The 5 Handbag Essentials I Can't Live Without

Avoid the "fat wallet." It's not flattering on anyone.

A handbag is one of the most important accessories to have on a daily basis. I kind of feel naked without mine. But many people are weighed down by their own version of George Costanza's "fat wallet." It's important to optimize your carry-ons so you're always prepared in times of emergency, but while also keeping your back health in mind. Keep it minimal but also keep it functional. Here are my staples.

1. Notebook and Pen

I never go anywhere without a notebook and pen, mostly because I'm not the kind of person that takes notes on my phone. You don't have to carry around a whole manuscript, but a little palm-sized jotter to collect any passing thoughts will do you some good. The act of writing by hand makes you remember more. This is one old school essential that I will never modernize.

2. A Good Book

Okay, make that two. I will not succumb to e-readers, no matter how convenient they are. Nothing beats a real book. Sorry, trees. This one I cannot compromise on. Also, never bring a bad book with you.

3. The Trilogy

I'm talking, the phone-wallet-keys trilogy. Make sure you have your insurance card, library card, and metro card in there. Real Simple offers some great tips on how to pare down what to keep in your wallet.

4. Eye Drops

I often wear contacts, as some of you know. That means, dry eyes. I find that when I think I need to have some coffee, it's really just my eyes that need a little moisture. If you can't cry on demand, these are a must.

5. Calming Lozenges

As a high-anxiety person, sometimes I need a quick fix to cool down. Bach Rescue® Pastilles are portable homeopathic chews that actually help to reduce stress and calm you down. Just one per day is enough to breathe more deeply.

Of course, you can pile your handbag with old receipts, expired lip glosses, and pamphlets that people hand out on the street, but I say, keep it to the essentials if you can. It's one less thing to worry about.