what's in my bag? travel purse edition

This year is packed to the brim with travel, and I wouldn't have it any other way! One of the challenges that pops up whenever I prepare for a trip is how on earth I'll fit everything in my bags. While I finally solved one of my major packing puzzles by transferring makeup into palettes, each new trip brings its own packing challenges. As I'm sure many of you can relate, finding a purse/carry-on that can accommodate all your essentials (without making you look like you're heading off on a mountain trek) is half the battle.

A few years back, I finally found the perfect bag. It's sturdy, comfortable, and can hold a hell of a lot of stuff! After our many road trips between Montreal and Toronto over the past seven years, and now our Midwest > Toronto trips, I think I've finally got packing down to an art. You might think I'm a hoarder by the end of this post, but every little thing serves a purpose and my hope is that you might find this helpful for your own adventures. 

Here's a photo of my bag and everything that is in it this week, after just returning from Toronto:


Let's take a closer look:


iPad (in turquoise case): used for navigation, reading, evernote, and tetris.

Large Moleskine sketchbook + pens: for ideas, drawing, and other notes

Movie stubs: I've been collecting them since I was 12, so there's always at least a small wad of them building up at the bottom of any bag. Brian and I love to see movies when we're travelling. It's always a relaxing break from all the hustle, and when you're visiting a hot place, it's often one of the (literally) coolest places to chill out.

Passport: very important, particularly because it now contains my visa.

Dream cities list: Brian and I made this long list (it's folded several times) of cities where we'd like to live (and those where we'd rather not move). We created it over beers when we first moved to Madison, and I keep it in my purse for quick reference when calls for applications open up in Brian's field and he has to put an application together while we're on the road.

Crosswords: a great way to pass the time while you're waiting for something or someone, which happens a lot when you travel, of course.

Floss: because, you know.

Liquid Advil: I keep a bunch of these wrapped in saran wrap (to avoid the rattly purse sound) in case of migraines.

Two wallets: one for cash and cards, the other for receipts (helps you stay organized for tax season as a small business owner).

Small camera: reserved for the few moments when I don't want to bring my dSLR.

Two phones (though only one pictured): one for the US, one for Canada. I feel like a drug dealer.

Glasses and sunglasses: for driving and watching movies, and bright days.

Sleeping mask: a must! You never know when you'll need to catch some shut eye and the room will be bizarrely bright. I have a plain black one to use on planes, as this one is too much of a "conversation starter" and you don't want strangers talking to you while you're trying to sleep, right?

Foundation: the best way to freshen up your look.

Travel hairspray and comb: for big hair on the go.

Small notebook: for writing down to-do lists.

Body moisturizer and face oil: keep your skin hydrated on the road. Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate is my trick for staying up very, very late and not looking like a zombie the next day.

Lipgloss and balm: NARS Chihuahua and Kiehl's #1 are always in my purse.

Travel-size perfume: Kate Walsh Boyfriend.

Various hair accessories: packing a variety of these small items (including the bun donut, bottom right) can help you whip yourself into looking fancier, even in a gas station washroom.

Travel size shampoo and conditioner, hair oil, skin luminizer, and nail polish: they're so tiny and hardly take up any space, so why not bring them in case of emergencies, or for any time when you're crashing on a friend's couch?

Fancy Sharpies: for signing cards and other special occasions

USB key: for transferring files in a pinch

Lock: because you never know!

Pearls: make you look slightly classier at a moment's notice.

In conclusion, I'm not a hoarder, I just pack a lot! What are your must-have travel items? Anything I'm missing?