Posts Tagged ‘before you go’

Online fashion magazine Refinery 29 has put together a quick line-up of travel-sized (TSA-approved) beauty products to accompany your summer getaway this season. These run the gamut from a complete Malin + Goetz set of 1 oz bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, face wash, and facial moisturizer, to the ever-useful 1.4 oz bottle of gentle dry shampoo. They also include lots of fun beach products like spf-loaded lip balms and sunscreen wipes. Check them out! But keep in mind when you’re packing that you need a CLEAR QUART-SIZED bag to pack them in for going through security. What I sometimes do is pack them in the clear bag and then put them in my wax-lined canvas beauty bag and just take the clear bag out of the canvas bag to go through security. Using both bags in this way gives me double insurance against leakage in my suitcase.

Safe summer travels!

[Images from refinery29.com.]

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Presented as part of the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series at the Folger Shakespeare Library .

On assignment for a poetry class I took at GW this semester, I attended a poetry reading by Naomi Shihab Nye at the Folger Library. Nye is an American “poet-Anthropologist” who writes primarily about cultural differences and the human experience of culture and displacement—inspired by her own personal experience as the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and regular travel.

Before the reading, ushers handed out copies of her poem “During A War.”

“Best wishes to you & yours…

where does “yours” end? …

dark eyes who are dying now.

How easily they would have welcomed us in for coffee,

… your friends & mine.” (excerpt)

A potent image of all the welcoming people I’d met on my own travels—in Viet Nam, Peru, South Africa—came suddenly to mind and I thought of how easily and arbitrarily two governments can decide to make enemies out of friends.

Nye’s reading was done in a sort of pocket-notebook style presentation: readings of her poems were interspersed with anecdotes, histories, quotes, letters, and the work of others, allowing the audience to understand more of her inspiration and her process. She began with pointing out that she had always considered poetry to be the “GPS of the heart”—which made me think of a Charles Simic quote, that “[p]oetry is the archaeology of the self.” She elaborated towards the end of her reading by saying that she thinks it is her duty as a poet—the duty of any artist—to communicate a message of integrated humanity in order to encourage peace and happiness in the world: a sentiment I defy anyone to condemn as naïve or cliché after listening to her talk about her experience teaching children in Abu Dhabi or the letters sent between her father and Eleanor Roosevelt.

But before I give the wrong impression of Nye as purely serious and sentimental, the defining point of her poetry is the lighthearted, almost child-like joy with which she discusses her subject. The open-faced “Why?”, as opposed to a clenched fist, presented to issues of cultural discrimination, oppression, and apathy. The cheerful smile offered to acquaintances and events of daily life. She read a poem inspired by newspaper advice columns, excerpts from which included “Dear Joaquin Phoenix,/ just take a break/ and come back later” and “Dear dog behind the fence,/ you really need to calm down now.”

At the end of the reading, Ethelbert Miller of Howard University took the time to ask Nye some questions about her process and her philosophy. In an answer to one of his questions Nye shared some advice her father gave her about keeping her cool in a discussion with someone who is being disrespectful about her views or opinion. “Instead of getting angry,” she said, “take a deep breath, lean back a little, and say, ‘I think we could use a little more information here.'” The idea, I think, is that in order to find peace in others, one must first achieve peace within themselves.

“Elementary school report cards have a box next to which it says, ‘Gets along well with others,'” Nye pointed out during her discussion of a poetry workshop she held for second graders at an elementary school in the mid-west, “How do you think our country is doing?” It is certainly interesting and tragic that Americans recognize the importance of cooperation and sociability in children and yet, somewhere along the line, abandon the value of this attribute for our nation as a whole. Naomi Shihab Nye’s poetry succeeds in communicating the reality of our world and hope for its improvement in exquisite and effective yet clear-cut language that leaves even the most jaded reader with an undeniable catch in his throat.

Her work is a must read for travelers everywhere!

[Images from poetryfoundation.org and barnesandnoble.com.]

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“I travel light. I think the most important thing is

to be in a good mood and enjoy life, wherever you are.”

— Diane von Furstenberg

Tomorrow I leave for Cape Town, South Africa. I’ll be on the ground for about six days and I have to find a way to pack all of my things into my Kimchi Blue suitcase that measures 22”h x 14.25”w x 7.5”d. As far as carry-on bags go it’s still nearly too big—I anticipate airlines that are more strict on carry-on bag rules such as Lufthansa or Turkish Airlines requiring me to check it eventually.

Today there are so many reasons to forgo checking luggage and instead to master the art of efficient and economical packing:

  • Bag fees.
  • Lost or damaged luggage.
  • Time wasted at baggage claim.
  • Misconnects and re-routings.
  • Making the commute from the airport to the hotel a lot easier.
  • The general freedom that comes from packing light!

Here are a few tips to consider when packing light!

Tip #1:

Rolling instead of folding your clothes can cut down on as much as half of your packing space— plus it helps moderate wrinkling. (My boyfriend uses space-bags, but I think they’re a hassle, and the resultant wrinkling is very frustrating.)

Tip #2:

Coordinating all of your clothes (keeping in mind color, fabric, silhouette, etc.) allows you to easily mix and match.

Tip #3:

Making a quick list/sketch/calendar of days, outfits, and events and deciding exactly what you need and when you’re going to wear it can help you avoid over- (or under-) packing.

Tip #4:

See this post on the usefulness of packing lists.

Tip #5:

Taking advantage of your hotel’s laundry service makes packing for longer trips in a carry-on suitcase surprisingly doable.

Tip #6:

See this post on getting around the liquid ban.


Packing your sandals, flats, and heels (smaller shoes), and wearing your boots (bulkier shoes) on the plane will save a lot of space and you can still bring your boots!

Tip #8:

When packing for cold weather,and you need to bring coats, and you want to bring a day coat and an evening coat, you can always wear one and roll the other, carefully, and put it into a protective fabric drawstring bag and buckle that bag to the top handle of your suitcase.

Tip #9:

Packing your purse and using a larger ”purse” as a carry-on purse will give you more space. Just be careful not to pack it so it’s too heavy. I usually use a little canvas backpack I got from Urban Outfitters. A large tote will also do the trick for those who aren’t fans of the backpack. As long as you can store it under the seat in front of you on the plane you’ll be in good shape!

[Images from Urban Outfitters and Scott Zaban.]

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On Friday morning my boyfriend and I head to Lima, Peru for two full days of gorgeous weather, lazy beaches, bustling craft markets, and delicious Peruvian cuisine—a perfect way to spend a long President’s Day weekend.

This, however, brings me face to face with my old nemesis: the 3-1-1 liquid ban. Since I always travel with carry-on bags only, I have had to become quite creative in how I manage to bring everything I need in a little Ziploc bag. Here are some of the travel-friendly products I’ve found to be very useful in circumventing the liquid regulations and still being able to use carry-on luggage only.


Save space by using Tocca’s SPF 30+ Sunscreen towelettes instead of having to find space for a big bottle of goopy, runny, slimy sun lotion.

Tocca’s SPF 30+ Sunscreen Towelettes

Scented in TOCCA’s classic Stella fragrance (Italian blood orange), these towelettes are pre-moistened in a gentle, sweat-resistant, broad spectrum SPF 30+ physical sunscreen that’s enriched with Vitamins E and B5, aloe and marine silk. The individually wrapped towelettes make it easy to be sun savvy no matter where you are – on the beach or on the go. Includes 8 individually wrapped 8” x 8” towelettes.

The Facts: SPF 30+ Physical Sunscreen; Water/ Sweat Resistant; UVA/UVB Protection; Hypoallergenic and Clinically Tested; Broad Spectrum Physical Sunscreen; Natural ingredients include: Vitamins E and B5, Aloe, Marine Silk, Oat Extract, Grape Seed Oil, Avocado Oil; Not tested on Animals.


2.        A BAR OF SOAP

Instead of squeezing a bottle of body wash in my liquids bag, I bring a mini loofa and a bar of soap in a travel soap box in a little plastic bag. On the road I also use a rich lather of soap when I shave instead of using shaving cream which saves even more space.

Mistral Soap

Uses and Benefits: Gently cleanses and moisturizes the skin. Rich creamy lather leaves skin soft to the touch.

Gift pack contains: Lavender, Verbena, and Melon Pear



As an alternative to wedging my bottle of Coco Mademoiselle into a 1-quart bag, which takes up almost a third of the entire space, I bring a selection of little jars of solid perfumes that I can pack separately. These are some of my favorites:

Soap & Paper Factory Solid Perfumes

Pure jojoba and beeswax blended with our signature fragrances in a purse size, travel size, to go, container. For young and old, for big and small – our perfume is perfect for anyone and everyone!  No parabens, phthalates, nor petrochemicals.


Tokyo Milk Petite Perfume Solide

This charming box fits perfectly in the palm of your hand; decorated with a vintage hand-glittered image of birds, delicately perched. Slide open the matchbook-style box to reveal a glass pot of Parfum Solide. Hints of Spring: Violet, Jasmine, Gardenia, Lavender, Amber, Sweet Musk & Sandalwood.


Tocca Solid Perfumes

Inspired by our popular eau de parfum, TOCCA’s solid perfumes allow you to travel fragrantly. Each 0.15 oz perfume is packaged in a gold decorated compact and housed in a gold foil-accented box inspired by Italian candies. This whimsical, beautiful and portable item is perfect for travel and anyone on the go!


[I prefer the Giulietta scent]


I used to minimize space by using a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners but it was no favor to my hair. Generally 2-in-1’s only work for people with “normal” (i.e. not dry or oily) hair. The best route for economizing space with your shampoo and conditioner is to try to find your favorite shampoo in travel size bottles, or to buy the appropriate size bottle and fill it with your normal shampoo and conditioner. Make sure the bottles you choose are easy to use, TSA approved, and leak-proof.

For example, I use aquage seaextend shampoo & conditioner, the travel size bottles for which are available at my salon.

The best cost-sensitive route, however, is to buy a good pair of bottles and just fill them with shampoo & conditioner yourself. I recommend humangear GoToobs available at REI and other outdoor recreation stores.

humangear GoToob 3 oz. bottles

The carry-on-approved humangear GoToob 3 oz. bottles makes it easy to travel with your favorite gels and lotions. No-drip valves easily dispense gels and lotions; large openings are easy to fill and clean, and integrated rubber seals prevent leaks. Bottles feature rotating collars and integrated labels so you can mark the contents as conditioner, shampoo, sunblock, lotion or soap; tightening caps lock collars in place. Bottles are sized to slip easily into pockets, bags, purses and other tight spots. Food-grade silicone bottles and polypropylene caps are 100% BPA free. Includes 3 humangear GoToob bottles.



This is more of a last resort sort of thing if you really are short on liquid space because these wipes come in a somewhat bulky package that will take up more space in your suitcase overall than a small bottle of makeup-remover or cleanser. *I* usually travel with these—especially to warm weather locations—because I prefer to make room in my liquids bag for a specific brand of sun and after-sun lotion that I love. I recommendNeutrogena’s Hydrating Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes or LA Fresh’s Oil-Free Face Cleanser Wipes.


Remember that most hotels *will* offer shampoo, conditioner, lotion, body wash, shaving cream, and toothpaste to their guests.

7.        ZIPLOC BAGS

As for the 1-quart, clear bag to pack it all in, I prefer to use simple Ziploc baggies because they’re very inexpensive and you can keep re-using them until they fall apart and if something spills inside of them you don’t have to worry about cleaning the bag but can just throw it away and pull out a new one.

The *specific* ones I like to use are the Ziploc (R) Brand Slider Storage and Freezer Bags with the Smart Zip [TM] Seal. I like these because they have an expandable “floor” that provides for maximum space efficiency. Also, the freezer bags are sturdier than the simple storage bags and won’t rip as easily.

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For the longest time I found packing for a trip to be particularly frustrating. I used to be of the “if I just throw as much as I can into my bag I’m sure to end up bringing something I need” mind, but, as I’ve learned that the best way to travel is with carryon-luggage only, I’ve had to revolutionize my entire strategy.

Part of packing smart is planning smart. By this I do not mean having a written-in-stone itinerary down to the minute and place you’ll be eating your meals. However it is useful to have a general idea of where you’ll be, what you might want to do there (atv-ing? the theater? the beach?), and what the weather will be like, etc. That way you make sure you’re not going to be arriving at your sea side hotel sans bathing suit and sandals. Seems obvious, I know, but when you do a lot of traveling, all your packing lists can run together.

Which brings me to tip number one: make a packing list. This could be as haphazard as jotting down a few of the necessities on the back of an old receipt, or consulting one of the links I’ve listed below, which to me seem more like “what to pack if you’re moving to a different country” packing lists. The important thing is to get it written down. This way you can continue to add things as they occur to you and you don’t feel overwhelmed when day zero comes around and your suitcase is still on the top shelf of your closet.

So here, here, and here are some good starting places that give a very thorough overview of things you might need. I personally think that a lot of this stuff is extraneous, but for first timers or type A’s, being this thorough might make you feel more comfortable and give you a certain peace of mind that will allow you to enjoy your trip without worrying if you’ve forgotten anything.

The most important things on my lists are…

—Some banks like PNC offer checking account options that include refunds for ATM-charges on withdrawals overseas and no extra charges on foreign transactions, while other banks, like Bank of America, will charge an extra $5 on top of some foreign ATM withdrawals.

—A lot of places give student discounts for everything from train tickets to museum entries.

—Makes all the difference when you’re trying to catch up on sleep on that early morning train from Venice to Florence, or in a noisy sixteen bed dorm room in a hostel in Amsterdam.

—…but a long one. Something like Les Miserables, From Sea to Shining Sea, The Fountainhead, Pillars of the Earth, etc.

—I use a DSLR: Nikon D5000. Waterproof bags are invaluable to have if you’re say hiking through Parque Metropolitano jn Panama when a fierce storm rolls through… Or trekking through Hell’s Gate Gorge outside of Nairobi when you encounter the need to climb down a waterfall…

—I highly recommend one with spf. Check out Covergirl’s new Natureluxe lipgloss with +15 spf!

—I’m always happy with Ray bans: aviators, wayfarers, or clubmasters. If you don’t care about them being polarized or don’t like traveling with expensive sunglasses, urban outfitters and anthropologie have a lot of cute under-$30 options.

—For weather below the mid-60s, a chilly plane-ride, and evenings, I almost always bring my leather jacket I bought at a market in San Telmo in Buenos Aires. It’s simple, warm, and perfect for anything from trekking to markets and even dinner when paired with an anklelength dress.

Image from Anthropologie

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