Elise Taylor’s travel writing is as irresistible and infectious as the new Passalacqua hotel she recently visited along the shores Lake Como, set in an 18th-century villa where Napoleon Bonaparte once stayed and dotted with almost-too-picturesque views of scalloped umbrellas and miles of glistening water. The Vogue senior living writer has spent her professional years reporting on the best of what is new on the cultural front. “I like to joke that I’m the only writer at Vogue who doesn’t cover fashion,” Taylor explains. “Instead, I write about interior design, society, food, and travel—the latter subject allowing me to visit hotels and places around the world.”
The New York City–based writer has spent her professional years of travel writing on a mission: to share her love of travel through a distilled lens. “Although, yes, travel writing is fun, it is something I take quite seriously. People read Vogue aspirationally, which means they’re often researching for honeymoons, engagement trips, or once-in-a-life-time adventures,” explains Taylor. “It’s my job to tell you the places that’ll live up to whatever fantasy you have. (I put it to my friend like this: On vacation, there should be no FOMO, no wondering if somewhere else is more fun, more romantic, or a better use of your money. You should be utterly content right where you are.)”
Averaging two trips per month in locales as far-flung as the Sossusvlei Desert of Namibia for nighttime stargazing and Paris for couture week, Taylor is a travel veteran who has mastered the art of packing. In the midst of summer revenge travel, there is no one I’ve been more interested to speak with about how to optimize your carry-on. Ahead, Elise Taylor weighs in on exactly what to pack in a carry-on and the four key items to skip.
Items to Skip in a Carry-On Bag
If you're looking to edit down the pieces you're packing in a carry-on bag, Taylor has some insider recommendations. "Too many shoes, hair dryers (use the one at the hotel!), and clothes that are prone to wrinkling," she says. "Oh, and that one dress that's sat in your closet for years that you magically think you'll wear on vacation. Speaking from experience—you won't!"
Ahead, see the nine key items Taylor recommends packing in a carry-on bag.
1. Travel Adapter
When it comes to tech gadgets, Taylor opts for optimal functionality. "This travel adapter is honestly pretty clunky and looks like it might secretly morph into one of those robots from Transformers at any given moment. But it can also simultaneously charge your phone, iPad, as well as computer when all three are dying, and you have to elbow a businessman out of the way for a single socket at the Johannesburg airport! So, priorities."
2. TSA-Approved Toiletries
"Here's a packing tip I got from an organization expert—having a toiletries bag full of TSA-approved items that permanently lives in your carry-on suitcase so you never need to worry about forgetting anything," Taylor explains. "Mine includes this Dr. Barbara Sturm skincare set, which includes cleanser and moisturizer."
3. Passport Cover
"Do yourself a favor and don't get a sleek black passport cover. Instead, get a fire-engine red one so you can easily spot it in your bag at all times. Your sanity—and the people behind you in the security line—will thank you."
4. Relaxed Blazer
"Look, if it were up to me, I'd wear Alo yoga leggings and my favorite sweatshirt on any flight over seven hours. Alas, since I often have to take business meetings or lunches before I check into my hotel, and it's not yet socially acceptable to take business meetings in tie-dye, this sweater-blazer from J.Crew is comfortable enough for the plane yet polished enough to be presentable."
5. Multipurpose Shoes
"Shoes are my packing bane of existence. They take up the most room and are the heaviest items in your suitcase. So having a multipurpose pair—like these block heels, which are easy enough to walk in during the day and can be dressed up for night—are a true staple."
7. A Versatile Dress
"So far this summer, this white dress from LouLou Studio has been my most worn vacation piece—I've thrown it on to wear to the pool in Lake Como, to lunch at L'Avenue in Paris, to pick up paper towels at Duane Reade in New York City. Now that's versatility," explains Taylor. "Made of simple cotton, it's also wonderfully easy to stuff into a suitcase, and you won't need to dry clean it afterward."
8. Pared-Back Makeup
"My full makeup bag is way too heavy to lug around while traveling, so I tend to bring a pared-back bag of cosmetics in my suitcase comprised of tinted moisturizer, mascara, a little bit of bronzer, and this Milk stick, which doubles as blush and lipstick," says Taylor.
9. Travel Wallet
"This travel wallet will hold everything from your vaccine card to your boarding pass to your bag tag to your negative COVID test."