Category Archives: Packing

What To Pack: A Month in Japan Edition

I decided one day that I needed something, anything to distract me from the seasonal lifestyle. I’ve been jumping job to job to job with no break for over 2 years; mind you, I’m not complaining in the slightest. I work in the most beautiful locations, I meet incredible people and I have some of the most amazing experiences, but I just hadn’t had over a week of in 2 years: I needed a vacation.

I searched for the cheapest flight to anywhere in the world and I managed, somehow, to find a round-trip ticket from LAX to Tokyo for $378. How? I got so very lucky. And once I found that fare, I kept a close eye on it until I was ready to buy. Here are the sites I normally scour to find great deals. I had never really had an interest in traveling to Asia whatsoever, but I can’t turn down that price tag.

So I left my job in Lake Tahoe when my contract ended, and I knew that I would be alone in Japan for a month, what the hell was I going to bring?

My itinerary was a rough outline at best. I had plans on stopping to see two friends and I knew I was flying into Tokyo, but other than that, I had no idea what I would do. With that in mind, I stated doing some research. My friend, Miranda lived in Tokamachi, which is in the Northern region of mainland Japan. As it was November/December, it would be cold, if not snowing. My other friend, Moose, lived outside of Hiroshima in Ube, which is in the Southern region of mainland Japan, a warmer climate.

FullSizeRender

So I needed to pack for all seasons. Neat.

I was using my High Sierra Appalachian 75 L bag that I had gotten on a season’s end clearance. I knew it could hold as much as I needed to but I didn’t want to over pack in case I was to find something I wanted to bring home.

In my bag I ended up packing:

  • 3 pairs of pants (2 black leggings, 1 pair of jeans)
  • 5 shirts (1 long sleeved, 1 t shirt, 1 “nice” shirt, 2 tank tops)
  • 2 pairs of shoes
  • Toiletries (dry shampoo, mascara, moisturizer, deodorant)
  • So many socks. So many.
  • Eno Hammock with straps (in case money ran low and I needed somewhere to sleep)
  • Leather-bound journal (which I wrote in every single day, really helped me remember small details that I may have otherwise forgotten.)

As I traveled through the country, I tried not to buy too many souvenirs until my last day because I knew I would have to carry everything on my back. It was the perfect weight for me personally, I think at it’s heavies it was 28 pounds, but I knew I could go heavier if I needed to.

Japan is still one of the most diverse and culturally rich places I’ve ever been to and I know that I’ll go back someday, I hope this packing list helped!

Advertisements

What To Pack: Camp Counselor Edition

Camp is one of those places where you feel at home, where an adventure is steps away and where a smile never really leaves your face.

Being a camp counselor is the best job you’ll ever have. Hands down.
There’s something about waking up in the morning and loving what you do. In every sense of the word. There’s something about being surrounded by kids who look up to you unabashedly and that think you’re the coolest person they’ve ever met.

There’s something about swimming and laughing and playing and creating and making and loving and jumping and running and dancing and laughing some more.

I work at a camp in Maine and you can read about that here. But, I have to admit that I was completely lost when I found out I had gotten the job. What do they wear? What should I expect? Do we decorate our own cabins? There were so many questions that wouldn’t be answered until I got to camp, but I figured I’d write about my packing list to make it a bit easier for everyone.

The camp I work at employs us from mid June until the beginning of September so I need to pack enough to last me 2 months, barring small shopping trips. Since I’ll be flying up, I’m limited as to what luggage I can bring. I will be bringing a backpack for my carry-on and 2 suitcases as my checked bags.

My backpack is a Thule Enroute Backpack.

backpackIn my backpack I will have:

  • My Phone with charger
  • Wallet with necessary ID’s, check with your Program Director as to what you’ll need for paperwork
  • Extra pair of clothes and swimsuit, just in case
  • Books for downtime, I suggest “A House In The Sky” and “All The Light We Cannot See
  • Journal
  • Sunglasses
  • My Macbook
  • Pressure Reducing Earplugs – I have terrible ear pain on flights

As for my suitcase, I have the tried and true Samsonite luggage. It’s the perfect size, it’s durable and it’s been to 10 countries with me.

samsonite-luggage

If you’re more interested in just bringing one large backpack worth of stuff, I have a great High Sierra Appalachain 75L that holds everything that I need, barring linens. Your camp might specify that they provide linens, so just ask!

584363056be01

When it comes to clothes, comfort takes precedence over everything. You will be running, dancing and composing absolute tom-foolery, so looking good kind of goes out of the window.  Think about what you wear to work out in when no one is looking, now think a little grungier and you’re pretty much there.

My luggage packing list goes a little like this:

  • 6 T-Shirts
  • 5 Running Shorts
  • 5 Yoga Pants for sleeping, exercising, etc.
  • 3 Crazy patterned leggings-look here for some ideas
  • 5 Tank Tops- make sure to find out if there’s a dress code regarding tank top strap thickness
  • 1 Rain Coat
  • 1 Pair Rain Boots
  • 2 Pairs of Tennis Shoes
  • 2 Pairs of Flip Flops
  • Shower Shoes (an old pair of flip flops work perfectly)
  • Undergarments, enough for at least 2 weeks
  • Socks (mixed thickness, it can be really hot and pretty cold)
  • Sweatshirts-it can get down to 50 degrees at night in Maine
  • Ben’s Bug Wipes-so much easier than a spray

On to toiletries. Keep in mind that you may or may not have access to shopping during the summer so make sure you know how much of each you should pack. At my camp, there’s a Walmart about 10 minutes away so a few people don’t pack any toiletries and just buy them all when they get there. Up to you.

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Hairbrush
  • DEODORANT, you may or may not shower for 4 days at a time
  • Room Spray becomes a necessity especially in the boy’s cabins
  • An abundance of hair ties
  • Shampoo/Conditioner- there are some really great biodegradable ones if you will be bathing in lakes or rivers
  • Lotion

For your cabin, find out what the living conditions will be like. Typically, we stay in a cabin with 3-10 campers depending on age and we have a dresser and a bed to ourselves. While my camp provides bedding, especially for International counselors, I prefer to bring a few things of my own. Most counselors bring their own pictures and decorations from home to showcase who they are and their interests. Contact counselors that have worked there before to get a lay of the land! I will be bringing:

  • 1 Comforter
  • 1 Sheet Set
  • 2 Pillows
  • 2 Tapestries
  • Pictures From Home-it’s always a nice reminder
  • 2 Strands of Christmas Lights-it definitely helps if you have really young campers who might still be afraid of the dark or for “flashlight time”

Obviously each camp is different and depending on where you’re located will adjust what kind of clothes you’ll be wearing but this is just a basic guideline for those embarking on counselor-ing for the first time.

Enjoy your summer!

 

Traveling As An Overweight Female

This is probably going to be one of the hardest posts I’ll ever write but I think that it needs to be talked about.

I’m not skinny, I never have been, I’m not making excuses for it either but I don’t let my weight interfere with my passion for traveling.walkingintikal

What I really want to address is how to travel as an overweight female. Little things that most people might not think about like; worrying if I had reached the maximum weight limit for ziplining in Costa Rica, the embarrassment of not being able to buy any kind of boots in Italy because my calves were just a bit too big or even having to almost over plan what you’re packing to go to the jungle because you know it will be hotter than Hades but you’re self conscious about the way your arms look in tank tops.

This will not be a self-depricating post. This will not be a pity party. This will be about how to empower not only myself but hopefully find other women who experience the same things.

Let’s begin with pre-trip. Packing is a bitch.

There’s always the “what do I want to wear?” question but sometimes I find myself double guessing my choices because of how I will look. I want to wear things that make the most sense like tank tops in tropical climates but sometimes I find myself putting in t-shirts instead because I’m self conscious about my arms. I’ll pack capris or even pants instead of shorts because I’m not ready to show the world my legs. I’ve found that in a way, I’ve stopped caring. I have to embrace how I look and how I’ll look in the things that I pack. I need to be comfortable and if that means I have to be uncomfortable about the way that I look a little bit, then maybe that’s okay.

Besides packing, there’s the actual flight itself. In all reality, airlines sell you 27″ of seat space, that’s all you get. So if your hips are a little bigger and you’re slightly pushing into the seat next to you, that’s not really their problem but rather, your super uncomfortable one instead.

I’m not hugely overweight by any means but I’ve noticed, especially as a female, that I get judged. Constantly. I’m not the norm of what people perceive travelers to look like. I defy that norm. Proudly. But there’s always that defeated feeling that comes along with traveling.487367_10151301257193222_2019882356_n

Every time I plan a trip, I always make a goal to lose weight before but it’s not always easy. I work a full time job, I write, I go to school and I try to maintain a blog. No, there are no excuses but I feel as though I go into the trip excited about the possibilities but sad that I didn’t reach the weight goal I had set myself. I’m sure we’ve all been there. “I want to lose 10 pounds by my cruise” or “I’m studying abroad for 3 months and I want to be super skinny!” But when departure date arrives, we’re not as close as we had hoped we would be. And to that, you kind of have to brush it aside and realize that we have all been there. And it’s okay. You’ll still have a great trip.

993337_10152125797348135_1286637229_nIt’s not so much the big things when it comes to traveling as an overweight female but it’s the culmination of little things that seem to fester. On my most recent trip to Belize, we climbed ruins. A LOT of ruins. Ruins that were 50 stories tall and ruins that had more stairs than I could count. Of course, wanting to experience the view from the top, I climbed them all. But I could feel myself trying to prevent myself from breathing hard because I didn’t want people to think I was that out of shape. Granted, even the skinny mini’s were huffing and puffing but I felt like there was a stigma because of my weight. People expected me to huff and puff. Which, looking back, wasn’t true at all. We were all just happy to get to the top.

But here’s the thing. They’re not judging me. They’re more focused on not falling off the ruin, not dying, on just being able to breathe. So this silliness about everyone staring at me is just nonsense. But it’s hard to push those thoughts away.

Now, the epitome of uncomfortable. The bathing suit.
I love going to the beach. Absolutely love it, but I loathe having to wear something that makes me feel like I’m constantly having to suck in or wear extra layers or whatever. Luckily, I’ve found a suit that makes me feel awesome. I’m totally happy with my body in it and I’m not always so worried about how I look. swimsuit

But, it’s not always that easy. So here’s my advice. Find a suit that you feel stellar in. I know it will take some time to find and you’ll have to battle those fitting room demons but just do it. Don’t be afraid to go a size up. Don’t be afraid to try something on that you don’t think will look good. To be honest, the suit I love is one that my mom picked out and I literally made a face at her for picking it up. Shows how much I know.

No matter what, try to love the body you’re in. I know it’s not always easy and sometimes it’s just downright hard but I promise you that you’ll be so busy on your trip, it won’t really matter.

I know that someday I will be comfortable in my own skin and I’ll be able to take on the world headfirst but until then, I’m completely content with having a few reservations. I know I’m not the skinniest, nor will I ever be, but I’m happy with who I am. And that’s all that should matter.

What To Pack: Belize Edition

As my trip to Belize draws closer and closer (31 days!) I begin mentally packing. I do this with all of my trips, I begin a month out, mapping and planning what I could ever possibly need and start shopping for random items.

Since I went last year and the itinerary is almost the same,  I have a general idea of what I should be packing.

We’ll land in Belize City and head straight to Orange Walk to see the Lamanai ruins of the north. I’ve never been there so I’m excited to see what it entails. From the pictures I’ve mercilessly googled it looks beautiful.

From Orange Walk we will meander to San Ignacio and stay there for 6 nights. I really love the area of San Ignacio and can’t wait to go back. The time I spent here last year was life changing for me. I stayed with a local family and got slapped in the face with reality of how a majority of our earth makes it day by day and how little they need to be so incredibly happy. I’m envious and I’m striving everyday to be more like them. The “things” in life that we seem to need are so unnecessary.

From San Ignacio we will trek to Hopkins, a small beach community that was closed to tourists until just recently due to the malaria threat (No worries, it’s been decades since their last outbreak). The laid back atmosphere draws me in and the Garifuna people are eclectic and eccentric, just how I like it. 🙂

From Hopkins, our final stop will be Caye Caulker, a small island next to San Pedro.

The Cayes in Belize all have different personalities. San Pedro is the main island and can sometimes be over run by tourists, Ambergris Caye is beautiful but the hotels can be very pricey, leading to a more affluent clientel. Caye Caulker is home to students and budget travelers, just my cup of tea.

Caye Caulker is less than a mile long island lined with small shops and restaurants that give you a glimpse of it’s diverse population and history. The bars are a-plenty and all have a daily happy hour that runs from 4-7pm. I stayed at Tropical Paradise which is on the south end of the island; the rooms are just enough but be sure to ask for air conditioning.

With all that being said, the packing list will need to fit a smaller luggage (I’ll have to carry it from place to place to place) and a carry-on bag. I’m notorious for bringing a backpack as my carry on, it’s versatile and so useful once in country.

My backpack is a California Pac which was around $40. I love it because it’s super useful and there are a TON of pockets.

backpack

My luggage is a standard Samsonite. I like it because it’s literally the perfect size. I’ve taken it with me when I’ve been gone for a month and I’ve taken it with me when I’ve been gone for a short 5 days. Get it here.
samsonite-luggage

My carry-on will include;

  • GoPro HERO3: Black Edition
    with skeleton and waterproof casing
  • My Mac (to upload videos)
  • Money Belt
  • Wallet with Belizian Dollars and USD (both are accepted)
  • Passport with additional copy in seperate pocket
  • Phone (for use as an alarm clock) with charger
  • 1 book (for the couple hours of down time we’ll have)
  • Journal with pen and pencil (the humidity causes the pen to malfunction sometimes)
  • Debit Card
  • Sunglasses, Air Pressure Reducing Earplugs
  • 1 Extra Pair of Clothes
  • Swimsuit

In my checked luggage I will have;

  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 6 tank tops
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (for night hikes)
  • Buff (So no bugs get in your orifices while sleeping…)
  • 1 sundress
  • 2 hats
  • 12 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks and 6 sports bras
  • Extra Swimsuit (or 2)
  • SUNSCREEN (SPF 45 or above)
  • Ben’s Bug Wipes
  • Hiking Boots, Sneakers, Flip Flops, Water shoes
  • Headlamp, Snorkel Gear, Flashlight
  • Shampoo/Conditioner, Quick-drying Towel, Toiletries
  • Snacks
  • Ziploc Bags (all sizes)

Here is a video of how it all comes together!