Getting Ready for Summer Travel.

By: Jen Shoop

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Are you going anywhere this summer? We’ll be spending almost ten days in Colorado, a few nights in Charlottesville, a long weekend at Deep Creek Lake, and hopefully half a week on a trip towards the end of summer whose details are yet to be ironed out. I can’t wait to use these Paravel suitcases (currently 25% off the already-discounted bundle price) with these packing cubes and a combo of these new cosmetic bags from Weezie and these soft-sided ones from Julia Amory. Historically, I’ve used the Medium M.Z. Wallace for travel days (weighs nothing and can fit the universe inside — really fun new colors available) with a small crossbody bag to keep my wallet/phone easy to access. My Goody would be a good candidate for the latter, and I’m also in love with this daisy-patterned Naghedi (20% off with YOUROCK)?! Do I need this for everyday errands? I love traveling with a crossbody not only for the travel day but also because it tends to be the perfect shape for tourism/day trips (hands free, and secure!) and can usually transition from jeans/tee to a dress at night. But on the MZ Wallace note: I am contemplating buying this Dagne Dover Landon tote (size large) so many of you love to travel with. I love the feature of the little fabric slot that slides over a roll-a-board handle, and having the separate laptop sleeve compartment would be handy, too. If you have it, do you use the large or XL for travel?

The Paravel suitcases are so thoughtfully designed, and currently 25% off (sitewide promotion), meaning the carry-on style is around $300. It comes with a “compression board” that you can use to really stuff your belongings inside, and I love the zippered pouch top to keep bulkier items separate. I don’t know if you can see it from the photo below, but the material that zips the top compartment closed also has a little zippered slot on the front you can use for smaller items (belts, underwear, anything loose that you don’t want floating around the bag). It also has one of those TSA locks so the officials can get in but no one else can — peace of mind. I also bought the AirTags for our checked baggage after our last trip (to Tulum). Again, peace of mind — and also convenience. When you’re waiting for the bags on the carousel, you can at least get a sense for whether they’re likely to appear imminently.

I also wanted to mention that these Weezie cosmetics bags are for sure going to be heavily used this summer. They are highly functional — the interior and exterior wipe clean, and you can fit a curling iron / hot tool in the largest one (so convenient!). All three have pockets on the interior, too, which I always find so useful. I’ll use these for my luggage and the soft-sided ones for my carry-on most likely — those can squish a bit better into small spaces.

I’m not sure what to do for the children’s luggage for the long trip to CO — any tips? I’m thinking I’ll probably just put all their belongings in one big checked bag and then have them carry on backpacks or duffels. I’d love to get them their own roll-a-boards (per their feverish requests!) but that route seems fraught with tactical challenge. When we were little, my mother purchased my three sisters and I personalized duffels from Lillian Vernon that came to be known as “the pink bags.” We’d line them up on the kitchen counter the night before a trip and my mother would tuck a few activities, snacks, and toys inside that we were permitted to retrieve as soon as the seat belt sign had turned off on board the plane. The main thing I remember about these pink bags is that my doting father invariable ended up lugging all four of them through many airports while also wheeling his own suitcase and toting his own (heavy!) briefcase. I can’t imagine what would have happened if all four of us had roll-a-boards. My Dad wouldn’t have had enough hands! So, suitcases feel wrong. But, if the prevailing sentiment is that this is the way to go, these Target ones are cute and currently on sale for $62 — price is right. — and Quince also has a reasonably priced option whose quality is probably more trustworthy. I’d personalize either of these with those cute vinyl stickers from Joy Creative Shop.

If I go for duffels, I like the ones from Mark & Graham, Lila and Hayes, Calpak, Little English, and TBBC. Also! OMG, who else lived for her Vera Bradley duffel bag in high school and college? I had a yellow floral one I treasured and I have no idea where she is now. But I noticed VB is still in action and has some cute solid colored options. I mean, those bags have earned their keep! They are well-made and very lightweight.

For backpacks, I like the ones from State that are specifically designed for travel, and some are currently on sale for 50% off. (Also, this kids’ roll-a-board is almost $100 off.)

As far as packing, most of these trips are going to be active-oriented. Lots of hiking across all three, with some lake sports and Colorado adventures (kayaking, horseback-riding, etc) folded in. Here are a few of the items I’m eyeing or planning to pack for these trips:


Not seen above, but on my radar: a couple of long-sleeved mid-layers to wear over sports bras/tanks. I love the Vuori Halo, and I’ve been eyeing this Addison Bay one, which comes in great colors. And I’ll probably pack a sport dress or two — I love this one from Lululemon (my review here), and this Vuori appeals in the fun cornflower blue. For active shorts, I like these striped Fair Harbors and these bandana print Tuckernucks.

For meals and non-active activities, all three destinations are very low-key. I’ll probably wear easy sundresses along the lines of…





I own all of the above dresses! I’ll pair all of the above with other these D.V. sandals I’ve been wearing heavily lately or my Eleftherias.

A few I’d love to add to the list…






Last note: I thought your differing perspectives on how to pack skincare for travel were fascinating! I am torn between the smart point that it’s better to buy what you love in trial/mini sizes for travel (as they will come in the correct types of bottles / sprays / pumps / etc and will not require you to decant) and investing in a smart set of travel containers, like the Cadence ones.

P.S. More great travel tips from Magpies here and here.

P.P.S. Some recent travelogues: Deep Creek Lake and Calistoga, CA.

P.P.P.S. I just updated my Amazon shop with all my latest buys and finds.

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20 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Summer Travel.

  1. Chiming in on the MZW vs Dagne Dover question! I have and love the MZW medium Metro tote (mine is 6 years old & going strong!) — but I added the large size in a fun checkerboard print in 2021 and I prefer it for most travel! It has the luggage sleeve detail (CRUCIAL for airports) and it still fits under the airplane seat (might be a little tight in reg economy, but I typically sit in premium economy on the airlines with which I have status, and I never have a problem fitting it under the seat, even when it’s full!) It doesn’t have a laptop sleeve but that doesn’t bother me since I also have a standalone MZW laptop sleeve (which I use even when not Traveling traveling — e.g. working from a nearby coffee shop, or even just storing my laptop on the weekends or while staycationing). The large Metro tote also comes with 3 matching zippered pouches, which is so handy!

    I like the quality of Dagne Dover items in general, but I am personally not the biggest fan of their neoprene material — I found that it stained easily and was not especially easy to clean :-/ I prioritize longevity in all wardrobe items but particularly bags … so that would sway me towards MZW! But that’s just me 🙂


  2. Packing, we brought 5 days of clothes for each of us and did a lot of laundry. Each night in the new place I laid out my son’s stuffy, swaddle and water bottle from home (he slept in 3 different rooms in 2 houses, I’m very proud of him). My daughter’s piece of home was her FanFan (deer version of Sophie the giraffe) and her favorite sleep sacks. I bring 2 days worth of food for the kids in case of issues due to allergies, though United were very accommodating! I pack in layers, everyone has a color story, and I bring pajamas that work as outerwear or clothes my husband or I can borrow from each other in a pinch. When packing light we bring 1 pair of shoes apiece (my husband and I wore our brown leather Kiziks). We all wore white/green/maroon/brown except baby girl, who wore pink and yellow. If your airport has a Farmer’s Fridge! Their salads are delicious and fresh and I got a free salad that served 2 adults from downloading the app. I also really liked the sensory stuff available at Pittsburgh airport, I was very impressed and it helped my toddler decompress.

    1. Love these tips and suggestions! Thank you — the idea of everyone having a color story is brilliant and next-level organization. Aspiring to get there!!


  3. Not sure if this has been discussed here before, but I recently tried using compression socks on a long flight, and wow! I feel like it did help alleviate the ache I usually feel in my legs.

    Magpies, please don’t hate me but I cringe thinking about packing shoes without a shoe bag/cover! All the germs on the soles of our shoes… shudder. My brother is a meticulous packer, and he uses those clear shower caps (that they provide in hotels) for packing shoes. I previously used shoe bags or repurposed plastic grocery bags in a pinch, but I love that the shower caps are far less bulky and the clear material makes it easier to find your shoes. Plus you can use one shower cap for each shoe, which is a better use of space.

    Also, have any Magpie parents tried those magnesium lotion roll-ons for their kids? You apply a little bit to their backs and the soles of their feet and it supposedly helps them feel more calm/relaxed. Wondering if it’s worth getting for our next long flight.

    1. Love the shower cap idea as a shoe cover! Going to steal that one. I used to be SO grossed out by shoe soles living in NYC. Like, it’d make me physically sick to think about the soles of my shoes!! This phobia has abated since leaving, but I totally get the gross out factor!

      Thanks for the compression sock rec!!


  4. Excited for your family travels this summer, Jen!!

    When we fly with the kids, we pack both of them together in a large rolling duffel (REI makes a great, durable 34” one and North Face sells a similar, more $$$ one). I think the duffel style, as opposed to a hard suitcase, better accommodates all of the kids stuff… In addition to clothing and shoes, we always end up packing our Nanit camera, sound machine, small stuffies, and a few books. I live for the day they will carry their own bags through the airport.. currently, I’ll carry a small purse with my essentials, my husband carries a backpack with his work stuff and carry-on items, and then we’ll load up the MZ Wallace backpack with the kids’ stuff for the plane: tablets and headphones, more snacks than you think you’ll need, empty reusable water bottles, sketch pads and crayons, and a few small items like cars or fidget poppers. I’ll either carry it on my back or throw it under the stroller. For the time being, all I can convince them to carry through the airport is one stuffy each, lol! Pro Tip: make sure to give them fair warning that anything they are carrying, including a stuffy, will have to go through the x-ray machine… I can’t tell you how many times my kids have been traumatized by this despite all of their flying experience! Prepping and patience are key.

    1. Love this formula and going to follow it to a tee — I know you know travel with little ones WELL. Thanks for the tip on the x-ray machine!! I can imagine them freaking out about that, too!


  5. Yes, definitely plan on having to carry their bags through the airport at least part of the trip! This was the case with my 6 and 4 year olds on our trip to Florida in February. Also, I waaaay overpacked their carry on backpacks. They were pretty heavy to carry and the girls only ended up using the tablet and stuffies/blankets. No books, coloring, stickers – just watched movies the whole time. But I did manage to under pack snacks somehow. You live and learn! On the positive side, the kids did great on the flight and I’m sure yours will, too.

    1. Hi Stephanie, same here! I always end up overpacking my daughter’s carry-on backpack too. We took a trip to Switzerland over spring break and I had a variety of coloring things, which thankfully she used almost all of them during the first flight. It was a domestic flight on a plane which did not have built in screens, so I’m glad we had a lot of things to keep her engaged. Then on the second leg (international flight, larger plane), she just watched a movie and did not touch any of the coloring things — plus it was a late night flight so she was tired and slept after the meal. Flying is the one time she has control over her screen time anyway so we relax on the rules — except I check in with her periodically and ask if her eyes are feeling tired or if her head feels achy. So on our next international flight this summer I will definitely pack fewer toys/coloring things that weigh her bag down and just let her watch movies/shows. Come to think of it — when I was growing up my family took international trips starting when I was 4 years old (and I was one of 4 kids), and my mom did NOT pack as many things for all of us. We made do with the children’s kits the airline provided — they used to readily provide things for kids back then, in the 80s — now most airlines don’t seem to do that unless you ask for it. It makes me wonder… are we the over-preparing generation of parents? Preparing does give me peace of mind though, and usually serves me/us well…

      1. Noted on the screens. You’re making me think I should just let travel day be a screen day for them – makes for lighter packing, and they’ll be thrilled and preoccupied. We normally keep pretty close tabs on how much screen time they get but it just feels like a “wash day.” Thanks for helping me think through that!


  6. Busy Toddler has the best recommendations for kid travel (and maybe everything?). Following her, I packed for a recent trip with a Ziploc bag for each day, with underwear, socks, daytime and dinner clothes for each kid to wear each day. Super helpful to have it all set out ahead of time so there was no fuss about outfits and both parents could easily grab the Wednesday bag and put the Wednesday clothes on the kids (rather than ask what they’re supposed to wear that day). It was so hassle-free. I had a separate bag for swimsuits and everyone wore a pullover on the plane. All the Ziploc bags went in a checked bag, except the first Ziploc that we’d need the day after our arrival, which went into each kid’s backpack. It’s a big investment of time on the front end to piece it together, but really helped us move quickly in the morning on our trip. Good luck!

  7. When packing your children’s clothing, you may want to think about dividing each family member’s items across a few checked bags. That way, if one bag gets lost, everyone at least has some clothes to get them through a day or two. I just fear the children’s bag getting lost and you having to buy them both new clothes at the beginning of a trip, which also may be stressful especially if your kids are picky about what they wear (my brother, for example, refused to wear anything but OshKosh until age 6). Just a thought! Enjoy your travels.

  8. On the question of rolling suitcases with kids, mine got one when he was about 3 or 4 and was obsessed with rolling it around although through an airport was too much but he thought it was the coolest thing ever and now that he’s older (10), he’s in charge of his own bag.

  9. I’m interested in a modern looking white pantsuit or white linen blouse with slack combo. Something different

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