Friday, May 22, 2015

Travel Tips: My around-the-world packing list

In prepping for my trip, I scoured a million blogs and articles about what to bring and pack. I love packing. Something about organizing everything neatly into one bag just brings me joy. The best part was looking up fun travel "must-haves" (I use this term very, very loosely) - there are so many amazing, neat things out there!  My next endeavor is to start a stylish, unique, yet practical travel products company. Like, how cute would it be to have a hiking backpack that looked like a sushi roll?? ...Anyone? ..Bueller?

So without further ado, I thought it may be fun to detail my own packing list (especially since some of the solo female packing lists I saw were pretty spartan.....two pairs of shoes for a year?? NICE TRY). Ok, here we go.

    K-Cliffs 52L Internal Frame Backpack:  I've had this thing since I purchased it for a post-college European trip for $35 on Amazon. It's a little smaller than most true backpacking bags (which usually range about 70L), and has lasted through like 5 separate trips from Europe to South America, and I love it with my whole heart (...except when having to carry it, of course).

    I'd like you more if you weighed less #thatswhatshesaid

        Packing Cubes: These things are the shiz. Tons of travelers recommend them to help separate clothing items so you don't have to uproot your entire pack when looking for something - especially useful when you're living out of a top-loading backpack. I already love these, I got them on Amazon in a stylish teal color and they speak to my OCD soul

          Packing cubes!

          The large packing cube is for bottoms & jackets:

          • (3) pairs of shorts
          • (3) pairs of leggings
          • (2) pairs of jeans. Lots of travelers hate bringing jeans bc they are heavy and dry slowly, but you can't argue with their versatility
          • (2) dresses
          • (1) skirt
          • (1) windbreaker
          • (1) zip-up long-sleeve


            The medium one holds all tops
            • (5) tank tops
            • (5) t-shirts
            • (2) workout tops
            • (2) nicer tops

              And the small packing cube holds undergarments (word choice courtesy of the year 1920), swimsuits, socks, and a scarf. I'm going to go ahead and assume a picture is probably not necessary here.  As for the scarf, a lot of girls recommended bringing one - you can jazz up your outfits (this is not what they say, this is my own personal interpretation), and it's extremely useful in covering up your head, shoulders, etc. when visiting more religious sites.

                  (6) Pairs of Shoes: Does this seem like overkill?  All the lists I saw recommended like, 3 pairs max. But once I pared it all down to the necessities, I see no way of having less:

                  My co-worker Tiffancy dubbed my Puma flats (lower right corner) "Asian grandma shoes" 

                  1.) Sneakers, 2.) Toms for everyday walking, 3.) Flats for occasions you want to look nicer than a hobo, 4.) Sandals for occasions you want to look nicer than a hobo (ok, i prob could take these out but honestly, they take up zero room), 4.) Flip-flops for everyday walking, and 6.) Shower flip-flops to prevent hostel shower foot diseases

                      Fun Travel Items! (L to R, top to bottom)

                        • Travel hairdryer. Splurge item I am allowing myself
                        • Makeup bag. Another tiny splurge, given most female travelers typically go with the "less is more" mentality here and seem to think a stick of eyeliner and some moisturizer is more than enough. No. Just no. 
                        • Tiny lock
                        • Waterproof cover for iPhone. You can take iPhone photos underwater!
                        • Sleep essential bag (fuzzy mask, earplugs)
                        • Tiny flashlight
                        • Sunglasses. No glaucoma here.
                        • Rechargeable travel battery for iPhone
                        • Pink power adapter
                        • Silk traveler sheets. Incredible for hostels, and look how tiny it folds up! It's the black/yellow pack. Also purchased on Amazon.
                        • Selfie stick! (no judgments, I had numerous people tell me this was ESSENTIAL. Plus $10 on Amazon, practically free)
                        • Bag o'drugs (Neosporin, band-aids, Advil, typhoid pills, you know, the usual)
                        • Bag of toiletries. The only callout I have here is Downy anti-wrinkle spray, which a ton of travelers recommend to quickly remedy wrinkly clothes
                        • Tiny umbrella

                          Travel Guides & Laptop:
                          • 11' MacBook Air (for blogging purposes!)
                          • Travel guides. Here, I have Eastern Europe and Turkey, but I know I will inevitably amass more. Yes, these are ridic heavy and not ideal in the least for hauling around, but I live and die by these, and I can't follow the Kindle versions. I am going to plan on maybe having the friends who join me for certain legs bring them with them instead of carrying them all together, but still TBD on this dilemma.

                            Miscellaneous Add-Ons & Thoughts:
                            • Travel insurance.  I did a ton of research, and the most popular/best option with the greatest reviews is World Nomads.
                            • ATM card. This is how I plan on pulling out most of my currency. I also did a ton of research on this (surprise), and Charles Schwab offers a no-fee ATM card (seriously, no transaction fees, ATM fees, or foreign exchange fees) - only thing is you have to open a high-yield checking account that is tied to a brokerage account. But no minimum account balances!
                              There are still some last-minute items that will probably end up getting added to the mix (I still need a travel purse, as well as a folder for all my documents, a small wallet, etc.)  But for the most part, this is my packing list that I hope is useful to someone, someday, somewhere, maybe.  Even if not useful, you can all see what will likely be the cause of any future back problems I may incur. Though honestly, the backpack is pretty manageable so far and still has some room for souvenirs!


                              Wednesday, May 6, 2015

                              I am living out of Ziploc bags

                              The lease on my apartment ended at the end of April.  Which would probably have made it the ideal time to pack all my stuff up, mail the rest home, and depart on my world tour. Only problem is, I couldn't bring myself to leave New York right on the cusp of Spring.

                              There is nothing like Springtime in NYC. Seriously. That first day the sun comes out, the temperature gauge hits over 65, and the trees start to show the beginnings of flowers.....and the city goes wild. All the long-suffering winter-scarred residents pour into the streets, rooftops re-open, every restaurant drags seating onto their sidewalks, and birds sing Disney songs (in my head....and on my iPod. Psych.). All outdoor spaces....pure chaos. And I love. every. second.  I am that person that hits up the Mister Softee truck in my new summer dress I purchased on that one day it hit 0 degrees in Feb., and then Yelp-searches restaurants with outdoor seating so I can drag my friends there to take photos of our french toast basking in the sun because we're SITTING OUTSIDE, Y'ALL, BECAUSE IT'S FINALLY SPRING. I did not suffer through the most miserably frigid winter ever (here's looking at you, giant ice puddles that tried to make me slip and die) to leave right at my favorite time ever. It's getting to be perfect 16 Handles weather. Not that this has stopped me in the winter. I digress.

                              All my worldly possessions
                              So I made the decision to at least stay in the city through the end of May. I looked at sublets for just the month, but was struggling with the idea of hauling my furniture somewhere for just a month, living with another stranger, and paying exorbitant rent; just so I could eat my 16 Handles outdoors. At brunch with friends one day, however, some of them offered up their apartments to me for various times they'd be out of town....and once I looked at the calendar on the dates I had a place to stay, there was only a week or two left that I needed housing. I filled those dates in with other friends....and I am now officially apartment-surfing in my last month in the city. Which means I am living out of bags (given that my suitcases now reside in Denver).

                              Needless to say, planning out what to wear over the next six weeks while concurrently selling all my furniture, shipping all my worldly possessions home in boxes, planning out what to bring backpacking the world, moving out of the apt, and working, was kind of a recipe for disaster. My wardrobe for the next month of my life is themed "hobo", I've decided.

                              Just a sampling, #bagsinbagsinbags
                              One thing I have loved, though, is organizing everything. Living out of 10 large bags makes it pretty near impossible to find the things you need, which led me to start sub-categorizing my clothes into giant Ziploc bags. I separated my clothes into categories (tanks, leggings, socks, etc.) and with my new "roll everything into tiny rolls" packing technique, I am kind of OCD-y loving my bags-in-bags-in-bags lifestyle.  Never mind that I am incredibly ill-equipped for any activities out of the norm, because most of my stuff got sent home. Like, if someone invited me to a tea party next week, I would be screwed. Or I could show up in workout gear, which is what I would possibly most definitely do, because I love tea.

                              One downside of hobo life, where is my mail going now that I don't have an address? No idea.