5 Packing Tips for the Over-Packer

My first trip of the year is coming up in exactly one week so you can bet I’ve been itching to pack for the last month! Unfortunately, I think there is such a thing as packing too early and have had to practice restraint. I made it until this past Thursday and couldn’t take it anymore – in a heart-racing frenzy I pulled out my summer clothes and the packing began!

If you’ve ever gone on a long trip or even a one week holiday, you’ll understand me when I say that packing is a skill that is best when practiced to perfection. While there is a huge difference in packing for a vacation and a six month backpacking trip through various climates, the following packing tips I’m about to share with you will be beneficial for either one:

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1. It all starts with LUGGAGE. You can’t begin to pack until you’ve decided on your luggage of choice. Backpack or suitcase? Hard case or soft? Wheels or no wheels? Dark, neutral colors are popular as they hide wear and tear and your case looking dirty – but have you ever been standing at the carousel watching dozens of the same black suitcase go ’round and ’round? It’s not fun. One trick from the trade is to purchase a unique color or pattern – especially if you’re going with a suitcase. If you just can’t let go of that black beauty you love, attach something bright to help you identify it when you need to.

2. COORDINATE your clothing. I can’t stress this enough! I never used to think up outfits prior to leaving and would just throw in random tops and bottoms. Sure, it’s faster, but more often than not you will end up with a bunch of clothes that never leave your suitcase. You end up wasting space and being upset that you can’t wear your favorite top because you haven’t any bottoms to match. Before tossing clothes in your luggage, create your outfits for your trip. Try them on and try to pick basics that can be worn with more than one item.

3. Roll, Baby, Roll. Rolling your clothes is the best way to create more space and helps reduce wrinkles. Lay your pieces flat and then roll ’em up nice and tight before placing them in your bag.

4. Bring the Basics. When it comes to toiletries, bring the basics. Solid shampoos and conditioners save a ton of space and weight in your bag, coconut oil can be multi-purpose lotion, makeup remover, cooking oil, etc., and you really don’t need your entire eye shadow collection. Embrace the minimalist look and stick to the necessities.

5. Like with Like. This can go two ways: you can either keep each type of clothing together (bottoms with bottoms, tops with tops, dresses with dresses, you get the idea) or you can pack according to outfit, keeping each outfit packed together. You can do this by laying out all the pants in one part of your bag, tops in another, or just by laying out each piece of an outfit together, then another, etc. OR you can opt for clothing organizers that will keep your things separated and allow you to grab what you need without your entire bag exploding in a heap of clothes.

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Are Toiletries Taking Over Your Backpack? Take COCONUT OIL Instead!

This may seem like an odd travel staple to some, but carrying coconut oil has saved me from having my backpack weighed down with toiletries. Toiletries are the number one thing that I, and many friends, have complained about. Sure, it can be easy to downsize your clothes and shoes, but toiletries always seem to take up so much space! Not only that, but they’re heavy! All of my toiletries could easily weigh up to an extra ten pounds strapped to my back and you know what? It is completely unnecessary.

Since discovering coconut oil a few years ago, it has made packing light a lot easier. No longer do I need to carry around a facial moisturizer, body lotion, conditioner, eye cream, makeup remover, hair serum AND a million more things. Instead, I just throw a pot of coconut oil in my bag and I’m ready to go. This little beauty has multiple purposes including, but not limited to, all of the ones I just mentioned. Take a peek below to see just how to use it.

Moisturizer
Warm up some coconut oil between your hands and apply to face and body. With a light, naturally sweet scent that will remind you of tropical holidays in the Caribbean, coconut oil helps to sooth and hydrate dry skin. Full of vitamins and healthy fats, coconut oil leaves your face looking brighter and younger.

Eye Makeup Remover and Eye Cream
Coconut oil is the perfect trick to get rid of stubborn eye makeup. Put about a nickel size in between your palms and gently massage over your eyes and even your waterproof mascara will come sliding off. The oil has a double benefit here as the lauric acid works as an anti-inflammatory to reduce puffiness around the eyes.

Hair Conditioner
To use as a hair mask, apply a few tablespoons to the ends of your hair and leave on overnight or even just 20 minutes before washing out. My hair is very prone to dryness so I often cover my entire head of hair in coconut oil about once a week for a thorough, deep conditioning treatment.

Have some oil on your hands after using it as your facial moisturizer? Run your fingers through your hair, focussing on the ends of your hair or any fly-aways to leave your hair looking shiny and smooth.

Body Lotion
Skip the expensive, store bought lotions because your coconut oil has you covered! Use this in the same way as you used it for your facial moisturizer; just apply all over your body.

Shaving Gel
This changed my life and ladies, you will thank me. Say goodbye to sore and unsightly razor burn on your bikini area by using coconut oil as your shaving gel. The oil softens the hair and allows your razor to glide smoothly over your skin. Another bikini shaving tip: once you’re out of the shower, moisturize the area again with coconut oil or with natural aloe vera.

Teeth Whitener
Oil pulling with coconut oil is great for oral hygiene. Again, the lauric acid pulls through and helps to kill off bacteria and plaque that can cause your teeth to yellow.

That’s not all that coconut oil is good for. This multi-purpose, organic oil can be used for so much more. What are you waiting for? Ditch the excessive toiletries, toss in a tub of extra virgin, organic coconut oil and begin reaping the benefits of naturally glowing, healthy skin and hair while on the road!

What’s In My Carry-On

Deciding what to pack in a carry-on can be a daunting task for the inexperienced traveler, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think! If you want to walk through security with ease, keep your carry-on baggage to a minimum. Keep jewelry to a minimum and leave most in your checked luggage to avoid setting off the alarm and keep your bag organized so that you can unload what needs to be unloaded quickly and minimizing that flustered feeling of having everything falling out all over the place.

I have a few items that are always in my carry-on.

carry on essentials

1. Passport – a no brainer. Keep your passport safe and on you at all times during your pre-departure and flight.

2. A small packet of facial wipes lets you remove makeup before a long flight and feel refreshed after a red eye flight. Keeping makeup to a minimum is a good idea to let your skin breath and to avoid dull skin when you land.

3. Headphones are a must for me, at all times. I’m often on overnight flights and I have a calming playlist ready to go that helps me to fall asleep and block out any noises from the people around me. Listening to a bunch of people snoring in close proximity is not the ideal situation for sleep.

4. An eye mask is another essential item to help you get the best sleep you can on a plane. You’ve got the headphones to block out the noise and the eye mask to keep out the light.

5. Vitamin C Energising Face Spritz from The Body Shop. This is the perfect travel size (100ml) and is great not only to help keep your makeup in place for day to day use but keeps your skin from looking dull after a flight and is an instant pick me up that refreshes the skin. Plus a quick blast of cool spray on the face helps to wake you up.

6. My skin is notoriously dry and having a mini hand lotion keeps my skin soft and smooth and a good lip chap keeps them from drying and splitting, especially after sitting in a plane for a long period of time with less drinking water than I’m used to. Planes and long flights are a breeding ground for dehydration and dry skin. Drink up and moisturize!

7. A novel can keep me entertained for hours. I prefer to read the old-fashioned way with a real book in my hand, despite the extra space and weight it takes up. But if you are tight for space and want to carry multiple books with you, a kindle is the way to go.

Though not shown or mentioned here, having some healthy snacks is always a good idea. Nuts/seeds or dried fruits are great non-perishables for flights to perk up your energy and hush a starving belly.

Packing for Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by
demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat,
worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if
we try and understand each other,
we may even become friends.”
– Maya Angelou

Well, today is the day! In eleven hours I will be stepping on a plane that will take me away to Thailand, alongside a friend that I met last year at the beginning of my first year of university. The weeks leading up to travel are some of my favorite weeks. They are rushed, stressful, and exciting. Paperwork is being done, photocopies are being made, banks are being called and a week before the trip I finally make a list of everything that I need, what I have already and what I still need to buy. Right now, I still need to go buy some bobby pins for my hair and have to quickly go to the doctor to check out my throat. I have the tiniest fear that I might be getting strep throat and, as I’ve mentioned, I leave in nine hours. Great timing. This tends to happen every time I go on a trip. My first one, to Europe, I sprained my ankle the night before I left, leaving me with crutches. Last year, I was sick the entire flight and this time, I may have strep throat. Or just a bad sore throat. No big deal, because nothing can put a damper on my spirits today!

Packing is always a big ordeal. If I’m going away for the weekend, with a suitcase, it’s not too hard. But when you’re living out of a backpack for an extended period of time, things get a little trickier. Once I had all of my clothing options spread out on my bed, it looked something like this:

And that wasn’t even the half of it. The floor was a maze of toiletries, hair product, lotion, sunscreen, bug spray, towels, you name it. It was overwhelming. Three days later, I had made a good dent in the packing process. Clothes sorted out, this is what I was left with:

Only four little bags: shorts, bathing suits, tank tops, dresses. Some are new, bought for my trip.. because I can’t deny myself the added opportunity to shop. It’s a horrible addiction. But most of them are old, worn, and I have it in my mind that if I buy more while I’m away, those old clothes will be left behind. Despite my efforts at packing light, my backpack is still pretty full, which shouldn’t surprise me since it happens the same way every year. Some people have asked me what my packing list looks like, so here it is:

MICHELLE’S TRAVEL CHECK LIST

Random

-Prescription meds
– Advil and Gravol
– Cotton Balls
– Q Tips
– Band-Aids
– Travel Towel
– Adapter
– Hand held mirror
– Wallet with VISA, debit card, ID, travel insurance card
– Passport
– Notebook and 2 pens
– Copies of all of my documents
– Camera, camera case, memory card, battery, battery charger
– Ipod, Ipod charger
– Sunglasses (2)
– Sunscreen
– Bug spray
– Eye mask
– Elephant Nature Park confirmation
-Chiang Mai hostel confirmation
-Flight tickets

Clothes

Underwear
– Bra (1)
– Bikini tops (3)
– Bandeau (1)
– Bathing suit
– Tank tops (4, except I pushed it to five.. woops)
– Shorts (3, except I pushed it to four.. woops)
– Dresses (3, except I pushed it to four.. woops)
– Flip Flops (2)
– Capri leggings (1)
– Scarf (1, to use as a blanket/cover up in temples/sarong, so handy!)

Hair

– 2 in 1 shampoo/conditioner
– leave in conditioner (because my hair is fried)
– hairpsray
– scrunching gel
-bobby pins
– elastics
*I know, sounds ridiculous. But I’m not bringing any styling tools and I am not blessed with hair that magically looks good wash and go, so I need some hairspray and gel to keep things under control*

Makeup

– Waterproof mascara
– Bronzer
– Lip chap
– Foundation
*Even though in Thailand, it sweats off in about ten minutes*

Other Toiletries

– Soap
– Shower cap
– Razor
– Deodorant
– Face wash and wipes
– Moisturizer (mini, tester bottle)
– Toothbrush and toothpaste
– Lotion

It’s a pretty extensive list, I know. And I am fully aware that I probably won’t use some of it/don’t absolutely need it, but hey. I can always leave stuff behind and I never said I was good at packing light! As for the trip itself, I don’t have much of a plan for when I arrive. All I know is that we want to do Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. I have so much energy and excitement, I’m like a kid on Christmas morning!