat and condition/detangle them daily), that one set will last you at least two years. They’re a convenient, worthwhile investment.

Satin Scarves & Pillowcases

First of all, if you haven’t SUBSCRIBED to my blog, you better do that now. My logo-branded satin scarves will be for sale on my website soon, and believe me; you will want one (or all three)! Quantities are limited, but my subscribers will have exclusive access.

In the meantime, if you don’t wear silk or satin scarves or if scarves fall off your head while you sleep, definitely buy at least two satin pillowcases — one for your bed at home and one for when you travel. They’re great for keeping your hair (and skin) moisturized and healthy!

Skincare & Beauty Go-Tos

CeraVe Skincare

I have frustratingly oily, acne-prone, and sensitive skin. The worst part is I get dark spots after pimples, whether I pick at them or not. Yeah, annoying. The best way to eliminate dark spots is to avoid acne in the first place. When my hormones aren’t causing breakouts, these CeraVe skincare products work wonders for cleansing my face and keeping it clear. I use the foaming facial cleanser daily (and after working out), but I also sprinkle in the salicylic acid cleanser (not pictured) once or twice a week. After washing my face, my pores are smaller and visibly clear.

Since sunscreen is crucial for fading my dark spots, the CeraVe Ultra-Light Moisturing Lotion might be my favorite product. It’s truly lightweight, and it’s not oily, doesn’t leave that ashy-white sheen on my brown skin, and, of course, it’s non-comedogenic. To my Black folks, if you aren’t using sunscreen daily… start! Protect that beautiful skin.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment & Lip Repair

My parents lathered me in Eucerin lotion to soothe my eczema as a kid. As an adult, I use Aquaphor (owned by Eucerin). I rarely have eczema flare-ups, but they sometimes occur in the winter or under stress. Aquaphor Healing Ointment is the best non-comedogenic moisturizer for my body when I’m embarrassingly dry. But what I love Aquaphor for the most is my lips. Especially now, when I’m not using gloss and don’t even own a wearable lipstick (they’re all hella old, haha). When you have big lips, they definitely can’t be dry & crusty. I have a Lip Repair everywhere you can think of — purse, gym bag, locker room, bathroom, nightstand, toiletry bag, car, etc. It’s the only product I use on my lips all day, every day.

Fenty Fragrance & Fenty Face

All hail Queen Rihanna Fenty; I love her. Everything she does is fire. I’m happy her products are incredible because I would spend my money on them anyway, ha! I loved the first fragrance she released years ago. But this new one? TOO GOOD. It’s such a soothing scent that’s not overbearing, and it lasts. Two years deep into this pandemic, I’ve pretty much given up on makeup. But if I have to get done up, I love the Fenty concealer and loose powder duo. I achieve a natural “no makeup, makeup” look while covering my spots with this combo.

The Multi-Benefit Supplement

Renew Life Women’s Probiotic

I’m not qualified to recommend a supplement, so definitely consult with a doctor before consuming. But everyone with a vagina, if a physician suggests you start a probiotic, please choose this one. I’d been on it for three months and didn’t realize the benefits until I ran out overseas (re-upped over break). I’m one of those people that track every symptom and detail about their body, especially my menstrual cycle. I’ve experienced actual, positive results in my skin, stomach, and vaginal health by taking just one pill daily. And while we’re talking about vaginas…

Sucker for Silicone & Reusables

Menstrual Cup

…Please ditch your toxic tampons if you haven’t already. Experiment with the silicone menstrual cup until you perfect it. Even better, while you learn, catch your leaks with period underwear.

Period Underwear

Wear with or in place of all other sanitary products. No, it does not feel like you are sitting in a puddle. This period underwear absorbs, leaving you dry and comfortable, plus they’re machine washable. On heavy days, I wear mine with my menstrual cup while playing; I wear them alone while I sleep and on light days. Please don’t knock it ’til you try it!

Face Halo Makeup Remover Pads

Gently use these reusable makeup pads to remove everything from your face with just warm water. They work! The best part is you can clean them by hand washing with a mild, antibacterial soap or throw them in a garment bag and toss them in the washing machine (do not use bleach or fabric softener).

Silicone Body Scrubber

I use these in my shower at home, but they’re most convenient for traveling. If you have the chance to travel outside the U.S., the hotel rooms do not always have washcloths in the bathroom; that’s why I keep my silicone scrubber with me everywhere I go. I love that I can quickly dry it off and place it back in my toiletry bag right away. To sanitize, I put it on the top rack of the dishwasher on a hot cycle. Clean and ready to use again!

Stojo Collapsible Cup w/ Straw

I am obsessed with all the silicone Stojo products, but the collapsible cup is my favorite. I pretty much always have a Stojo cup with me. It’s fantastic that you can take your drink on the go, collapse it while dirty, and throw it right in your bag without worrying about leaks. Starbucks makes my drink order right in it, and I use my cup instead of the mugs in hotel rooms. Stojo is suitable for travel and even better for the environment. They come in many super cute colors and various sizes, but only the 16oz (and up) comes with a straw.

Closet Staples

Lululemon Align Leggings, Joggers & Pants

We’re not wearing jeans and bras as much as we used to, so enhance your lounge-to-errand-to outside apparel. The Lululemon Align Shop has the best athleisure and loungewear. They offer my favorite neutral and muted colors (my closet is all sage, taupe, brown, ivory, black, and white with pops of color here and there). We all know the Lululemon price tag is steep. Luckily, you only need a couple of pairs of these leggings or pants in versatile colors because they will last forever.

Louis Vuitton Bumbag (oversized)

When I’m sightseeing, being a tourist, shopping, meeting someone for lunch, or on a date with my fiancée, I like to keep my purse small and my hands free. The only issue is I expect my smaller bag to hold damn near everything my larger one does. Believe it or not, this LV Bumbag can do just that. It’s a large fanny pack; therefore, it’s hands-free, but the structure and shape allow it to hold way more than your typical belt bag. It comfortably fits my phone, wallet, keys, portable battery pack, GoPro, hand sanitizer, lotion, Aquaphor, and other little random things while remaining light and stylish. If you can afford to splurge, go for this cute luxury item.

Tie-Dye Lined Crocs

You’ve either always loved Crocs, or you’ve made fun of Crocs and eventually loved Crocs. They’re comfy and convenient for all ages. Plus, the various styles, colors, and charms are a fun way to express yourself. If you haven’t fallen in love yet, grab your first pair now and thank me later.

(Side note: I love Crocs but can’t quite pull them off with certain outfits. That’s when I throw on my Yeezy Foamrunners (not pictured) — the stylish (expensive) version of Crocs.)

Go-Go Gadgets

GoPro Hero 10 Black

For my lifestyle bloggers and content creators, GoPro finally added a front LCD screen, yay! It’s always been small, durable, and affordable, but now, it’s the perfect camera to take with you everywhere. The Media Mod (pictured) comes with an external mic and allows you to attach two other GoPro accessories (I connect the LED light). Happy vlogging!

(Side note: The battery life still sucks, so make sure you own two batteries, and the dual-charger pack is super helpful. I also bought the Remote when I want to use my tripod to record or take pictures, which is also very useful.)

Kindle Paperwhite

To be clear, I will always prefer to read physical books. BUT I travel too much, read too much, and don’t like to damage my books, so the Kindle Paperwhite is the only e-reader I use. Why? Because the screen looks like an actual book page. My goal is to have a library in our house one day. When I love a book I’ve read on my Kindle, I’ll purchase the physical copy (hardcover or paperback depending on the genre/topic of the book) for my collection.

Marshall Emberton Portable Speaker

My favorite thing about Marshall electronics is the vintage design. I’ve had the Marshall Acton amp speaker in my house for five years and recently saw this Forest Green portable one and fell in love. It’s a powerful speaker with excellent battery life; aesthetically pleasing is a bonus.

Emotional Support

My Mini-Poo, Oliver

Last but certainly not least, my little bear is a world traveler. I’m so lucky to have him with me everywhere I go. Ollie significantly relieves my flight anxiety, and I’m never lonely overseas with him. He’s fun and energetic but also sweet, smart, and cuddly. Even though he sleeps horizontally, taking up all the space in the bed every night (and don’t dare try moving him…), I love him so much!

What essential items do you absolutely have to pack in your bag for a long trip? Leave your feedback, questions or recommendations in the comments, thanks!

– Jas