my tips on living the well-traveled life

Even though I still continue to travel, this morning I realized I don't post too often about it anymore.  2014 has already been a busy travel year, and it won't let up until June when I finally have a break.  I'm actually in Charleston now with one of my fave friends.  The weather is crisp and lovely, but raining heavily with no end in sight.  And if you were wondering why the pictures in this post include sunglasses and bright floral shorts, it's because the pictures are from my hawaii trip five months ago.  I thought I'd channel warm weather thoughts I'm pretty behind on blogging about my travels and current work. I'm sitting here at Collective Coffee snuggled up in a cozy arm chair reflecting about what it takes to live this life of constant travel.  I thought up a few qualities I think help me in all the travel I do.

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Keep your bags always packed.  This is certainly very, very valuable.  Keep basic items always in your suitcase (see list below).  When it's time to travel this tip takes away all the guesswork from packing.  All the very important items I need for every trip always stay in my suitcase.  It prevents you from forgetting essential items.  And if you notice from the list below, those essential items actually take up very little space.  When I pack I'm actually only "packing" a few things: clean clothes appropriate for the weather and destination (flannels, sweaters, knit cap for this Charleston/Norfolk trip), additional weather appropriate shoes (boots for this trip), makeup, books and my camera gear.  The following items always stay in my suitcase: - all my toiletries, dry shampoo, lotion - a swim suit, a scarf, socks, clean underwear - a red bull, aspirin, allergy medicine, motion sickness medicine - flip flops and a pair of flats - a three-outlet surge protector (works on all outlets of variable voltage and is a lifesaver at airports and older hotels where outlets are limited), universal outlet adapter - an umbrella, baggu bags - my "airplane survival kit": inflatable neck pillow, an eye cover, ear plugs and a light blanket that can double as a scarf - and a few other items that escape me right now.

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Maintain as much normalcy as possible when traveling.  When I travel I always use a purse that I use on a regular basis.  I used to use a "travel bag" but found that I would leave it somewhere or misplace items because I wasn't used to the bag.  I didn't have a rhythm to how I wore it or where I'd put specific items in it.  I realized it also helps me be aware of it since I'm used to how it lays on my body.  Another tip I noticed that works for me is to wear clothes that I wear on a regular basis.  This is important for many reasons.  First, I know for certain how comfortable I feel in the clothes.  Second, I know the clothes well enough to know the buttons aren't going to fall off or the pant legs won't ride up.  Finally it makes picking out outfits while traveling super easy.

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Be flexible.  Yesterday evening my father alerted me US Airways canceled my thursday flight to Norfolk.  I automatically went into stress mode.  On the way back to my friend's house my mind was all over the place, wondering what I would do.  I had no idea what to do.  I panicked internally.  After about two hours on hold, a very friendly agent rescheduled me to a more convenient and shorter flight and all was well.

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Understand your traveling style.  I used to fill my days with activities from when I woke up to when I went to sleep.  And if you know me, it only takes a few days of that to really wear myself out and become incredibly crabby.  After a few trips I learned I much more enjoy wandering with a few target must-do's per day.  Usually I plan ahead of time what few things I want to see and places to eat.  I then rank them and choose 2-5 things I absolutely must do on the trip.  For Norfolk it's going to the beach, Handsome Biscuit and colonial Williamsburg.  Sometimes it's a little less specific like for Charleston it was just go to a coffee shop and see downtown.  That way it ensures that I get to see the things I want, but still maintain the slow pace that keeps me sane.  Oh. And I like to wander aimlessly and find cute spots to sit and read and write and draw.  yay.  When I travel with other people I need to know they are similar to me in how they travel because I don't want them to wear me out and me to bore them to death.

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Plan a timeline that with wiggle room. As more of my travel becomes work related I'm learning how quickly everything could hit the fan.  Thankfully with all the flights I've been on I've only experienced a few missed and canceled flights.   So now I try to be wherever I need to be at least two days before.  It decreases the stress of wondering whether or not I'll get to a certain destination or not.  I noticed inexperienced travelers try to pack in as much as possible into their schedules.  As with anything things are bound to take longer than expected.  So planning for downtime helps alleviate the stress of possibly rushing from one thing to another.

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So that's basically my travel essentials!  Hope that helped you in some way. :D

Packing 101 | Summer in New York

After so many trips, I mastered the most efficient way to pack for myself.  It starts with a good suitcase.

My suitcase is the Kirkland brand from costco.  I like it because there are two exterior pockets.  I use one for all my shoes and the other for my really dirty garments.  This suitcase also expands.  I never pack the suitcase in it's expanded mode because I want to save some space should I go shopping.  I nearly always go home with it expanded.  (When it's expanded, it doesn't always fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane.)  I always leave a TSA combination lock on it whether or not I'm using it because I tend to lose things.  I ALWAYS use the lock when I'm checking in this piece of luggage.

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Below is inside lid of my suitcase.  The Kirkland suitcase has all these pockets which I love.  There's this mesh part that unzips open. - I keep an extra tote incase I'm out and about and need a larger purse. - There is a scarf in case it gets cold.  I find this black and white patterned one works with all my outfits.  I love a good pattern. - Three baggu bags. I prefer to use these when I go shopping because sometimes stores give you shopping bags that rip or are awkward to hold. They're cuter and they fit in my purse.

There's another zippered pocket behind all these goodies that holds my undergarments, swimsuit (I bring a swimsuit no matter where you are, no matter what the weather; you never know where a pool might be) and a lingerie laundry bag (in case I want to do laundry).  I keep only clean garments in here, so at the end of a trip I don't empty this pocket out; when I pack for the next trip I just fill it with whatever I ran out of.

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The main compartment where all the good stuff happens. Here are my tips: 
- Use packing cubes. My packing cubes are both from Muji.  Packing cubes help compress your clothes and keep everything organized. If you've traveled, you know it's really a hassle to take take one thing out of your suitcase, especially something at the bottom, because you need to take everything out to get to it. Which means you are constantly unpacking and repacking everything. With packing cubes, everything stays in it's place.  The packing cubes I have, there is a top mesh compartment (to put your dirty clothes) and a bottom closed compartment.  I start with both filled with dirty clothes, and as my trip progresses, move the dirty closes to the top mesh part 
- Use this toiletry bag and small containers for liquids.  Even when I had hair down to my bottom, I only used 3.5 oz of shampoo for a week's worth of showers.  I only bring, nail polish, perfume, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, body wash and face wash.  There's a loofa, razor, face cloth and toothbrush.  It all fits in my little toiletry bag (which also has a hook to hang the bag when it's open).  The toiletry bag stays in my suitcase even when I'm not traveling.  I find it prevents forgetting something at home. 
-  The bottom of my suitcase is not flat. There are bars that run across it, so I put rolled clothes and small stuff to fill in between the bars. 
-  I really prefer not to roll clothes.  The only time I'd roll all my clothes is when I'm camping.  It's really a pain in the butt.

The main compartment where all the good stuff happens. Here are my tips: - Use packing cubes. My packing cubes are both from Muji. Packing cubes help compress your clothes and keep everything organized. If you've traveled, you know it's really a hassle to take take one thing out of your suitcase, especially something at the bottom, because you need to take everything out to get to it. Which means you are constantly unpacking and repacking everything. With packing cubes, everything stays in it's place. The packing cubes I have, there is a top mesh compartment (to put your dirty clothes) and a bottom closed compartment. I start with both filled with dirty clothes, and as my trip progresses, move the dirty closes to the top mesh part - Use this toiletry bag and small containers for liquids. Even when I had hair down to my bottom, I only used 3.5 oz of shampoo for a week's worth of showers. I only bring, nail polish, perfume, lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, body wash and face wash. There's a loofa, razor, face cloth and toothbrush. It all fits in my little toiletry bag (which also has a hook to hang the bag when it's open). The toiletry bag stays in my suitcase even when I'm not traveling. I find it prevents forgetting something at home. - The bottom of my suitcase is not flat. There are bars that run across it, so I put rolled clothes and small stuff to fill in between the bars. - I really prefer not to roll clothes. The only time I'd roll all my clothes is when I'm camping. It's really a pain in the butt.
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All these clothes fit in my packing cube.  Can you imagine having to go through all this stuff just to look for one outfit?  It's so much easier when it's all in a packing cube.  In hot weather I find I like to wear dresses, so I pack a lot.  I tend to like maxi dresses most.  I don't prefer skirts because you have to bring a top, so that's more stuff to bring, but I brought that one skirt because it was a maxi skirt and I love maxis.  When I pick my clothes, I don't really have that much in mind.  I just kind of throw in things that I know I like.  After I have all my clothes (including shorts and cardigans) chosen, I go through and take out ones that definitely no not match with anything.  I like a lot of pattern, so I keep my purses, shorts and cardigans fairly neutral.  There's one nice dress and tank top just in case I go out to a nice place.  I really like dress shirts, so I bring one always.

If my clothes can't fit in my packing cube, I start to edit my wardrobe.  I'll be here for 16 days, so I definitely don't need this many clothes.  I should have brought a lot less, but I packed last minute and didn't edit my outfits.  In my opinion, don't bring new clothes on a trip; you don't know if you may not like it or it hangs funny on you.

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I tend to read a lot when I'm in New York, so I brought a lot of books.  I probably should have only brought four.  Oh well.  There's a california driver's handbook in there. :) I try not to bring hardcover books, but I couldn't resist "The Long Walk".  I pack my books in ziplock bags.  I have a thing about messing up books (even though most of these are used).

Colored shorts really make my outfits happy.  I bring a neutral for all the other loud, colorful patterned tops I have.  That army green light jacket is the perfect summer piece.  It's warm enough for the evening and light enough for the day.  It also matches EVERYTHING I've brought.  It's really the best.

Every girl should bring an extra bag.  This puma bag is perfect.  There's a lot of times I buy too much and don't have enough space even in my expanded suitcase, so this puma bag comes in handy for an extra piece of luggage.  It rolls up small but can carry a lot.

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There's definitely a method to my madness, even the choice of purses.  The yellow bag is my camera bag.  I'll need it for my shoots out here to carry all my gear, but I also like to bring a purse with some color.  The brown bag is the perfect size for a water bottle, notebook, book, wallet and my phone.  The black bag is deceptively small.  It's good if I want to bring my big camera while I go about in the city.  All three bags have shoulder and cross-body straps--a must for me because I'd lose my bag sometimes if I didn't have a cross-body strap.  Brown and black are good colored purses.

If I had more time to pack, I picked all my clothes in a black-matching or brown-matching color scheme.

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This is pretty self-explanatory.  In that little clear misc box, I have safety pins, bobby pins, nail clipper, tweezers, rubber bans, brooches, earrings, key ring, earplugs.

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Most of my shoes for summer are very flat, so I have the luxury of bring a lot.  When I'm in transit, I always where flipflops because I don't like to have shoes on when I sleep on the plane and it's easier to go through security with flip flops.  I have a range of casual and "fancy" flips flops.  The toms are for activities that I need good foot support.  The pink flats are for when I want to be extra girly.

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I wear a lot of pattern for the most part, so that black necklace, white flower and the green necklace (in another pic) work well for that.    The pink and blue necklaces are great for my black and solid-colored outfits.  I like to wear cardigans, as it gets really cold inside the buildings, black, gray and blue leopard!  This belt is used only for belting dresses and tops.

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Recently a lot of my trips were for work, so I invested in this incase bag.  It fits ALL my camera gear and computer equipment.  The camera gear compartment is in the back and the computer compartment is in the front.  It also fits under the seat in front of me when I fly.  The empty spot in the camera compartment is for my second camera body with a lens on it.  Usually I have two extra flashes in this bag, but I didn't need it for this trip.

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I keep all the things below in the front.  I have a total of four drives (two drives are in the black case) to work off of and to back up.  I keep a book in the bag at all times, in case I find myself without a book for some reason.  And I keep a necklace in it in case I need some sprucing for my outfit.

Most of these things stay in my suitcase.  My bags are literally always packed!  So... That's my packing!! Let me know if you have any questions!

New York | pack it.

I'm always sad to say good bye. But with all the work I've been doing here and the time I've spent with friends, I feel like this was a really great trip. Figures all my stuff would look like this (pic on the left) at the end of my trip here.  It's hard to stay neat while living out of a suitcase. Here are some things I learned about packing on this trip:- My camera and computer equipment take up a lot of space. My suitcase is expanded, but without all my equipment, I could easily fit all my clothes and stuff in the suitcase condensed. - I made the best investment buying a camera/computer backpack.  It makes it exceptionally easier to travel.  Mine is incase. - I started out without that puma bag.  So I'm grateful I always stuff it (empty) into my suitcase - You can bring two light stands as carry-on luggage.  Strangely, no one is suspicious of me.  Strange how I can't bring a bat but I can bring these huge metal poles. - All my luggage weighs a lot. - Baggu bags are the best.  I have a big baggu and a baby baggu and they are very good for stuffing my jacket in then attaching to my backpack. - All that junk on the left can actually fit in all that stuff on the right.

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