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In the Bag: 20 Carry-On Essentials That'll Make Summer Travel a Cinch

Jun 5 2012 - 4:00am

While we have visions of our fantasy travel wardrobes, the reality of an overstuffed suitcase can wreak havoc on our adventures. This Summer, we're vowing to pack light and head out with only the essentials in tow. That doesn't mean there isn't room for a cool crop of clothes or accessories; we're just being a bit more mindful of the journey (and any excess baggage!). Inside we've culled a few of the necessary ingredients for a styled and efficient getaway wardrobe. From a perfect pair of shades to the ultimate in glam-on-the-go dresses, your Summer packing list starts here. Click on to see and shop a few of our must-have carry-on items.

All the necessary cosmetics you need in a convenient travel size makes life (and going through security) a whole lot easier.

Philosophy Happy Travels Set [1] ($32)

A striped t-shirt dress like this is a great option for your day to day. As cute as it is easy, it also rolls up easily into your travel bag without wrinkling.

Bamboo by United Bamboo Striped Baggy Dress [2] ($368)

Foldable flats are a lifesaver. They're so compact that they'll hardly impact any of your valuable space.

Sam Edelman Felicia Metallic Flat [3] ($90)

For the plane and beyond . . . a pretty cardi is a little insurance against on-board air conditioning while still keeping you prepared for any warm weather at your final destination.

J.Crew Cashmere Cardigan [4] ($180)

We love a great pair of shades like these to give instant glam on the go.

Illesteva Claire Cat Eye Tortoiseshell Acetate Sunglasses [5] ($220)

Great accessories like this don't take up much space, but they're invaluable for making the most of your basics.

Jacumba Corset Belt [6] ($58)

The maxi is the ultimate in travel basics. You never know when you'll need to dress it up a bit, and this dress is both an easy day dress with flats and a chic evening option.

Splendid Strapless Maxi Dress [7] ($118)

We love pretty scarves like this that are as functional as they are fashionable.

Leafy Batik Scarf [8] ($148)

Hats offer a styled finish to your most basic looks, and they're just as convenient to pack. Simply lay the hat at the bottom of your bag with the top of it facing downward. Then pile intimates and socks into the inside of the hat to help keep its shape while you're in transit.

Club Monaco Nancy Straw Fedora [9] ($70)

A bright bikini is a Summer must. Even if you just want to take a dip in the hotel hot tub, you'll be happy you remembered to pack a suit you love.

Dsquared2 Bandeau Bikini [10] ($343)

This convertible dress is totally amazing. The jersey fabric won't wrinkle when you roll it up in your bag, and later you're free to adjust the style from halter to strapless and beyond.

TwoBirds Convertible Jersey Dress [11] ($270-$290)

Denim is always essential. Throw these on for the plane ride for starters, and if all else fails, you'll wear them again and again on your trip; just change up your accessories.

Topshop Moto Mid Stone Baxter Jeans [12] ($80)

A simple white button-down does the trick every time. Bring this along to tie at the waist with a maxi skirt or throw on over a tank when it gets chilly.

BDG Oxford Boyfriend Shirt [13] ($39)

A great statement necklace like this can make all the difference when you're looking to dress up your outfit on the fly.

Asos Rocco Articulated Statement Necklace [14] ($26)

These essential tees come in a rainbow of colors and will work just about anywhere. They'll pair with everything from go-to denim to your bikini at the beach.

J.Crew Tissue V-Neck Classic Tee [15] ($30)

This dressed-up sandal seriously goes with everything, and since they're just $50, you won't feel guilty if they wear out on your travels.

Zara Basic Sandal [16] ($50)

The slick patent detailing means this comfy pair can go from day to night.

Pour la Victoire Fabia Patent-Matte Leather Sandal [17] ($225)

When we start with a bag this cool, we're all the more inspired to pack efficiently and stylishly.

Theory Denim Weekend Bag [18] ($325)

Write down all your adventures in a journal that not only has a place for all your musings, but also encourages creativity.

I Was Here: A Journal For the Curious Minded [19] ($17)

This dressed-up minipouch will be just the thing for toting your essentials, even when you're done up for a fancy dinner out.

Rebecca Minkoff Wallet on a Chain [20] ($195)

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