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 the Belle Voyage

Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.

I’m Jessica and my blog The Belle Voyage is a lifestyle diary for women who travel.  I’ve had the travel bug ever since I was a little girl growing up in a tiny town in rural Wisconsin – outside my bedroom window were endless cornfields, and I used to look out at them and just dream of all the places I might see someday.  Since then, I’ve lived and studied on four different continents, and thrive on exploring new destinations.  I currently live in San Diego, CA and although a lot of my travel these days is work-related, I make the most of my vacation time by plotting new adventures all around the globe.

Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?

A rolley suitcase.  I was always the girl in high school who tucked the back of her skirt into her backpack by accident…and I guess I never got over that…so now I am a suitcase girl.  I have a Victorinox 22” roller suitcase that’s black and goes everywhere with me.  I love it.  

packing tips from the belle voyage

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?

For heavy, heavy walking days I am usually in sneakers, flip flops (Rainbows are truly the best) or ballet flats.  As for how many shoes I pack, I try to stick to two – usually one sneaker type of shoe, and one casual sandal. 

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 definitely rely on walking and exploring (and shopping!) to burn off excess indulgences when I travel!  I also love swimming so whenever I’m near a beach, that’s usually my activity of choice.  I try to stay toned while I’m on the road, too, through yoga or pilates in my hotel room (try a youtube video if you need motivation!).

One of my favorite tips is to bring along a resistance band – it takes up practically no space and weighs next to nothing, but it can be used for so many strengthening exercises!   I find that when I’m toned I seem to burn more calories, so it helps in that sense.

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 am admittedly a little high maintenance when it comes to beauty products, so most of them get packed and come along for the ride!  I try my best to find miniature versions of the products I love, and if I can’t, I just make my own mini sizes.  The products I absolutely cannot live without when I travel are: Dry Bar’s dry shampoo for brunettes, my GHD flat iron, and my MAC tweezers!

packing tips from the belle voyage

For those who thing 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 used to be one of those people!  I was a habitual over-packer and always checked a huge bag, even on the shortest trips.  I think I suffered from outfit anxiety, worrying that I just might need a million different clothes, shoes and accessories.  I learned the hard way after lugging a giant bag all over Italy, braving the country’s lack of elevators, that less really is more.

For me, packing light comes down to two things: versatility and layering.  In terms of versatility, look for pieces that can be worn in more than one way; for example, the Encircled cardigan can be worn 8 different ways including as a dress, a top and a scarf.  I also love pieces that are reversible, or things that serve more than one purpose.  For example, I have some cropped yoga pants that reverse to be either black or blue, and can pass as workout gear, leggings, or even pajamas.  Also – I almost always pack a dress!  An entire outfit in one piece is a huge space-saver, and the right dress can go pretty much anywhere and be styled a million different ways.

The Hippie in Heels has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?

A huge part of me wants to say yes, but truthfully on a backpacking trip I’d be more likely to pack a dressy metallic sandal and save the extra space for beauty products – ha!   But that’s not to say I wouldn’t shop once I reach my destination.  On any other trip though, I usually bring a pair of black slingbacks or ankle boots.

packing tips from the belle voyage

What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?

A black dress.  You can’t go wrong with that – especially one that can be worn during the daytime as well.  I have never regretted bringing a black dress along with me.

What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?

I confess that I dearly miss my Clarisonic face brush when I travel.  It makes my skin feel incredibly clean and soft.  Even though it’s not huge, I can’t quite justify bringing it along when I travel.  No matter how much I wash my face or what product I use, it always feels like it’s still just a little bit dirty when I just use my hands.  Whenever I’m on the road, I can’t wait to get back to my Clarisonic.

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 try to go for something in-between.  Usually black leggings and a few layers on top, plus a big scarf, can look like anything from pajamas to celebrity travel style!  I probably wouldn’t pack anything specifically for a flight though, since my travel outfits tend to be similar to my daily outfits when I’m on the road.

packing tips from the belle voyage

And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?

For me, a travel makeup favorite must be foolproof and have staying power.  Stila’s waterproof eyeliner is amazing – it comes in so many colors and it won’t come off no matter how much you sweat or travel in one day.  It’s also the only eyeliner with which I can actually draw a straight line so that makes it a miracle product anyways.  Another favorite is Cargo blush because unlike so many cheek colors that are gone by 9am, it completely stays put all day.

Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?

Oh, the toll travel takes on your skin!  My skin tends to be oily, so humidity and sweat wreak havoc on pretty much everything.  I try to keep my makeup in powder form to prevent it from sliding off my face – powder foundation, powder blush and powder eye shadow, instead of liquids or gels.  I am also a poster child for blotting papers.  At any given time I probably have at least two packs of them on me!  No matter how hot or humid it gets though, I always make sure all my makeup is off before I go to sleep, and I always use moisturizer.  In the worst case scenario, I just blame the whole situation on bad lighting.

What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?

My travel uniform tends to be skinny ankle jeans that have stretch, and a lightweight, drapey linen t-shirt.  Joie’s are my favorite – they’re pricey but I try to find them on sale.  This look is totally comfortable and casual, but with a scarf or the right jewelry is polished enough create the illusion of being dressed up!

packing tips from the belle voyage

Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.

My camera, hands down.  I have been learning how to use my SLR camera and I absolutely love taking photos while I travel.  If it could be my full-time job, I would be incredibly happy!  Plus, I love looking through photos from my travels whenever I’m feeling wanderlust, so having the camera along means that the joy from my travels will last that much longer. 

You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle? 

Kindle!  I am a reading maniac.  No really.

Thank you for interviewing on Hippie in Heels, 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!

Thank you so much for having me, Rachel!

I was completely terrified before going on my first solo trip.  But I kept telling myself: if you hate it, you can always go home.  And somehow, that gave me a sense of reassurance.  If I was truly miserable, I would find a way to come back home.  It sounds so simple, but sometimes the decision to take a trip gets so built up in our heads, it becomes almost like a permanent life decision, which is obviously not the case.  So keep in mind that more than likely you’ll never regret traveling – but if you do, you can always do something about it.


packing tips from the belle voyageA Midwestern girl turned southern Californian, Jessica Corson knows how to live life out of a suitcase without foregoing her beauty and fashion favorites. She has lived and studied on four different continents, regularly criss-crosses the US for business, and uses her vacation days to embark on new adventures whenever she can. Jessica blogs about where travel meets style at The Belle Voyage. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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