May 16, 2011

Wanderlust: Travel Packing Tips for Girls on the Go

go check her "Wanderlust" VideOHH!
 I could prolly say that I have strong travel and packing genes.  Dad’s a pilot and Mom’s a Neat Freak branched from  generations of clothes merchants.
Much to her duress, her daughters are nowhere near her spotless supremacy in housewifery. We both have knack of knocking things all over the place in less than five minutes (she dubbed us the twin storms) .

But when it comes to folding and packing things nice and tight, I think my mother taught me well. I could even do her boxlike tower of shirts, if I wanted to, but Alas! Old sloth cometh blanket me one too many…
At first I was pretty amused when I found myself carry a whole lot more than most of my peers who pretty much use the equal sized bags.  When their clothes start  running out, I’d still have some spares left.

In the past few years airlines baggage limitations are getting smaller while the over-baggage charges are getting higher. Now not only you have to pack it tight but more importantly , pack it light.
The same rule also applies when you wanna do cheap-trips; cutting transport budget by doing longer journeys in successions of cheaper vehicles aplenty.

Thou shall Travel Light via Bonnie Jones
As a girl of but-I-don’t-have-anything-to-wear kind, the sacrifice is hard. But in my experience wearing the same thing thrice looked way more appealing compared to limping around wearing a grimace of major back-pains (unless you intend to beg)

But I refuse to give up all of my earthly delights just to go low on everything.
Hey! It’s a holiday!
If I want to suffer, I could go to work and get paid.
I cannot afford anything under “splurge” nor wanting to live like a monk . In each travel, I’d found out new things including better packing.  And here’s what I learned so far…

Luggage : Backpack or Wheeled Suitcases?
Consider  where and how you're going to travel.
Backpack is better when you move from place to places a lot and your many means of transportation is rather "rugged".  You’ll need something you can lug easily.
If it is plane then bus then train then bus and so forth, backpack it baby.
If my bag gonna spend a lot of it's time in the room that I'm gonna be staying  and/or  I have better means of transportation, I'd prefer to use ones with wheels. Why hurt my back, if I need  not too. 
Plus it packs  a  whole lot tidier.

 I've noticed most of European traveler prefer the wheelies  instead of backpacks, which made a lot of sense since most  European countries have reliable trains and buses along with their with elevator- escalator equipped terminals. BUT this is not the case in Paris, they have lots and lots of stairs. It's the way they stay in shape.
The Wheeled Backpack?
My sister and I tried these mutants. We both find it rather dissatisfying.
First it is not as durable as it predecessors. I have mine burst open during a flight transfer that I have to buy another travel bag in a duty free shop. My sister's broken down after her second travel session. Maybe if you buy better quality bags from trusted manufacturers, you'd have better luck. Still, they will cost more than the usual.
When use as a backpack they weight way more than the regulars’  (hurts more too if you carry them too long, since mostly they're not as  well padded as the normal ones.)
Rolling Rocks!  
This is one of those precious hand-down pearls from my mother.
Fold your clothes normally then roll it as tight as possible. It will save a lot more space than just folding and lessen the wrinkles and creases. On the downside, these rolls unfold way too easily.
Solutions? Rubberbands!
They work like a charm to secure your rolls, so when you need to unpack you could easily put them back  in again.
Do remember that rolling only works for lightweight materials, folding is still the best option for bulky clothing like jackets  and pants.
 Here’s a super-awesome way  to quickly fold clothes.  I wish I found this out when I was still in college…

Beside my backpack/ luggage, I usually carry a handbag to keep my more important stuffs. It’s either a large-ish messenger/ satchel/ tote, since I tend to cram and lug everything around  (oh Angus! The Angst! The Angst!) , I  need them to be spacious yet light (so it’s either fabric or soft leather.)

In the luggage

via wildfox couture
-          Sarong
Simply a must! Sheet, pillow cover blanket, beach towel, shoulder/ head covering, shawl etc etc Oh the versatility!
-          My beloved multi-tool
This usually never leaves my bag, but to avoid confiscation, I better check it in. But checking your luggage in means longer waits. Locally I’ve managed to pass my multi-tool through the airport security with no hassle but I don’t think I could do that when travelling abroad. So I need suggestions. Anyone?
Like most of MacGyver fans, leaving home without one is not an option.
FYI, my current multi-tool are from Krisbow (a local brand) consisted of an alligator wrench, small knife, bottle opener, small saw, screwdriver and a LED torch.
-          Clothes:
o   For one week or more I usually bring 4 – 5 tees ( tank tops, a couple of plain ones, and a favorite)
o    a long sleeve shirt and/or a cardigan.
o   Pajama pants/ boxers to sleep in.
o   A skirt and/or a pair of shorts.
     Lately I prefer skirts, it's easy and breezy, anyway Megan Nielsen has this awesome tutorial on making a reversible skirt.
o   A couple of leggings/ stockings to go with the shorts/ skirt/ longish tees. (I rather not bring pants since they’re bulky and takes forever to dry)
o   To spice things up I also do vest or bright colored scarf.
o   A simple cotton dress.
o   Two pairs of socks (cotton-blend).
o   a bathing suit

Whether you want to go color coding or color blocking, the best way to find out is to try them on before you go, so you know what’s going to work and what’s not. I’d have things that I won’t use at all simply because ‘it doesn’t go’ , while it is wiser to bring something that you can wear more than twice. 
When traveling to cooler climates I usually do a couple more, choose heavier fabrics and layer them. And a long-john!!! (a lifesaver). I also add knitted hats and gloves. The downside is that  you have to carry heavier. The upside is you don’t have to do a lot of washing since you’d  rarely sweat. Few trips taught me that it’s better to buy  or coats/heavy jackets over there (cheaper, better quality, more choice) instead of bringing one from home. And if  you are visiting your relatives they’ll be happy to lend it for you.  Anyway no matter how good it looks, it’s totally unwearable  when you’re living under the bright equatorial sun.
-          Undies
 At least three bras and 5 panties.  It’s okay to wear the same unwashed shirt but dirty undies?
I’d rather go commando.
I hate bringing lots of undies, since my bras tend to take a lot of space and  I don’t really like spending my time after a whole day of walking by washing  in the sink.
Solutions: Wet your undies as you shower then wash and rinse. Brilliant! Thanks Google!
I’d have my undies in a separate pouch, or in a mesh laundry bag.
-          I also have a pouch of Minnie Mouse sleeping set (a tank, a boy-short, and a scrunchie). Mine’s from UNIQLO , but you could do the same with whatever you have and put them  in a drawstring pouch. Have it prepared in your closet and you’ll be easily ready for any sleepovers. 
-          Accessories. I simply can’t do without and tend to over-bring.
Note to self, try them on with the clothes before packing.
-          A small towel. 
-          Toiletries:
o   Shampoo, soaps and talcum powder:
Baby products! Small sized and safe and most already come in sets. And because I can’t live without baby powder (adult  ones make me dizzy)
o   Mosquito repellent
o   A facewash
o   Sunscreen
o   Razor shaver
o   Hair bands. Lots and lots since this thing vanished so easily.
I never carry a hairdryer, because I never have one. And since I hate to have  my hair wet when going out, I’d just wash them before I sleep. And if my hair is ratty and limp while I don’t have the time to wash it, I’d just go wash the bangs only and tied the rest in a ponytail.
And I’ve read that you can use talcum powder to help absorb the oil. 
-          Makeup
Although I don’t do make up daily, I tend to carry a whole bunch of ‘em when traveling. It’s not like I’m gonna put them on all the time, or even have the time to do it… Couldn’t I just do my makeup experiments some other time? Plus I tend to buy makeup when going abroad (darn CHEAPER darn! And MORE selections!). 
As I noticed the bulk and the weight of my makeup pouch, I just had to do something. And voila! A signature style is born! (black eyeliner on eyelids, and colored ones  under eye). It took a couple of experiments to find what style that suites you best, but when you find it you’d be downsizing what you’ll be carrying and be happy with it.
-          A fancy sandal with sling-backs for summer and an extra pair of shoes for winter.
Me and fancy looking sandaIs have very short histories.  But currently I’m eyeing Leigh by Crocs, and a Fit Flop's Floretta, they seem pretty sturdy and I’m curious if they are really that comfy as more and more people swore by and swooned. Locally I’d go for a Batik x Birken look by Kulkith.
-          Extra sunglasses. Cheap ones, as they broke easily.
-          Mini sewing kit + pins.
-          Universal Charger/ Adaptor and Camera Charger
-          A foldable extra bag.
As a born and breed Indonesian I cannot simply ignore the urge to bring souvenirs for well, almost everybody.  This is for those. And for your shopping, dirty laundry, and whatnots. And if you go nna go wet you could do a Dry Bag for  your extra.
-          USB flash drive (for keeping scans/copies of documents). 
      Unless you’re going to a place without computers, then you’d have to bring actual copied papers (put  it inside a plastic bag to keep it safe) 
-          Chocolates! 
      Mood lifter and will give you enough energy in between meals (your last resort when your money runs dry and no cheap meals in sight)
-          Clear plastic bags, ziplocks aren’t that easy to find here so I’d do rubberband
-          Mini Cutlery set  from dad.
-          Head lamp. I bought this at first because I like reading under the blanket but hate to hold the flash light, but when it's pitch dark outside and you have to go and embrace nature they're just super.

After you put everything inside, find out how much they weight, and make sure they’re under baggage limitations. And if you like shopping, make sure they’re HALF the baggage limits, cause believe me in the end you’re bag’s gonna grow twice the size.
In the handbag
My usual every day stuffs plus a thing or two
-          Cellphone
-          MP3 player
(more to block out sound really, and since I currently have a better cell, I’d no longer need it)
-          Mints
-          Camera (keep scanned copies of docs inside your memory card too)
-          Meds + bandages
-          Small bottle of Vaseline
-          Inflatable pillow.
-          Wet Wipes. (Really handy. Dirty toilets? No papers, no water, no time to wash your face? No Problem!)
-          Notebook and Pen.
-          Toothbrush and toothpaste . Get those cute travel sets and have it ready in your handbag.
-          Spare shirt, in case of delays or spillage.
-          Compact powder , mascara and lipgloss. To freshen up.
-          Shades in a hard case.

I usually have a bottle of water ready too, but I tend to just buy it on the way over, since most airlines won’t let you bring liquids. Lately I’m considering to buy myself a Vapur since it’s foldable, washable, and comes in pretty colors (or are these just excuses for more shopping?). 

 Duty Free Shopping
-          A good paperback / magazine.
-          Makeup!  Duty free shop is a makeup heaven! And those traveler-special sets! Oh!!!
 I’ve wanted to have one but I always get too delirious to make my mind up from all of the selections. So I end up with none, and then they  will haunt me for days. So I’m gonna do research first and be ready when the time comes. And this is what I aim for, and this  a runner up. 

What Would MacGyver Wear? via Uncrate
I usually wear what will be too bulky to bring inside my luggage; denim coupled with jacket and boots (or sneakers). If I’m travelling in air-conditioned vehicle I’ll do tank + shawl (pashmina). If not, I’d do short sleeves instead.
Anyway, I hate money belt right after wearing it twice ( I hate it the first time, but  hey,  give it a second chance). I hate having my money rejected just because some poncey shopkeeper refuse to take it (after seeing me reaching my groin to get it obviously). And when you’ll walk around all day dampness sets in, after anger subsided and bought the damn CD after borrowing my sister’s money, I can understand his distaste.
Going to the toilet first just to get your money is such a hassle so I just give my money belt away and divide my stashes in multiple places. The best is to keep your money inside your socks, to be safer (and drier) just double it and put your money in between . You can casually take your money out as you fix the lacings of your shoes.
I plan to make a money cuff though, just like this one from Lemon Squeezy (complete with tutorial, Yayness!!) 

How's your list? What is your must-have item? Do Tell!

PS: My laptop broke-down, again, so I edit my pics online using Pixlr which has the look and feel of the mighty Photoshop! 


  1. PS: lately I am embracing the magic of jeggings! Looks like denim, feels like denim, without the bulk and the forever-to-dryness of a denim!

    And unlike the worrisome camel-toe alert or the feel like buttnakedness when wearing JUST leggings with shirt combo, these babies actually work.

  2. Hi,

    My name is KC Owens, I’m a college student and I love to travel! While cruising the Internet, I found your site and really enjoyed reading your posts. I have been to countries all over Europe with just my backpack and a camera. Since I am a college student and I have significant bills, it can be difficult to find ways to travel the world. However, I have done this several times, with less than ten pounds of luggage and while on a college dime!

    I was hoping that you would allow me to write a post for your site to share my tips and tricks with your readers. I put a lot of time into my traveling, it is my biggest passion and I would love to inspire others by sharing my stories, mistakes and triumphs. I look forward to hearing from you!


    KC Owens