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. I’m looking for more participants, so e-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
An interview with packing tips from Norway to Nowhere
Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
Hi Rachel! We’re Jimmie and Shelly, a couple from Texas who quit our jobs in 2014 to pursue full-time travel. We run a travel blog called where we recount stories of our adventures and share travel tips and inspiration. We just returned from a 6-month stint across North America and Europe and will soon be heading to South Korea for a year to teach English.
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
Shelly: I used the in size XS (I’m 5’1) for my recent 6 months abroad. However, the weight of the bag constantly flared up existing issues with my low back and hip. For that reason I’ve been considering switching to a rolling backpack. I don’t think I’d ever travel long term with just a suitcase though because of how inconvenient it is to drag up and down stairs or through cobblestone streets.
Jimmie: I prefer using a backpack in my travels. It just feels right, you know? Like putting on a well-used baseball glove. For our last trip I used the . It’s great for the travel life because of some of the features it employs. It has a detachable daypack, a couple of handles to make it easier to grab off the luggage carousels, a shoulder sling, and (my favorite) the option to zip up the shoulder straps so that they don’t get destroyed behind the scenes at the airport.
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?
Shelly: I’m obsessed with my (why they have such a ridiculously long name, I’ll never understand). Basically anytime it’s above 50F/10C you’ll find me in these. Otherwise I’ve been really into ankle booties lately – they give me a bit of height and are comfortable to walk in for hours! I usually pack those 2 types of shoes and then some sneakers for exercising.
Jimmie: I’ve got a pair of as well as Nike tennis shoes that I wear the most, but the most important piece of footwear I use are . They last forever (I used them when I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012), and you just put them in whatever shoes you choose to wear for the day. I also have some Teva sandals. I had to ask Shelly to remind me of what brand they were, so obviously I wear them a lot. They’re comfortable though!
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?
Shelly: This is something I really struggled with in the beginning because I was so accustomed to needing a gym to keep in shape. However, along the way I discovered a couple amazing workouts that only require your body and (sometimes!) an internet connection:
Yoga videos on YouTube (check out , she rocks) are great because they keep me feeling centered and refreshed after a long day of sensory overload. Yoga works wonders on my muscles after a long day of walking.
I also do a circuit training workout called Bikini Body Guide created by an adorable Aussie named Kayla Itsines and am loving it. It’s super tough but perfect for travel. Highly recommended if you’re into maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the go!
Jimmie: Yeah, about that. I think I went running once…
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?
Shelly: I love Lush products and typically stock up on my face wash and moisturizer before leaving. Lush is pretty international so it’s actually quite easy to grab replacements on the go. I’m also loyal to products and bring these with me until they run out. Though I really do enjoy trying out local products as well. I fell in love with a place in the Czech Republic called Manufaktura for their incredible beer shampoo!
Jimmie: I’m not picky, so I tend to just buy stuff on the road. I will say though, that my favorite shampoo is the that Shelly mentioned. I also have some beard oil from a small barber in Stillwater, Oklahoma of all places. If I could bathe in that beard oil, I would.
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?
Shelly: I thought this exact thing until I actually did it. Yes, it has its challenges but the freedom outweighs the cons by far! You’d be surprised at how few things you actually need. A piece of advice I wish I paid more attention to in the beginning is to REALLY plan and organize. Pack clothes that go well with every thing in your bag, and know that layering is key! I’d also recommend for staying organized – they were a lifesaver.
Jimmie: I consider myself somewhat of an expert on living out of a backpack. First, choose the size of the backpack that you want (maybe you want it to be carry-on size, etc.) and THEN put your stuff inside. Don’t pick out your things and then choose a backpack to carry all of it, I guarantee you won’t need it all. It’s pretty remarkable just how little a person needs to live. Find your essentials (no, eight pairs of pants aren’t essential) and then add a few of your creature comforts. Your pack shouldn’t weigh more than 35-40 lbs, and that’s on the high end!
The Werkenntwen has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
Shelly: Hmm, this depends on where my backpacking trip takes me. I think I’d be more likely to pick up an inexpensive pair of wedges if the moment calls for it and ditch them when I inevitably grow sick of the added weight.
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
Shelly: A little black dress or maxi skirt. They are so versatile and can be dressed up or down easily with makeup and jewelry!
Jimmie: I’ll just bring a button-up shirt to wear with a pair of pants.
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
Shelly: My pillow!! I’m obsessed with it and I wish I could bring it everywhere I go. If it weren’t 5 pounds (literally), I might actually consider it.
Jimmie: My golf clubs… I play quite a bit of golf!
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?
Shelly: Honestly it depends on how I’m feeling that day. There’s something about looking glamorous at the airport that reminds me of Pan Am days, which I love. More often than not though you can find me in something casual but cute such as black stretch pants, a loose blouse and an oversized cardigan or sweater. I wouldn’t pack clothes dedicated strictly for the plane ride, but would bring stuff I could wear both in the air and on the ground.
Jimmie: I mean, I don’t wear my pajamas or anything, but generally I keep it pretty relaxed.
And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
Shelly: I typically just pack the same makeup I wear while I’m at home. My favorites include eyeshadow palette and eyeshadow primer potion, , and Smashbox’s full exposure mascara. If you’re interested, I have a !
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
Shelly: Drinking water constantly and trying to maintain a healthy diet is the absolute best thing for me. I’m not one of the lucky ones who can eat or drink whatever they want with no effect on my skin/body so I have to be pretty diligent about staying on top of my health.
Jimmie: I just take a shower or something.
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?
Shelly: Jeans or a maxi skirt with a black tank/shirt. I often bring a light cardigan in case it’s chilly in museums, restaurants, etc. too!
Jimmie: Pants and a t-shirt, keep it simple!
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
Shelly: My unlocked iPhone. I use it for quick photos, music, travel apps, city maps and to keep in touch with friends and family back home. We always pick up a local SIM card to be able to use data wherever we are.
Jimmie: I’ll agree with Shelly on this one. An iPhone is way too versatile to leave at home.
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle?
Shelly: This is a tough one. I love reading but I don’t think I could live without music! I also love that music is profoundly linked to certain memories. I listened to the band Phoenix so much in London that every time I hear them it immediately brings up fond memories of drinking Bulmers, walking cobblestone streets, and browsing antiques on Portobello Road.
Jimmie: Is iPad an option? They’re super handy and allowed me to read all of the Harry Potter books for the first time while we lived in Prague. So yeah, worth it.
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!
We’ve heard different variations over the years of people telling us that they’ve never left the country, the state…even the city they live in! That, to us, is absolutely crazy. There are plenty of articles about why you should spend your money on experiences rather than things, and we wholeheartedly agree with that. Get out there and see something you’ve never seen before, meet people different from yourself and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone! We guarantee you won’t regret it.
Jimmie & Shelly are an American couple who quit their 9-5 jobs, sold their possessions, and began traveling around the world in 2014. Together they operate their travel blog, , where they share travel tips, city guides, and tales recounting their crazy adventures and the equally crazy people they meet along the way. For your daily dose of travel inspiration, you can “like” Shelly & Jimmie on and follow them on , , and .
Shop Jimmie & Shelly’s favorites!
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