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What's in That Tote Bag?

by ivillager akorelc/cl-akorelc (July 2000, rev. Feb 2001)

This is the second in a series on packing for travel written especially for women In the first part, I gave you a wardrobe plan that offers 31 combinations from 9 easy pieces.

UPDATE: drop the pearls and the pumps! Go for more fashionable beads and well-padded loafers on good polyurethane soles, unless you really do have to have the classics for business travel. Sometimes we do have to update ourselves!

Now, for that tote bag: consider how long you will be confined to the plane, train or other vehicle and how heavy lugging everything you'd like to have can become. What do you like to do to while away the time, read? Listen to audiobooks or music? Work on your laptop? My favorite tote bag has a woven strap stitched across the back that slips over the handle of my rolling carry-on. It's big enough to hold my laptop in its own padded pouch plus the various things I like to keep close to me, yet small enough to slide under a passenger seat. If you don't have to carry a laptop, you'll definitely have more room (and less weight to carry) for other things.

In my tote you'll find:

  • small bottle of water with a sports top;
  • portable CD/MP3 player with earphones;
  • several CDs in the slimmest holder I can find;
  • reading glasses and contact lens kit;
  • paperback book;
  • pair of sock slippers;
  • small plastic bag containing small tube of combination antibacterial hand cleaner and lotion, lip balm, eye drops, facial moisturizer, emery board/nail buffer, small tube of antibiotic cream, a couple of bandaids, breath mints or freshening gum, pain reliever and any other medications needed;*
  • facial tissues
  • mirrored compact (see note below)**
  • camera and film--put these in a plastic bag you can take out of the tote in order to pass to the security guard rather than have it be nuked by the scanner;
  • smaller purse with money, traveler's checks, cell phone, tickets, et cetera,
  • and the all-important energy bar or other snack food.
  • nylon shopping bag folded into its own pocket.
  • travel raincoat folded into its own pocket.
  • On really long trips, I'll also throw in an inflatable pillow and lightweight airplane blanket (you can make one out of flannel or wool finished with a simple edging or blanket stitch).

*If you need to carry prescription, put the original containers in a labeled zippered freezer bag. This is particularly important if you're going overseas and need to have a prescription filled.

**I suggest contacting a Mary Kay Consultant near you for the best compact I have ever found Called the "Custom Compact," it can hold a blusher; three eye colors, one full-sized lipstick and applicator brushes. If you don't know a consultant, go to: and tell her Alysia Korelc sent you (I don't get anything from this).

That's it. Isn't that easy? So, now you should have room for the extra goodies you want to bring home!


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