what’s in my travel tote?

It’s the last day of the winter packing series! So far, we’ve covered what to bring, how to fit it all in a carry on, and what to wear each day. Today, we’re talking about my travel tote.

Ready to get into it? In this post, we’ll cover:

  • My Travel Tote (and the 3 features that make for an ideal travel tote)
  • What’s In My Tote (including 9 items I always bring on the plane)
  • Keeping It Organized
  • Tote Transition: From Travel Day to the Rest of the Trip


My travel tote is actually a camera bag from ONA. If you’ve been around Unfancy at all, you’ve seen this bag a million times — it’s my go-to. It’s structured, tough, and you can see it’s got a beautiful, worn-in patina going on. My favorite feature of this bag is the removable velcro dividers — excellent for keeping an organized bag.

Would I recommend it?

Yes and no.

I adore this bag and plan on using it for a long, long time. But since it’s first and foremost a camera bag, it’s got tons of extra padding (so you don’t get full use of the interior space) and it’s heavy, even when empty.

So, if you have no need for a heavy duty camera bag, I’d recommend this roomy tote by LiveFashionable instead. It’s got three features that make it an ideal travel tote in my book:

  • a zip top to keep everything secure
  • multiple pockets inside for organizing
  • external pockets for phone + lip balm

Besides that, it’s made responsibly and comes from a company I respect + love. Plus, you can always add extra organization power to it by slipping a purse or camera insert inside. More on that in just a minute.


This is what I’d bring for a typical 3-6 hour flight. An international flight is a different story — maybe one day I’ll do a post on what’s in my bag for an international flight.

My bag does get super heavy with all of this stuff in it, but instead of carrying it, I set my tote on top of my carry-on luggage and roll it along with me, so it’s not a big deal.

1 | Kindle | Fav books right now? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Chasing Slow by my friend Erin Loechner. And Fraud by David Rakoff.

2 | Hydroflask water bottle | I always have this hydroflask with me. Always. It doesn’t sweat, meaning nothing in your bag will get wet. Plus it keeps cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours — and keeps hot drinks hot for 6 hours. I bring mine to the airport empty and then fill it up after I get through security.

3 | Snacks | I go simple when I travel and just bring a few power bars. I just discovered the KIND fruit and veggie bars, and I’m digging ’em.

4 | Gin Gins | Sometimes I get a little motion sick on planes, and this ginger candy is my saving grace. Ginger is super intense, but it naturally calms an upset stomach. I love it.

5 | A headphone splitter | If I’m traveling with my hubs, we like to listen to podcasts or watch shows together. A headphone splitter makes it possible.

6 | iPhone cord | Necessary for charging. And if I can’t find an outlet, my Away carry-on suitcase has a built in charger — I know, so cool!

7 | Noise cancelling ear buds | I can’t speak highly enough of my Beats. My husband gave them to me five years ago and they revolutionized my whole travel experience. That may sound dramatic, but listening to music is my happy space when I travel. These little guys stay in my ears no matter what, they cancel noise, and they have the best sound (and killer bass!). Want to hear my fav playlists? Right this way.

8 | Lavender essential oil hand sanitizer | I’m big on hand sanitizer when I travel, and the scent of lavender calms me like nothing else.

9 | Laptop (if desired) | I rarely travel with my laptop these days, but if I need it I carry it in my travel tote.


Liquids from my carry-on | I keep these out for security, then stash them back in my carry-on suitcase afterwards.

Coat or sweater | This serves two purposes: it keeps me warm on the cold plane, and it keeps a bulky item out of my suitcase (so I have extra room in there).

Regular purse stuff | Wallet, keys, toiletry bag, phone.


No matter what kind of travel tote you have, you can always amp up it’s organization power with a purse insert or camera insert.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of purse inserts because they tend to have an overwhelming number of pockets and I can’t keep track of what’s where.

Instead, I’ve learned I’m more likely to keep things organized if it’s not a chore to put things back in their place. So I like using a camera insert, because it can divide my bag up into three simple sections — one for my hydroflask, one for my toiletry bag, and one for my regular purse stuff.

From there, my sunnies, lip balm, and phone usually fit perfectly in an interior or exterior pocket.

Tip: make sure to compare the measurements of the insert against the measurements of your bag before you order.


This is simple: My laptop and kindle come out, but everything else stays inside the tote for the rest of the trip.

If I don’t feel like carrying a heavy bag (like sightseeing days or days with lots of walking) I’ll downsize to my small black purse and keep just the basics — wallet, keys, phone, and a few essential toiletries.

• • •

And there you have it — the final post in this winter packing series!

In case you missed a post this week, there’s a ton of good stuff to catch up on over the weekend: a printable packing planner, the first Unfancy video, and outfit ideas for the whole trip.

So tell me, what did you think of this packing series? Anything you’d like to see me cover next time? Want to share your in-flight essentials? I’d love to hear ’em and get some new ideas!


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