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What’s in Our Bags: What Editors Can’t Live Without During the Travel Season

With December travel around the corner, we asked editors what they can’t travel without

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By Condé Nast Traveller Middle East | November 16, 2023 | Travel Leisure

Summer is one of the most anticipated seasons of the year, and one of the busiest for travel. It comes as no surprise the Traveler out of office calendar has been full, with editors setting off on vacations near and far: babymoons in Iceland, destination weddings in Italy, and road trips through Maine included. Along the way, we've picked up some stellar travel gear—including a few quality summer staples to help beat the sometimes unbearable heat. Below, our editors share the tried-and-true products they've used the most this season, from waterproof sandals and skincare to lightweight linens and holy grail hair products. Some items are best suited to warm-weather vacations, while others will find a home in your suitcase year-round; all, though, come highly recommended by our team. Whether you’re planning a beach trip and looking for a new swimsuit or are in need of a new weekender bag, we’ve got you covered.

Travel-friendly purses, waterproof sandals, and summer body cream

On a recent trip to Europe, I knew long days spent sightseeing would be on the agenda. The weather was a little too warm for sneakers some days, so I opted for a water-friendly sandal from Reef with adjustable straps around the ankle. These sandals were a lifesaver: stylish and comfortable, they paired well with almost everything I packed—including the viral Lululemon belt bag. It was the perfect crossbody to keep my phone, wallet, and small essentials organized while exploring London for the first time.

Travel-friendly purses, waterproof sandals, and summer body cream are important for international travel. Image via Pexels.

Another favorite bag of mine this summer is Calpak’s new large Luka duffel. I’ve raved about the brand’s original Luka duffel for overnight stays and as my personal item on flights, but now this new size is ideal for extended weekends. It holds several outfits, a few pairs of shoes, and even fits my bulkier hair tools. And last but not least, I’ve been loving the Sol de Janiero Bum Bum cream—it smells like summer and keeps my skin hydrated all day long. —Meaghan Kenny, associate commerce editor

Surf gear, skincare staples, and slides

Maybe it’s because I’m a Cancer, but I come alive in summer—I have barely stopped moving. The good news is that I’ve found a few things that can keep up. For a couple of weeks bopping around Europe in June, my Ganni bike shorts, Sabah El Paso slides, and a linen dress from Free People’s vacation edit were perfect for hot days with lots of walking (or pool days with none at all). Now that I’m home in New York City, I’ve been surfing in the Rockaways most weekends, and loving my Seea bodysuit-style wetsuit. It’s perfect for protecting against chafing on a waxed-up board but is thin enough for hot summer temps and warm water. If I’m sticking around after surfing for a full beach day, my Vanessa Mooney bikini is the go-to—all their cuts are comfy and flattering, but the high-waisted are my favorite (in good news for readers and bad news for me, the suit I bought full price a couple of months ago is already on sale). A few other recurring cast members this summer are hair and skin products that I use to counteract all that time in the sun: Ceremonia and Olaplex deep conditioners, Kinfield and Beach Bum sunscreen, Mario Badescu coconut oil, and an army of Grown Alchemist serums and face oils. —Megan Spurrell, senior editor

A Seea bodysuit-style wetsuit is perfect for protecting against chafing on a waxed-up board. Image via Pexels.

Bucket bags, lightweight maternity wear, and hair accessories

I'm all about looking chic and stylish this summer with minimal effort. I've found myself relying on accessories to take my look up a notch, allowing me to rotate through my more casual, comfortable wardrobe without shame. When I want to rock a flowy, simple summer dress, I love to pair it with my Catalina Pearl necklace which elevates the entire look and feel. I'm also currently loving this Liv bucket bag which never fails to score a compliment and is the perfect multi-use bag whether you're hitting the park for a picnic with friends or out to date night. Finally, after a long day out with friends, when you've showered off the sweat of the day and want to veg out on your couch but still keep it cute? There is truly nothing more cozy than the Cloud Collection matching lounge set from Bumpsuit. The parachute pants are roomy and bold, and the crop tee is perfectly buttery. But my ultimate summer accessory? This incredible braided headband has gotten me through so many unwashed hair days. The hardest part is to get the right color match, but once you do, you can create a 15-minute up-do that looks like you spent hours watching YouTube hair tutorials to master. —Lara Kramer, global director of audience development, social, and analytics

Sunscreen, phone accessories, and airy clothing

My first full summer on the east coast can be summed up into two words: busy and hot. Before I step out of my apartment I make sure I’m covered in sunscreen from head to toe. For my face, I stick with my old reliable, Black Girl sunscreen, and for the rest of my body, I’ve been using the Bod Guard from Dune. When it comes to sunscreens I steer clear of anything that’s sticky or leaves a white cast after I apply it; luckily, both of these fit the bill. I use a higher SPF on my face than the rest so as to not provoke any acne scarring or dark marks. I noticed very early into the summer that less is best—hands-free is the only way I’m exploring the city, so, my Dagne Dover phone sling has been my favorite accessory this summer. It fits my wallet, key, phone, and lip balm without bulging. It has mesh, plush fabric that keeps my belongings safe, dry, and comfortable on my side no matter how much I’m moving. Sticking with the less is the best rule, I’m keeping everything light and airy when it comes to my wardrobe. My summer staple item has been skorts. I don’t have many flowy, romantic pieces in my wardrobe, but skorts offer that aesthetic while still being functional. I especially love how I can walk around the city in what looks like a skirt without the dread of having a Marilyn Monroe subway grate moment. —Paris Wilson, commerce producer

Before this editor step out of my apartment she makes sure to be covered in sunscreen from head to toe. Image via Pexels.

Portable fans, comfy shoes, and sling bags

While June was pretty mild this year, NYC’s hot, sticky summer days have arrived in full force, which makes me extra thankful to own this portable neck fan. I’ve worn it on my commute to keep the sweat (somewhat) at bay on subway platforms, and have brought it with me to the park and beach, too. For theme park visits or outdoor concerts, I like a smaller handheld fan like this one, which fits easily inside the Uniqlo sling bag (I finally jumped on the bandwagon, and let me tell you, it is roomy). On the shoe front, Tevas are my go-to sandal during summertime, but I’ve also been loving these slip-on sneakers from Naot—they’re super comfortable out of the box, with no break-in time needed. Also on my packing lists this summer: Dr. Jart's Ceramidin cream, to soothe any heat-irritated skin, Lanolips Multi-Balm, and a good pair of sunnies, like this round style from Shinola. —Madison Flager, senior commerce editor

Hot summer travel will make you grateful for buying a small, portable fan. Image via Pexels.

Athletic equipment and SPF

This summer, I’ve started to embrace my competitive side by getting into tennis. It’s been a great way to get outdoors and be social while also getting some exercise. As an advanced beginner player, this Head Graphene Racquet has been a perfect choice—plus it packs really easily into an airline carry-on bag. So far, I’ve brought it along on summer trips to St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Rhode Island. While I’m out in the full sun of the court, Supergoop’s Glow Stick sunscreen has been a handy option for reapplying my SPF quickly between sets. —Jessica Puckett, senior editor, transportation and travel news

Cruise ship–sourced skincare products

I’ve never been a skincare buff, to the point that I’ve often bragged about my near-exclusive use of Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ over the last 15 years. But this summer, thanks to two offerings from the Irene Forte Skincare line, I’ve finally learned what the hype is all about. I’ll dab on the hibiscus serum, a light, jelly-like serum, in the morning after I’ve washed my face, then seal it in around my eyes with a bit of the olive eye cream. Both brighten my face and feel like a whisper on the skin—ideal, since I hate the feeling of too much of anything on my face—and carry just a hint of natural fragrance. (Forte is the wellness consultant for Rocco Forte Hotels, the luxe hotel group founded by her father 35 years ago—and many of the main ingredients in her vegan line are grown on the grounds of Verdura Resort, at the property’s organic farm.)

I also discovered the British skincare line Elemis’s Pro-Collagen Rose Hydro-Mist last November while sailing on board Enchanted Princess, where I received my first-ever facial at its Lotus Spa, and it’s become a staple on-the-go product. My treatment specialist clued me into the best way to use it: I’ll spray it two or three times onto my palm, then use a finger to brush the serum onto my face. It’s perfect for when I’m at the office—or on a plane—and need something to give my skin a quick, glowy lift. —Betsy Blumenthal, editor, features and franchises

Athleisure and designer sandals

As I’ve been been back on the road this summer, I’ve realized how much I’ve grown accustomed to the exclusively athleisure wardrobe I was rocking during the pandemic: mostly Ten Thousand Session shorts and the Alo Fast Break hoodie (equally good for lounging as for at-home bodyweight workouts). However, I am trying to step it up a notch in the style department without compromising the comfort that I am unwilling to give up. Step in the Buck Mason Slub Curved Hem tee and Pilgrim Surf Supply’s Cheyne Twill Hang short—the pair that’s proven to become my go-to summer uniform, whether it be a long travel day or an al fresco evening at Saint Theo's in the West Village. Though for a nice dinner, I’d round it out with my dream collab: the Dior by Birkenstock Milano sandal. —Scott Bay, former Traveler editor

For a nice dinner, I’d round it out with my dream collab: the Dior by Birkenstock Milano sandal says Scott Bay, former Traveler editor. Image via Pexels.

Wool activewear and hiking daypacks

I know wool isn’t exactly synonymous with summer, but I was recently turned on to Ibex, an activewear company that works almost exclusively with merino wool. I have been hiking a ton this summer—lots of epic 15-mile day treks that require starting early and ending late. It turns out that merino is the dream material for this. I’ve been wearing the brand's super lightweight Essentials Racerback tank (the dusty lilac is very cute) and the Woolies three-quarters pants. I’m warm when it’s cool, I'm cool when the day warms up, plus merino is moisture wicking and antibacterial (which means you stay relatively un-stinky!). An extra perk: both items will become my base layer when ski season rolls around. I’ve also been loving my new Mystery Ranch day pack; it’s sized for a woman’s body and actually fits me (a game-changer on long hikes), plus it comes in a great color called “dusty fox” that doesn’t show dirt and is designed to hold a hydration pack. —Rebecca Misner, senior features editor

Mystery Ranch day pack is perfectly sized for a woman’s body. Image via Pexels.