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. E-mail me if you’d like to be featured.
An interview with packing tips from For The Ride
Tell us a little about about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
Hi, I’m Michelle from the United States. Two years ago I left my counseling job in Washington DC to travel the world. To fund my travels, I opened my Etsy shop Paintspiration and art blog Paintspiration Art where I sell inspirational and travel-inspired paintings and prints. My boyfriend and I also recently started FortheRide, a travel and lifestyle blog where we encourage people to live the life they dream of and give them the tools and information to do so.
This year I’m backpacking in India, with plans to move north through Nepal, then Southeast Asia and Japan.
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
I definitely prefer a backpack. I’ve traveled before with a rolley suitcase and after busting a wheel in Paris, I’ll never go back! I pack rather light so that I can easily maneuver through towns, hiking trails, and public transport with no problem.
As a petite female, I had some trouble finding a pack that fits me comfortably. Right now I’m using an Osprey Women’s Aura 50 L pack and it’s perfect for me. I started out with a Deuter ACT Zero 45+15which was also really nice (but unfortunately I lost it when the house I was staying in got robbed!).
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?
Packing for a backpacking trip with huge temperature shifts (like South America and Asia) can be tricky. For this India/Asia trip, I mainly use my Sanuk flip flops, which are super comfy. I’ve even hiked a bit in them. I also packed a pair of running shoes for longer hikes. When I backpacked through South America, I bought a pair of Merrell hiking boot on the road, which proved to be invaluable. They’re waterproof and very warm, so they were perfect for the Patagonia weather. On the down side, they’re also very bulky, so I only bring them for strictly cold trips when they can be my every day shoe.
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 do a lot of hiking and trekking in different places I go, so that helps to keep in shape. I absolutely love yoga, not just for staying fit, but also because it keeps me calm and centered. There’s a great website called DoYogawithme.com, where you can watch different yoga classes, all for free. You can also download audio or video for a small fee, which is great when I am somewhere without wifi. I’ll also do some simple body weight exercises when I can, like planks or pushups in my room.
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 try to pick things up as I go. Most things, like shampoo or soap, you can get anywhere– and even if I did bring my favorites from home, I’d run out pretty quickly. I also hate to check my bag on flights, so I can’t bring any large bottles.
One thing I do bring along is hair product. I have curly hair and I normally use a serum and gel at home, but that’s too much to carry on the road. I started using “It’s a 10 ” as my single hair product. It works like a serum and has a little hold, so it manages my difficult hair. It comes in a bottle small enough to fly with, and one bottle lasts me (and my long haired boyfriend) about a year!
Editor’s note: I freakin’ love It’s a 10 too!!! It’s made my hair so much more manageable since my mom brought me some to India this Christmas.
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 learned after my first trip that I packed a lot of things I didn’t need. For example, I brought a sleeping bag along which I hardly used– I lugged it around for 10 months and used it about 5 times! For saving space, I try to limit the clothes I bring. It’s so easy for me to pack WAY too much stuff, but I try to bring clothing that matches with everything. For example, black leggings that can be worn with any shirt, or a neutral colored zip-up to go over anything.
The Hippie in Heels has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
At 5’2, I could use the boost, but I’m such a baby- I hardly ever wear heels, even at home! So there’s definitely no heels in my pack.
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
I have a nice sundress from Prana that is made from a quick dry material. It’s perfect for sightseeing and walking around during the day, and it’s also my go-to dress for going out at night. I can easily dress it up with some cute earrings.
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
I don’t miss many material things while I’m traveling. What I miss more is the feeling of having my comfortable things at home, like my nice clean bed, or my steamy hot shower. One simple thing I do miss at times though is my hair straightener. By the end of my 10 months in South America, I couldn’t wait to straighten my hair, put on a new outfit and some makeup, and feel like myself again!
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 usually dress down for the airport. A pair of yoga pants and a zip-up are perfect for long plane rides. I usually have a pair of yoga pants or leggings with me for relaxing.
And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
I don’t wear much make up while I’m traveling, but I do bring along some concealer, mascara, and eyeliner. After a while without any makeup, I feel so dressed up with just those simple things!
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
Surprisingly, my skin is better when I’m on the road! It’s lead me to believe my stressful life at home was causing the frequent breakouts I was dealing with. I use a plain Dove Soap bar to wash my face and I always wear a SPF moisturizer. I also notice a difference when I focus on eating healthy, fresh foods and drink plenty of water.
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?
This depends on the climate I’m in. My favorite daily outfit is the one I’m wearing here in Goa- a bathing suit! But for times when I’m not at a beach paradise, I most often wear my black capri leggings and a comfortable moisture wicking shirt. When I was in colder weather in South America, my go-to outfit was fleece leggings and a snuggly alpaca sweater I bought at a market. I’m big on comfort!
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
It sounds silly, but my towel! Having a Microfiber towel is so essential for me. It packs down super small and dries within 30 minutes, so I can grab a quick shower and go. When I left mine behind at a Couchsurfer’s house in Chile, I quickly realized how much I loved it, and how hard it is to find another one on the road! I wouldn’t go on a trip without one.
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle?
Oh that’s a tough one! If I had to choose, I’d say books. The thought of long bus trips without music seemed impossible to me, but after my iPod was stolen I found that books really made the trip go faster.
Fortunately, I don’t have to choose! I bought a kindle fire for my current trip and I love it. I put my music on it and I can read books, all in one!
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 know it sounds cliché, but the saying “You only regret the chances you don’t take” is so true! If you’re on the fence about a trip, I encourage you to think about WHY you’re on the fence. There are loads of great blogs out there where you can read about people who are traveling to the place you want to go, which can help you to resolve those WHYs. For me, I was a little nervous about traveling to India, but finding blogs like Hippie in Heels helped to ease any nerves I had about going (although I am still scared of getting Dengue!). Figure out your WHYs and how to resolve them, and go for it!
Michelle is an artist, writer, and counselor with a passion for helping others. She put her career as a mental health counselor on hold to pursue her dream of exploring the world. When she’s not working on her art business and blog, Paintspiration, Michelle can be found hiking, playing with random animals, or cooking up some great food. You can follow Michelle on Facebook and Instagram.
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