How to create a travel kit

Sometimes opportunities come along in life at an unexpected time, but end up being the perfect time. I have recently experienced this as a result of being offered a new role, one that initially I was not looking for. The role requires a lot of travel, which I have been enjoying not doing, however that was the reality with this role. And to be fair, travel is easy for me now with no kids at home and Pete only working four days a week. However one of the biggest pains with travel is the packing and unpacking. So I decided that if I was going to do this I needed to make as many things simple for myself. I decided if I could have a travel kit that was essentially ready to grab, I wouldn’t need to keep packing and unpacking. So I created my ultimate travel kit, one that is ready to use for one day or a whole week. So if like me you are wanting to make your travel easier keep reading and I’ll take you through the steps I took to create my ultimate kit.

Travel kit with packing cases.png

Step 1 - Travel Requirements

The first thing that I did was to think about what my travel requirements were going to be. To do this I thought about where and how often I would need to be travelling, even thinking about the weather as well.

Working that out, initially I would probably be travelling weekly from one day to four days a week. However potentially changing locations during the week, which would mean slight variations in the weather. i.e Dunedin to Hamilton! The travel would likely settle down however not for a number of months, so it was going to be high frequency travel.

Knowing the regularity and locations helped me to think about what I would need to have in my travel kit, so this takes me to the next step.

Step 2 - Items for the Travel kit

The easiest way I found to do this is to just do a bit of a brain dump. I simply listed out all the main items I normally need when travelling and categorised them

  • Work information

  • Technology

  • Wash bag and Make up

  • Wardrobe - work/exercise/casual

For each of the categories I worked through what items I would actually take with me for every trip regardless of length and decided that these were the items that I would have in my kit. Essentially always ready and all I needed to do was to add my clothes.

As an example for my wash bag and make up category I decided that I would have items such as deodorants, body wash, toothpaste, toothbrush etc permanently in the kit. 

From my list I collected together those items , crossing them off as I went. Helpful to only get those items that you have on your list. It is easy to start to include things that you think …ohhh I might need that !!! But really you don’t  

A handy hint the small baby bath bottles from ECO store make perfect sized containers to fill with shampoos and body wash etc and means that you can just decanter from your existing products.

Wash bag with travel bottles.png

For my wardrobe I have a set of travel sleep wear, lounging clothes and yoga gear which stay with my travel kit.

large packing case with sleep wear.png

Now that I had a good idea of all my travel items, this helped me to decide what my best luggage options would be, bearing in mind that I want to be able to have everything in my carry on and hand luggage. Essentially I wanted to only travel with two items of luggage, one being my handbag/briefcase and the other my carry on .

So to the next step ——-suss out the luggage, but this also the fun part as I got to do a bit of shopping

Step 3 - The Luggage

Weight and functional are king here, I was really focused on ensuring that I have light weight luggage which needed to be really functional and ok yep it had to look good as well. Having said that I would compromise on looks to get weight and functionality.

Thankfully now there are a lot of great options available that not only look really good but are very functional as well. In my research I found the Samsonite luggage a great option, these are certainly at the pricer end however if you are travelling a lot it’s a worth while investment. Here in Aotearoa, New Zealand you can find these often on special at and Strand Bags and of course Amazon has a great selection.

Interestingly enough for me, while I was doing the research one of favourite New Zealand bag brands, Saben, released a new range of luggage…..and like OMG I just feel in love with them. Of course I did my research on the luggage to ensure that they ticked my check list; light weight, functional and good looking. I had a good read through of all the details online first, checking the sizes and weight , then went into the store to have a good look. So I choose the Cabin Bag Black Carry on . It is super light, has four wheels, a lovely long handle (bonus for us tall gals) and has great capacity inside. And of course it is a beautiful thing….I mean just look at it ! I love the gold detail in the zips and handles. Also the zips have a lock which again is another great feature. In terms of price they sit similar to the Samsonite as well as the quality.

Open carry on suitcase.png

Now I was also looking for the perfect handbag/briefcase….that turned about to be a more challenging search, well initially. For my handbag/briefcase it needed to hold my personal items; purse, small make up bag, planner, MacBook air, cell phone, as well as my  work Surface Pro , work notebook and pen case. In my research I found that there were briefcases, mainly for men however they were often very narrow and really too slim so you could not get in all the personal items.

When looking at just handbags they were really not robust enough to carry all the tech equipment. There was an option that I was thinking of using and that is my London Carry all Dagne Dover which I use as my carry all for work and it’s fab for that . However really needed something smaller as my hang bag. Dagne Dover do have some excellent options now in their luggage collection which I was looking at.

However that was before I came across the perfect solution and I happen to find it at Saben……ohhh I shouldn’t have gone into that shop!! What I found has worked out to exceed my expectations… is soooo freaking practical, and the design means it is so nice to use and it is not bulky but holds everything that I need. So check it out my beautiful Taylor Black work bag . The two best elements of this bag;

  1. Dual compartments which I can get my Mac onside and my Surface Pro on the other

  2. Design, it’s long and slim and for a tall gal it just works so well for me functionally.

Work bag with contents.png

So there I am on a wet Friday afternoon coming out the Saben shop with a new bag and carry on, having spent, and lets be honest, a small fortune on them…..I had a smile across my dial feeling very pleased with myself. Because for me I had found the perfect two travel pieces I needed.

Now to set them up ready for travel. Ohhh the fun of organising ….I’m in my happy place peeps!

Step 4 - Travel Kit set up

This is all about great packing organisation and if you do some googling there are all sorts of ways to do this well. For many years I have been a roller, boy you can fit a lot in when you roll clothes. In fact we travelled around Europe for 6 weeks with the kids with only two backpacks using the rolling method.

However for my work travel I pack shirts and blazers and they are not really ideal when it comes to rolling. So I will use packing cases. I have actually been using dust cover bags that you get with shoes and bags and sometimes sheets as packing cases for sometime however decided that I would upgrade these. I manage to get these Flight packing cases on special at Briscoes as well as a tech bag .

Tech packing case.png

On a recent trip to Sydney I discovered this fabulous reusable bag shop in Paddington called Bag-All . They have the most amazing selection of bags and you can even get them personalised. I did do a bit of a spend up and got myself some really lovely packing cases and a small tech bag for my hand bag. Now I think I am well set up for packing cases!

White packing cases.png

In terms of the Travel kit set up, as I mentioned above I really wanted to be able to reduce the amount of packing needed and essentially have as much ready to go as I can. With the exception of my daily clothes I set up the following kits;

  • Wash bag

  • Yoga kit

  • Lounging clothes

  • Tech kit

Packing cases.png

Each of those kits have their own bag and have all the items I need ready to go. I just add the clothes I need for the period I am away which is not a big deal.

I am sure that I will have make changes to the kit as I go along however it’s a great start and will make the chore of packing and unpacking a lot less time consuming.

All packed up

My goal was to set up a travel kit that enabled ease of travel as well as reducing the packing and unpacking. I found going through the four steps outlined above was really helpful and helped me to make the right decisions to get my travel kit set up. I am sure that you could apply this to any travel situation to help you to also build the perfect travel kit for your needs.

Happy Travelling my friends

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How to pack like a pro | Overnight work travel

Ok, let's face it, travel for work is no fun and dragging around luggage just adds to the whole delightful experience! Frankly, I just got annoyed with taking all this stuff with me every time. I tried different sized bags and trolleys but I never felt like I had mastered the overnight travel. I seemed to take the same amount for one night as I would for a week which is really ridiculous.

The other annoying thing about overnight travel is that you actually have your luggage with you all the time. Airport to taxi, taxi to workplace, or rental, workplace to hotel, and in reverse order the next day. So it's a right royal pain to drag bags around all day.

So last year I gave myself a challenge  to see if I could reduce the amount of luggage to one bag all inclusive, no hand bag.

It was a process of trial and error but I mastered it. I am really happy that I now manage an overnight trip with just one bag, and no hand bag.

So I thought that I would share my process in the "art of light travel"

Step one - Decide on your travel bag and packing accessories

Traditionally I have looked for bags to fit the amount of things that I think I needed to take. This time I chose a bag which was just the right size for a carry on and it needed to actually be a nice bag. I didn't want it to look like a piece of luggage. A tote was the perfect answer to that.

Travel Tote

I sourced this simple tote ($8) from the local hospice shop. The colours are perfect for me and I knew that I would use it as a weekend tote as well, so a multi purpose buy for $8 and you are supporting the great work that the Hospice do.

Packing cells are really good when it comes to travelling light. There are some really good packing cells that you can get from various places, Amazon, Katmandu .

I like to use what I have at home. I actually use small sheet set cases and wash bags. However I was temped by these very cool wash and wear bags from Typo, too cute to walk past. They are perfect for what I need.

wash and wear bags

Step two- Decide on your outfit

The outfit has to be multi purpose, for me it has to cover off the three C's

  • Corporate standard
  • Casual evening
  • Comfortable

I need the outfit to take me through two days of work and going out at night for dinner.  In the end it was fairly simple ....a suit. Lucky for me I am a suit girl and all I need to do is to take a change of shirt, oh and undies!. You could also just do the same with a skirt and shirt and jacket. I personally love suits, they look smart , last a long time, don't go out of fashion and are really comfortable.

For the evening I just take a pair of casual jeans to change into.

I also have a set of house clothes or pj's for sleep. Just a light pair of leggings, t-shirt and socks.

I also think about the shoes as I only take the pair I am wearing. They have to be comfortable as you are in them for two days. As I will be wearing them out at night for dinner, they have to be both good for work and casual all at the same time. Therefore tramping boots are not really suitable for that, nor are high heels. For me, brogues or loafers are the answer and there are great styles out there that look great. Ohhh another excuse to buy some shoes!

Finally I think about the weather and what I will be doing. If I need a jacket I have to wear it and have it with me all the time. Don't take a big jacket if you will end up holding it most of the time.

Basically you will wear all your clothes all the time.

Step three - Reduce your Accessories

Accessories are my Makeup bag, toiletries and Jewellery. Jewellery is easy, just wear it. One outfit one set of jewellery.

I had to work at simplifying my make up and beauty routine for travel.

I went for minimal make up and wearing my hair up. This really reduced the amount of stuff I needed. So I only take what I actually use. I put all make up and toiletries in one bag including my items from my cosmetic bag that I normally carry in my hand bag. Again I only took what was essential.

On the day of travel I wash my hair and that will get be through to the next night. This means that I do not need to take any hair accessories.

Travel packing cells

Step four - Reduce your work documents

I look at my meetings and agendas and determine what documentation is needed. I load all relevant documents onto my devices so I can access them when needed. Now I only need to take a notebook and pen.  I do pack a very small tech bag which has all my chargers and cords. This is the same one I carry with me in my hand bag.

Overnight travel bag

Step five - Pack

Ok so it's actually important that at this point you do know how to fold clothes for travelling. Yes there is an art to good folding, especially a shirt. It's actually the key to light travel. There are heaps of Youtube tutorials on this so no excuse really!!!

In my bag I pack -

  • one clothes cell
  • makeup/toiletry bag
  • tech bag
  • ipad and cell phone
  • Planner (notebook and pen)

The clothes cell has my shirt, jeans, leggings, t-shirt, socks and undies.

The good thing with the bag I use is that even with all this in it there is still space for a book and or magazine.

This is a pretty simple guide, it works really well for me, take what is useful for you and I hope that you can master the art of light travel too!

Overall my key tips would be;

  • Plan your wardrobe - one outfit
  • Shoes - one comfortable pair
  • Makeup and toiletries - only take what you will actually use.
  • Meds - if you take meds do make sure you have enough for extra days just incase if travel issues.
  • Comfy clothes for evening in the hotel as well as pj's. If you travel a bit you would have experienced the occasional fire evacuation so it's good to have some clothes on.
  • Electronic bag - all chargers and cords
  • Smartphone - put your bank cards in the phone cover/case - no need for purse

So there you have it, I did master it after all and travel is oh so much easier without loads of bags.

Happy travelling everyone

Hugs and Smiles