Welcome to Backpacker’s Boutique. Every Sunday, this spot will feature another 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 An American Abroad
Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
My name is Laura and I blog over at An American Abroad. After graduating from college in 2010 I went traveling with my boyfriend for a year. A year turned into several more. For the last four years I have lived in New Zealand, Australia and now I’m teaching English in South Korea.
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
Backpack all the way. While traveling around Australia and New Zealand I used an 80L Mountain Designs bag. It was like a giant turtle shell and I was always embarrased about donning it. I also always overpacked it. So this time around I have bought myself a 40L Karimor. I’ve only used it for week long trips so far, but I’m going to use it to travel South East Asia early next year. I am insanely nervous, but also excited by the challenge.
What shoes are your every day walking around, sightseeing shoes?
I am obsessed with J Crew ballet flats. They are really comfortable to walk in all day and come in so many cute colors. If I can get them on sale or at an outlet shop they’re a great deal. If I’m longterm traveling I try to only take two or three pairs of shoes: a pair of flats, a pair of sneakers for hiking and a pair of Rainbow flip flops.
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?
For me, one of the main reasons I travel is for the food (and drink). So I never watch what I’m eating, yet I always somehow lose weight. I usually do so much walking. If it’s more than an hour’s walk, even better. I love experiencing different neighborhoods, seeing how people are living along the side streets, and walking is the best way to do it. I also pack in lots of adventure activities – hiking, biking and water sports, I’m definitely an outdoorsy kind of traveler.
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 don’t leave home without Colgate Total toothpaste and Oil of Olay facial moisteriser. Everything else I don’t mind picking up along the way.
For those who think living out of a backpack is impossible, what tips do you have for saving space or what things have you learned you actually don’t need to pack?
I am a cronic over-packer, yet once my trips get started I inevitably end up wearing the same two or three things for the entire duration. If I get bored I leave things behind and pick up new things along the way to change it up. It’s a lot easier to do than you think it will be. Once you get traveling you suddenly realize how much excess you have in your life back home. It’s a wonderful experience in how to live a bit more simply.
The Werkenntwen has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
I have before, but I only wore them once or twice. I don’t think I would again, unless I was going somewhere I was positive I would wear them. I hate feeling underdressed while I’m traveling. If I suddenly find myself in a nicer bar or restaurant I want to look put together.
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
I usually have a cute dress or two that I keep at the bottom of my bag that goes with my flats. They’re easy to wear and dress up with a bit of cheap costume jewelry and light enough that they don’t take up too much space in my bag in the event that I don’t ever end up wearing them.
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
That’s so hard. I generally don’t think about what I miss while I’m traveling because I’m enjoying myself so much, but once I get home I’m like “Oh my God, I missed this so much!” But if there’s one thing I had to choose it would by a nice comfy bed. Big h pillows, a soft duvet and a firm mattress that hasn’t been slept on by hundreds of people before me. That is usually what I am happiest to return home to.
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?
Most of the flights I’ve been on in the last four years have been pretty long haul, so I’m a stickler for comfort. But I also don’t want to look like I just rolled out of bed. I usually wear a pair of comfy, stretchy jeans and a loose tshirt. I bring a big scarf that I can wear around my neck and later on the flight use as a blanket. It’s all stuff I would pack anyway and will no doubt wear again on my travels.
What are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
I have a few staples that I don’t leave home without. I have been using CoverGirl tinted moisturizer with Oil of Olay for a good few years. It has an SPF in it and it evens out my skin color without being too heavy. My other favorites are Maybelline Great Lash Mascara in Brownish Black, Cargo Bronzing Powder and Sugar Tinted Lip Balm in a few different colors.
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?
Loose cotton dresses or shorts and a v-neck tshirt. Those two things are my uniform while I’m traveling and I usually end up wearing only one of each of those.
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
I don’t ever leave home without my camera. I’ve been using the same Samsung point and shoot for years now (replaced once after dropping the first one into the ocean..) and I love it. It fits everywhere and takes pretty great pictures without much effort on my part.
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle? (not literally an ipod, just music or books)
I could never travel without books. I bought a Kindle because the amount of books I used to carry around on a trip was absurd.
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!
Mark Twain’s wise words sum it up for me,
“twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do”. Don’t have any regrets.
Laura Bronner is blogger and serial expat originally from the United States. After graduating from college she set off on what was meant to be a year of travel. That was four years ago. Since then she has lived in New Zealand and Australia and currently calls South Korea home. She blogs at An American Abroad and you can follow along with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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