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May 16, 2018

My 6 Travel Must-Haves: Carry-on Edition for Creative Entrepreneurs

Reading time: 7 min.

Things you may not know about me: my first job out of college, I packed travel must-haves into 2 suitcases + 1 carry-on as I jetsetted to 29 American universities as a consultant for Alpha Delta Pi sorority, 28 days on the road/2 days off for about 8-9 months. It was a verrrryyy fun, interesting job—the best job I joke I’ll never do again, in fact. 😉

I haven’t blogged something like this since my days running a blog called Miss Magnolia from 2009-2011 (when you live out of a suitcase, it interests people!), and I haven’t typed about travel this much since helping out with Delta Air Lines marketing during my agency days.

We still travel a good bit in our little fam (I speak a good bit for work, and having a Delta Air Lines husband doesn’t hurt!) … I feel like I live out of a suitcase as a creative entrepreneur sometimes!

Travel must-haves

But, when my friend texted me recently and asked for a few things I call must-haves when I travel. I realized I have strong opinions on packing for travel—just like I did back in my consulting days. 😉

So today, I blogged 6 things I always take on every trip. With all the conferences and workshops available for entrepreneurs these days, you’re likely headed to one or dreaming about packing for one!

You may also be interested in: What to Do Before a Creative Conference: 8 Tips I Do Before Each Event

I hope this list helps you out. Oh, and confession: I wasn’t entirely sure #2 is allowed in every hotel and had to Google it. Let’s go!

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6


1. My Branche Eyemask and a Pair of Generic Earplugs

And not for the airplane—though the come in handy! The first big romantic vacations Wes and I went on was to Punta Cana with another couple on what we dubbed a joint-honeymoon, since it was our first big trip as a married couple. They had a room upstairs, but Wes and I were on floor one … of a tiled condo that echoed hall noises like crazy. Every.voice.carried. straight into our room.

I swore up and down from that moment, I’d bring earplugs on every trip.

Even in a lush hotel room at a speaking event in Chicago the other month, city lights and honking horns were blaring into the wee hours. I was so thankful for a good night’s sleep!

I use this silk Branche eyemask ($42) every night because we have a street lamp outside our window, and it’s really worth every penny. I think it’s the first thing I pack when I travel, because I am NOT on my a-game meeting new people or speaking when I’m exhausted!

For earplugs, the squishy ones you get at Wal-Mart are the best. Fancy plastic ones hurt a little bit when you’re rolling over in the night.


2. A Voluspa Travel Candle

Ok. This is the one I had to Google just to confirm it’s allowed. When I’m by myself in hotel rooms or Airbnbs, nothing makes it feel like home more than lighting a flickering candle as I get ready in the morning with my morning routine or wind down for bed. It feels so luxurious, but is so small!

I like this Voluspa brand ($8ish for the travel size) because they last a long time, but any tiny candle with a lid will do!

I guess I get really homesick for Wes (and yes, the German Shepherd dogs!) when I travel, so being able to have something that reminds me of the constant stream of sweet smells I keep burning and diffusing in our home makes me so happy. Be sure to snag a box of matches from a restaurant and keep in your purse or whatever.

Seriously, this one seems silly, but try it on your next trip. I promise it makes me calm down when I miss my home!


3. Primally Pure Everything Spray

Okay—I first got a bottle of this from my mastermind sister Bethany, who founded Primally Pure. I GOT SO HOOKED. This everything spray ($18) sets your make-up really well (travel win all the way around) but also freshens you up. When I land somewhere and am about to meet strangers, I always make a pit stop to fluff my hair, spot check concealer, pop in some gum, and spray this on my face.

I’ve gotten into a lot of Bethany’s other products too since meeting her and getting to know her in our mastermind, and this is one of my 3 favorites!


4. This Little Hollywood Fashion Secrets Emergency Kit

Oh my gosh—I don’t remove this Hollywood Fashion Emergency Kit ($9) from the zipper pouch of my Away luggage! It STAYS there, and I don’t even know how many times it’s saved me. From deodorant marks on my silk blouse top to Hollywood sticky tape (which I’m constantly restocking) to Shout wipes and needle and thread, this thing is a LIFE saver for when you’re traveling for work and need to make good first impressions.

I believe I saw it at Target (maybe??) before we went out of the country one time, and it now stays in my bag constantly.


5. Nikon DSLR D3400

Oh, creatives and our love of the ‘gram, right?

I’m a SUPER novice with a camera, but when I was putting together our very first family album, I realized the ONLY pictures I had from beautiful cities like Paris and London were iPhone snaps. Spoiler alert: they don’t look as gorgeous in a pricy Artifact Uprising book as I imagined in my head.

So, I won the family Easter egg hunt golden egg and promptly put it towards funding this beauty.

I asked a lot of photographer friends and clients, and most said a Nikon D3400 ($362) is good for someone who is brand new to DSLR. I’m still learning, but I also invested in a 3.5 mm lens. I don’t have a fancy strap or bag for it, but being able to have REAL pictures on our trips (plus, when I travel for work I can usually swing a shot that looks better for social media or business use. When I was at Amy Porterfield’s live event last year by myself, I got a few shots to help give me Instagram content!).

Tools that have helped me? Client-turned-friends’ Lightroom presets:

Light & Airy Presets

Katelyn James Presets

Jenna Kutcher Presets

Local Milk Presets

I also was told to snag a little iPhone SD card reader ($13), which is helpful if you want to quickly import your photos to your phone and skip the whole computer scene!


6. Go-To Essential Oils

My mom, sister, and I are all obsessed with Young Living essential oils, but I’ve loved them when I travel. I have a small Tumi travel bag (token prize from one time when Wes and I got stand-by upgraded to first class) that I pack with:

Peppermint: I put a drop on my toothpaste, I smell if I get nauseous, and sniff if I need to WAKE UP in a different time zone

Thieves (or whatever blend the company you buy from dubs for cold defense): I roll on my feet every.single.night. I’ve gotten ONE cold once since I got into essential oils, and I’m just saying I think this helped!

Lavender: Sleep, of course! Also, one of my favorite memories from speaking at Creative @ Heart conference is when my friend Becky came up to me before I spoke, sensed I was nervous, and basically poured 1/4 of her bottle on me to calm me down. It worked! If you have to speak, or get nervous meeting new people at workshops by yourself, pack a bottle. 🙂

Lemon: Drop it in my water!

Valor (again, this is YL blend, so I’m not sure what other brands would call it): This one I rub on my wrists when I’m at conferences and work events. It’s courage in a bottle, and makes for a great perfume!

I also bring a few blends, like a few perfume substitutes if I don’t feel like bringing a whole perfume bottle and am out of sample sizes to tote along.

I like Young Living oils (buy the membership starter kit [$160], you get like, 11 oils + a diffuser and other things for a discount AND you don’t have to start an oils business if you don’t want to! When I realized that, I was like, boom, I’m in.) because they’re pretty powerful for the amount you get, but if you aren’t so sure or just playing around, I think you can get away for a while with a little mini-pack from Whole Foods.

I WILL say that I used whatever brand Whole Foods all through high school and college (lavender dries up ballerina blisters like you wouldn’t believe!), and it’s definitely okay! It gets the job done! I tried Young Living for the first time 2 years ago—haven’t looked back! They’re just stronger and if I’m going to pay for oils I don’t want them to be diluted.


Other things in my carry on? My Powersheets (either just the ripped out Tending List, or the whole page) and a few books are in every carry on, and I keep a travel vial of Tylenol stocked in my purse. We saved up and bit by bit are replacing our luggage with Away’s line, which has been worth the investment if you travel a lot going to workshops and conferences … or just travel for fun!

I also really recommend keeping a travel list digitally—I learned that from entrepreneur Michael Hyatt. Keeping a Trello card of my packing list has saved me during constant weeks of go, go, go!

You may also be interested in: What to Do Before a Creative Conference: 8 Tips I Do Before Each Event

What is one thing you always pack in your carry on?

Freshly sharpened pencil bouquet ready, I'm here to make sure your words sell. I help women like you steward your story well, so you can work from a place of rest—not hustle.

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