Packing Guide: Minimal Backpacking

I recently went on my first trip where I brought no suitcase. It was absolutely life changing. Not carrying so much stuff with me was quite liberating and made travel so much easier. It was a 2 week trip and I brought this 22L Northface backpack. I have a bad back-scoliosis & spinal fusion- so I needed something with really great back support and weight distribution. I love. love. love. this backpack. Its one of my most favourite things I’ve ever bought. backpacking1

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In terms of clothes, for a two week trip, this is what I brought:

  • 3 tank tops
  • 1 t shirt
  • 3 long sleeve shirts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 2 pairs of black yoga leggings
  • 1 plain dress
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 bralette & 1 underwire bra
  • underware

This was along with 1 pair of flexible running shoes & 1 pair of flip flops! It was MORE than enough and I ended up re-wearing much of it easily.

I found it most difficult to cut down my toiletries. Truth is, we don’t need as many toiletries as we tend to think. After working on this blog, I ended up taking a shower and FORGETTING many of the things I thought were essential in there!! I traveled for 2 weeks with no razor, conditioner or body wash. While I wasn’t exactly ‘clean shaven’, I survived, and you know what? I felt great.

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  • Dove original deodorant
  • Tarte blush & brush
  • Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara
  • Venus Razor
  • Neal’s Yard Remedies to Roll ‘Travel’
  • Rituals Travel Size Sakura Shampoo
  • Rituals Travl Size Spirit of Hammam body cream
  • Diva Cup (just in case!)

Also, quite hilariously, when my friend and I got to the Amsterdam Airport and went through security, I was stopped. What was suspicious in my bag? My Diva Cup !!! The agent, who was a woman, opened my toiletries bag and my little bag I keep the cup in and said ‘what is this?!’. When I told her it was a menstrual cup she quickly closed it and let me go. Hah!

I had initially packed my bras, underware & toiletries together. However, going through airport security multiple times, I quickly realized that my toiletry bag (the lips one!) would have to stay out and at the top of my pack- as it had all my liquids and I would have to remove it each time!

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Finally, came all my extras. I brought all these things EXCEPT for my big camera. I thought about it and thought about it and eventually decided that I didn’t want the anxiety of it getting broken or lost. Its also quite heavy and would have required much more ‘effort’ to lug around. In the end, I’m pretty pleased with my decision logistic wise- I didn’t have to worry about being careful with my bag or where it was going to fit- however, now I wish I had some of the pictures it could have taken!!! Backpacking, I found, is a real negotiation of comfort and luxury. Its prioritizing based on what matters to YOU and for this trip, ease of mobility was more important than bringing the camera. I ended up only taking pictures with my iphone- which works just fine!

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  • travel yoga mat by MANDUKA
  • Manuscript Found in Accra by Paulo Coelho
  • Travel Journal
  • Super absorbant Microfibre Antibacterial Travel Towel (This was a life saver)

More on the trip in later posts- we traveled through the Netherlands & Greece and I have lots of pictures and stories to share!

xx

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Edinburgh Castle Travel Diary

About a month ago, my best friend and I took a trip to Edinburgh, which quickly became one of my favourite cities that I’ve seen yet. While there, we woke up extra early one morning in order to be the first into Edinburgh Castle that day. When we got into the city from our hotel we were met with this sight: ed1. Now, historically, I’m not too sure how people did these on the daily. All I can say is, they must have had great butts. After the enormous set of stairs was a nice walk down the Riyal Mile to the castle. It was a super cold day and we bundled up as best we could. By the time we got to the castle it was nearly 9:30am and the sun was just finally coming up over the city. The sky was bright blue against the skyline of old buildings mixed with new. The castle, which is on this beautiful green mossy cliff was golden in the sun and looked straight out of a fairy tale. I’ve been to the Tower of London & Windsor castle and Edinburgh castle beat them both by a long shot. ed10ed12img_4928ed11

Entering the castle, you walk through a massive arch way and enter the ticket area. What blew me away was that the castle continues to go upwards through the cliff. There is a rock wall as you enter that just seems to climb up forever.ed9ed7ed8

We bought our tickets and audio guides (I love audio guides in touristy places) and, though quite frozen, we headed in. On the other side of all the touristy gift shop and ticket book was a couple lookouts, which encompassed the entire city we had been walking the night before. Looking out over the city I convinced myself that in some past life I was a Scottish princess and lived in this gorgeous castle (can you tell I’m an english major?). ed6We spent I think 2 hours wandering the castle, listening to our audio guides. In the prisoners ward, I ended up taking my bra of inconspicuously because carrying a backpack while wearing a bra is uncomfortable. Historically, Alisa was laughing, that some prisoner had probably wished for just such a thing 200 years ago. My favourite part of the castle however, was where Queen Mary gave birth to her son James. It notes that its quite a mystery as to whether James was in fact her son, as there were baby bones found in the walls of the room. ed5

After the castle we went to a small pub on the Royal Mile where we had a baileys and coffee to warm up along with the best brie panini and carrot soup. It was a pretty near perfect morning/lunch and I would highly recommend anyone visiting Scotland go to the Edinburgh castle in the morning and watch the sunrise. It will make your trip.

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Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory Tour

One of the #1 Vermont bucket list experiences has to be touring the infamous Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, so when my best friends and I ended up in Vermont after a 5 hour road trip we knew exactly what our first stop would be. We woke up and tried to get to the factory fairly early in the day as it was Saturday and we assumed it would be busy. We assumed right! If you are planning on visiting the factory, go a bit earlier, as we were leaving in the afternoon it was really starting to get packed!

We arrived around 11:30 am excited to dive into one our favourite girls night snacks. Is there any slumber party, ladies night or girls getaway complete without ice cream? No! When you walk up to the front there are a bunch of fun picture spots that we took full advantage of. benjerr3benjerr1benjerr2

The tour was 4.00, which if you ask me, makes it a pretty inexpensive way to have fun. We bought our tickets and immediately joined the next tour group! The entrance room was popping with colour and information on the history and mission of the company. There was even a section with ice cream scoops through the years- for all you history lovers out there, they were pretty interesting. benandjer4benandjerrbenandjerr6benandjerr5

Starting the tour we were lead upstairs to a screening room where we watched a video on the history of the company. What I didn’t know was how much of an activist company Ben & Jerry’s is. Their commitment to their products, which remain completely fair trade certified (all ingredients!), and the farmers who provide the dairy to make their products was amazing. They ensure, from family dairy farms to coffee bean farms thousands of miles away, that the communities they are sourcing their ingredients from remain sustainable & ethical. Something I believe, more companies should do. Their social activism missions were just as compelling as their product sourcing. Ben & Jerry’s focuses in 3 main areas: Marriage Equality, Peace Building & Climate Justice. You can learn more about all the initiatives they are a part of here!benandjerr11

After the screening room we headed into the factory to see where everything got made. Here, there were no photos allowed however (ice cream spies, no photos for you!).

Then came the best moment- the samples! We got a scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream and I have to say, it was THE best scoop of ice cream i’ve ever had. We loved it so much that Jackie grabbed one of the extra left over scoops and we all shared.

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Then the tour was over! We wandered around the gift shop for a while, admiring all the genius ice cream products such as an ice cream cozy (because hands get cold!). Walking outside we followed the signs to the Flavour Graveyard- a place where retired flavours have a peaceful resting place!

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It was a fun little area to walk around. I was surprised at how many flavours I wished they’d bring back!

The factory was a fun hour long activity. I definitely recommend everyone do it if you find yourself in Vermont!

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Hanalei for Everyone! : A Hanalei, Kauai Travel Guide

While in Kauai, one of my favourite places we visited was the town of Hanalei. This laid back old surf town felt like home, like it was a place I should have been born in. It is by far Image result for hanaleione of the number one places I would re-visit in my life. Situated amongst the mountains and not too far of a drive to the beach, the town is the perfect mix of all of the beauty of Hawaii. To get there, there are a lot of one way bridges which, to a local may seem completely reasonable and safe, but to a tourist can seem absolutely danger ridden. With no stop signs or lights, the bridges have ‘unspoken’ rules for drivers to follow and let me tell you, in the dark they’re damn near impossible. I’d recommend visiting the town in the day and staying over a night- not only because of the tourist driving difficulty but because of the fun bars! Here is a list of fun places to stop in on while you are traveling Hanalei. I loved them all and took away the best memories!

Hanalei For the Yogis:

Hanalei is a small town on the north shore with plenty of history, shopping, dining and old surf vibes that you can’t pass up  when traveling Hawaii. Its got a hippie- artsy feel to it which I absolutely LOVED. The first place I was enamored with seeing was Yoga Hanalei Studio & Boutique. It sits in this open air shopping complex in front of huge mountains Image result for yoga hanaleiwith waterfalls in the distance. The whole trip I was curious about teacher trainings on the islands. In the future, I’d love to complete my 300 hour teacher training and I’ve been scoping out places to do just that. For anyone visiting, this studio excited me more than most I’ve seen. They had a bunch of drop in classes at multiple levels and multiple teacher trainings that look really in depth & fabulous. I grabbed all the brochures I could and they now are living in my ‘dream box’.  Check it out if you’re in town!

 

Hanalei For the Nature Lovers:

We came to the town originally to meet up with Andrew’s family for some drinks. We ended up pulling over on the side of the muddy road just outside of town because a beautiful rainbow appeared over the mountains. It was something out of a movie. Just incredible. Below that rainbow are taro fields (we were clearly slightly trespassing). Taro is an important staple to (traditional) Hawaiian meals (it is used to make Poi) and the fields are revered and absolutely beautiful. When we were finished gawking at the beauty and surely trespassing on someones property to take pictures, we carried on into the town.

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Hanalei For the Fun-Lover

One of the first places we stopped into was Tahiti Nui-that famous George Clooney tiki bar. It looked like walking into a history of happy people drinking and celebrating together. Its a really cozy old tiki bar where many famous people have stopped by and where the movie The Descendents had scenes filmed (with George Clooney in them). Opened in 1963, the bar has kept its 60s/70s surf vibe feel and is a true original tiki bar.Hanalei1.jpg

By far one of the best favours you can do yourself is getting a Mai Tai at the Tahiti Nui. On their menu this is what it says:

“FOUNDER OF TAHITI NUI, AUNTY LOUISE MARSTON CREATED THIS SECRET ORIGINAL RECIPE. TAHITIAN FRIENDS WOULD SIP THIS COCKTAIL AND SAY “MAI TAI ROA AE” – TAHITIAN FOR “OUT OF THIS WORLD, THE BEST!”

Let me tell you, this is the best drink I’ve ever had. It was amazing. They also serve Hawaiian beer (which Andrew loved) and a bunch of great food. hanalei3hanalei2

Probably one of the best parts about Tahiti Nui is that they have live Hawaiian music every night. I love Hawaiian music- you can’t hear it without smiling and feeling at peace with everything.

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Hanalei For the Shopper

If you love Billabong, Roxy, Volcom and Quicksilver- go to Hawaii, now. I swear every shop I went to, I could’ve bought everything. Hanalei was no exception. Not only is the shopping fantastic- the stores look fantastic. Keeping with the old surf town vibe, the shops look sort of artsy, each with its own character. There are lights strung up between shops giving it a calm twinkly look. One of our favourites were Hanalei Strings which had a podium for live music and tons of ukeleles and small instruments. There was also a dog in there which is mainly what I was focused on.

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Hanalei For the Food/Ice Cream Lover

Now, I’m no expert, but Hawaiian ice cream is the best ice cream ever. Seriously, they do it right. I had a waffle cone with chocolate ice cream and it was AMAZINGLY fantastic. The only downfall is that you are in Hanalei on an island so you have to eat it quick otherwise you just have a mess. Shave ice in Hanalei is also incredible- my favourite is with macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom and banana shave ice on top. YUM.Hanalei4.jpg

One of the coolest places which I didn’t have a chance to eat in was the Hanalei Bread Co & Coffee Shop. It was a cute little bakery with a seating area and porch. It smelled like fresh bread and pastries. Let me tell you, I will be returning there. It was perfect for anyone who loves sitting in coffee shops!

Hanalei was the coolest little surf town and I recommend everyone go, at least once!!

If you have any other suggestions for when I return please let me know!!

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