Travel Tip – Packing you Personal Item


One travel tip I’ve been dying to share is the best way to pack your personal item.  That oddly named, catch-all of everything that you have to unload at security and lugs everything that didn’t fit in your suitcase.

A better name is desperately needed for such an essential piece of luggage.

The first tip is picking the perfect bag.  I’ve obviously been a fan of bags by Lo & Sons and Dagne Dover, but I want to add a third to the list – the Sia by Sole Society.


It’s one hell of a bag.  The upper component is roomy enough to carry the essentials, and the bottom can fit 3 pairs of shoes.  Which brings me to the second tip – pack at least one pair of shoes in your travel tote to conserve space in your suitcase.

My sneakers, sandals, and flats fit perfectly inside the Sia.  Then again, I have absurdly small feet.


One of the issues I hear often (and suffer from in my normal bags) is black hole syndrome – the inevitability of not being able to find anything in my bag.  Tip number three is put it in a pouch.  As in, any small item (chargers, jewelry, beauty items, even socks for freezing cold flights) go in a pouch.  My favorite pouches – this one by Rebecca Atwood and this Wink & Winn crossbody that is comprised of three different pouches (um, score).


These three tips are the reason I can get this baby packed in 5 minutes.  BUT my lovely newsletter subscribers will receive a printable packing list tomorrow – sign up to snag it (along with my clothing calculator and toiletries packing guide).  AND you’ll get a first look at the newest offerings from Pack Perfect.

Disclosure – Sole Society gifted me this bag and the scarf, hat, and a pair of shoes shown in this post.  All opinions, however, are my own.  I only partner with brands I love, and I thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Hitha On The Go possible!

  • I also use little pouches when traveling (one for electronics, one for toiletries). The Sia looks like a great travel option! I am wondering: can you fit a laptop inside? It’s hard to tell from the website exactly how large the top part is.

    • hithaonthego

      It’s a tight fit, but it can fit a 13″ laptop. Everything shown in the picture fits perfectly inside!

      • Taylor Coil

        Whoa. Officially sold. Thanks, Hitha! I always lug around a backpack as my ‘personal item,’ making me feel (and look) about 12 years old. Been wanting an upgrade and tips on what I actually need in my bag, and this is perfect. This is one of my favorite posts that you’ve written yet.

        • Same here, haha. I’ve really had to try hard to resist the urge to carry a backpack. It’s just so convenient, and hands free — but not very adult or chic. I used to carry my camera bag as my personal item, which wasn’t always the most efficient, but I never wanted it it out of my site or even stuffed into the overhead bin. But I decided that I’m really going to pare down the lenses and other camera equipment I travel with, and I’ll be able to pack a better personal item as a result!

          • Thanks for the information, Hitha! I am always looking for good traveling options (purses/bags that fit laptops, foster organization, and aren’t so expensive that I worry about it in transit)!

          • hithaonthego

            I’m thrilled you love this option, Anna. I have a number of Sole Society bags and they’re all great quality and a wonderful price point.

          • hithaonthego

            Tiera – I pack my camera in this sleeve ( and only take my 25-70mm lens with me. It fits in any of my travel totes perfectly, and I always have my DSLR with me! Win win.

          • Thanks for that sleeve recommendation! I’ll have to get one for myself.

            How do you like the 25-70? I’ve had my eye on the 24-105 for awhile — thinking it would make a good-quality multipurpose lens, perfect for everyday & travel. But the f/2.8 on the 24-70 is so enticing!

          • hithaonthego

            GAME. CHANGER. I don’t use any other lens, nor do I travel with any other. I have the Sigma one (for Canon) and it’s truly incredible.

        • hithaonthego

          Thank you so much Taylor! I’m so glad you found it so helpful.

  • Guest

    I was pleasantly shocked at the great price of this wonderful bag.

    • hithaonthego

      Great price and EXCELLENT quality.

  • To do: Must invest in pouches for travel! I recently bought The OG from Lo&Sons and there are so many pockets…but still some things get lost in there.

  • Great post Hitha! I need an overnight bag for my short business trips. This would be such a great option. Thanks for sharing. Welcome back to New York!!!

    • hithaonthego

      Thanks boo, but unfortunately didn’t make it back to NYC yet! Will be home on the 3rd.

  • We pack SO alike!

  • Jet Setting Newbie

    Loving this post! You included a lot of items on my must-have list as well as a few new ideas! Does this bag fit under the seat in coach? it looks a little big in the picture and I can’t quite tell. Would you also use this bag as your purse/tote once you arrive or would you pack another? I’ve always overlooked bags like this as a carryon but I’m loving the idea of using the compartment for shoes!! Thanks so much!

    • hithaonthego

      Hey JSN! This bag fits perfectly underneath an economy seat. I’ve used this as my tote while on business trips and it’s worked like a charm (particularly when I need to swap my flats for heels). It’s a fantastic bag, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly.

  • TravelNovice

    I purchased the Sia after reading about it here, and I loved the design, especially the bottom zippered section. It seemed perfect except for a really cheap zipper that did not work smoothly straight out of the box. Sadly, the top zipper broke the first day of travel. Not a happy travel experience. Sole Society has been helpful with the return. I wish the manufacturer would fix this quality issue. I would purchase the bag again in a minute.

    • hithaonthego

      Thanks for the feedback – I’ll also let Sole Society know, as I know they’re VERY focused on product quality. Thanks for letting me know and I hope your new Sia doesn’t have the same issue!

  • Saba

    Enjoyed this post. The Sia looks lime a great design – but I prefer leather or another more upscale material. Do you know of any similar designs in leather? Love the idea of the shoe compartment.

    • hithaonthego

      Hi Saba! GiGi New York makes some gorgeous leather tote bags with a top zip. None have a shoe pocket, but you can pack your shoes in a FLIGHT001 Go Clean shoe bag. Hope this helps!

  • Saba

    Sorry for the typo – “looks like” :)

  • sarah

    I see that you have the larger mason bag as one of your favorite things now. would you recommend that over this bag?

    • hithaonthego

      Both are great – I use my Sia as a daytime bag when running around the city, as the bottom compartment fits my sneakers and gym clothes perfectly. I like the Mason as my in-flight bag or as an overnight bag. Hope this helps!

      • Sarah

        Thank you so much!! I am traveling to south africa next month and was looking for the perfect personal item bag. I so appreciate the response!

  • Miss Leiva

    Thanks for that packing tip. It will be helpful for my upcoming same day business travel trip next week!

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  • Katie Scarlett

    Look at me finding this post almost exactly two years later. I’ve been looking for a chic personal item that could hold a lot, considering I am headed to Jamaica on the 19th. I didn’t want to lug around a heavy backpack or laptop case, and then I found this post. I immediately began looking for the Sia because it is the perfect travel bag. IMPORTANT NOTE FOR PEOPLE LOOKING FOR IT: It’s now called the Mason. If you look it up on Sole Society, it’s the exact same bag, just different name. I snatched it up SO QUICK. Thanks for the tips Hitha!

  • Susan Sprickman

    My international airline says I can bring on-board one carry-on (my Tumi roller bag), and one “accessory”. They say an accessory is a small handbag. Is this Sole Society bag considered the right size for an “accessory”. It seems like it might be too large. Have you ever had an issue with the size of this bag, and carrying it on in addition to the carry-on that goes in the overhead?

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  • Florence Eng

    Hi, This is a great article and I’m so glad I found it! Where on the site can I find the printable packing list, clothing calculator and toiletries packing guide?

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