Everyday Essentials: The Tote

As much as we’d love to run around with no handbag, no purse, no backpack, and unencumbered arms, most dress pockets just aren’t able to accommodate the volume of “essentials” we appear to need. It’s not quite the hands-free ideal, but we’ll give tote bags their due: they are pretty much the answer to any question your day might throw at you.

But since you, like us, will likely load up your tote to the top, and also like us, likely hate rifling through our oversized handbags for things that seem always to tuck themselves away at the very bottom (we call this the Mary Poppins effect)... here are a few tips that will help you tote your way through the day more easily.

The first rule for tote-loading: divide and conquer! Your tote should be as organised as your planner, which brings us to #2: that planner should really be in your tote at all times. Then add the essentials: wallet, keys, and phone.

Of course it’s usually the non-essential essentials that cause trouble, so here’s a ready reckoner of what you need.

For last-minute situations: Who here experiences anxiety when a plan you aren’t mentally or physically prepared for pops up? We’re raising our hands, just so you know. We recommend a little touch-up kit, to freshen up right before that happy hour plan your co-worker just invited you to. The five things you need: a mini dry-shampoo, hair brush, lipstick, concealer and mascara. This lot will also see you through the end of a 9 hour flight, particularly when someone’s greeting you at the other end. A word of caution: we said m-i-n-i. If you start putting your full-size bottles in there, all bets are off.

For the germophobe: Hand sanitizer, tissues, antibacterial wipes… tote staples for the cleaner-than-the-average person. A travel-size toothbrush and toothpaste will likely also make this list, a double whammy to refresh and revive.

The recharge materials: Unfortunately we’re no longer equipped to function without our fifth limb: our smartphone. Low-battery anxiety is way too familiar, so a phone charger or backup battery is the very first thing that makes its way into our bags. It’s not just your phone that needs recharging throughout the day, you do too. Mini bags of nuts or dried fruit will ensure you don’t fade before nightfall.

The emergency kit: What constitutes an “emergency” in our day-to-day lives? Anything from an unexpected scrape to an unwanted hangover. Chuck in a little kit with bandaids, painkiller and, let’s get real, breath mints.

Things to block out the world: A pair of noise-cancelling headphones and a good book are your best friends when travelling, whether across continents or just to work.

Organise all these elements in separate pouches so they’re easy to grab what you need when you need it. You’re now ready for spring vacation, but also, for a Wednesday.