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 Traveling Banana
Tell us a little about who you are, what your blog is called, and where you’re traveling now.
Hello and thanks for having me! I’m Hannah from TravelingBanana.com where I write about my adventures as an American expat in Madrid, teaching English, and bouncing around Europe.
Do you use a backpack or rolley suitcase for long-term travel?
It really depends on the trip. When I decided to make Madrid my home base and really settle in here I brought a huge rolley suitcase but for my weekend trips around Western Europe and Northern Africa, all I need is my trusty, all black Adidas backpack.
What shoes are your every day walking around, sightseeing shoes?
I am a Converse girl all the way. Love my classic Chuck Taylors in ivory paired with a floral dress for sightseeing a city. Cute, comfy, and easy. I also LOVE my Steve Madden “Troopa” boots. I even got them re-soled in Los Angeles because I wasn’t ready to part with them even though they were falling apart. Now that they’re fixed, they’ve got the perfect worn in look and they’re comfortable enough to wear while wondering the city all day, rain or shine.
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’ve always been more into living an active lifestyle than spending much time in the gym so I try to incorporate that into my traveling style. Little things like choosing to walk instead of the metro, always taking the stairs, and dancing up a storm whenever given the chance add up! I do try to stretch every morning though and every few days I do a little routine of basic exercises I can do anywhere like lunges, squats, and crunches.
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’m obsessed with Lush skin products so I always bring my Lush Dark Angels face scrub, my Tea Tree Water Toner by LUSH and my Vanishing Cream Moisturizer by LUSH. They all come in rather small containers so it’s easy to bring along.
For hair I’m much more low maintenance and will just grab some inexpensive stuff when I get there. And I always bring at least one red lipstick because it’s small and it can make you look (and feel) put together when actually you’ve been sleeping on buses and trains and haven’t washed your hair in a week. I swear, red lipstick is just magical!
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?
First of all, how you pack matters. Rolling instead of folding seriously changed my life. It’s crazy how much space it saves!
As for what you pack, choose items that can work in multiple situations so you can bring fewer items overall. For example, a nice pair of black skinny jeans can be great for sightseeing during the day or dressed up in the evening easily with a nicer top or jacket. I also love to pack little floral dresses because they take up about the same amount of space as a top but it’s one piece and you’ve got a whole outfit! For some reason, people seem to think that dresses are more put together but really it’s my go-to because it’s less work!
The Hippie in Heels has to ask, would you ever pack heels on a backpacking trip?
Yes, but I’m more likely to pack a simple bootie with a thick, high heel than stiletto pumps. A lot of the time I’m traveling to places with lots of beautiful cobblestone streets that can be hell in stilettos. I love getting the added height in a slightly more comfortable (but still stylish) option like a bootie so that I won’t have any trouble dancing the night away!
What type of outfit do you take in case of a night out clubbing or going to a fancy bar/hotel?
I always throw a little black dress in my bag because you just never know when you might need it! Tight black dress, black tights, black booties and my go to burgundy red leather jacket always works whether I’m in Los Angeles, London, or anywhere in between.
What is the one material thing you miss most from home while you’re roughin’ it abroad?
My bathtub for sure! I love taking long and luxurious hot baths and lately I can barely find reliable hot water pressure. However, if I’m being fancy and staying at an Airbnb or a hotel with a tub its one of my favorite things to do after a long day of travel and sightseeing all over town.
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 like to look/dress decently when I travel because oftentimes I’m off exploring the city almost directly from the plane. Jeans, a soft t-shirt, a cozy sweater (because I always find myself on freezing planes!) and boots make for an easy outfit that still keeps you looking cute on arrival.
And for the girls, what are your absolute favorite make up products you take with you on a trip?
As I said before, I firmly believe that red lipstick can save the day almost every time.
Do you have a special skin care routine on the road to prevent breakouts from the stress, sweat, and humidity?
I love face-wipes! Face wipes, the LUSH products I already mentioned and drinking a ton of water are my recipe for skin success on the go.
What does your most worn, daily outfit look like while you’re traveling?
Black skinny jeans, a loose, soft tee and boots or a floral dress and some Chuck Taylors are my go-to outfits for sure.
Tell us the ONE thing you pack for a long backpacking trip & would never leave behind.
My iPhone, although usually when I’m traveling I keep it on airplane mode so that I won’t get charged crazy fees and I just use it on wifi. Being able to Skype my friends and family if I’m feeling a little lonely is so amazing. And of course it’s got all my music, a few books downloaded, and my camera. Crazy how many things that little guy can do!
You can only pick one: iPod or Kindle? (not literally an ipod, just music or books)
Choose between books and music?! That’s impossible! I think if I could absolutely only pick one I’d say music because although I’m a huge reader I wouldn’t be able to survive long flights or bus trips without my tunes! (But thank goodness this is only hypothetical!)
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!
Whenever I’m on the fence about something, I always remember this little quote from Steve Jobs,
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Hannah is an American expat teaching English in Madrid, Spain and bouncing around Europe. Her blog, TravelingBanana.com is her little corner of the internet where she explores, documents, and shares her travel stories and tips. Reach her on facebook, instagram, bloglovin’, and twitter!
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I went on a trip a couple of weeks ago and I was surprised how much I managed to pack in a 20 litre backpack – so yeah, everything is definitely possible.
I wouldn’t be able to pick between music or books either! :)
Thanks so much for having me Rachel! :)
Rolling definitely one of the best packing tips around. You can utilize more space however, sometimes then tend to over pack.