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 Paper Crane Stories
Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
Hi lovely Hippie In Heels readers! I’m Joella and I blog at Paper Crane Stories. I’m from the UK but, thanks to meeting and marrying an American boy on my travels, I currently call sunny, southern California my home. I’ve also previously worked and travelled in East Asia and South America. Most recently I was living in Beijing for two years.
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
When I first went backpacking in 2006 I had something like a 65 liter backpack from Karrimor (representing the British brands!). It was too big and heavy and I hated carrying it. It did zip open all the way around though which I loved! Most recently I have been using a Gregory backpack. I can’t remember which model it is (it’s still making its way from Beijing to California in a shipping container somewhere! Hoping to be reunited in time for my next trip!) but it’s 38 litres and is just the most comfortable bag I have ever carried! I always go for a specific women’s style pack- I find they sit better on me than unisex packs. I also have an amazing Roxy holdall on wheels that I use when I need to bring more stuff (like for snowboarding in Japan). It opens completely in two and each side seals separately- so it packs like a dream. I love that bag!
What shoes are your every day walking around, sightseeing shoes?
I love Converse and those were my go-to, all purpose shoes for years! They seem to be acceptable in so many different locations and situations. Lately I’ve been really into wearing TOMS instead as they are so light to pack. They might get a bit errrm… sweaty in really hot locations though. In that case I would just wear black havaianas or, for a smarter location, I would take whatever cute pair of flat sandals with straps I happen to own at the time.
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’m really into yoga at the moment, which is something you can do anywhere. There are so many great yoga studios around the world!
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?
In the past I’ve just picked it up as I go along. I think when we were travelling in South America we just shared whatever random bottle of shampoo and all purpose moisturizer we could buy. Now, several years later, I am a little bit fussier. When I travel now, I don’t usually go for more than 3 or 4 weeks at a time. I like to put my stuff from home in those little travel size bottles- I like the ones from Muji. They look small but they do last about 3 or 4 weeks.
For those who think 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?
You really don’t need as much as you think- especially if you’re going to be in mostly warm climates. You can just live in your bikini, a pair of shorts and a tank top. I do that anyway now I live in southern California- I should probably just go ahead and sell the rest of my clothes on Ebay! In colder places you just layer up your clothes. I think the most important thing is to pack clothes you actually like! Then you can bring fewer things but you won’t get so sick of them because you actually like those items. I’ve never been into having “travel” clothes and I don’t think you need to go and buy anything just for travelling.
The Hippie in Heels has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
I personally wouldn’t but that is because I almost never wear heels anyway. I like my flats.
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
A simple, just above the knee dress that can be dressed up or down with jewellery or with a floaty scarf- it’s so easy and takes up no space at all. Or, for beachy destinations, a floaty top with your shorts is a winner!
Airport style: love looking LA paparazzi ready or could care less?
I don’t really pack anything just for the plane (apart from socks! I always bring socks for the plane or my feet get too cold) but I would try not to look like too much of a mess. If I have a pashmina or scarf in my bag I usually put that on to try to look a little more stylish in the airport. In terms of relaxing clothes, I usually have a pair of leggings in my bag for yoga or chilling in. You can sleep in them too if it gets cold.
And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
I like to have a concealer/brightener type thing for under eyes from The Body Shop, mascara (any brand) and eyelash curlers. I can go without anything else.
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
I always clean my face before I go to sleep. I bring face wipes and a small bottle of face wash and use one or the other, morning and night. I always moisturise day and night too. I also use a really light and moisturising sun cream that is kind to my skin and doesn’t clog my pores. I love Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch sunscreen or silk hydration versions- and won’t use anything else anymore. I always use factor 30 to avoid getting burnt.
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?
These days I’m really into my shorts. I’d usually wear denim shorts and a loose top. The other thing I wear a lot is an easy to wear, just above the knee, cotton dress, with pockets. I love dresses with pockets! In colder climates I just wear skinny jeans. While I wouldn’t wear them somewhere tropical, I always take jeans to cooler climates. People in just about every country wear jeans so they never look out of place.
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
Currently it’s a yoga towel! I first bought one in Ubud and now I’m never without. You can just put it over the shared mats you borrow at a yoga studio, or even straight on the floor, and then you don’t have to carry your own mat everywhere. I recently bought a Yogitoes yoga towel which I love as it is completely non-slip.
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle?
An Ipod with podcasts on. Last year we took a lot of very long trips, on very cramped buses in western China and, apart form the great scenery of course, the only thing that saved me from going stir-crazy were a bunch of This American Life episodes I had saved up!
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!
Travel really does open your eyes to the world. It makes you feel free! And it’s also much more fun than being stuck in an office.
Joella Jacobs is from England but currently calls California home. Since 2006 she has lived in South Korea, Venezuela, London, China, and now the US. Joella has severe wanderlust and is always planning her next trip. She shares her adventures in life, travel and working overseas on her blog: Paper Crane Stories. You can also contact her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
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