What’s in My (Vacation) Bag?

The Wicked Weekend

During the long weekend on the last week of March, I flew to Singapore. The trip took place three weeks after a Skype conversation with a close friend from college prompted me to pay a visit to the place I call my “second home” — and purchase an additional ticket to catch the Broadway production of “Wicked” at Marina Bay Sands. The latter was fantastic, by the way.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, I made sure the items selected were both complete and a decent mix-and-match to tide me over for the long weekend. However, my tendency to heighten the simple task of packing into a full-fledged dissertation took over, and I flew with a weekend’s worth of clothing in a suitcase large enough for a two-week excursion. But, I’m proud to say that said suitcase was still well under the 15-kilogramme weight limit for check-in luggage… and I have my designated vacation bag to thank.

The Vacation Bag

My Tory Burch Dipped Tote has been an essential part of my wardrobe, ever since I purchased it off Shopbop during a 30% off summer sale last July. I’ve used it as both a weekday and weekend bag, and the canvas structure has proved roomy enough to handle a laptop and other personal effects during the Feist concert I attended in February. In fact, I was close to shelling a little extra for the oversized version, had it not been for a good friend’s prudent warning against it, and a vague reference to the proportions of a body bag.

What's in My (Vacation) Bag?

(The sandals above were not part of the contents of my vacation bag, but were incidentally used when I made my way back home.)

Those who know me well are aware of my obsession with the colour chartreuse and its extended family of bright yellows. So, it is not a surprise that I bought the bag in an appetising Lemoncello. Even the word “Lemoncello” sounds delicious when uttered! But the main reason for this selection is because of its size. Generally, I love my everyday bags big, and I gauge the size by whether or not it can fit my first-generation MacBook Pro, laptop casing included. This tote achieves precisely that. With a width of slightly more than 16 inches, it accommodates my need to carry a slew of items that need to be within reach when I need them.

What's in My (Vacation) Bag? What's in My (Vacation) Bag?

Oddly enough, for a bag this large, I do not have an bag organiser, like my weekend bag of two years ago. This is because I like my bag organisers to match its interior, and I haven’t found one that matches the tote’s contrasting royal blue lining. One would think that a bag organiser of that colour would be a standard department store item, but it is surprisingly difficult to find. I had to compromise with some other solution, as a result, but I generally just let stuff bounce around in there.

Inside the Vacation Bag

What's in My (Vacation) Bag?

On Sunday night, I flew back home to Jakarta bearing evidence that could easily summarise the story of my weekend. Going clockwise from the top left, a combination of the following new and familiar items were in tow:

  1. Travel Clutch: A few days prior to flying to Singapore, I found this fun-coloured Cutout Leatherette Clutch from Forever 21, to hold all my travel documents in place. Whenever I go out of the country, the most elusive item in my bag would always be a writing implement in which to fill out immigration forms. As a result, it would become a competition between my hands and The Big Black Nowhere of my bag, which usually ends in me sheepishly approaching the check-in counter for a pen. Having the clutch greatly helped in avoiding that situation.
  2. Make-up Kit: This LeSportsac Box Travel Cosmetic Bag with the 2011 “Blossom Lake” print houses my — you guessed it — make-up. Although it is practically filled to the brim, that pouch carries almost all the make-up I own. I believe that is still less than the average cosmetics-wearing female.
  3. Smaller bag number one: Two years has done quiet a bit to the exterior, but it still functions as an iPod case.
  4. 32GB iPod Touch: I made sure I fully charged my iPod for the trip, even though I knew I’d be rarely using it.
  5. Two BS-1363s: Having lived in Singapore during my college years, I still possess a couple triple-pronged adapters, even though I live in a place that commonly uses Schuko plugs. They are no problem to bring around when traveling, but for the sake of practicality, perhaps I should invest in a travel adapter soon.
  6. House and suitcase keys: Aside from my travel documents, I made sure to keep these noise-makers within my reach at all times. For particular safe-keeping, they never veered far from my travel clutch.
  7. Collateral from the Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum: On the second day of my stay, I went to “15 Minutes Eternal”, an exhibition featuring a large collection of the works of late pop art icon Andy Warhol. One semester of art history pales greatly in comparison to what I experinced as I meandered through the halls memorialising various stages of Warhol’s career. That day in the ArtScience Museum, I independently absorbed his early works, saw Campbell’s Soup Cans, roamed through a simulation of The Factory, and eyed the contents of Andy Warhol’s Time Capsule Number 51. It was incredible.
  8. Smaller bag number two: This bag carries a toothbrush, various hygiene products, and feminine essentials, making it a constant companion, regardless of which bag I use.
  9. Pamphlet about and ticket to “Wicked”: It had been four years since a good friend recommended “Wicked”, and three years since missing the first opportunity to watch it during my trip to San Francisco. On the night I arrived in Singapore, I went to Marina Bay Sands’ Grand Theatre and finally watched the Singapore showing of said musical. The performance was amazing, and the set design was sublime. I laughed, I became emotional, and I enjoyed the show so much the soundtrack was stuck in my head for a good two weeks after returning to Jakarta. What I’d give to watch it again.
  10. Spare change: The amount of coins my wallet missed but my bag accumulated ended up being a mix of Singapore Dollars… and a single IDR 500 coin.
  11. Spare plastic bag: I never leave for a trip without packing a spare plastic bag or two, which tends to be used as a receptacle for dirty laundry or storage for a spare pair of shoes. I only traveled with a single pair of sandals, and had kept this particular green plastic bag for the event that I would buy a proper shoe over the weekend. However, that purchase did not happen.
  12. A paperback copy of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking: I initially wanted to get John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, per the recommendation of a friend. But when popping by the bookstore before my return flight home, I ended up happening on a book that, as an introvert, I know I ought to read.
  13. Post-it notes containing addresses: One of my good friends from college let me crash at her apartment, sparing me from spending extra on accommodation. She lives so conveniently close to town that it warranted a lot of short-distance walking, which is precisely what I miss about living there. (The other Post-it note was said friend’s office address, because so I could meet her for lunch on the first day of my trip.)
  14. Airline ticket: Lion Air became my carrier of choice, because of their flight times. I took the first flight out on Friday, and returned on Sunday’s last flight, giving me solid three days in Singapore for an affordable price.
  15. Passport: I had to protect it with a light green Kipling passport cover with pockets, in order to store all those extra identification cards that come with having a Southeast Asian citizenship.
  16. Wallet number one: You have read right — I brought more than one wallet. This number was purchased at Paperchase, at the former Borders bookstore, during a particular stripes-obsessed phase of mine. I unearthed it after some years to store spare money, because it matched the clothing I had packed for the weekend.
  17. Google Nexus S: On my 27th birthday last July, I retired my BlackBerry. It was probably one of the best technological and psychological decisions I’ve ever made. The sleek Nexus S is my first foray into the Android world, though as a previous tactile keyboard user, it took me a while to get acclimated with a touch-screen phone.
  18. Black ballpoint pen: Being the only one I had, it scored a comfortable spot in my travel clutch.
  19. Wallet number two: My main wallet, and the storage of my bank books, cards, and other necessary papers. For safety reasons, I kept this mostly out of sight.
  20. Phone charger: Even with this vital piece on my person, there were still moments when my phone’s battery would die. It would be even worse, if I had forgotten the adapters.
  21. Bridge camera: My Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ18 has been a trusty companion on trips for several years already. I also planned for a weekend heavy in taking photos, but a combination of finding myself in areas where photography was forbidden, and preferring to live in the moment resulted in a memory card relatively bare of captures from the weekend.

Happy Easter Sunday, everyone.

What About You?

Are you planning on taking any trips soon? What do you always bring with you when you’re on holiday?


  1. Maria Celina

    @Lovely T: Thank you for visiting, and for your comment, Lovely. I plan to revisit a post of a similar format in the future, incidentally, so I shall keep your make-up bag content request in mind.

    @Sarai: Actually, Sarai, I’m the type of person who just invests in the bare essentials, and re-stock individual products when they run out. Sometimes, I do wonder if I’m doing the whole make-up shebang correctly, because it seems like many of the other girls I know — you included — have far more equipment than I do.

    Also, it’s almost mid-July, as I reply “fashionably” late to your comment, so I hope that you had a pleasant trip back in May.

  2. sweater

    Gorgeous set-up of your vacay bag contents, not to mention the bursts of colour! Thanks for sharing what’s in your bag! A fun read. :-)

  3. Oridusartic

    Stuff inside your bags make an awesome color combination. I love it! xD
    Look at those stuff. We ladies are surely having an everyday workout just by bringing our bag. Hahaha :D

  4. Jannie

    Such a cool post of what’s inside your vacation bag. Thank you for sharing too. It was really fun looking through your bag…through pictures. :)

    I love how fun, cute, and colorful your bags within your bag are. I remember seeing that beautiful Tory Burch tote on Twitter. I like how it looks both stylish and functional. Among my favorite pieces are the two wallets, the leatherette clutch from F21, the iPod touch, and your cellphone. Looks like your phone has a nice, big screen too. Although a touch-screen takes quite some time to get used to, it is definitely a far cry from the BlackBerry. Because I’ve had it for almost two years, I admit that I miss it from time to time. Not so much though. Hehe…

    I haven’t been on my computer for days. It’s a good thing I’m not too late in seeing this post. Before I hit “submit,” I hope you had a wonderful Easter. :)

  5. Lissy

    yay Wicked!

    I always bring my big laptop case/backpack with me on vacation. Besides my laptop, I keep my kindle, my chargers, my headphones, probably a change of clothes in there too. Your bag is much more stylish though :P

  6. Sarai

    My next trip is in late May but I can assure you that my make-up bag won’t be that size! Good god, how do you do it?! (This post also reminds me that I should purchase a new wallet because the one that I have now, while adorable, is falling apart.)

    I too like my handbag to be on the larger size, mainly because I like to bring a few things with me to work, like my Nook Simple Touch, a water bottle, snacks, etc.

    During my trips I always make sure to bring my passport and any other travel documents, my cosmetics bag, a second set of keys, my tiny digital camera, an umbrella (also tiny), my wallet, my phone, my Nook Simple Touch, a notebook, my iPhone 4, and any chargers I need.

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