We flew into Dublin a couple of days ago to kick off our ten-day tour of Ireland and England. Unlike many of our other very last-minute excursions, we’ve actually had this trip planned for months.
Historically, Tyler and I have had a terrible habit of waiting until the eleventh hour to pack. No matter how many times we say to each other, “Let’s definitely at least set everything out the weekend before the trip,” we end up staying up until the wee hours of the night before our early morning flight, running around our apartment in a frenzy and throwing everything into bags. It’s always very hectic and a little dramatic.
For this trip, I spent some time this past weekend actually getting ready before the final countdown began. I did a little last minute shopping, planned out my outfits, and started setting out some of my travel ESSENTIALS. As I was writing out the list of the items I absolutely did not want to forget, it dawned on me to turn it into a blog post.
For all the drama that goes into the 120 minutes before our take-off time, I think we really have mastered the content of our suitcases at least. This isn’t our entire packing list, but it is a lineup of items we’ve found that make our travels go a little smoother and help us get the most out of our trips.
I had Tyler make a little list of his most important tips too, but I’ll go first.
Her Travel Essentials
I can barely remember my life before dry shampoo. All that matters is I live off the stuff now. I usually wash my hair every 2-3 days, and when I travel that window can stretch to 3-4. I mean, have you ever tried to use a hotel hair dryer? Horrendous, and I’d probably have better luck having Tyler blow on my hair to dry it himself. I’ll do anything to limit the amount of times I have to put myself through the hassle of blowing out my lion’s mane in a hotel room. And if that means covering my scalp with dry shampoo every morning of a trip, I’ll do it. My favorite ever is from Klorane, and I ALWAYS bring a travel sized bottle of it in my toiletry bag.
Note: Make sure to prioritize your travel-sized liquids in your carry on. European guidelines for air travel with liquids are much stricter than in the U.S. (more about what to expect on your first trip to Europe here).
Nothing like a 10 hour flight to a completely different time zone serving food that looks more plastic than food to mess up digestion, am I right? I’ll be the first to say that my least favorite part of travel is the consequences my body faces for it. Fortunately, probiotics exist and definitely help me out. Right now I am loving the kind from Lovebug. Probiotics also aid in immunity, another bodily function that suffers in the face of jet lag and germy airplane bathrooms.
Cinnamon + Peppermint Tea
I bring loads of tea when we travel for a few different reasons. I’ve discussed my love for cinnamon tea on planes to keep my tummy calm (yes, tummy, and yes, calm) and blood sugar stable. I take a pilgrimage every couple of hours to the back of the plane to ask the flight attendants for a cup of hot water (they just love me).
As crazy as our life is, I am a creature of routine. And one of mine and Tyler’s “rituals,” as I like to call them, is having hot tea at before bed every night at home. So I like to have tea every night when we travel, too. It helps me sleep and makes an otherwise sterile hotel room feel a bit more cozy. A nonemotional advantage is that our two respective favorites, cinnamon and peppermint, are both helpful in digestion and can alleviate bloating. Win, win.
Another day, another case of the puffies. Water retention is a real problem that we don’t talk about enough. I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally eat one grain of sea salt and blow up like a balloon. Wake up one hour earlier than usual? Can’t see out of my left eye for hours. And don’t even talk to me about what I look like the morning after a transatlantic flight. Puff city.
My sister recommended these underwhelmingly packaged but extremely effective collagen eye pads. I slap these green tea-infused suckers on under my eyes to help calm my under-eye puffs down, and they work SO well. I don’t go anywhere without them.
I’m feeling generous today, so another anti-puff tip is the art of the ice facial, à la Kate Moss. Every morning, after I apply my serum and before a moisturizer, I wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and massage my face with it to increase circulation and help tighten pores.
I found myself conflicted about whether or not to put something as glaringly obvious as sunscreen on this list, but it is so important, you know, safe/sorry and all that. As your mother always said, the sun can and will burn you (or cause invisible damage to those with non-vampire skin) even on cloudy or cold days. I spend a lot more time outside when we are traveling than when I am at home and working all day, so I always make sure to lather up even more than usual before I put on my makeup.
Coconut Oil Packets
Trader Joe’s has blessed us once again. These baby coconut oil packets are so versatile and too easy to throw in a carryon on or in your makeup bag. Dozens of uses and just so convenient. (for those too impatient to wait to go to Trader Joe’s or the less fortunate among us without access to this piece of grocery heaven, find the marked-up version on Amazon).
His Travel Essentials
Wrinkle Releaser Spray + Lint Roller
I’m always thankful that Ruth reminds me to put a travel-sized wrinkle releaser and lint roller in my suitcase, especially on work trips. Together, they can make most clothing that has been shoved in and out of suitcases look great. Honestly, the wrinkle releaser works instantly and feels a bit like magic. Keep up the good work, Downy.
Hello, I’m Tyler and I married a hypoglycemic. If anyone’s down, I can start a support group. We’ve talked about this before. Needless to say, I’ve become fairly skilled at the art of the well-timed snack to keep Ruth from having a public breakdown or fainting on a subway. Our current favorites are Justin’s almond butter packets and Rx Bars.
Emergen C + Kick Ass Immune Defender
Gotta love Emergen C. Do you really need 10 times the recommended daily dose of vitamin C? Well, that’s the wrong question. Does taking an Emergen C after a gross flight make you feel better? The answer is yes, my friends. Travel can wreak havoc on the immune system, so we take one every morning as a little boost.
If you do one thing right as a result of reading this post, buy this Kick Ass Immune Defender. It’s Emergen C’s better looking, more charming cousin. As soon as you feel as much as a sniffle, start rotating this into your regimen. We’ve been taking Kick Ass Immune Defender, when necessary, for a few months and swear by it. By the way, it doesn’t taste good, so we actually chase it with a shot of Emergen C.
For a long time, I was a stubborn defender of the idea that we didn’t need to buy a nice camera because “iPhones were good enough.” While iPhones do have great cameras (SLIGHT Apple bias here), DSLR and mirrorless cameras offer a quality that still beats any smartphone camera. I didn’t really understand this concept until we decided to test the theory by renting with LensProToGo. Read about our experiences with rentals in Europe and New England. We loved the gear so much that we made the leap to purchase a camera and lens for this trip!
Essential? Probably not, especially if you’ve splurged for good camera gear and don’t have a trust fund. That being said, having an iPad or tablet (are there really other tablets though?) has a ton of travel benefits. While Ruth hauls around three different books on any given trip, I have my entire library on my iPad. It also is great for streaming (thank you, Netflix, for offline download for long flights!) and scheming for your adventures.
You don’t need one of these until your phone dies in a sketchy area of town and you’re trying to get back to your hotel STAT. I keep a backup battery in my backpack at all times for emergencies, and I have to say it has come in handy more than a few times. I like this one because it’s easy to plug into my iPhone charger.