The Ultimate Small Travel Purse


2015 / Home Life / Travel Planning

05_smalltravelpurse_thecarsonstravelI’ve been in a bit of a minimalist clothing phase over the past year. The capsule wardrobe thing is hot right now, and while I haven’t gone to that extreme, my closet has taken quite the trimming – handbag collection included. It feels good to have one really good bag option for whatever situation I’m in. Except I was missing a small, lightweight crossbody for travel (and every day).

For about two and a half years I’ve been carrying a small black crossbody from the 3.1 Philip Lim for Target collection a couple years ago. I actually really love that bag except one side of the magnetic strip that keeps the flap shut fell out almost immediately after I got it. That’s the “for Target” difference. I did carry it to New York City with it flapping around annoyingly and unsafely. Fortunately I was never pick pocketed, but when my NYC-based aunt saw what I was carrying she gasped! It was time to find a replacement.

As Murphy’s Law would have it, I could never find a good replacement when I looked. I was scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed one day and saw Almost Makes Perfect was doing another Forever 21 favorites round up. I love it when other people find the good stuff at F21 so I don’t have to sift through it all at the store! In that post she recommended this Pebbled Faux Leather Crossbody for travel. I loved the look of it immediately and since she gave it the seal of approval, I ordered one in white.02_smalltravelpurse_thecarsonstravelIt’s flat enough to stay close to your body and out of the way of busy passersby, but still has way more room than I need for everyday essentials. Here’s what I keep in mine:


Clockwise: Coin Pouch (gift from my sister’s trip to Vienna) | Rebecca Minkoff pouch for ID, credit cards, and cash | Lip stuff: pink gloss, red matte, nude gloss, Burt’s Bees | Point & Shoot Camera (mostly used for video) | Bag-o-ibuprofen | Headphones | Pottery Barn Business Card Holder | Checkbook (sounds dated, but it’s been a life saver before) | Ice Breakers Mints | Sunglasses & Slim Case | iPhone & charger

I keep most of these items in the main compartment. I will say using a slim sunglasses case is pretty crucial for keeping this bag from bulking out. The second, slightly smaller compartment stays pretty empty when I’m at home, but when traveling it’s convenient for printed materials, snacks, or tampons if it’s unfortunate enough to be that time of the month during a trip. Oh, and the main compartment has three pockets inside! One for my phone, one for my lip products, and the third is where I keep the Burt’s Bees by itself because I get really irritated if I can’t access it quickly when I need it. The small luxuries in life!


On a related note, my friend Noria wrote a super helpful post recently about preparing to go to New York City. She touched on what to carry with you everyday (spoiler: it’s not a lot!), so give that a read if you’re headed on a big city adventure!

For my fellow photographers & bloggers out there in need of a bigger bag, I have another recommendation coming up!

Other travel planning thoughts:

When to Splurge & When to Save on Accommodations

Jim Gaffigan on Traveling

Plan to be spontaneous?

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Spontaneous Road Trip with The Sister!


2015 / Midwest / Summer Travel


Last Wednesday during a product shoot for my sister’s company, we were discussing how summer was nearing its end and how we had yet to travel anywhere. Granted, summer weather in Oklahoma will be here until October, but there’s just a different energy when hitting the road in the summer months. We looked at our calendars and realized that the upcoming weekend was going to be our last opportunity to do something.

So with only about 24 hours of planning, my sister and I decided to go on a weekend road trip! We wanted to go somewhere within a six hour drive, so we easily narrowed down our choices to Dallas, Austin, or Kansas City. I was originally leaning toward Dallas because it was the shortest drive and I have never really spent time in the area besides IKEA trips and the Texas State Fair over OU/TX weekend. But we decided to save the Dallas adventure for another time and we picked Kansas City! Neither of us had been in at least 10 years, and we are completely different people than we were 10 years ago so we know it would be the best place for a brand new experience.

We did lots of online searching for things to do in KC, and we actually did everything we put on our list. We wanted to do enough to make the trip worthwhile, but we also didn’t want to stress ourselves out about seeing everything. Here’s what we picked!

T H E  P L A Z A


Shopping and dining in The Plaza is about the only thing I remember from our Kansas City trip 10 years ago. We were here around Christmas and it looked so charming with lights lining all the buildings. It’s definitely still charming in the summer time though! We popped in to a few shops and stopped for sandwiches since we were hungry from the drive!

kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_06 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_04 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_02

The thing we immediately came to love about Kansas City was the architecture. There are so many historic buildings that they’ve done such a great job updating while keeping the original aesthetic. And all the fountains – so great!

kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_08 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_01 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_07A L A M O  D R A F T H O U S E  C I N E M A

So, I know the Alamo Drafthouse movie theaters are a chain, but we had never been to one! Plus it was fun to be downtown. We went to a 9:30pm showing of Trainwreck which was so great. Not only hilarious, but heartwarming, sad, and sexy. (fun fact: Bill Hader is from Oklahoma!)

Even though we had sandwiches a few hours before, we had to order food because that’s the entire point of seeing a movie there! We ordered fried pickles and then later chocolate chip cookies. I wanted to order a beer but I hate drinking anything during a movie because I’ll have to pee 10 minutes later.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_46

L I T T L E  F R E S H I E

We let ourselves sleep in Saturday morning since we got back so late from the movie. Around 11am we stopped for coffee at a place we loved immediately based on the logo. It’s called Little Freshie and the shop is just as cute as you’d imagine it to be! And it’s on a cute street with a vegan restaurant next door and a really yummy bistro on the corner (more on that coming).kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_11kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_09

The cute marshmallow package in the picture above is from a company called Malvi. The owner of Malvi was leaving the coffee shop to catch a flight just as we were sitting down. She gave us the marshmallows since she couldn’t take them with her! So nice! Looking back on that I wish we would’ve had time to chat with her.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_10

W E S T S I D E  S T O R E Y

The local shop Westside Storey is in the same neighborhood as Little Freshie. We saw it as we were walking the area and we had to go in. It reminded us of Norman’s The Social Club, but for men. I ended up getting myself this t-shirt and a beer glass for Trae!

C U L T I V A T E  F E S T I V A L

Literally as we got off the interstate into Kansas City the day before we saw a billboard for a food + music event happening that weekend called Cultivate Festival. My sister is a big foodie so she looked it up and saw that some of her favorite Food Network chefs were going to be there!


Now, this would have been so much more tolerable if it hadn’t been so. damn. hot. It was only 86 degrees but with the humidity it felt like 99 degrees. Katy and I always say we are the most sweaty girls, so when it comes to outdoor festivals in 99 degree humidity, let’s just say the sporadic rain storms were most welcome to mask our increasingly wet clothing!!

kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_14We ate lunch at the Chipotle tents because they were sponsoring the event and they didn’t have crazy long lines (we were both on the cusp of hangry). We stayed long enough for Katy to watch the beginning of the cooking demo with Amanda Freitag and to get a piece of mixed berry pie, but that was the most we could handle in the heat!kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_13kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_17

This cool structure was across the street from the festival entrance. It has nothing to do with the festival, but it was a good photo op! :)

N E L S O N  -  A T K I N S  M U S E U Mkansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_23Because we added the Cultivate Festival to our Saturday plans we weren’t sure if we would make it to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, but we did! We only had about an hour and a half to explore before it closed, so we were kind of speeding through. Admission is free, so I didn’t feel too bad about skipping over sections that weren’t a high priority to me. We immediately went looking for the European art because the Impressionists are my favorite. Things started off with a bang with this giant Monet!kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_18

Water Lilies, Claude Monet


Boulevard des Capucines, Claude Monetkansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_26Olive Orchard, Vincent van Gogh


Sunset Glow, William Keith.

We were dying of thirst about halfway through so we went into the museum cafe that was already closed and I begged a worker to give us two cups for water! Big thank you to that guy! The cafe itself is really cool with arches all the way around and a whole ceiling of skylights.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_25

Connected to the original building is a newer building called the Bloch Building that contains all the contemporary art!kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_32

Portrait of Marion Bloch, Andy Warhol. The Bloch Building is named after Marion and her husband.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_31

Still Life with Brushes, Shell and Starfish, Roy Litchtensteinkansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_34kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_35

Makerchair Jigsaw (prototype), Joris Laarman. Each of these jigsaw pieces was 3-D printed!kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_33 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_27

Late Squall, Neil Welliver. I have an empty wall in my dining room that’s dying to have this on it.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_28

An excited Kathryn in front of Mark Rothko’s Untitled No. 11!kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_36kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_21

Out on the Sculpture Park was an exhibit by Philip Haas called The Four Seasons. The “15-foot-tall sculptures are 3-dimensional interpretations of the Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s portrait series of the same name.”kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_22kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_37

B L U E  B I R D  B I S T R O

Our original dinner plans were at Füd – the vegan restaurant next door to Little Freshie, but when we pulled up the lights were off and a sign was on the door. There had been a power outage in the neighborhood so they were closed. We were so bummed because they had such a giant menu of options! But we had also read great things about the Blue Bird Bistro which was on the corner of the street. We walked up there in hopes that they weren’t affected by the power outage, and we were in luck!

We were seated by a window without asking (I always want to sit near a window) and we ordered some super refreshing specialty drinks that I cannot remember the name of now, and it’s not on their online menu. Our food was so delicious – I had the bison burger with vegan mashed potatoes and Katy had the black bean shepherd’s pie. The food was excellent and the service was excellent!

Not going to lie, we spent the duration of our time waiting for our food searching on our phones for dessert options afterward.

U N I O N  S T A T I O N

I asked our waitress at Blue Bird Bistro for a great viewpoint spot of downtown and she suggested the Liberty Monument. When we googled its location we realized it was right across the street from Union Station, which was on our list of things to do.

We went into Union Station first since we parked behind it. It was around 7pm so there wasn’t much activity inside except one buzzing area of people dressed nicely. We walked over to be nosy and discovered it was cocktail hour for a wedding reception! I don’t know if it’s common to rent out part of Union Station for a wedding, but this seemed unusual and fancy schmancy.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_47Look at the light in there! Lucky photographer.

We walked out the front of Union Station and made our way up to the Liberty Monument. There was, indeed, a great view of downtown!kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_40 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_43 kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_42

When trying to park at Union Station we had gotten all turned around and we ended up at the Kansas City Ballet building! There were dancers arriving and walking inside. I wanted to go see what was going on, but Katy shut that down quickly. Party pooper!!!! :)kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_45 C U P C A K E  A  L A  M O D E

If you do anything in Kansas City, go to Cupcake A La Mode. Ignore their awful branding (sorry, Cupcake A La Mode. It’s bad!) because these were the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. Eating cupcakes can stress me out because they are so awkward to bite into and the frosting to cake ratio is always off. These were so dense, in a good way. The cake portion was taller (deeper?) than most cupcakes and there was just enough frosting on top (usually there is too much!). The flavors were so rich that one cupcake is definitely satisfying enough. But we each got two, because how were we to know?? I had the ChocoVanillo and the After Dinner Mint. Katy had the Red Velvet and After Dinner Mint. We got there about a half hour before they closed so the pickings were pretty slim. Neither of us took one damn picture so to save you from visiting their ugly website, have a browse on their Instagram account.


So that was our weekend trip! We decided the only thing that would keep us from coming back here more often is the hella boring drive. There is literally no civilization between Witchita and Kansas City. It’s just Windows desktop scenery the whole way.kansascity_july2015_thecarsonstravel_48

 It’s pretty, but there’s only so much of that you can stare at before you’re like WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE?!

More summertime travels:

Weekend in Denver

The Land of Lincoln

4th of July in New Mexico

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Walt Disney Concert Hall


2015 / Spring Travel / West

waltdisneyconcerthall_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_18Similar to the Urban Light installation at the LACMA, the Walt Disney Concert hall in downtown Los Angeles has become a hot spot for photo shoots thanks to its unique architecture. Because I’ve seen it photographed so much, I had to see it on my own when we visited LA this past March.

waltdisneyconcerthall_thecarsonstravel_22Walking up to the hall I mentioned to Trae how the architecture reminded me of the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, and then after looking it up, we learned the same guy designed both! His name is Frank Gehry. He also designed the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park in Chicago, which we visited a couple years ago.


Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago, 2012

web_EMPseattleExperience Music Project, Seattle, 2010

We arrived at the hall during the last bit of sunset so I anticipated it to be swarming with photographers and Instagrammers, but it turned out to be eerily empty.


There are a couple places where the curves come close together to create these shiny nooks.


Can’t help myself! :)waltdisneyconcerthall_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_07waltdisneyconcerthall_thecarsonstravel_23waltdisneyconcerthall_thecarsonstravel_21 waltdisneyconcerthall_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_11 waltdisneyconcerthall_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_17 waltdisneyconcerthall_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_15waltdisneyconcerthall_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_01

Maybe next time we’re here there will be a concert we can attend!

We bundled our visit to this hall with a couple other downtown things to make the most of our short time in LA. We chilled in a really cool coffee shop and explored a fancy hotel where lots of movies have been filmed – Ghostbusters being our priority for seeing it. Check back soon for a post on that!

More from our LA trip:

Instagram Hotspots at the LACMA

The Sun and Stars Over Hollywood

Under the Sorting Hat! Harry Potter & Batman Museums

Warner Bros. Sound Stages & Sitting in Central Perk!

Inside the Warner Bros. Backlot

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