Spend twelve months trekking across the globe and you're going to learn a thing or two about packing, which is exactly what happened to LA-based mom and travel enthusiast Jenna Jackson, along with her husband, Charlie Jackson. The two packed up their San Francisco apartment in 2011 and jetted off for a year-long adventure that took them to 41 countries and sparked the desire to create a line of multi-functional bags that transition from the plane to whatever comes next without a hitch.
The resulting brand, August, is more than just a typical collection of luxury travel bags and accessories. Part of Jenna's mission in launching the line was to directly benefit the educational resources of children all over the world, and to that end, the Jacksons partnered with Operation School Bell so that for every bag sold, a backpack is donated to an underserved child here in LA (to date, August has purchased and donated over 2,000 backpacks).
You'll find the full collection on the brand's website, and come April, Banana Republic will carry a selection of August bags, including some exclusives. Jenna recently gave us some seriously insider tips for packing like a pro (hint: don't overpack), and we asked her to spill even more of her hard-earned travel secrets.
What are some of the crucial components of a great travel bag?
A great travel bag should be lightweight, multi-functional and chic, with great pockets! Our brand concept is "sophisticated, effortless & optimistic" while being "inspired by a journey around the world."
Sometimes packing for a short trip is the hardest. Any tips for what to bring on a weekend or overnight stay?
For a weekend getaway I gather inspiration from Pinterest and style bloggers that I love. Then I do some research on the location itself and come up with my style for the weekend. When I narrow down how I want to dress, I always avoid packing everything in my closet! The best way to do this is to pack items that can be worn many different ways.
For example, a great pair of black or grey jeans can be worn a couple times, and can transition easily into outfits for both day and night. You can simply change a top, add accessories, a different bag and shoes, and you have a new outfit! For me personally, I’m always inspired when I travel, so I like to leave room in my suitcase for a little shopping, especially great local finds! With this in mind, I pack with a "less is more" mindset. This happened to me in India, where my very monochromatic wardrobe felt so bland and out of place in a country that embraces color so wholeheartedly. I bought some scarves, sarongs, and jewelry there and layered it in with my monochrome and felt much better about my wardrobe. Also everything I bought was well worth it too, I still wear those pieces I bought in India when I head to a tropical location or want to embrace color again.
Which piece in your collection makes an ideal international carry-on?
Our Chelsea wallet is my "can’t travel without" item. It's the perfect size and it's stylish enough to serve as a clutch for a night out, but also has plenty of slip and zip pockets to store travel needs, fits a passport, and functions really well as a wallet. This piece always helps me to stay organized when I travel, and I place all of my credit cards, cash, ID, passport, etc. in the Chelsea. I put it inside one of our larger travel bags during the day and use it as a stand-alone clutch in the evenings.
Right now, I'm also getting a lot of use out of our Cartagena cross-body tote. It’s perfect for a carry-on, especially when traveling internationally. All of our pieces are made in LA and when we introduced the tote last summer we couldn’t keep it in stock, people were obsessed with it. So we made a decision to bring it back this spring and we added some new colors, too. It's very lightweight, durable, and holds a ton of stuff, which I personally love for my carry-on, especially if I'm traveling with my two sons. Using a cross-body tote always means I’m hands free in the airport, which is always key to traveling with kids.
I will store my Chelsea wallet and then one or two of our other pouches to organize my iPad, makeup, and toiletries. The wallet and pouches are great for nights out or meetings and keep my larger bag really organized for finding what I need in-flight.
Tropical locales trip us up. Which bag is the best choice for transitioning from the beach to dinner?
Our Marais tote is the first bag we ever made and such a great one for traveling. The colors we did for spring/summer lend themselves so well to tropical locales. We made sure that the size and styling was just right, so that you could carry everything you need for the beach, shake it out, and be able to carry it to dinner. I’m heading to Hawaii in May for a family wedding and our ombré arrow print will definitely be coming with me. I fill mine with a sarong, sunscreen, sunglasses, and magazines for a day at the beach, plus my Portofino pouchette filled with toiletries and makeup for a refresh. We designed the Marais so that it will fold flat in the bottom of your suitcase. On your way home, you can fill it with all of the purchases you have made while on vacation and use it as a carry-on.