Here's Everything I'm Packing For My First Trip In Months

From the softest pair of sweatpants ever to a TSA-approved body-care set.


This summer, everyone seems to be posting their out-of-office messages and getting out of dodge—temporarily, at least. And it’s not just that many of us were stuck indoors (or at least limited in our travel) for more than a year. It’s also that people are playing a major game of catch-up on life milestones, which is how I’ve found myself spending the month of August traveling to Los Angeles for a wedding and to visit family, going to Chicago for my best friend’s baby shower, heading to Seattle for another wedding, and then in Missouri to visit my new in-laws.

All to say: I’m basically the continental-United-States version of Carmen San Diego. I’m fully vaxxed and often masked, so while Covid-19 was and still is a big consideration, my packing situation is also a main concern. It’s not so much how I’ll possibly fit everything, so much as what I should even attempt to fit in the first place. I live and die by my carry-on—checked bag fees can @ me if they dare—so a trip like this requires some hard choices.

There are some obvious essentials, of course. A wear-everywhere dress? Check. Shoes that don’t have a break-in period? Check. A body-care set that leaves skin comfortable, smooth, and definitely not ashy? Check, check, check. With that in mind, here’s exactly what’s making the cut.

I’m constantly dealing with lizard-dry skin below the neck, even on the most humid summer days. So, I always pack body-care with me, since it’s not a guaranteed amenity at hotels and Airbnbs the same way your average bar of soap is. This set contains travel-sized editions of the Renewing Body + Hand Wash, which rinses away grime without stripping skin, Sacred Body Oil to soothe and calm skin, and Rich Nourishing Body Cream, which is blended with shea and cocoa butters to nourish and soften. It’s a must-have for bare-leg season.

For a long trip away from home, nothing beats a dress that can be worn several times over—just wash and repeat. This style is the epitome of a summertime LBD, and it can be dressed down with sneakers or upgraded for a pre-wedding celebration with sandals and cute accessories.

After a flight, my whole body feels a little creakier and sore. This travel mat is the best for doing a quick, hip-opening yoga flow once I reach my destination.

A sunscreen that will convert even sunscreen haters, this one checks all the boxes. The mineral-based SPF blends seamlessly into my medium-tan skin (thanks to a strategic pink tint), feels weightless, and is fragrance-free. (It also helps protect against blue light and pollution—just saying.) I’ve tried a million sunscreens and nothing comes close to this one.

Bulky as they may be, I will not board a flight without my noise-canceling headphones. (Fine—I would board it, but only reluctantly.) Whether it’s a chatty seatmate or a crying infant, the noise-canceling technology can handle it. It even muffles the dull roar of the plane engine, giving you a peace and quiet if you’e not actively listening to a podcast or music.

Masks are still a must for the flight, vaxxed or not, and these soft cotton styles from Kitsch keep things comfortable when you’re looking at a few hours of flying time ahead of you. They’re cute, as far as masks go, and don’t irritate skin.

Sure, I love my Nintendo Switch, but few things are better than a book for a trip: You can take it to the beach without risking sand damage, no chargers are required, and it’s easier on the eyes, literally. I’ve been into books about the Chinese diaspora lately—trying to appease my ancestors—and this one, which won the 2020 National Book Award for fiction, has yet to disappoint.

These versatile sneakers require zero break-in—which is mandatory for a pair of travel-worthy shoes—and go as well with denim shorts as they do with a dress. They’re ideal for traipsing around outdoors, obligatory sightseeing, or visiting friends in between bigger social events.

I never bought into the concept of having a dedicated plane outfit...until my sister introduced me to these sweatpants. They’re super-soft and cozy, and feel more elevated than your average pair of sweats. Now, finally, I can comfortably curl up in a window seat without buttons or seams digging in.

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