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Segway with the cross-body bag for the win!

This post is a little random but I have some thoughts about what to carry while you’re out and about.

Traditionally, I carry a large handbag or backpack when we are out sightseeing. It holds my (large) wallet, the camera, a guidebook, maybe a water bottle, sometimes a sweater. It’s convenient in case we make a couple of purchases while we’re out, because they could be tossed in the bag, too.

Back when the kids were little and we had one in a stroller, we would stow that backpack under the stroller and our hands and back were free. I think I just never backed away from the large bag even though I certainly didn’t have diapers to carry around!

A couple of weeks ago in Barcelona, though, I left the big bag in the hotel room, and carried a tiny cross-body bag along with my camera. Inside my bag I put a few essentials and my Moleskin (more on that in a sec). It was awesome! My hands were free, my camera was always ready, and my shoulders were never tired.

I highly, highly recommend trying this on your next trip. I loved not having a huge bag full of things I didn’t even need. In a city, if you decide you need water or a quick snack, you can always duck in somewhere and buy something. I’ve decided that we just don’t need to be prepared for every single thing that could happen. The difference I felt in just carrying my camera, and wearing my tiny bag, was amazing. I was just so much less tired at the end of the day. Plus, many of those cross-body bags are really cute.

So here’s exactly what I needed to carry with me. I recommend all of it:

  • Money of some sort–credit cards and a tiny bit of cash work well.
  • Some form of ID–I am always surprised how often I’m asked to show my ID when I use my credit card.
  • Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm–no need for a mirror, but a quick pick-me-up.
  • Phone–I hope I don’t need to explain this one.
  • Moleskine and a pen–This needs more explanation.

In my everyday life, I always have one of these little Moleskine notebooks with me. I jot lists, notes, anything I need to remember, on a day-to-day basis. When we go on vacation, I just pop it in my bag. I make notes every day of what we did, a place we ate, the weather…anything that helps me remember our trip later on. I’ll slide business cards from our restaurants inside so I can write TripAdvisor reviews later. And they even come in handy for games of tic-tac-toe or dots, or for scoring our card games. I love Moleskines because they are flat (no spiral binding) and they are sturdy. This is just an indispensable item for travel and for life.

If you MUST carry a backpack with a few more things, share the load. Make it the “family” bag and pass it around so everyone has to carry it. Mom (and Dad) aren’t the sherpas and this is a great opportunity to share carry the burden!