The Anatomy of My Carry-On Bag

If you’ve ever visited my channel OrganizedLikeJen (OLJ) on YouTube, then you know that not only do I have a great love for organization, but an even greater respect for the art of packing.  I love to pack.  It is something I do often, as my husband and I travel quite a bit.  It is something I do well.  I don’t consider myself much of an expert on anything.  That is, anything except for packing.  I am a gosh darn good packer, if I do say so myself (loud and proud!).  This doesn’t mean that I am a minimilist packer.  On the contrary, many would say I tend to overpack.  I would have to disagree.  Packing is a very individual thing and what one needs during travel is not a one-size-fits-all sort of deal.  I tend to bring exactly what I need and a little bit extra as a better-safe-than-sorry type of gal.  On any given trip I use between 90-100% of the items I bring with me.  To me that signifies a well-thought out packing job.  With that being said, please take in mind whenever watching my packing-related videos or reading my packing-related blog posts, that I show what works for me.  You might not feel the need to travel with three different kinds of cameras, emergency clothing, or journals in your carry-on bag, but I do.  To each their own.

I am always recieving requests to post updated ‘What’s In My Carry-On” videos on OLJ.  Since I have now posted SIX carry-on videos (links to all below if you’re interested) since I first started my organization channel, I decided maybe a blog post update would be a better idea.  This also makes sense because I am using the same bag from the last two carry-on videos with only minor adjustments.  That bag is the 17″ Roll Along Tote in Mocha Rouge by Vera Bradley (pictured above).  It was a birthday gift from exactly one year ago and I have been in love with it ever since.

I love the cheery Mocha Rouge pattern.  It’s easy to spot, but not overly bright.

The snapping handles are perfect for corralling extra layers when on the go.

I keep my Lug Life Undercover Bear travel pillow & a small reusable shopping bag (in case I purchase snacks) in the generously spacious front slip pocket.

The bag has two main zippered compartments, one shallow and one deep, both of which open up flat.

The more shallow of the two has a special built in “Checkpoint Friendly” laptop case. When I go through security I can just zip open this top compartment & lay it flat (as show in the previous picture), leaving my laptop safely inside while it travels through the X-ray machine.  I love not having to remove my laptop from the security of this padded pouch!  I do still keep a protective hardshell case on my laptop at all times.  I am currently using a Kuzy Rubberized Hard Case Cover in a beautiful Tiffany blue color.

There are several pockets on the other side of this compartment that I use to stash magazines, pens, a Starbucks giftcard, and personal hygiene essentiels (filed under the better-safe-than-sorry category) for quick & easy access.

There is a large zip pocket behind these slip pockets that is perfect for keeping the folder with all of my travel documents safe as well as other flat items.

The other main compartment of the bag is much deeper and can hold quite a bit.

The flat side has two zippered compartments.  The top mesh one is usually where I keep my vlogging camera (a Canon Powershot Elph 300 HS) in its 1154 Lill Studio Kari case as well as mints, gum, & a small snack (Luna bars are my favorite on the go).

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_11I usually stash my personal journal (safe inside its Jonathan Adler case), the lock that came with the bag, and extra ziplock bags in the lower zippered compartment.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_12I like packing the deepest portion of the bag vertically so I can easily pull out whatever I need without having to dig around too much.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_13I use a variety of cases & pouches to keep similar items together, which also makes it much easier to find whatever I may need quickly.  I usually pack a book or my kindle in this compartment as well.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_14I always travel with a Vera Bradley Ditty Bag (shown here in the matching Mocha Rouge pattern), which is a lightweight pouch lined in plastic.  I keep a set of leggings or mesh shorts as well as an extra pair of underwear in this in case of emergency during travel or for unexpected delays or cancellations.  I always travel with my Bose Quiet Comfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones in a velvet pouch, a trail mix snack, and fuzzy socks in the case of a chilly airplane.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_15I use several different kinds of pouches to house all of my cameras and cords.  I keep my Sony Handycam HDR-150CX, charger & USB cord in a small SORT Electronics Case.  I keep my Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR camera in a Crumpler Haven (size medium).  I just posted my first impressions on this case (see blog post DSLR Camera Accessories Haul).

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_16I keep all of my computer cords & accessories in an Eagle Creek Pack-It Quarter Cube, including the power cords, mouse, an external hard drive, Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter, & a Smart Charger (for emergency iPhone battery replenishment).

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_17I keep my iPhone charger, my two other camera chargers & extra batteries in an Eagle Creek Small PackIt Sac.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_18I prefer packing my jewelry in my carry-on bag as opposed to in my checked luggage.  I’ve been using this Hanging Jewelry Roll for the past 6 months for travel and absolutely love it!  Check for a new video soon on OLJ on how I pack my jewelry for travel.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_19I am a big fan of the “Walking Pharmacy,” as I like to call it, which is a case in which I store all of my daily necessities & small emergency items.  I filmed an entire video on what I keep in my travel walking pharmacy if you’d like a more in-depth look.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_20 I have been enjoying using my Louis Vuitton Insolite wallet for travel, because I can fit my phone in the large zippered compartment.  I’ve attached an 1154 Lill Studio Jane Wristlet to it so I can easily manage the wallet when I need my ID for checkin & security.  It’s also nice when traveling with Don to leave my bag with him at the gate while I make a dash for a water bottle or to use the restroom before the flight.

OJ|OLJ 1:27:2013_21Lately I have been traveling with what I call my “Creative Necessities Pouch” (CNP).  I love to make lists, plans things out on paper, and doodle/daydream with colorful pens & stickers.  I keep a small pad of paper, a Moleskine Cahier Journal, sticky notes & tabs in a variety of colors & sizes, a multi-color jumbo pen, whiteout tape, magnetic paper clips, & a variety of stickers in my CNP.  I’ve taken to carrying this in my larger size purses when I know I am going to have some downtime during any particular outing.  It has become a wonderful addition to my travel carry-on bag as well.

As you can see, I use every nook & cranny of my Roll Along Tote.  I love that I can easily fit all of my electronics  valuables, and personal odds & ends in it.  The fact that the bag can fit under the seat in front of me on the airplane is the icing on the cake!  I appreciate having my bag & its contents right at my feet for easy access.  It’s on sale right now at for a much reduced price, which leads me to believe that they might be discontinuing this model.  I hope that means they will replace it with a newer model if nothing else, because it truly is the perfect carry-on in my opinion and I think that many others would agree.

If you’d like to see my carry-on videos from over the past few years, I am listing & linking them below:

❊ Summer Travel: Carry-On Essentiels (July 10, 2012)

❊ What’s In My NEW Carry-On & How To Pack for an Out of Town Race (February 24, 2012)

❊ Yet Another Carry-On Bag Video (September 5, 2011)

❊ Packing Organization: Carry-On (May 17, 2011)

 What’s In My Carry-On, Part 2 (November 17, 2010)

❊ What’s In My Carry-On, Part 1 (November 17, 2010)

*I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this post.  All opinions are my own.*


53 thoughts on “The Anatomy of My Carry-On Bag”

  1. thanks jen for all the videos that you make, your organizational infos you share to all of us. like all your fans/ subscribers around the world, i am blessed to have you in our lives, you bring me joy and inspiration, more power to you.

  2. Hey Jen……..thanks for the blog post! I’ll be packing tomorrow so this is very helpful. I sent you a private message on ur FB account a few days ago, not sure if u recd it yet? I’m going to watch the new video now of how u packed for Don and use the tips to pack my husband’s stuff tomorrow as well! Thank you~Thank you!! 🙂

  3. Love this! I found this informative and gives me a ton of ideas for my carry on. I do a lot of overnight and two day trips. I think this bag would be perfect for me and love that it is on sale! I also love this pattern as I have some of it already and agree that you can see it but its not too bright. 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

  4. Please do a video on the CNP! I would love to hear about it more in depth, like why you have those certain things in there and what it’s used for. I’d also like to hear about your journals and how you organize those.

  5. Love love your packing videos, they are awesome, I’ve learned so much for these. Thank you for sharing. I did manage to purchase this bag yesterday after I saw your post on Facebook, actually my Mom decided to get it for me if I promise to visit more. :).

  6. Hey Jen! Thank you so much – this is so helpful! Where did you get that owl case – it is so cute!

    Thank you 🙂


  7. Hi Jen

    I LOVE your packing videos (in fact I love all your videos). You inspire me so much. I used to HATE packing with a vengeance but since watching your videos, I now enjoy it. I bought some packing cubes and can’t believe how much easier it makes the process. Keep u the good work with your videos Jen – I love them. Thank you so much.

  8. Hi Jen. Thanks for the carry on post very useful.
    Can u do a similar post on your walking pharmacy and contents of
    Your handbag. Luv your videos. I have improved so much on my
    Organisation and your videos were of great help.thanks and keep it going.

  9. I love love love this post! I love alll of your videos but found out about your channels through your packing videos and now I’m hooked! I love to pack (and have to a lot since I travel for work) and I enjoy watching other people who pack well. There is always something to learn! Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Dear Jen ,
    I absolutely love your organisation videos, in particular your packing for trip videos, I stumbled across your channel about a year ago, by placing in the search window on you tube the word ‘organising tips ‘ and since then have been completed hooked on all your channels, Thank you for sharing such wonderful tips, reviews, vlogs , ideas, inspiration … please keep making videos, also loving your blog as well, very well written and designed. Best wishes from a UK subscriber x

  11. hey jen! i love all your packing posts/videos! they’ve helped me A LOT! i’m such an eagle creek fan now!
    i was wondering if you could do a video or blog post about your toiletries…i’m intrigued how you break them into smaller bags for the different areas. i usually just try to shove all of mine into one bag…i think i like your way better!

  12. Wow, Jen! You really are such a natural blogger! I’ve loved watching your videos for over a year now, and I was excited for the blog, but this is so much better than I could have imagined! It is beautifully presented and beautifully written! Congrats!

  13. Hi Jen, This was a very useful post.Can you please do a similar one on walking pharmacy and
    what you carry in your purse. Luv you videos. I hreat ave improved so much on my organization, and your videos
    were of great help. Thanks and keep it with going.

    And Many More Happy Returns Of the Day. Happy Birthday !!! Hope you had a great day with Don.

  14. I love your blogpost. I would love to get this carry-on but my only concern is that it would be hard to open on the plane with limited space. Is this true?

    Also, I want to tell you that you motivated me to create my own blog. I have social anxiety disorder like yourself so I think that this will be a great way to get out there without being on the “big” YT screen.

    Thanks for motivating me and so many others!

    1. Since it fits under the seat I don’t have a problem getting it on the plane.

      Congrats on your new blog! I love how you store your EOS lip balms. So cute!

  15. I love your carry-on videos. A video or post on what some of your favorite snacks to bring when traveling are (other than luna bars) would be great.

    Thanks, Jessica 🙂

    1. Hey Keisha

      I just noticed that Jen used the cute owl case I sent to her last fall! I’m so glad she had a use for it. And I stumbled upon your question.

      I purchased the owl case at Barnes & Noble in August or September 2012. It was with all their back to school supplies. Hope this helps 🙂

        1. You are very welcome, Jen! I saw it and instantly thought of your love of all things contained & owls. It was a perfect match!

  16. Hi Jen
    I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS BLOG POST!!!!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU SOOOOOOOO MUCH FOR POSTING THIS!!!!!!!!!! You will be a HUGE LIFESAVER when I’m packing for my trip to leave for my next vacation in the spring!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a video request for you, on your next trip to Utah, could you please film a video on how YOU pack for this kind of trip where you can leave things there? My vacation, is a similar concept to your “family vacation home” where my mum’s parents own “a vacation home” of sorts where EVERYONE in the family leaves things there and I’m always confused on what to bring so a video on OLJ and/or a blog post will be great! 😀
    Hope you had the most special birthday ever
    Much love

      1. Thanks for answering my question, Jen! It was very helpful and I watched some of your old packing videos to help me with my packing for my trip during this past spring break!!

  17. I have suitcase envy! Fab post, I loved all the links, saved lots of questions I bet x I’m off to Lanzarote in a couple of weeks so may borrow some packing ideas – although I’m sure my airline has a 5kg carry on limit grrrrrrr!

  18. I just cannot believe this post Jen……rather spooky….I have a feeling I will be travelling alot soon and have watched your videos, love you lots, and just thought wished Jen could do a blog with everything all in one place about her travelling and how to pack, what to use, etc etc ……and here it is….oh my…. Manifesting confirmed!! Thank you for your Amazing inspirational ways of getting organised …many blessings xx

  19. Great ideas as always Jen! I particularly loved how you packed some items vertically..brilliant. Thank you for posting 😉

  20. I just recently bought this bag for a trip this summer, and I love it. I can’t wait to use it. I have two kids, so this would also be great for long day trips. I like to have jackets and an extra change of clothes for them. So pretty!

  21. Hi Jen! I absolutely LOVE you’re travel videos. They always get me excited for my Disney trips! Would you ever do a trip JUST using carry on luggage? I usually get paranoid about checking my bag, but I find it so hard to pack everything I need so it stays with me!

    1. I would usually pack carry-on only luggage for a short trip (say a long weekend) & the only time we take those is for specific events like weddings & family reunions which require packing dress clothes and the like. I could definitely get all of my items in a carry-on, but Don’s dress stuff is a bit too bulky to pack in a small bag, especially considering he wears size 12 shoes that can take up half a carryon bag! If a time comes in the future that I’ll be packing carry-on only luggage you can bet I’ll film it for OLJ.

  22. I absolutely adore this bag, but I can’t get it because Vera Bradley doesn’t ship it outside of the US. Such a pity.

      1. I’m in the same boat as you Maria, I have just tried to buy the rolling tote and found out that they don’t ship to the UK!

  23. Oh my! I love the photo of your Creative Necessities Pouch! So many goodies to plan and create with! I want to put together one of these myself!

  24. I saw your packing video for this piece and when it was over I hopped on over to the website and ordered one. I always get my carry-on “repoe’d” at the gate and hate having to take out all of my valuables and hand carry them while my bag goes its own way…. well once you mentioned that this bad boy (girl) fit under the seat I was SOLD… It was waay out of my budget for the month but the sale price made less of a dent… Thanks for the breakdown and love all your videos.

  25. Hi Jen, I love your videos I just came upon it today. I am going away in Nov. for three days and I will try the weekender. I was so excited when I found your site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Slide Up