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The Best Travel Essentials, According to a Pro

The summer vacation season is almost here and if you’re heading out on a trip this year, having the best travel essentials will make your experience smooth sailing! 

I’m Jill Bauer, and I’ve been lucky to travel as the Brand Ambassador for Scott Living for the past 2 years. For me, that means coast to coast flights: I live in Philadelphia and fly to California to the Scott Brothers’ studio or to Nashville to meet with our team. I also create content for the TODAY show, so that’s frequent trips to NYC by train. And, I’m in the midst of college visits for my son, so I’m in the car driving from place to place. It’s a lot! 

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Let’s just say, I’m a bit of an expert in navigating planes, trains and automobiles! 

I’ve also been around shopping and products for most of my career. As a program host on QVC for 25 years and as an online entrepreneur now, I know the ins and outs of thousands and thousands of products. I love sharing what I’ve learned in retail so that people can shop with confidence and find the best deal. 

To make your trips easy for you and your family, you just need to know a few tips, plus have the right items handy so you can stay organized, save time, and remain comfortable. Whether you have a long trip, road trip, or a weekend getaway on the books, here are some of my favorite summer essentials.

Before You Leave, Try These Packing Tips

This might seem a bit old fashioned in these days of AI and all things “on your phone.” But I never get ready to travel without a packing list. Writing things out and checking them off as I pack alleviates those worries of “I hope I have everything!”  

Don’t just focus on your clothing items, either. Your packing list should also include things like travel documents, driver’s license and other identifications, cash and credit cards, first aid kit, sunscreen, and insect repellent (depending on your destination). 

When it comes to clothes, I try to pack in color themes, so everything can mix and match. Keeping colors simple (for summer, I love navy and white) takes the stress out of what to wear. The outfit I wear on travel days includes the bulkiest pair of shoes, usually sneakers, so they don’t take up room in my suitcase. 

And if you haven’t tried packing cubes yet, I have two words for you: GAME CHANGER. Not only do these cubes organize your items in your travel bags, they’re brilliant when you’re unpacking in your hotel room, too. Just take those cubes, plop them in your drawers, put your empty suitcase away, and get your summer vacation started! I love sets that have different sizes and I try to bring a shoe bag too, which also works great for dirty laundry. 

My Go-To Packing Cubes

Keep Calm With the Best Carry-On

Choosing the right suitcase is one of the most important things to consider when traveling. Let’s take our cue from Goldilocks here, as it really needs to be just right. Size, weight, materials, and functions are all important. I’ve traveled with some of the best luggage brands over the years and I’ve learned that my favorites are those I can carry on, compress and/or expand, and have wheels that rotate 360 degrees for easy maneuvering.

Carry-On Suitcases and Sets I Love

And don’t forget about your cosmetic and toiletry bags. I like the styles I can hang up on a towel bar or robe hook since there often isn’t much space. A bit of structure to the cosmetic bag and pockets for your products make it the most useful.

My Favorite Travel Makeup Bags

Pick the Right Personal Item and Supplies to Go Inside

Suitcase aside, the other most important bag to bring on your summer holiday is your personal item. I love a backpack due to the various pockets for organization. But a lightweight tote can work great too, especially if you’ve done your due diligence with organizing all of the things you’re bringing.

Bags That Make Great Personal Items

Whichever you choose, it’s important to load it up with a lot of essentials. Here’s what I bring on every trip:

1. Hand sanitizer or wipes: I love these wipes because they’re individually wrapped, biodegradable, and don’t smell like chemicals. I use them for my hands and for wiping down my seat and tray table.

2. Reusable water bottle:  This is collapsible so it doesn’t add weight or bulk when it’s not filled.

3. Travel pillow: If you’re a head bobber when you doze off, you’ll love the extra support this pillow gives. (You’ll also want to check out this list of the best travel pillows!) 

4. Cord organizer: There’s nothing worse than digging around in your bag for your charging cables. This makes easy packing for your cords, earbuds, and extra chargers.

5. Portable charger: You can’t always count on the plane or train’s USB ports to work, so make sure you’re prepared.

6.  Snacks: Be mindful of things that are crunchy because they’ll crunch up into tiny pieces! I like protein bars like QUEST, jerky sticks, or M&Ms if I need a sweet.

7. Lip balm: Airplane cabin air is so drying. I always make sure I have a good product to keep my lips from getting chapped.

Shop My Essentials

And a Few More Travel Tips Before You Go…

A reusable gallon size bag (I like these by Stasher) doesn’t take up too much space, but is perfect for packing up wet swimsuits, smelly socks, or for toiletries you’re worried might leak.

My favorite style of handbag when traveling is a small crossbody. Look for one that has credit card slots built in so you don’t need to carry a wallet. I’ve been carrying this one because it keeps my hands free, is lightweight, and fits inside of my carry-on bag when boarding my flight. Plus, it’s designed to fit and carry my water bottle! 

For travel where you’ll be sitting for long periods of time, you might want to wear a pair of compression socks. When I fly from east to west coast, these are a must for me. I want to arrive with a spring in my step!

Summer is such a great time of year to plan a trip and explore the world! I hope some of my favorite products help you get ready for that tropical beach, national park, or wherever your destination may be.

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