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 Bren on the Road
Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
Hi! My name is Brendan from Auckland, New Zealand. In a previous life I was an accountant, but for the last few years I have been travelling the world. I write about my personal journey, share stories, and give budget travel advice on my blog, Bren on the Road. At this very moment, I’m in Quito, Ecuador and freezing my jewels off.
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
I use a Kathmandu hybrid backpack which is basically a backpack with wheels on the bottom. It’s a little heavier than a standard pack but is definitely easier to move around with. I think if you travel long term it’s nice to have wheels, as they will save your shoulders a lot of pain, but there will be many times when you need to carry your bag across mud/sand/swamp/dirt and that’s when those backpack straps will come in handy. If it’s within your budget, I’d definitely get one!
at the market with his students in Tanzania
chilling out in Manila
What shoes are your every day walking around, sightseeing shoes?
I like to walk around in flip flops, or if the weather requires it, just a decent pair of sneakers. Right now I’m rocking a pair of Dune high-tops, which look tidy enough to go out in but are still great for walking around in the day. I even use them for the gym which works fine too. On top of my flip flops and sneakers, I have a pair of boots from Spain which I take everywhere and wear when I need to look a little more tidy.
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?
If I don’t have access to a gym, I try to do bodyweight exercises as often as possible (things like press-ups and squats with my backpack on). I also try and do some high intensity cardio stuff regularly which only take a few minutes – this is one of my favourites:
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 would tell them to try it first, because before long it will end up feeling so normal, and having a house full of stuff will actually be annoying.
“Travelling requires a minimalist lifestyle for the most part, and once you remove all that clutter from your life everything changes – your mind is clearer, you have more free time, you spend less money. It’s a beautiful lifestyle change.”
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
For a night out I just wear a tidy t-shirt, boots and a crisp pair of jeans. I may wear a collared shirt or rent a suit though if the situation requires it. (editor’s note: renting a suit- damn, that’s fancy! love it.)
being environment friendly on an electric scooter in China
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
I miss my juicer. I drink fresh juice every morning and night when I’m at home. There are some places on the road where you can buy juice, but I haven’t been able to find a place that can make it as well as I can.
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?
It’s rare that I’ll be travelling non-stop for more than 48 hours, so I usually just wait until I’m checked in somewhere for a long hot shower. While on safari though, I did use baby-wipes to freshen up when I couldn’t shower. It’s amazing how much dirt you’ll wipe off your face after driving through safari parks all day.
sobering up after a night out in Ecuador
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?
If I have baggage weight problems I just wear my heaviest stuff. However, when I have a choice I always choose to fly in comfort – jeans, flip flops and hoody. So often I see people dressed in their finest on flights and just think, what the hell? For me there’s no alternative to being super comfortable on a long flight. I know I’m going to look like crap by the end of it anyway so might as well do it in comfort.
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
Just make sure you get enough sleep and eat well – that usually does the trick for me.
conversations in class in Shanghai
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?
Definitely depends on the place, but if we’re in the tropics it’s jeans shorts, flip flops and a v-neck or tank-top. In cold weather it’s jeans, boots, leather jacket and scarf. When you’re travelling there’s not much room for packing different outfits, so you need to keep it simple.
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
Kidding. I’d say it’s my asthma inhaler, because without it I will probably end up dying somewhere.
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle?
Kindle all the way.
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!
I still remember all those years I spent sitting in my cubicle. I sat right next to the window, so every day, especially in the summers, I would look out and just dream of flying away somewhere. I had the same reservations as most people (compromising my finances, career, future) but leaving to see the world has been the best decision I ever made. Travel has changed my life in ways that would take far too long to explain here. People spend tens of thousands of dollars and many years of their life educating themselves out of textbooks, usually about things they don’t care about, but won’t spend a few thousand dollars to jump on a plane and educate themselves about the world. There is no substitute for travel. You need to smell the fresh herbs being crushed in the Thai markets, you need to hear the laughter in the streets of Africa. They are the moments that make you smile and go, “Wow.” Sometimes you need simple things like that to just remind you what life is all about. If you’re thinking about your first trip, please, just go; I can guarantee you will never look back.
day at the beach in Kota Kinabalu
Brendan is a former accountant from New Zealand who left his cubicle at 25 to see the world. His passions are language, fitness and big bowls of noodles. On the road since 2011, he now writes to inspire others to travel and create adventures of their own. For budget travel advice, musings and stories, check out his blog brenontheroad.com, or connect with him on social media through the following channels: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Ben is serious about traveling in comfort, every picture looks like he straight maxin’…
Solid post, alriiiight!
I just bought a Kathmandu backpack – good to hear you’ve had a good experience!
Cool interview! Yes, sitting at a cubicle and staring out watching the world go by is definitely a great driver to get all us corporate people out and travelling the world!
Couldn’t agree more!
Yay another kiwi on the road:)really enjoyed reading your interview Brendan!
will be following your adventures!
Hey, it came out great! Thanks a lot for having me ;)