Same Same But Different: Our Tried-and-True Travel Essentials

same same but different

Welcome to Same Same But Different. As Gen Z and millennial fashion editors, respectively, we know a thing or two about shopping—for all ages, and especially our demographics. As we find the best products for you, we can’t help but do a little shopping for ourselves and build our personal (age-appropriate) wish lists. And now, we’re sharing them with you. Ahead, check out what’s in our hearts and in our carts lately.

Dale Chong: It seems that we’ve both been on the road lately. (I’ve missed our deskside chats in the office!) Nonetheless, with travel on the brain, I’m guessing others are planning their respective getaways as well. It’s hard to believe we’re officially in a warm-weather season, but it’s also so much fun to discuss big, upcoming plans. Spring is springing, which means travel abounds, especially as summer approaches. From weekenders and road trips to jet-setting between countries, everyone has their travel plans—and their travel essentials. What are yours?

Meg Donohue: My favorite subject! Traveling is one of my most beloved pastimes, although it can be a headache to plan and coordinate. Right now, I have lots of potential trips swirling in my head (and my Google Flights tabs), but I don’t have much in the books just yet. I do love a road trip for the ease and flexibility it offers—no airlines, no problem—but even those can be difficult to find time for. Perhaps you’ve done a better job at scheduling time off. Inspire me, please.

DC: TBH, it’s hard to take off work when there’s the blurred line of working from home, and when I don’t have set dates, things often get pushed to the back-burner until it’s too late—talk about a flop. But this year, no more! I’ve finally chosen dates to go to Asia this summer—which means I’m anticipating some very long flights. I’m no stranger to lengthy trips, but when they’re upwards of 10 hours or longer, I get nervous. What makes things a little easier is having a go-to travel outfit. Mine usually consists of easy shorts or knit pants along with an oversized cardigan to combat blasting A/C, and slip-on shoes like Birks—which are perfect, whether I’m in a car or going through airport security. (I really need to get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.) Do you have a travel uniform you like to don—and does it change whether you’re on the road or up in the air?

MD: Asia is on my list too, so remind me to get your recommendations afterward. I wish I could say I looked chic when I travel, but I’m all about comfort on travel days. Thankfully, now that athleisure has very much become a thing, at least it’s easier to look comfortable and cute at the same time. I love a black legging because you can never really go wrong. Add in a cozy sweatshirt, a comfy layer underneath, and a shoe that is easy to get on and off and also easy to walk in (hi, Air Force 1s), and that’s usually my look. I’ll switch it up if I’m trying to wear my bulky items to make space in my suitcase….and what a segue that is! I noticed we’re suitcase sisters. I’m new to the Away Travel hype, but so far I get it. Have you had your carry-on for a long time?

DC: Re: outfit planning, I make many attempts, but then I factor in different shoes, accessories, what have you. I am a Gemini, and therefore a fashion chameleon! But, okay, you’ve persuaded me to be at least a little more decisive. And you definitely have me convinced on the luggage scale—that’s only a must these days. Anyway, my carry-on has evolved over the past year significantly. While a travel backpack is always a good option, I’ve chosen an elevated croc-embossed leather tote bag, which doubles as a work bag when I’m out and about. It makes me feel less like I’m coming home from college and more like I’m a true working woman. Anyway, I suppose you’re asking what’s in my bag. Well, I’ll have you know, my Kindle has become my best friend as of late, mostly because I’ve been reading library books on it nonstop (and it avoids the added weight of their physical counterparts). Beyond that, it’s really just essentials, like some solid headphones and a phone charger. I sleep while en route, so the need for anything more is a little excessive, at least for me. But enough with my rambling. You’re a superstar with packing, and I’m guessing you must have some must-have in-flight/on-the-road items on your list.

MD: First, let me address the elephant in the room: I am a backpack girl through and through. It’s mostly for the sake of my posture, but I do sometimes feel like it makes me look like a student. Fortunately, there are worse things to be mistaken for. It helps to have a nice “big girl” style like this Calpak backpack. I like to travel with a portable clip-on reading light for a couple of reasons. If the plane is dark and people are trying to sleep, I always feel bad about turning on my overhead light. I know it’s supposed to be a “personal” light, but let’s face it—nothing on a plane is personal. It also comes in handy if you’re sharing a hotel room and dealing with jet lag. I once shared a room in London with my whole family, and when I couldn’t sleep, I read in the (empty) bathtub for hours to avoid turning on the main light in the room. A portable lamp would have helped then.

And one last recommendation because I’m really jazzed about this one: I recently tried a new style of toiletry case and I’m totally hooked. It’s shaped like a rectangle and the zipper opens diagonally. I’m no geometry wizard (can you tell?), but the result is that it opens nearly flat, so you can actually see all your items rather than digging through a makeup bag or dopp kit. It’s gone everywhere with me since I got it.

DC: Look, I am not one to discount the value of a good toiletry bag. The ability to have easy access to everything? Priceless. I’m excited to see where you’re headed next—and pack accordingly.

MD: Until next time, bon voyage!

Headshot of Dale Arden Chong

Dale Arden Chong is the Senior Fashion Commerce Editor at Previously, she was an editor at and has written for Who What Wear, GLAMOUR, The Coveteur, and more. She loves fashion, food, and art, among other things—but her greatest love is K-pop idol V of BTS. 

Headshot of Meg Donohue

Associate Fashion Commerce Editor

Meg Donohue is the Associate Fashion Commerce Editor at Her passions include spicy foods, sustainability, and the Y2K remake of Charlie’s Angels. She will never stop hoping for a One Direction reunion tour.


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