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 WanderLuce!
Tell us a little about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
I’ve always had a serious case of wanderlust, which I think I get from my dad (he’s Egyptian and very well-travelled). Growing up in England with an Egyptian dad, I was lucky enough to be able to explore Europe and North Africa from a young age and even lived in Saudi Arabia when I was 2! I didn’t do the usual ‘gap year’ think after school though (a real tradition in the UK) because I was kind of lost, and introverted and lacked a lot of self-confidence. I went travelling for the first time after I’d split up from my first love at the age of 24. I was in a job that I absolutely hated, so my dad told me ‘just quit, go travelling!’ after listening to me sob down the phone. I was really lucky because he helped me out with money and bought my flights for me – I had no idea what I was doing (I didn’t even have a guidebook!) but I went to Thailand for 8 weeks, volunteering in an orphanage, learning some Muay Thai and generally just partying a lot! I then head for Australia where I travelled and worked, settling in Melbourne for 3 months. I’d planned to be there for a year, but my dad was diagnosed with cancer so I came home early. Since then, I’ve always wanted to do it again, but got sucked back into London life (which is crazy expensive!).
After I met my current boyfriend a couple of years later, we talked a lot about leaving our jobs and going travelling together and started saving up immediately. When he got made redundant, we used this as an opportunity to go straight away. He had a chunk of cash from his redundancy settlement and we’d saved about $5k between us, so we took the plunge and quit our jobs. We started selling stuff like mad, and booked our flights. In January 2014 we flew to Sri Lanka and have been travelling ever since! The blog, WanderLuce, didn’t start out as a way to fund my travels, it was more just to keep my family in the loop and let them know I was still alive! It’s now evolved into much more than I expected, and has become a real creative outlet, as well as a source of income. It’s also opened up so many doors for me, including a stint at Lonely Planet Traveller magazine!
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
I used to travel with a 70 litre Berghaus Jalan backpack, but I really didn’t enjoy lugging around so much stuff and having to pay extra charges on budget airlines…..so this year, I made the switch to a Karrimor 35Lbackpack. It was super cheap, at less than $20, but so much hardier than my old Berghaus and it’s a real joy to have a much lighter load! I’d really encourage anyone else to think about making the move to packing lighter, you genuinely won’t miss the things you think you’re going to.
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?
I’m pretty basic with my shoes, carrying only 3 pairs. I bring my silver-grey Ipanema flip flops (which I got free at a press event), a super cute pair of blue Topshop sandals (which are a little dressier) and my trusty turquoise Nike Free Run 3 trainers which are amazing as they fold down super flat. My boyfriend and I picked them up in Malaysia. I actually think they’re fake……
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?
Ah man, it can be hard! In India, I was eating curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner (us Brits love our curry!) so I found it particularly tough to stay trim. Nowadays though, I live a pretty healthy lifestyle and have made big changes to my diet (mostly due to a hideous bout of acne) so I try to stay meat, sugar and dairy free, and exercise regularly. I love yoga, running and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) which I can do via You Tube videos at home (Fitness Blender and Yoga with Adrienne are my faves). If I do hit up a class, it’ll be Grounded Yoga or Muay Thai in Koh Tao.
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?
A bit of both. Sunscreen is pretty hard to come by in Asia and when you do find it, it’s expensive so I do pack heavy on that. I love Lush solid sunblock as it mean that I can get away with taking less liquid (I try to take carry-on luggage only). I also take Lush solid shampoo bars for the same reason although when they run out I’ll pick up shampoo here….usually just whatevers cheapest (I love Sunsilk and Rejoice). I absolutely cannot leave Guerlain Midnight Secret at home, it’s the most incredible intensive moisturizer, which I use maybe once a week at most – it’s incredible at keeping your skin from drying out on the plane. I also swear by Kiehls Crème de Corps moisturizer for my body – it keeps me from looking leathery!
In terms of make-up though, I bring an edited version of my usual kit as you’d be hard pushed to top up here in Koh Tao!
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 have written extensively about packing, which in a way, has helped me focus more on what I take with me, and why. I swear by Muji packing cubes, which keep my backpack nice and organized (I have 3 – S, M and L sized) and save a lot of space; I also roll my clothes, as opposed to folding them. What you can leave behind is totally country specific, so I couldn’t reliably give a catch-all answer, but I would advise against taking too many clothes with you to anywhere in South East Asia, you’ll only dump your boring old stuff and splurge on $2 dresses anyway.
The Hippie in Heels has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
Nope! I don’t really wear them back in London anymore either. Although, with my wedding coming up, it’s gonna be pretty interesting getting me in a pair!
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
Because I have such a limited amount of space, everything I take has to multi-task. I couldn’t take an outfit ‘just in case’ but I do take accessories, and I have a few things I can fall back on that are a bit dressier. My favourite outfit is a zebra print skort (short/skirt combo) from Primark (budget UK store), which I wear with a simple black vest top from Zara. I also have a gorgeous black maxi skirt which hides a multitude of sins!
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
My own bed!
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?
Now this is one area I definitely luxe out on. I always pack my super duper comfy black high waist leggings and a stripy Breton top. I like looking chic but casual when I fly, just in case I ever manage to get an upgrade!
And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
Clinique Even Better foundation, which is oil free and SPF 15 so it’s perfect for the sun, and I couldn’t live without my Guerlain Terracotta Bronzers….yep, I take two! I have the Terracotta original, which is matte and perfect for contouring, and the Sheer Brunette Terracotta, which has gorgeous tortoiseshell peachy tones that serve as a blusher/highlighter. They serve different purposes, honest!
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
Sure do. I use an oil-free cleansing gel in the morning and an amazing DMC cleansing oil for night. This is perfect for breaking down SPF and giving your skin a really good cleanse. I also take some Nip & Fab exfoliating pads, which take up no space at all and are great to use 3 times a week after cleansing. I take a Body Shop Vitamin E face oil for night plus a Lancome Visionnaire Eye cream too. It sounds like a lot, but they are all tiny!
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like (for example mine is high waisted jeans short or a maxi skirt with a crop top!) while you’re traveling?
Haha, this is funny as my most-worn outfits are the same! High waisted denim shorts and a grey slubby tank top tucked in…and either a maxi skirt and crop top or my cute black flippy skirt with a tank top tucked in.
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
Oooh good question. Clothes are cheap in Asia and easy to pick up so I could leave them behind…..but I’d never leave my laptop behind, as I work on the road. That’s kinda boring isn’t it?
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle? (not literally an ipod, just music or books)
Ah that’s tough. I guess I’d have to say iPod as I get motion sick so can’t read books on buses, which sucks as I’m a massive book-worm usually.
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!
Travelling genuinely changes your whole perspective on life, and of yourself. Before I went travelling the first time round (solo at 24) I was so shy, and also kinda attention seeking (that bit is still there!) but I now know that I can pitch up anywhere and make a life, and friends. I couldn’t have learned that any other way.
Lucy (or Luce) is a Londoner with a bad case of Wanderlust, hence the name WanderLuce! Her travel ethos is all about enjoying travel without compromising on comfort, and she never leaves home without her lipstick! Based on Koh Tao, she travels with her impressively-bearded boyfriend, a dive instructor. You can connect with Lucy on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and Instagram.
Shop Lucy’s Faves!
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