Packed Suitcase | Secrets of a Travel Blogger: What’s in My Bag
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Secrets of a Travel Blogger: What’s in My Bag

Secrets of a Travel Blogger: What’s in My Bag

I first began blogging 6 years ago, when I worked for the Travel Channel in 2008. After I left the network in 2010, this blog continued on as a hobby– a way for me to share my travels with family and friends.


My very first photo, on my very first Packed Suitcase blog in 2008.


But sometime around 2011, things got real. Instead of writing about my infrequent travels to far-off destinations like New Zealand and Argentina, I instead decided to become the authority on a place I could really get to know and write about comprehensively and all the time…. namely, my backyard, the mid-Atlantic.

I began focusing on writing itineraries, reviews and other helpful (I hope) posts— all intended to really showcase the mid-Atlantic as an awesomely diverse region and help others have fulfilling day and weekend trips in the area, too. Right around that time, I received my first press trip.

Welcome to St. Michaels!

My first press trip was to St. Michaels, MD.


The term “press trip” might be a bit obscure for those not in the blog-o-sphere, but basically it means that sometimes when I visit a destination, the local tourism board will provide me with complementary accommodations, meals and activities. I work closely with them to come up with an itinerary that serves my travel perspective (which sometimes can take months of planning) and in return I write about my visit and share my findings with all of you. All opinions are completely my own (and any blogs that come as a result of said press trips have a disclaimer), but the tourism board helps facilitate the planning and logistics… and sometimes offers to cover the costs, too.

These trips are amazing, but when you’ve got a jam-packed itinerary, with people and businesses to meet with at each turn, it can be really easy to feel overwhelmed while writing notes, taking photos on cameras and iPhones, posting updates to social media and trying to have an intelligent conversation with a business-owner all at the same time.

Chatting at Lexington Coffee Roasters

During this captured moment, I’ve got a purse on one shoulder, a camera bag on the other, my camera hanging from my neck and a coffee cup in my hands… I must have looked like a mess!


I realized that I had to learn how to get professional… fast. When I really thought about it, I found that most of my traveling stress centered around how I carried all my stuff. And I realized that staying organized is an issue that many non-professional travelers have, too.

So, friends, it’s time to provide some secrets of a travel blogger as I share my must-have trip essentials and answer the question: Just what is in my bag?

  • A Moleskin notebook… great for taking notes on the go
  • My camera
  • Extra camera batteries (At least 2, fully charged)
  • My iPhone, loaded with a few key apps: Yelp, Instagram, PS Express (my top app for photo editing), AudioMemos (for interviews), Waze (for avoiding traffic)
  • A Mophie juice pack– for on the go power (and corresponding cable)
  • A bottle of room temperature water (because cold water sweats all over everything)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • A box of my business cards.
    • SIDENOTE: Aren’t they cute? 🙂

Packed Suitcase Business Cards



  • A planned-out itinerary with twitter handles written down for each and every place I’m planning to stop.
  • Along with the itinerary, I always map it all out using Google Maps, which allows me plan my journey ahead of time so I know exactly how to get from place to place… and how long it will take for me to get there.
  • A iPhone note pre-loaded with hashtags for social media.
    • SIDENOTE: As I began my all of my frequent local travels, I found that the momentum of my trip would come to a grinding halt as I tried to post photos to Instagram and write out all of the relevant hashtags. Trying to post to social media quickly and accurately became stressful, and I realized that there had to be a better way! So, I began doing all of my hashtag planning in advance, and putting them into a iPhone note so I have them ready to copy and paste while I’m on the go.




  • Lastly, we can’t forget the actual bag itself. It has to be big enough to carry all of my aforementioned essentials (yes, ALL of the items above), while also being stylish, comfortable and durable. It’s a tall order, but I found true love with my Kelly Moore B-Hobo bag ($169): a purse/camerabag/daypack that fit all of my needs and more. And the best part? It never gets in my way… and isn’t afraid to get a little dirty!

Packed Suitcase - my favorite bag


Whitmore Farm- Puccini the Pig



That’s what’s in MY bag… what’s in yours?

  • Julia
    Posted at 08:37h, 12 November Reply

    Love these tips! I’ve also recently started using a note for Insta hashtags because it was taking waay too long to type them out. And the tip about the room temperature water is also a good one – I’ve had many printed boarding passes, etc go soggy and the have the ink run because of water bottles!

  • Kathy
    Posted at 19:53h, 13 November Reply

    I like the idea of planned out itenary for Twitter handles, I am all about saving time.

  • Miguel
    Posted at 08:56h, 15 December Reply

    Awesome business card! The cutest I’ve seen yet! 😀

  • Jamie Wilson
    Posted at 19:37h, 13 March Reply

    You are a genius! I love the idea about the hashtags, and the twitter handles. I am so excited to utilize those two tips, I want to end this post with one million exclamation points, but I will settle on just this one! Thank you!

  • Tom Fuszard
    Posted at 16:00h, 14 April Reply

    Fascinating insight, Christina; thanks for sharing.

    I’ve dreamed of branching out into travel blogging and writing. Have been involved in marketing writing for years but, as you know, writing about trips can be more fun!

    I was particularly intrigued about your comment regarding juggling all the tasks while interviewing a business owner. During a recent trip to Vegas, I visited the Mob Museum. My hope was to gather enough notes and impressions to craft a useful article. But I found it difficult to concentrate on the displays (some of which were videos), write my notes, and reflect. Talk about multitasking! And I didn’t even attempt an interview.

    On top of that, my feet were killing me. I had walked to the museum from down the strip: not a good idea!

    It was a learning experience, though, and this column offered more suggestions. I like how you zeroed in on one section of America for the focus of your blog. I’ve thought of doing something similar for parts of Wisconsin.

    Keep up the good work!

    – Tom Fuszard
    New Berlin

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