Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature a new travel blogger. Some weeks it will be a really fun interview about packing, fashion, and fitness so you can snoop inside their bags & lives a little bit and other weeks it’ll be a detailed luxury guide to a city the featured blogger/expat knows very well. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
An interview with packing tips from Cubicle Throwdown.
Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
I’m Rika from Cubicle Throwdown. I am an expat on the Caribbean island of Roatan. I settled here after traveling here a few times, and have done quite a few backpacking trips in the past so even though I’m not ‘traveling’ now, I know a thing or two about it!
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel (tell me the brand & size you like and why)?
I always use a backpack. I like to have my hands free! And in a lot of places I’ve traveled, there haven’t been paved roads or easy access for suitcases. I don’t like top-loading backpacks though – too much time wasted digging through blindly looking for stuff. I am a big fan of the Osprey women’s line, particularly the Osprey Waypoint 65L. I had one of those for quite a while and loved it.
What shoes are your every day walking around, sightseeing shoes? And how many pairs of shoes do you pack for a long-term backpacking trip?
These days, it has to be Havaianas flip flops because that’s all I wear on Roatan, so wearing shoes gives me blisters now! I used to wear Toms as ‘walking-around’ shoes though. I try to pack no more than 2 pairs of shoes on a long-term backpacking trip, depending on what I’ll be doing during the trip. Either walking-around shoes + flip flops, walking-around shoes + dressy flats or walking-around shoes + hiking boots. Always wear whichever is heaviest during travel and pack the light ones!
When you’re pigging out trying new foods, other than typical walking & sightseeing in towns- what do you do to keep away the love-handles?
I always try to do at least one activity that is awesome to do in that location – things like scuba diving, surfing, hiking, kayaking, sandboarding, etc. I also usually only eat twice a day when I’m traveling, so for one meal I go crazy with whatever I want to eat, and the other I try to make more healthy choices when possible.
When you’re traveling, do you pick up beauty & shower products while you go or are there products you can’t live without- what are they?
I have learned that shampoo is shampoo pretty much all over the world. I try to pick up small sizes of shower products wherever I am. I don’t wear much makeup, so traveling with a compact of pressed powder and some mascara is good enough for me. One thing I never leave home without – Bare Minerals Active Cell Renewal Night Serum. Makes my skin feel amazing, especially after a little too much sun, wind, or late nights!
If someone said to you “I could never live out of a backpack for 3 months” what would be the first advice you would give them?
I never thought I could live on a tiny island with the same 10 shirts and 3 pairs of shorts for a year at a time (I change out my entire wardrobe once a year when I visit home), but once you try it you realize that no one gives a crap if you’re wearing the same shirt 3 times a week, so you shouldn’t either. Investing in a Scrubba is a must! Nothing wrong with wearing the same clothes over and over, but for the love of everyone else on the bus/plane/train, make sure they are clean please. Also, most places in the world sell clothes, shower products, sunscreen, and all that kind of stuff. Just because you don’t pack it doesn’t mean you can’t pick it up along the way somewhere.
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
Always a little black dress. SO easy to dress up or down depending on shoes (nice black flats are easy to pack and look fancy). Because I’m normally traveling in hot climates, I usually go for a strapless or cap sleeve dress that falls around mid-thigh. Some countries are more conservative with their clothes, so be sure to research online first so you don’t get turned away at the bar!
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
Hair product! I never, ever take hair product traveling. If my hair doesn’t look good after it’s been washed and air-dried, then up it goes into a messy bun or ponytail. I’d rather have extra underwear packed than hairspray.
When you’ve been on sleeping on trains and buses for days, what products do you use to freshen up or do you just wait until you find a hotel?
Baby wipes are a godsend. Actually, I’ve seen companies capitalizing on this and selling ‘freshening up wipes’ wipes, which are a great idea. I always make sure I have my toothbrush and deodorant with me… that goes a long way to making me feel human during long travels.
The Werkenntwen has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
I actually have terrible feet (arthritis, bunions and a malformation from childhood that never got corrected) so even when I’m not backpacking I almost never wear heels. So definitely no heels while backpacking!
Airport style: love looking LA paparazzi ready or could care less? Do you pack “plane” or “relaxing” clothes for a long-term backpacking trip or would it take up too much space?
I always have a ‘traveling’ comfy outfit based on the climate where I’m going. I don’t worry too much about it taking up space, because when I’m packed and moving from one place to another I should be wearing it, so it wouldn’t be in my backpack.
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
I carry make up removing wipes and use them all the time. I struggle with my skin even when not traveling, so I try to be vigilant about keeping up a skin care routine on the road.
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like (for example mine is high waisted jeans short or a maxi skirt with a crop top!) while you’re traveling?
Usually jean shorts with a breezy tank top and flip flops (I almost always travel to hot places). Or else leggings with a long top, that’s my go-to if it’s not too hot.
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
My own laundry detergent. I wash stuff myself a lot of the time and especially in countries where you can’t speak the language or read labels, it’s really easy to find out the hard way that you didn’t buy laundry detergent. I really dislike stinky backpackers so I don’t want to be one of them! Also, I’m going to cheat and give a second #1 thing – a sarong is a must-pack item for me. It can be a blanket, sheet, dress, coverup, skirt, towel, shawl, tote… so versatile.
And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
Waterproof mascara! Especially in humid climates or places where you’ll be sweaty or swimming.
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle?
iPod, definitely. I use music as my ‘earplugs’ in noisy hostels and airplanes with crying babies. I love to read, but I’m really sensitive to sound so if I only got to pick one I would take a sound-blocking one!
Thank you for interviewing on Werkenntwen, before you go can you tell readers that may be on the fence about taking a trip why YOU think they should go for it!
Whatever you’re doing right now will still be there when you get back. There’s no need to go out and do some massive year-long trip around the world if you don’t want to – start with a few weeks in a smaller area. When you’re older, if you think you might look back and kick yourself for not taking the jump, you probably will!
Originally from the Great White North, land of the Eskimos and igloos (that’s what’s really up there in Canada, right?), Rika arrived on a tiny Western Caribbean island called Roatan in early 2012 on a holiday and learned to SCUBA dive. Then she came backa month later. Then she came back two months later. Then she came back and forgot to leave. Over 800 dives (and rum punches) later, she is now a PADI Master SCUBA Diver Trainer and still gets a kick out of her divers being scared of nurse sharks. She blogs about her adventures and misadventures over at Cubicle Throwdown. Reach her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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