16 Urban Travel Essentials That Change Lives


Confession: I have a serious case of wanderlust. I'm assuming, by the mere fact that you are reading this, you do as well. 

My biggest issue doesn't start with what to pack (I have a formula for that) but where to go. There is a whole wide world out there and I want to see it all.  If I haven't been, I want to go and if I have, chances are I want to go back.

Moving from Los Angeles to New York at 20 my main decoration became a huge world map on my wall which I then color coded with push pins in various places “been there done that” was blue, “Dreaming of” yellow, “loved it” was blue and “want to move here” green.

I am now back in Cali, I do miss the east coast for the easy jaunt to Europe and beyond but adore the west coast for its vast and accessible beauty. My early spring travels include Palm Springs to visit my dad in his amazing mid-century modern condo between the Parker and the Ace (go dad!) and Nashville to visit one of my best friends.  

With the destinations planned, packing is easy. Rule of thumb for packing perfectly light, bring what you love. I like to keep my wardrobe minimal and multi-functional. 

I learned long ago not to waste precious suitcase space on shoes that might get one night out (unless you are going to Vegas). Simply put, I pack a few of my favorite things; pieces that are very much “me,” and that can wander from the coffee bar to a cocktail bar.

A little icing on the cake with my favorite things, everything I've curated here does a bit of good from organic cotton and fair trade to providing books and hearing aids for those in need. Read on to see my travel essentials, which really are my life essentials. Wherever you go, there you are.

The Plain White Tee
H&M Conscious Collection Tee
Men's, $6.99: Women's, $9.99

Travel style is all about the basics.  Packing a few items you can mix and match and use over and over.  That, of course includes a plain white tee… and black and grey.  Stock up and mix it up with crew necks and V-necks.  These organic cotton jersey t-shirts from H&M Conscious collection are a body conscious relaxed fit and so soft.  My new favorite Tee, I’ve a few rolled up in my suitcase already.

Under Cover

I personally go weak in the knees over a good coat.  Aside from my favorite jeans of the moment, a coat is everything!  It's not to early to think ahead to fall and winter.  Nothing adds to the most basic, uh … classic, of uniforms (jeans and tee) like a coat. This recycled wool double-breasted pea coat is no exception.  It screams utilitarian chic not tourist.

Wrap It Up
A Peace Treaty Scarf
Men's Ersa, $398, Women’s Selen, $425

A scarf is a wardrobe must have year round, at home or in some far off locale. Multifunctional and beautiful, these 100% Alpaca scarves from A Peace Treaty are hand woven in Peru.  They certainly add a little pop flair to my purposefully monochromatic travel wardrobe. Feeling a little sleepy on that plane or train? A little drafty in that yurt? Good thing it can double as a pillow or blanket.

Tuned In
LSTN Sound, Bowery Earbuds, $49.99

Music is essential to my day. I wake up and put on “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” hop in the car and classical calms the nerves.  In the air or walking down Rue des Mauvais Garcons, music is a must have and thankfully I have the pretty little LSTN Bowery’s in my ears. Each pair is individually handcrafted out of wood. For each pair sold LSTN helps provide hearing aids to a person in need.  Now that’s sound with purpose.

Keeping Time (and when I don’t)
Michael Kors Watch Hunger Stop Oversized Bradshaw, $295

Get to the gate on time with this oversized watch. The Bradshaw (aptly named for Miss Carrie I’m sure) has a world map on the face to ignite that wanderlust.  If style points and timeliness aren’t enough, for every watch sold, the World Food Programme will provide 100 meals for hungry children in need.  I like an accessory that’s as useful as it is timeless.

Happy Feet
Out of Print Socks, $10

Cold toes are no laughing matter, wherever you are in the world.  I walk everywhere I possibly can; full immersion is the only way to really get to know a place.  That being said my feet pound the pavement a lot and need some pampering.  With these Little Prince cotton socks you’ll be walking on a cloud with an extra side of whimsy.  Put some Out of Print socks on your feet and put a book in someone else’s hands.

Daily Musings
Raven & Lily’s Uzma Journal, $9

Everywhere you go, there you are. I’m sure it’s worth writing about.  I love nothing more than camping out at a table in a café or a bench in a park and watching the world go by, making notes of all I see.  A written photograph of my travels and rambling musings inspired by the locale are a perfect keepsake, especially when wrapped in one of these beautiful recycled journals for Raven & Lily’s India Collection which helps to empower women in Northern India.

Give Me Shelter
The Reformation, Summit Jacket, $98

Traveling light does not mean leaving your jacket at home.  What with climate change, global warming and plain old unpredictable weather you always need a jacket.  This vintage denim jacket has street cred and is light enough and small enough to pack away when the sun shines.  The Reformation may be one of my favorite fashion finds of the past year, making some of the most stylish eco-friendly clothing in their sustainable factory in downtown LA.  This is a vintage denim jacket so no two are exactly alike (their inventory rotates weekly).

Apolis Linen French Work Jacket, $228

This 1960’s inspired military jacket is a perfect blend of function and style, essential for travel gear.  This 100% cotton twill jacket is handmade and dyed in Los Angeles.  Any Apolis purchase will get you one step closer to being a “global citizen.”

Pack and Carry
STATE bags The Ashton, $150
STATE bags The Nevins, $85

Less is more when you’re packing, at least in my bag.  Multi-purpose, multi-functional, 2 in 1? Yes please! The canvas Ashton can do it all…almost.  But seriously, it can be carried as a shoulder bag and as a tote and has cute grosgrain trim.  There is plenty of room for stashing books and magazines in this carry-on. For those who prefer the even more functional backpack check out the Nevins.  For each bag sold, STATE hand-delivers a bag — packed with essential tools for success — to an American child in need. Feel good shopping indeed!

Put Your Foot Down
TOMS Desert Wedge, $89

These beauties are made for walking.  I adore boots nearly as much as I do jackets.  They are an essential part of my daily routine.  Kind of like black coffee. These vegan wedges will fit in the line-up just fine. With a vast array of colors from taupe and black to a creamy linen and blue floral there is something for everyone.  Pavement pounding approved, the wedge adds a little lift for definite style points.  As always, your TOMS purchase is One for One. You buy a pair and a child in need gets some new shoes too.  Win-win.

Pretty Little Thing
Tribe Alive Clutch from Accompany US, $68

This little cotton zip pouch is a little bit like a super hero, Superman perhaps?  Make-up case by day, sassy little clutch by night.  The Ikat print says you might be part of the Gypset or perhaps have serious travel tendencies.  Hand-woven with love by women in Guatemala, this pouch is a true multitasker whether you need to stash makeup, money or your passport.

The Futures So Bright
Women’s Westward Leaning x Olivia Palermo Voyager 14 Sunglasses, Men’s Westward Leaning Pioneer Sunglasses, $210

I personally would like to traipse about the world in rose-colored glasses.  Olivia Palermo’s most recent collaboration with Westward Leaning allows me to do just that.  The Voyager 14 has a little bit of a 90’s vibe with a “tortoise” frame and faux coral inlay.  Olivia is an ambassador for ADCAM, supporting the Maasai people.  These frames help preserve and protect not only your eyes, but also the Maasai culture in Kenya and Tanzania.

For you men out there we have an equally 90’s inspired pair of black frames with a muted gold lenses.  Window shop and people watch to your hearts content with these shades.

Fashion maven Monica Schweiger is our go-to expert for doing everything in style, from effortless clothes that travel kindly to the coolest people and places. Follow her recommendations and you’ll be good-to-go.