Hers: Travel Hacks & Packing Tips

[Pictured: a handful of my favorite travel accessories]

It’s been nearly 5 years of full-time moving and grooving around the world and I’ve purchased and tested every travel hack imaginable. Every square millimeter of my luggage is sacred space, so I’ve made sure that everything I pack serves a purpose AND brings me joy. WTF IS UP MARIE KONDO! Here’s a LONG list of my tips, hacks, and products I love. My packing might be organized AF, but my writing isn’t, so bare with me while my brain craps out my checklist in nonsensical order. Nothing in this list is sponsored and it’s all been heavily tested by this big bag of lazy, so you’re welcome for including links to all the products!

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or full-time explorer, you may have wondered the best ways to approach packing and organization:

Electronics Packing Hacks

If you travel with a lot of electronics that means you have a lot of cords and crap to go with it. Keep it all organized in a packing cube. The electronics organizers can be clunky or even more inconvenient because they aren’t made to fit YOUR array electronic accessories. If you use your electronics a lot, get a step-down converter so you can charge everything at once and don’t need a bunch of adapters.

I fucking hate myself for suggesting this because I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything more basic than these bags, but they’re soooo legit for travel. Waterproof, ultra lightweight, basically indestructible, this ugly as hell bag is fucking great.. It folds down paper thin and is super helpful if you’re out in about and need to carry a little or a lot of shit. The mega upside, it’s so ugly that nobody will try to steal it. Grrr, if my cool factor was above 0 before this suggestion, it’s for sure in the negatives now. BUT you won't regret this purchase.

Invest in an extra long phone charger. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve stayed in houses/hotels with wall plugs in the most inconvenient locations. Isssa pain, this will help.

Power banks are super super convenient. I suggest buying a big one that can do multiple charges and a little one you can stick into a clutch or your pocket while you’re on the go. Bonus for this one for including a charging cord. Don’t bring several little power banks or several large ones unless you plan on being in the bush for days on end.

Women’s Travel Clothing Hacks

If you’re anything like old me then you tend to overpack with crap that will only come in handy under unlikely circumstances OR clothing pieces that only go with one other garment. So the trick is versatility. If possible, make sure each article of clothing can work for multiple occasions ie day to night, beach to dinner, layering, etc.

Don’t bring anything you’re attached to. It’s a huge buzzkill when you lose or damage something you absolutely adore and it’s bound to happen, so leave the good-good at home. I promise you won't miss it while you’re swimming with whale sharks or peeping the Inca trail.

I prefer to pack light initially and accumulate as I go, cuz me loves shopping. I wear a lot of mini/maxi wrap skirts, and kimonos- always in super simple designs. I don’t want ALL of my photos to feature the same pieces, so I usually spend a few hours on my trip to trackdown some local materials and take them to a tailor to remake garments I have in my luggage. This is really easy and inexpensive to do all over Asia and Africa. I’ve never done it in other parts of the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s not doable. I have some of my favorite cultural experiences working with locals on making clothes together. Now you have a whole new outfit for only a few dollars AND you get to take it home with the fun memory to go with it.

Clothing Packing Hacks

I think most people are aware of packing cubes at this point, but if you aren’t then get the f on board because those babies will change your travel life. You can get them on amazon for cheap-cheap, but I recommend getting a sturdy set from Zero Grid because they’re invincible. I’ve had mine for four years and I pack them tight as hell. Sort of like trying to stuff my muffin top into a pair of jeans I haven’t fit into for three years. Tip: roll your clothes! Tiptip: mesh or see-through tops make it easier to identify what’s inside.

Laundry abroad can be ridiculous. I’ve had countless pieces go missing or come back completely fucked up. We’ve even had airbnb drying machines fry entire loads of clothing. It’s beyond annoying, so I hand wash as much as possible. I’ve been eyeing one of these though!

Jewelry Packing Hacks

I have searched the web for countless hours trying to find the perfect travel jewelry case. I travel with a lot of jewelry because it’s an easy way to doll-up and can completely change an otherwise simple or often recycled outfit. Those stupid little jewelry wraps hold a few dainty pieces and provide almost zero protection to your smushable jewels. I use large pill boxes for studded earrings, small hoops, and rings. And for my statement jewelry I use a stiff electronics organizer (the large sized one in this bundle- Andrew uses the other two for his stupid shit). I bought a bunch of reusable pouches to keep things from tangling/scratching. If there’s extra space in my organizer then I of course stuff it with odd ends because we don't waste no space!!

Travel Beauty Hacks

My makeup routine is also sacred to me. It’s the only consistent thing that I have full control over on my travels. Just like my jewelry case journey, I’ve searched high and low for the perfect contraption to hold all of my makeup and keep it organized. This box is definitely clunky if you don’t wear much makeup, but would be useful to hold all of your beauty routine items and maybe even jewelry as well. It’s sturdy and you can customize the size of the compartments. Me loves this baby so much.

I let go of my hair and skincare routine because I was busy YOLOing all over the world and then I woke up one day and realized I looked like garbage. Maybe that has a little something to do with my partying habits, but the lack of fucks for my beauty routine def didn’t help either. So, that began my journey of traveling with large liquids (leave-in conditioners, lots of skin products, etc). In comes this epic waterproof zipper cube. It’s a soft-ish material so if you have a few liquids or a dozen it doesn’t take up any excess space. It’s clear AND leak proof. The important thing is it beats using a grocery bag. This is probably overkill, but I love these itty bitty duct tape rolls to make sure my liquids don’t explode in transit.

Speaking of skincare. I’m obsessed with doing masks, but hated using valuable space in my luggage for dozens of one-off masks. Then I blessed myself with this face wrap and all of my problems were solved. I use this with my serums or I’ll make a mask from local ingredients and then pop this on to lock in all the moisture. Booomshakalaka.

If you have very fine, shitty hair like mine then it’s getting all sorts of beat up from hotel/over treated pillowcases. Get you a silk pillowcase. Your hair and skin will thank me later.

This little razor and case is my absolute favorite thing ever. Small and mighty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at it with gratitude. It’s the Wilson to my Tom Hanks. I just recently left mine in a hotel (idk how I could have possibly done this, but I’m sure it’s my husbands fault) after we’d been traveling together for four years and I was absolutely gutted. Get you one and love it like I love(d) mine. I’m currently rocking a shitty razor and having to loosely put it with my liquid toiletries which is messy and totally fucks with my packing fungswae.

I have this wrap component for my makeup brushes, but I think any will do. The point is, this is compact and keeping my brushes clean and protected.  

Travel Vagina Hacks

If you bleed out of your vagina I suggest you get yourself a menstrual cup. If you haven’t used a cup before then definitely buy one a few months prior to your trip so you have some time to get to know the little bugger. It’s a space saver, emergency dodger and better for the environment. While you’re at it, get yourself a metal straw. #savetheseaturtles

Travel Hacks for the Big Hole in Your Face

I’ve been through all the toothbrushes. Literally every single one made in recent history. FINALLY I found my sexy little booboo via an Instagram ad no-less. This guy only needs to charge once a month and the charging cord is TINY- you don’t need to use the stand pictured on the website. Having a vibrating toothbrush doubles as something else if you know what I mean… wink, wink, wink. GET IT?!

Rapid-fire Because This is Taking Forever To Write/Read Hacks

  • Bring bags for your dirty shoes. The ones I use are no longer for sale, but be sure you get zippers in case you make stinkies in her feetsies.

  • If you plan on buying a bunch of shit on your travels, bring a little handscale so you don’t have to deal with rearranging and repacking at the airport.

  • Always bring extra panties. ALWAYS.

  • Reusable water bottles are a must.

  • Unless you know you’re heading into torrential downpours, ditch the umbrella and rain jacket. Buy them later if absolutely necessary. Or just get wet. It’s fucking rain, not acid.

  • Compression socks to keep my legs from swelling on flights- this just starting happening to me as justice for recent sins I’ve committed and it SUCKS.

  • A sleep mask with deep eye holes for flights so my mascara doesn’t smudge all over my face. Bonus points because it comes with a ear plugs and a carrier case.

  • Noise cancelling headphones are so legit on airplanes and life in general.

  • If you’re bringing headphones for your flights, DO NOT forget to buy a converter for the airplane headphone jacks- this one works with my Bose headphones and my hubb’s Beats, but do the research to find ones that are compatible with yours.

  • If you’re going to multiple countries then get an outlet converter with several country plugs in one. And don’t wait and do this at the airport because they’re 3x the price.

  • I’m now traveling with my own hair towel cuz bleach and shitty showers. This towel has made my head hair happy happy happy.

Whew, I think that’s everything of significance that I use. Holler if you have any questions. Don’t say shit if you’re a minimalist backpacker judging my high-maintenance ass. I tried your way, it ain’t for me, so chill!

Hers: Cusco, Peru

Cusco, the cutest city in the world filled with sweetest people in the world. It’s such a happy place with great shopping and some incredible history. We toured The Sacred Valley, and saw some seriously impressive Inca ruins, and small villages filled with smiling little people, fuck loads of llamas (I held every animal I could get my grimy fingers on), and colorful everything.

Obviously, we did Machu Picchu which was infinitely more beautiful than any photo I’ve ever seen of it. Andrew almost got us kicked out several times for wearing one of our robes, which apparently made him look more terrorist-y. Our guide said she’s never seen anyone get racially profiled at the ruins. Being one of the 7 wonders of the world, crawling with all walks of life at all hours- when I say crawling, I mean, there are 30,000 tourists making the trek everyday. That racist little shit-bag… 

The entire time we were in Cusco we were prepping for our Ayahuasca Retreat, so we did very little drinking and we were on a strict diet. We did break the rules and ate guinea pig, but that shit was gross and an instant regret.  Oh, we also had Alpaca, and LOADS of Ceviche obv.  It was nice to have a bit of a detox, and our bodies definitely needed it. 

Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu - I mean, just wow - these places were so magical, serene, enormous, beautiful, and spiritual. You really have to get there - and stay there for a while to really let it sink in.

Ayahuasca. Andrew wrote a very, very, very detailed piece on our experience, and in my opinion it's worth the read. It was the best experience of my life, and I recommend for everyone under the sun to try this enlightening medicine. It changed my life, rewrote painful bits of my history, and made me a better person. Click here for some mind-blowing shit.

All, in all, Peru was a highlight. We met so many cool locals who took us under their wings. We befriended a handful of fellow tourists, and we had the most insanely beautiful experience with Mother Ayahuasca. HUGE win.

Hers: Thai Treats & Terrors

I have very few memories of Thailand as I was quite literally blacked out for most of it. We dove right into the chaos the moment we got there and we didn’t come-to until we we left for Indonesia. Seriously, we were even piss drunk for our flight out of the country. Unfortunately, we did not get to dive into the culture in Thailand as we generally do in most places we visit. We have/had sad, sad livers and I’m def missing all the millions of brain cells we murdered. Oh wellsies.

We saw some sights and learned a thing or two, but we mostly just lived like college spring breakers and it was a riot. There are things that happened that Andrew and I will take to our graves because recklessness was the theme of our Thailand Team. Two of Andrew’s friends from home visited us while we were in Bangkok and together we went to Phuket. Andrew, D, and Mix, your secrets are safe with me if mine are safe with you!!! 

A week in Bangkok, then 4 nights in Phuket, followed by a week in Krabi / Ao Nang / Ton Sai, and finally 10 days in Koh Samui.  Wow, that was a lot of chaos.

To briefly preface - Thailand is crazy beautiful.  If you fancy a good beach with crystal clear and WARM water combined with and endless party scene - add Thailand to your list.

In Phuket, we sought out the legendary Sea Kayaking experience through SeaCanoe Thailand. This goes against every single travel rule we have, which is just one: Exercise and happiness do not mix.

Knowing we have a 7am date with the deep blue, naturally we go out hard until 3am, and arrive to the sea kayaking docks sleep deprived, in a serotonin depleted hungover and being forced into exercising...basically the worst trifecta ever. After a long, hard, idk 10 hours of paddling for what felt like was easily 100 or 200 miles, Me and The Roomie were first to paddle into the last cave of the day. Me being in the front had to lay on my back and steer us through the cave by using my hands on the ceiling of the sharp and slimy ceiling. Andrew was paddling behind me in the pure darkness when we both saw several sets of eyes glaring at us. I’m not much of a screamer, but I was absolutely petrified which resulted in screaming and basically a full melt down. In my mind, the eyes could have been anything, crocodile, snake, dragon, sea monster, you name an evil creature and I guarantee you it crossed my mind. We were in pure darkness so when we saw and heard the “eyes” disappear into the water we lost it. We had to keep going as the current was slamming us forward into the cave walls at every bend, and we had our friends and guide in kayaks behind us. Also, there’s no turning around in these tiny little caves. So, onward we went in pure panic mode, urine and poo poo slowly filling up our little yellow seacraft.

At the end of the cave, just like the other caves we visited, was a huge, stunning lagoon. Andrew and I were equal parts relieved and traumatized. Our friends and the guide arrived a few minutes later when we explained our experience. The guide got all giddy and shit and said, “you’re so lucky, you saw water monitor lizards!!” I've never shit my pants and had someone tell me I was lucky before. Oh Thailand, where all things collide. 

Cool, dude. We calmed down slightly, tried to keep our shit together and got as far away from the dragon's nest as possible before getting out of the kayaks for a swim in the incredible lagoon, which is basically the hole of the donut that is the island we're in - walls shooting straight up for idk, a gazillion feet? So we paddle over and then hop out on the guide's instruction - the water's about waste height here. He points and tells me to walk that direction. So, I do it. I walked straight for about 4 steps and then sink down in the water immediately, and I’m up to my knees in death sand, and up to my neck in water, and I freak out all over again. Andrew comes to my rescue and pulls me out. Fuck you, Tom Cruz (obviously the name of our Thai guide :)). A few minutes later we’re having a good time, swimming, chatting, enjoying the breathtaking view when I feel a sharp ‘bite’ on my calf. Again, AGAIN, I freak out, and tears this time as I’m just so fucking overwhelmed. Turns out, Tom Cruz swam behind me and pinched my calf underwater. I’M SO DONE. I wanted to knife Mr. Cruz right in the throat and I get the F out of there. THE END.

Thankfully for $10 massages, which were essentially a daily routine for us in Thailand, serenity was able to return.

Later that night, college roomie "D" wanted a quintessential Thailand experience with the ladyboys. Now now, don't get carried away - he just wanted a picture.  The thing about Thailand that's super weird is that any time you see an incredibly beautiful woman, or a flock of them - fabulously dressed - it's guaranteed to be a ladyboy.  That's just standard operating procedure.  So on the main drag in Phuket, "D" got his shot, and paid $5 for a picture with 4 giant body-builder ladyboys.  Apparently it was supposed to be $5 EACH.  After 11 years of best friendship, we almost lost "D" that night.  DO NOT FUCK WITH THE LADYBOYS.  "D" was inches (pun intended) away from getting jumped by a gaggle of +6'1'' ladyboys.  You see, he only had $5, and the rest of us thought it would be funny to walk away, fast...but upon looking back, 50 meters away, the unmistakable look of sheer fear was plastered to the face of our - 6'3'', handsome, strapping, West Indian friend - no twiggy pushover his own, we decided to sprint back over and save his life.  You're welcome D.  I think to this day he doesn't leave his house without $100 in unmarked legal tender.  I also wonder how he's doing.  D, are we still friends after we almost caused you to get dead?

This is so just the tip of the iceberg of our Thailand experience - it definitely begs a few repeat trips; more Krabi, Chang Mai in the north, and some proper getting lost in the middle of nowhere.  Next time...