After 24 trips within the past 18 months to 10 countries and multiple journeys across the U.S., we’ve put our packing skills to the test. Using only a carry-on suitcase and a backpack each on every trip, we’ve learned a lot about quality pieces and how to pack efficiently. Here are our favorite and most-used travel essentials.
OUR CARRY ON SUITCASES
- Andrew: The Bigger Carry-On by Away in Navy
- Favorite Feature: All the pockets and the “squish” panel
- Kait: 21” Rolling Spinner Suitcase by Béis in Beige
- Favorite Feature: The cushioned top handle and expandable zipper
Both suitcases are virtually indestructible. After two dozen trips across the globe and back, these two have withstood the test of time. Despite cobblestone streets, arctic ice, scorching hot Florida pavements, cruise ships, road trips, and countless airplanes, these suitcases still roll flawlessly. The wheels are amazingly perfectly intact and still roll smoothly. Both have scuffs, but these rolling wonders are as good as new after a quick wipe-down with Clorox wipes to get off the germs, followed by a mild scrubbing with a Magic Eraser sheet.
OUR BACKPACKS (A.K.A “PERSONAL ITEMS)
- Andrew: PVKE Backpack by WANDRD in Black
- Favorite Feature: How the full-width zipper of the main pocket opens all the way up to lay completely flat so you can pack it like a suitcase.
- Kait: The Backpack by Béis in Beige
- Favorite Feature: All the pockets and the key fob chain in the front pocket, so we never have to dig for keys.
Yep! We love this backpack so much that we both purchased one. We’ve even used these to pack for entire weekends while using budget airlines like Spirit to take an extra trip on a budget. (We share in this post more about our Spirit experiences, we’d always rather travel than not, no matter what it takes!) These backpacks are large enough to fit almost a week’s worth of clothes and still be considered a personal item on even the stingiest of airlines. After two years, the backpacks still work well! While the bottom of Kait’s pack is beginning to look a little dingy as it’s a light color, it can withstand at least another year of travel.
WHAT’S IN OUR CARRY ON
- Andrew: Clothes both rolled and folded on one side, shoes and our Dock & Bay packable beach towels on the other
- Kait: Clothes packed into Monos compression packing cubes on one side, shoes and additional hair and beauty tools (that aren’t liquids) on the other
The debate of whether we should fold, roll, or use packing cubes to most efficiently pack a suitcase simply doesn’t happen in our house. We do it all! We’ve found the method depends on the trip and what you’re packing. I’m not going to sugar coat it – the Monos packing cubes are some of the most expensive packing cubes on the market. However, after one trip to Finland, they paid for themselves, where we fit ski pants and puffy winter gear into carry-ons for a week. Without these compression cubes, there would have been no way we could have packed all of the winter clothes into a carry-on and would have had to pay for checked luggage on multiple airlines. This expense alone is much pricier than the luxury packing cubes.
Another space saver that comes with us on almost every trip is the lifesaver Dock & Bay towels. It is shocking how these extra large beach towels become the size of a t-shirt when folded. We use these as beach towels, spare blankets for impromptu picnics, and even an extra layer of warmth on cold airplanes. If you’re over 5’7, like we both are, we highly recommend buying the XL size!
WHAT’S IN OUR BACKPACKS
- Andrew: Our sony camera, Mavic drone, additional camera gear, 16-inch Macbook, Airpod Max headphones, all chargers and converters, liquids bag, passport, and wallet
- Kait: Béis cosmetics case, hairbrush, international straightener, washcloth,14-inch Macbook, 2nd gen AirPods, liquids bag, jacket, keys, passport, and wallet
Clearly, Andrew’s the gear guy, and Kait holds all things beauty in her bag. Always keep electronics and liquids where they’re easily accessible – just make sure to keep them safe and separated! We love that our Béis backpacks have a separate laptop zip pocket in the pack to ensure laptops and iPads stay safe and closest to us.
We hope this guide has been helpful! We know travel is a significant investment that begins with purchasing the right travel gear. We know there are tons of choices out there and countless travel bloggers, but we appreciate you for finding us and reading along! We’d love to connect further on our YouTube channel. After poking around and learning more on this site, head to our channel to find more travel tips and vlogs of incredible destinations like Paris, Positano, and Morocco. Let us know on YouTube what travel advice you’d like to learn more about next!