Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Travel Tips!

With the New Year coming up it's time to refresh our travel tactics!

For short trips of 2-3 days I can get away with a small duffle or overnight bag. Longer trips of 4 days or more with lots of different activities generally call for a carry-on; not because I need to cram it full of clothes, but because I will generally be bringing gifts back with me. I'm trying to pack lighter though - my goal is to move from my larger hard-shell carry-on to a more flexible small duffle type or backpack type carry on.

Below are my tips and tricks for before packing and suggestions of what to bring -

First off - where are you going, what are you doing, and what's the weather look like?
Take note of the places you intend to go and what activities you'll be doing.
Swimming? Don't forget your suit!
Fancy parties? Maybe pack a set of heels or a nice blazer.
Hiking? You'll need appropriate footwear and long layers.

Make a list of the items you know you'll need - medicines, charging cables, specific clothing, prescription glasses, etc.

Are you remaining in civilization? Then don't worry about under-packing. The people who live in the place you are going to will probably have similar toiletries, clothing, and basic needs as you. You can always pick up a cheap pair of socks or an extra T-shirt when you get there. Also, they do wash clothes in other places...if you need to, use the laundromat.

If you are leaving civilization - be more mindful of weight (hauling a heavy bag isn't much fun) but also do more careful research on the things you'll really need. If you are camping for two weeks in the backwoods - do you need 5lbs of chunky jewelry and 4 sets of shoes? Is there much use for your laptop, or can you just have your cellphone or Spot?

Pull your clothes into outfits, don't just throw stuff in for fun.
Two or three bottoms and 4-5 tops should get you through the better part of two weeks. Use layers to your advantage and make your outfits adaptable. Bandanas and non-infinity scarves are great multi-taskers.

Also consider the customs and practices of the place you are going to. If they are a more conservative culture and you show up in booty shorts and a tank top, yeah, you might get some unwanted attention. At the very least you'll be screaming 'foreigner.'

I'm not saying you have to give up your personal style, but if you want to get access to the local venues, it pays to look like a local.

Luggage - What are you going to haul?
Backpacks are the best. They count as a carry-on, they are collapsible when not in use, they move fast without ruining your posture/ grip strength / shoulders.

Second would be the small duffle. Cross-body straps mean you aren't dragging your clothes through the streets, if the duffle is small it can count as your carry-on, it is collapsible when not in use, and - like the backpack - washable.

Third would be a rolling luggage. Make sure it has 4 wheels!! It really puts a drag on your trip to have one of the two wheels break just after landing at the airport when you know you are taking public transport to your destination.

If you can avoid checked bags - do. If you can't, seriously try. If you really, really can't - make sure your checked luggage is sturdy. I used four-wheeled hard-shell bright orange luggage with a green luggage strap for myself when I went for a year to Japan. It had four wheels so I could roll it around easily and it stood on its own, it was weatherproof with the hard shell, and the luggage strap gave me piece of mind that if the zippers popped it wouldn't explode everywhere. It was bright flaming orange and visible a mile away and the luggage strap wan neon green. I looked like I was rolling a pumpkin to the State Fair - but I still have the carryon sized piece years later and I still love it for all those reasons.

Toiletries - 3oz or less and one bag max.
This will be hard for some people, but let's give it a shot.

Grab a sandwich bag. Look at it. That's your toiletry allowance.
This is all the liquids you should have to pull out for the baggage inspector. I even pack my baggie and any electronics in my purse instead of my carryon so I never have to open my luggage until after security.

What you put in there is entirely up to you, but I do have a few suggestions:

- Dr Bronner's Castile Soap: Use it for your face, body, hands, laundry - it really is super versatile.
- Chap stick or lip balm
- Moisturizer with SPF ( I like SkinCeuticals Physical Matte UV Defense SPF 50. It works well and has a tint to it. )
- Toothpaste
- Dry shampoo (make your own with arrowroot powder / cornstarch, add cocoa powder if you have dark hair)
- Mascara (Benefit mascara is awesome AND they make a .14oz version which is tiny!!)
- Deodorant (Check your local 'mart for travel sizes)
- Powder make up and any brushes you use. (store your powder brush in its own baggie or saran-wrap)
- Floss ... seriously, don't forget it!

Handy Hackables

Water Bottles - Stay hydrated, it's some of the best travel advice I could ever offer. Look for bottles that are BPA free, have loops, wide openings, secure lids, and (for the ultrapacker) are collapsible.   Some come with water filters or you could pack some water tablets if you think you may need them.

Travel Towels - These awesome fabrics pack light, can be used multiple times, can be worn as a scarf or bandanna, used as a blanket, beach towel, are super absorbent.

Hair Ties - Guys and Gals, hair bands could save your trip. Use them to organize your cables, group your tools, and of course - tie up your hair. Buy metal-free or make your own using a pair of tights!

Roll or Fold - Roll your clothes if space is at a premium, fold them if it isn't. If you do decide to roll, consider turning them inside out and using a hair tie to keep them wrapped tight. Balling things up and tossing them in your bag expecting them to look good later is insanity.

Dryer Sheets - Toss one or two in with your luggage - you'll thank me later.

Black Binder Clips - Use them to cover your razor, organize your cables, and hold onto your ear buds. These things have a million uses!

Tic Tac Dispenser - Great for your bobby pins or a small sewing kit.

Zip Ties - When things break zip ties make a strong temporary fix. Luggage lock, zipper pulls, cable ties, water bottle loop, broken purse strap, zip ties have saved my day so many times!

Inflatable Neck Pillow - When you want a pillow / seat cushion / knee support - this awesome invention is there for you, as firm or soft as you choose. Bonus - the covers generally come off and are washable. Double bonus - when you don't need it, let the air out and fold it up to save space!

Reusable Shopping Bags - Lightweight and easily collapsible, these bags are bonus for storing your shoes, picking up a few items from the local grocer, or holding dirty laundry. Some even have little clips so they can attach easily to a purse or a backpack.

Storage Alternatives - Altoids containers, tea canisters, contact lenses cases, sunglass cases - all these things make for great storage alternatives. I do not recommend using old pill bottles for jewelry storage. 1.) They have personal information on them, and 2.) they are bright orange 'come steal me' signs.


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