Pack Your Backpacks: Ten Things I Always Travel With

Bows & Sequins shares her Must Have Travel Items!

Bonjour mes amis! If you’re following along on Instagram or Snapchat, you know I’ve been in Europe for about two weeks now. I was in London for a week during London Fashion Week (more to come!) and arrived in Paris this past Sunday evening. It’s been such a great week, but to be honest, a pretty normal one! (Other than the fact, you know, I’m in Paris. ha!) I planned this extended trip for a few reasons, but not necessarily for a true vacation. I’ve been trying to live and work and really experience the city as if I were actually living here! (Not that I’m thinking about it or anything… 😉) My days have consisted of spending the mornings on my computer at home or at a nearby cafe, wandering around exploring for a few hours in the early afternoon, checking back in on the computer at a cafe in the late afternoon, finding somewhere to watch the sunset, having dinner (and wine), and coming home to finish the workday on the couch! Nothing too crazy, but it’s been so incredible just being here. I will say, I’m really looking forward to the weekend and having a bit more “me” time!

Bows & Sequins shares her guide to packing for travel abroad!

This photo from my trip to Paris last spring! Check out the apartment we stayed in hereI’ll be sharing more about my current apartment soon! In the meantime, be sure to check out my Paris Travel Guide if you need any recommendations.

I get asked so many travel-related questions via Twitter and Snapchat… Tips on traveling alone, what I pack, beauty on the go, you name it. I’m slowly working my way through writing posts for all of the common questions, so do let me if you have any other questions in the comments below!

First up, travel necessities!

If you’re anything like me when you’re out exploring a city, chances are you’re out for the entire day! I leave mid-morning and usually don’t return until after dinner. In Paris, for example, I always map out my activities so I’m making the most of time. If I have a meeting near Champs Elyseé (like I do tomorrow), I’ve planned to cross off all my travel to-do’s in that area before and after. Earlier today, I knew I wanted to have lunch/brunch at Treize, so I also planned to do all of my “musts” in and around St Germain this afternoon. I love the area (it’s where I stayed on my second trip!) so I’ll probably be back another day, but just in case, I’ve technically checked all the boxes.

Bows & Sequins shares her Must Have Travel Items!

When you’re out all day, you really do need to come prepared. From past experience, you’ll end up having to buy things along the way if you aren’t! Here are a few of the things I always have with me when I’m on the go…

1. Flats // Thank goodness sneakers are in right now, I’ve been wearing my Stan Smiths all day, everyday. But say if I have a meeting and am wearing cute booties (like I did on Wednesday), I always make sure to bring a pair of comfy shoes in my bag, just in case! Even if my booties are the absolute most comfortable and I’ve worn them all day before, you really just never know. I actually just re-learned this the hard way in London! I was wearing the OTK boots that I wore all last winter and for whatever reason, I got the biggest blisters on the backs of my heels before 10 am. And I had a packed schedule, there was literally no time to run back to the hotel. I think it was my socks mainly, and maybe my feet not being used to boots again yet? Who the heck knows. But I was kicking myself for not having my trust pair of flats! (Side note: I found these Compeed blister bandages at Boots – a UK drugstore, like Walgreens – and they’re LIFESAVERS! I don’t know if they exist in the US, but I highly recommend if you can find them.)

2. A Backpack // Sadly, this one is a learned-the-hard way kind of thing. I didn’t bring my backpack on this trip, just a big leather tote that fits all of my essentials. Since I’ve been carrying around my heavy camera, my computer, my planner, a water bottle, a sweater, and whatever else finds it’s way into my bag… My back is killing me. I’ve been trying to rotate shoulders with carrying my tote, but I’m still going to need a massage and maybe even a chiropractic adjustment when I get back to Chicago in two weeks. I’ve been thinking about buying a backpack here, but I literally JUST got a new backpack before I left for the trip! // Speaking of: This colorful bookbag in the picture above is from Rachel Zoe’s recent collaboration with Ebay! There are two different prints designed by Rachel and each bag is just $45. (Free shipping, too!) The best part, however, 100% of the proceeds go to charity! Rachel chose Save the Children as the philanthropic organization through the eBay for Charity program. (More info here!) If you want to scoop one up, you’ve got to hurry! The sale ends 9/30/16.

3. Sunglasses // It’s been so sunny in Paris this week, so sunglasses have been a must! No matter where I’m traveling or when, I always pack multiple pairs. Even if it’s grey or snowing, it can still be bright.

4. A Hat // I haven’t been wearing many hats on this trip, but when I was in Italy earlier this summer, a hat was a MUST! It was scortching hot and no amount of sunscreen could have kept my face sunburn-free. I wore a hat every single day!

5. A Sweater // The weather has been GORGEOUS in Paris this week! The best weather I’ve ever had here, for sure. The first time I ever visited, it was the second week in October and it was pretty chilly! (Like, wool coat chilly.) Even though it’s just two weeks before that, it’s been sunny and surprisingly pretty warm during the day! I’ve kept this cardigan in my bag to toss on over my dresses and short-sleeved tops when the temperatures drop in the evening or when the sun goes behind a cloud during the day.

6. A Watch // I wear a watch every day, but to keep things a bit more organized when I’m on the go (especially since everyone I do work with are in the United States), I keep my watch set to the time at home. So no matter if I’m responding to an email, posting an Instagram, or texting a friend, I can quickly figure out what time it is at home!

Bows & Sequins shares her must-have items for travel in Paris!

7. A Book // I’ve been working instead of reading, but that’s going to change this weekend! I’ll be packing a book instead of my laptop each morning. Any good reading recommendations? I need to find a bookstore and pick one up!

8. Lip Balm, Hand Cream, Hand Sanitizer // I don’t leave the house without them, no matter if I’m home in Chicago or traveling in Europe!

9. My iPhone & My Camera // This goes without saying right? I try to not be glued to my phone when I’m away, but it’s a must for Instagram and getting around. (Monogrammed leaf-print iPhone case is Minnie & Emma!)

10. Leather Cord Organizers // I got these last spring and they’re the most genius things! I use this little cord taco every day, both traveling and not, in my handbag for my earbuds. When it comes to digging through your bag, there’s not much worse than tangled earbud cords! I also go this cord roll-up that I keep my phone charger cord, Mophie cord, and extra memory card for my camera in. Really helps to keep things organized! It looks like they’ve since updated it with a zip pouch instead of the snap, which I’m really happy about. It would be perfect for storing your euros in, too!

Anything I’m missing that you always travel with?!

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Leave a Comment


  1. 9.29.16
    Leeann said:

    Great tips to remember! Thanks!!!

  2. 9.29.16
    Misha K said:

    Love this! So handy for me to read these tips because next year is my year of travel! Also, if you’re looking for a book, I one hundred percent recommend Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (I’ve read it 6 times already) and Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton is also a must read! I just finished it and I need to read it again! So good!!

    • 9.29.16
      Jessica said:

      Big Magic is on my nightstand at home! Currently reading it. I’ll look into Love Warrior.. Thanks for the rec’s!

  3. 9.29.16
    Olivia said:

    Omg love that backpack!! So cute! New post//

  4. 9.30.16
    Carolyn Pemberton said:

    This is exactly what I need, I feel that when I travel to Europe I look to touristy lol or American. Your Snaps and Blogs post have helped a lot!


  5. 10.1.16
    Shannon said:

    Looks like an absolute blast! I lived and worked in Madrid for a year, and it was such a blast to just live there and fully experience the European culture.

    Enjoy your long walks, sunsets, and delicious foods!

  6. 10.3.16

    Great suggestions, thanks for sharing! And I would love to see a post on tips for solo travel, that would be super helpful 🙂 For a book recc, I am reading Nightingale By Kristin Hannah right now and it has completely drawn me in…it is set in France during WWII, definitely check it out!