Ladies: I’m Nuts for This Travel Gear

Ladies, let’s just be honest: for women, packing light is a bit of an anomaly. Well, I’m that anomaly. Back in my pageant days, I was the only “Miss” with one backpack for gear, while every other contestant had at least three roller bags.

I do believe it’s possible to look really good and feel comfortable on your vacations with one carry-on backpack. Going on a trip doesn’t mean having to settle for choosing between what you need and what you really need. You don’t have to leave comforts at home to achieve minimalism. When I travel, I don’t leave home without:


It’s about five degrees cooler underneath a parasol and it’s great for deflecting rays. Also, if you’re as pale as a corpse like I am, you can keep your skin safe from the damaging effects of the sun. I prefer the parasols that have a UV-protection lining because that means rays are less likely to go through the fabric.

nicole_baggaliniBaggallini Curling Iron Cover
I’ve read a lot of travel blogs that say you shouldn’t pack “extraneous” stuff like a curling iron. All of those posts are written by dudes. There is just no way you can tell a woman she can’t bring a curling iron or other favored hot tool on a trip. It’s like telling a guy he can’t watch porn (watch his jaw drop and then tell him that’s how you feel when you can’t pack your straight iron or watch reruns of Sex in the City). But, you can still be efficient even with a hot tool. The Baggallini curling iron cover is a heat protector so you can pack up and go without having to wait for your curling iron or straight iron to cool down.

nicole_shiseidoShiseido Sun Protection Face Cream SPF 50+
I can’t stress this enough: if you have pale skin – or if you have skin in general – you should be wearing sunscreen. My favorite is Shiseido because it goes on smooth and has a pleasant scent. Best of all: I don’t break out when using Shiseido, like I do with other brands. And I know a thing or two about acne. If I had a nickel for every pimple I’ve had, I’d be a billionaire.

nicole_creamFace Cream Moisturizer
When we visited Scotland, my skin got severely chapped due to the cold weather. So, I started making my own face cream. I can make it thicker or thinner depending on the climate we’re traveling to. It’s fairly easy to make, too. You will need: 4 oz. (.12 l) of organic extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp. (30 mg) of beeswax, 1 cup (.24 l) of tepid water, 1 small glass or plastic container. Take 2 tbsp of shredded beeswax and melt it into the olive oil using a double boiler. Once it’s melted, take 1 cup of (this is important) tepid water and place everything into a blender. Blend. Scoop out the emulsion into a clean container. If you want it to be thicker, use more beeswax and less water.

nicole_311Sephora 3-1-1 TSA Airless Travel Set
Sephora keeps it real with their travel bags. They know what a woman will carry and provide the necessary tools to carry them. You can get 3-1-1 travel bags anywhere. But, I tend to like Sephora’s since they’re durable.

nicole_sprayUniversal Atomizer there’s nothing worse than having a toiletry explode in your bag on the flight. It’s even worse if it’s cologne or perfume. That stuff can get everywhere. Then you’re left wondering why your bag doesn’t know that perfume is supposed to be subtle, not bathed in. Luckily, there’s the universal atomizer. It’s a tiny perfume bottle that’s tiny enough to fit in a 3-1-1 bag.

nicole_lipglossNeutrogena MoistureShine® Lip Soother
A lipgloss that doubles as a moisturizer and as sun protection is pretty awesome. The drugstore brand Neutrogena has some great lipglosses and lip balms.

nicole_magThe Bible
Not the actual bible, but Cosmo Magazine followed by Afar Magazine. I can read about all the things I wish I could buy if I weren’t living on a teacher’s salary. Then I can follow that up with reading about all the places I wish I could go…while we’re on the plane to destinations I’ve been dreaming about all my life.

nicole_moleMoleskine Pocket Ruled Journal
I use Moleskine for blogging. I specifically like this brand because the hardcover is sturdy and the paper is thick enough that there’s no bleed-through or ripping. Not only that, but Moleskine seems to be practically indestructible… I may have accidentally dropped it off our balcony… the journal survived.

nicole_headsetApple EarPods
You can get headphones on an international flight, but I have two words for you about their performance: they suck. The sound is usually so bad, I can’t even hear the in-flight movie. I’ll stick to the ones that come with my iphone. They’re small enough to fit in my purse.

nicole_iphoneApple iPhone 5
I use my iPhone for entertainment and most importantly for photos. I can also easily keep up with the social media for our blog. Oh, hey look, my iPhone alerted me to no new comments. That’s alright, I’ll use it to take this awesome photo of the Hong Kong skyline for Instagram.

nicole_crossshoulderZip Cross-Body Bag
The last time I didn’t follow my own advice about a cross-body bag with a good closure, I felt a hand go in my purse. Joke’s on him, he only got a tampon. You can get a nice bag pretty much anywhere. My personal favorite place: H&M.

Ugg SimmensUgg Waterproof Boots
Well, ladies, we’ve all been there: we go gaga over a new pair of shoes, try them on and immediately never regret buying them (because you never regret buying shoes, no matter how painful they are). It takes me at least a day to break in shoes and I hate every minute of it. But I did not have to break in my Uggs. They fit like a glove from day one and were so comfortable, I never felt any pain or soreness. They’re also waterproof and have a warm, fuzzy liner inside. We recently trekked all around the Swiss Alps in fresh snow in the dead of winter and I didn’t catch hypothermia once. So, yay! Score ten for my toesies.

nicole_asprinPain Reliever
Perhaps it’s the air cabin pressure or the in-flight food or a little bit of both. But, for some reason, I get these terrible headaches and upset stomachs that make me feel nauseous. There’s nothing worse than getting a headache 10,000 feet in the air. So, I keep a couple of travel aspirins in my purse.

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What are your must haves when you travel?

Men, if you’re looking for gear, check out my husband’s recommendations.

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12 responses

  • The olive oil and beeswax doesn’t break you out? I’m always intrigued by home beauty recipies, but it freaks me out to think about those two ingredients on my face! I do use jojoba oil on my face, but it doesn’t feel heavy.

    And I’m always looking for good facial sunscreens that don’t break me out. I’ll have to try this Shiseido one!

    • Hi Cassie,

      I don’t break out with the homemade face cream. I read online that olive oil’s molecules are bigger than pores. If you check the recipe link, you might be able to substitute olive oil with jojoba oil.

      I love Shiseido. It does an amazing job holding up in the sun. It may not do well on darker skin tones as it leaves a slight white film that disappears when you rub it in and it sets.

    • Thank you for commenting, Charlotte!

      The last thing I need is a Sticky-Fingers taking the one thing I need the most.

  • Don’t bother with the curling iron unless it’s worldwide wattage. I brought my Chi straightener and it died on my 3rd day in New Zealand. I changed the setting on it but nope. Unless you plan to carry a converter which doesn’t seem heavy but every ounce counts. Just saying.

    • Conair is the best! Its products are inexpensive and last forever. Like my curling iron. It was gifted from my grandma who had it since the 90s. It’s dual-voltage and it’s lightweight. It’s been with me for over 20 countries, years of travel and I use it at home. No converter needed, just a universal plug adapter. Conairs are my go-to hair appliances, but ALWAYS check for dual voltage. =)

  • Hi Nicole, What kind of clothes do you pack? Are they wrinkle free, light? I’m sure it depends on the climate, but I always pack too much! I didn’t see any clothes listed and I know you don’t go naked, because I see you have clothes in the photos. You said leave a “nutty reply” :)

    • The CHI was supposed to be dual but sometimes foreign plugs just don’t like you. Luckily it was a Costco purchase and they took it back with zero questions. Traveling for a year and a half I learned to live with my naturally wavy hair.

      I bought a Babyliss straightener in the UK and it works here on a universal adapter. I like their products. Conair does make great budget priced accessible products. I need more oomph for my nightmare hair. Love their universal plug adapter. It was what I traveled with till someone stole it in a hostel in Spain!

      • I have searched all over town for travel friendly flat irons and curling irons for Nicole, and all the CHIs I came across were not dual voltage. In fact most of the higher priced products I came across are not dual voltage or the ranges are short of 250v. They put 110v/125v which at first fooled me thinking it’s 100v/250v at a glance. I absolutely hate women products, the voltage fine print labels are usually a plastic emboss and not legible on most of them.

    • Hi Dana,

      I guess it depends on the weather. For this past European trip in the summer, I packed shorts, and two pairs of pants along with a couple of button-up shirts and a couple of tank tops. I make sure they coordinate with each other and fall into a color scheme so that I can wear them a couple of times as different outfits. I usually pack two pairs of shoes. I wear one of those on the plane so it doesn’t take up room in my backpack.

      I think in the future, I’m going to utilize lookbook for some of the outfits I wore and show a couple of outfits here on the blog so ladies can get some fashion ideas. =D

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