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 Waegook Tom

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

Well sure. My name’s Tom, a 28 year-old from northern England who quit his post-graduation call centre job in 2009 and moved to South Korea to teach English. While in Korea, I started my blog, Waegook Tom. I’ve been living in Asia since 2009, with some travelling stints in between. Right now I live in Taipei, where I’m teaching English and trying to figure out what’s next!

packing tips from waegook tomA word of warning for guys everywhere: If you head somewhere hot and decide to shave your head, put sun cream on it! I made that mistake in Colombia and it wasn’t a pretty sight when it started to peel. For a shorter trip, pack for the purpose! My visit to Amsterdam was for my birthday, with lots of partying involved, so the clothes I packed were a lot more going-out based than if I were, say,heading on a hiking trip or backpacking around Latin America. Also, don’t be afraid of taking duckface selfies.

Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel (tell me the brand & size you like and why)?

I usually use a backpack for long-term travel. I pack pretty light, mostly clothes, and just a laptop, camera, and a couple of other bits and pieces as extras. My backpack is Nike, and I chose it for the colours – grey, and a kind of lime green/yellow colour on the inside (I’m colourblind so can’t be sure).

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?

Just some simple blue canvas trainers that I got on eBay for £3! For a long-term trip, it depends where I’m going. I’ll usually pack a pair of comfy trainers that I can work out in or will be useful if I’m doing anything strenuous. A pair of flip flops as they don’t take up much space, and my blue canvas shoes, too. Possibly a pair of simple black slip-on pumps too, as they don’t take up much room.

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’m in a hotel, I’ll always try and stay in one with a gym. I usually don’t watch what I eat when I travel, so I’ll just try and do some cardio or weights, if I can. There’s stuff that’s pretty easy to do in my room, too – squats, push-ups, lunges, crunches. If I’m on a budget and can’t splurge on a nice hotel, well, then I just have to fix it when I’m back home! However I find I don’t usually put on too much weight when I travel, as walking around is my preferred method of transportation.

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 love products from Lush, especially their skincare range, and will usually take Cleanser , Toner, and Moisturizer from them! I’ll also always bring lip balm from the Body Shop, and some Gatsby hair gel. I’ll pick up shampoo, conditioner and soap or shower gel when I’ve arrived at my destination, oh and hairspray if there’s going to be a night with lots of dancing involved! One thing I love for making my hair super shiny is coconut oil, too – save one of those free mini-bottles of shampoo you get in a hotel, rinse it out, and top it up with the coconut oil at home. I apply it to my hair after spraying, and then spray again. Just put a little on though – if you use too much, it can make your hair look greasy.

packing tips from waegook tom

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?

Unpack! If you’re going to be somewhere for longer than a couple of nights, take stuff out of your bag. Hang your clothes up. Set up a little area next to your bed like you would at home. Pack a few photos and stick them up on your wall. There’s stuff you can do to make even cookie-cutter hotel rooms feel more welcoming, and with the advent of services like Airbnb, you now have the option of living in an actual home, which I love.

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

Jeans. Jeans, jeans, jeans – a smart pair though, not ones with holes in or ones that hang halfway down my butt. I always take jeans with me as they don’t need washing often, and are so versatile – pair them with a nice shirt and you’ll fit right in at a cocktail bar, or with a funky t-shirt and you’ll be at home in a night club. Generally, I’ll pack a polo shirt or long-sleeved shirt that I can pair with jeans, and then a pair of black slip-on shoes. No Hawaiian prints though, and no t-shirts with offensive slogans like ‘I Did Your Mom’ or ‘Federal Breast Inspector’ – you’ll look as much an idiot abroad if you wear these as you do in your home country. Of course if there’s a place with a strict dress code, I’ll normally skip it while I’m on the road – no way am I packing a suit.

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

Having a big, comfy sofa to curl up on. Or a shower with decent water pressure and/or hot water that lasts for longer than five minutes..

packing tips from waegook tomPack something simple that can be worn either during the night or day. A simple black shirt with jeans is a great way to do this, and never goes out of style. Also, lip balm. Make those lips kissable, gents!

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?

I generally wait until I find a hotel. I don’t want to be washing my face with water on trains.

Airport style: love looking LA paparazzi ready or couldn’t care less? Do you pack “plane” or “relaxing” clothes for a long-term backpacking trip or would it take up too much space?

It depends how long the flight is. Sometimes I like to feel a little bit glam and will dress up a little – nicer t-shirt and jacket, jeans, and a pair of nice shoes, paired with my brown leather holdall. However I generally just do that for city breaks. For a longer trip or a very long flight, I’m all about comfort, although you won’t catch me in a tracksuit on a plane. I like to look at least a little presentable for immigration in foreign countries!

packing tips from waegook tomBe smart with your packing and don’t just pack vest tops or t-shirts. You’ll feel better if you wear different clothes from during the daytime, even if you are staying in a twenty bed hostel dorm

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

I just use my Lush products – cleanse, tone, and moisturise! No different from what I would do at home.

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

Just a plain t-shirt with jeans. I like to keep it simple when I travel, and to not be too conspicuous – no bumbags, khakis or socks-and-sandals combination.

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

Photos of friends and family.

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

Probably the brand that they use on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle?

Erm, neither – smart phone!

packing tips from waegook tomHeading somewhere a bit chilly? Always pack a hat, as you never know when you’ll need it – plus you can hide a bad hair day!

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!

Because you’ll amaze yourself. At how resourceful you can be, at how confident you can become, about the skills you’ll learn. You’ll be amazed at other people too, and at the kindness you’ll be shown, if you go in with a smile and an open mind. I couldn’t imagine what my life would be if I hadn’t have travelled, nor the kind of person I would be. I’ve gotten tipsy in a park in Colombia, sped in a tuk-tuk around Bangkok, visited a breakaway Cold War-era state in Moldova, gatecrashed a waitress’ birthday party in a Parisian restaurant and sang my heart out at Korean karaoke bars. Travel helps us grow, and the more we understand about the world, the better a place it becomes.


packing tips from waegook tomTom Stockwell is the brain, voice and fingers behind travel and expat blog Waegook Tom. After quitting his call centre job in 2009, Tom moved to South Korea to teach English, and he’s been travelling and living abroad ever since. You can keep up with Tom’s adventures by liking his Facebook page, and following him on Twitter and Instagram.

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it with the social media links! I’d love to keep giving you travel tricks & tips so feel free to subscribe by e-mail in the big purple box below. Don’t forget you can follow me on facebooktwitterinstagram & bloglovin‘.