Packing Non-Negotiables: Stuff I Gotta Have

“Have you packed yet?”

Well, hell no, I haven’t packed yet!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that in the past few days. I leave for my month-long Go with Oh European trip in a little over a week, and I haven’t even decided which suitcase I’m going to carry. Considering I don’t have a pack mule to lug all my junk around, I need to be smart. I’ll be traveling by plane, train, and automobile through five countries and at least seven different cities. It’d be nice if I didn’t have to visit a chiropractor in between tours of the Vatican and the Roman Forum.

Suitcase1

Why haven’t I begun to pack? Well, for starters, it was 92 degrees in Houston today. Folks, it’s nearly November! I can’t even fathom digging out my wool sweaters, gloves, and thick socks. I break into a sweat just thinking about it. Another road block is that I’ve always found it more difficult to pack for the winter rather than the summer. Obviously the clothes are bulkier, but there’s also the issue of my vampire’s blood. I’m going to need lots of clothes to stay warm.

Leah_Rome

Quite frankly, I get cold. Like really cold. I grew up in ice, snow, and freezing rain. I used to leave faucets running so the pipes didn’t bust, but I’ve gotten soft living in Houston. Therefore, if the weatherman says it’s going to be 50 degrees for the high, you can bet your ass that I’ll be wearing a sweater, coat, boots, hat, and a scarf. I’ll be bundled up like that little kid from A Christmas Story.

Randy

Rest assured that I do have some things ready to go. I keep a good bit of my travel essentials packed in case someone wants to whisk me off on a last-minute trip or I need to quickly evade arrest by skipping the country. If either is the case, I want to be ready.

I do have a dirty little secret…I carry a backpack. And no, it’s not a cute red one with sequins or some fancy Louis Vuitton. Instead it’s utilitarian. Black and grey in color, it’s actually pretty butch. Whatever, it keeps my computer and cameras safe, plus it holds an obscene amount of junk.

Frankly, I don’t care if I’m taking an hour flight to Dallas or an eleven hour flight to London. There are certain things that go with me no matter what. For a weekend or a month, it doesn’t matter. I’ll risk a couple of back spasms in order to have this stuff with me.

Digital Devices

Travel Essentials 5

I’m a slave to gadgets, and I’m seriously addicted to my iPhone and MacBook Pro. I’m also a bit paranoid, hence the jump drive and the external hard drive. A huge fear of mine is that either my computer or camera will be stolen along with all the photos I’ve taken. I upload and back up my pictures each day when traveling. I also never know when I’m going to feel like making a movie, so I carry a video camera, too. I don’t care that there’s one on my iPhone.

And last, but certainly not least, are my Bose headsets. That’s right, headsets…plural. The noise canceling ones are for the plane. The earbuds are for use every other place. I seriously don’t want to look like Jay-Z spitting rhymes while laying at the pool or riding the train.

Scarves

Travel Essentials 6

I’m a self-professed hoarder. I have over 200 pairs of shoes and at least 50 pairs of jeans. Don’t even get me started on purses and watches; it’s sickening. The first step is admitting there is a problem. The second? I’m not sure.

Anyway, I also have a plethora of scarves. Here’s a small sampling of my lightweight ones. I couldn’t bring myself to drag out the wool and knit ones. As I mentioned before, I get cold, so scarves are a staple of my wardrobe. Not only do they keep me warm, but they add a kick to my clothes and color to my face after flying a bajillion miles. Expect to see me in LOTS of scarves in Europe.

So Fresh, So Clean

Travel Essentials 4

I’m obsessed with teeth, specifically mine, but a person’s pearly whites are also the first thing I notice. In addition, I have a slight addiction to bleaching. Remember that Friends episode where Ross bleaches his teeth so much that they glow under black light? Yep. I’ve been there.

When it comes to personal hygiene, there’s nothing more important to me than fresh breath and clean teeth. Yes, I’m the person you are waiting on to come out of the airplane’s bathroom.

Triple Threat

Travel Essentials 1

Comfort, style, and warmth are key when I travel, especially on long-haul flights. I don’t go anywhere without a pair of lululemon tights, big ol’ sunglasses, and a watch.

Ladies, if you don’t know lulu, you better get yourselves acquainted. Not only are these the the most comfortable things you’ll slip on, but they also make your ass look great, even when your ass doesn’t normally look great. At nearly $100 a pair, they better make my rear end look like Adriana Lima’s. And because I’m a hoarder, I’ve got multiple pairs.

I’m lost without a watch. You will never catch me without one. Period.

Another thing that is essential for my traveling is at least one pair of sunglasses. I’m a creature of habit and wear them all the time, even when I probably don’t need to. The bigger the better, I always say. Big-ass shades cover a multitude of sins, like the black circles and puffy eyes that come from an overnight flight or a few hours boozing it up.

Nectar of the Gods

Travel Essentials 2

If you don’t know about Tabasco then you’ll never understand where I’m coming from. This pepper sauce made in Louisiana makes everything better, even crappy frozen Lean Cuisine enchiladas. I refuse to eat eggs without it. I can’t stomach even the best oysters without a healthy dash of Tabasco.

This stuff has saved my taste buds in places where spicy food isn’t typical. Black beans and rice in Costa Rica came alive with a few squirts of this liquid goodness. In Rome, I’ve poured it in my pasta and on my pizza. I don’t carry it with me on domestic trips as any restaurant worth eating at will have Tabasco on hand. However, it’s much more difficult to come by internationally, thus I will be picking up a new bottle for my European trip.

SuitcaseSo, to answer your question, no I haven’t packed. I’m a visualizer. I’ve got to picture the clothes and shoes and see them nestled inside of my suitcase. It’s a process, and it’s one that can’t be hurried. I’ll get it done. I’ve already got the most important stuff ready to go.

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37 Comments
  • Katherine | Kapcha The World
    October 24, 2012

    I love your fancy headphones! And man you’re a neat packer – puts mine to shame.

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      I’ve coveted those noise-cancelling headphones for ages. I had a Sony pair, but they just weren’t the same. I finally got a pair as a gift recently. They’re worth their weight in gold. And yes, I’m obsessively neat. OCD, really. You should see the order of my closet. I’m sick, really sick.

  • Katherine | Kapcha The World
    October 24, 2012

    And I love your phone case!

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      Thanks! Go to Zazzle.com. You can make all kinds of stuff there.

  • Natalie @ In Natalie's Shoes
    October 24, 2012

    You sound like you’ve got this down pat! I really need to rein in my packing even more than I have over the years. I think I’ll use your list as a jumping off point. I can’t wait to read about your travels!!

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      It’s a process, you know? I’ve had lots of practice, but am still honing my skills. I’ve learned to get the most out of ever nook and cranny. However, I need to work on doing more with less. That seems to be the current theme of my life. 🙂

  • Sara GowithOh
    October 25, 2012

    1. The Tabasco is on us! Promised! Now you can pack something else in that space. 😉
    2. It’s going to be ice cold in Prague! While in BCN it is 24 Cº today, in Prague it’ll be -4 Cº on saturday… We’ll be needing a liter of Absinthe (at least) to stand the coooold!!
    3. Don’t forget your power converter (+ adapter) to charge all your devices in Europe!
    Packing is one of my least-favourites things in the world, but no trip abroad would the same without your essentials from home!
    And just imagine all the wonderful places your suitcase will see this Autumn! Have FUN & travel light!

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      1. If you think I’m going to depend on someone else to provide the Tabasco then you’re crazier than I thought, Sara. If y’all come through then I’ll just have a spare bottle.

      2. Damn Celsius. Those numbers mean nothing to me. I’ve got to carry a conversion chart. I’ll add that to my list of things to do. Ok…just did the conversion online. CRAP! Prague is freakin’ COLD!

      3. I’ve got multiple adapters on hand. I’m ready!

  • Sara GowithOh
    October 25, 2012

    buahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ya’all are going to find out how crazy I can be in friggin’ cold Prague! Oh My gosh!!!

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      Hey, have I told you that Gerard and Kieu from GQ Trippin’ will be in Prague with us as well? I <3 them! http://gqtrippin.com/

  • fotoeins | Henry
    October 25, 2012

    Personally, I think you already have packed .. in your mind; I think you just want someone else to do the packing. :-)= Also, you’re going to love Praha, when y’all ain’t freezing your butts. 🙂

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      You may very well be right, Henry. All my stuff is really just piled in the corner of my bedroom waiting for an OCD packing ferry.

  • Jackie D
    October 25, 2012

    Scarves fix everything. And what they can’t fix, Tabasco does.

    • Leah Travels
      October 25, 2012

      Amen! It’s nice to meet a kindred spirit.

  • lola dimarco
    October 26, 2012

    love this post. i think you’re ready too. i haven’t even started. well, maybe in my mind but i’m terrified of actually doing it.

    • Leah Travels
      October 26, 2012

      I have a game that I’m going to play called let’s see how much I can cram in one suitcase and still keep it under 50 pounds. That should be good for hours of entertainment.

  • @mrsoaroundworld
    October 26, 2012

    I think it is time to pack 😉 seriously! I am joking you have got a week. I like getting it done 3-4 days before a long trip. Just in case.
    Can’t wait to see you!

    • Leah Travels
      October 26, 2012

      Yeah, I’ve already packed in my mind. It’s just a matter of pulling it out and sticking it in a suitcase. It’s not like I’m going to a third world. If I forget something, well, it’s Europe!

  • Jon Vick
    October 26, 2012

    Glad to hear I’m not the only one with a list of essentials, and based upon the parallels between our lists, glad to know I’m not alone in my neuroses about some of the things on my list!

    • Leah Travels
      October 26, 2012

      You have no idea, Jon. The number of my neuroses go well beyond this list. 🙂

  • Scott - Quirky Travel Guy
    October 26, 2012

    A branded iphone case? You are living large.

    • Leah Travels
      October 27, 2012

      Scott, that’s when you know you’ve arrived. 😉

  • Jeff @ GoTravelzing
    October 27, 2012

    Why a separate video camera? Can’t you just use your camera or iPhone?

    I would recommend getting converter app for the phone that way you will be able to convert temperatures and distances.

    Will you take of video of the Italian’s faces when you put Tabasco on their pasta? That would be classic. 🙂

  • Erik
    October 27, 2012

    It’s funny, after traveling for years without a laptop, it’s now become the number one thing I can’t live without!

  • Ayngelina
    October 29, 2012

    The Tobasco is funny but once I saw a mini bottle of sriracha and seriously considered buying it for travel.

    • Leah Travels
      October 29, 2012

      A woman after my own heart. I like sriracha, too. I can use it in a pinch. 😉

  • Adam
    October 30, 2012

    Love that you bring Tabasco sauce!!

    • Leah Travels
      November 1, 2012

      Damn right, Adam. I can’t count on countries to give me the spice I need. 🙂

  • The World Wanderer
    November 2, 2012

    Love that you bring Tabasco with you! Hilarious! I would never, ever think to bring such things, but it’s very, very smart. I’d love some pictures of you with it in front of some famous monuments, please. 🙂

    • Leah Travels
      November 4, 2012

      Tabasco in front of monuments…got it! Give me a tweet once we get to a city and I’ll do it!

  • jill
    November 7, 2012

    Oh wow – love your scarf collection. Is your close that neatly organized? I seriously wish that I could travel with a jar of my fave chili sauce too. But it’s super heavy and it stinks (it has shrimp paste in it), doubt the airline would let me bring it in, lol.

    • Leah Travels
      November 13, 2012

      I hate to admit it, Jill, but yes, my closet is that organized. Everything is on white hangers and arranged by color and style. It’s a sickness, I tell ya’. I say, condense that chili sauce! I have a little nip of Tabasco that I carry in my purse and refill. 😉

  • Tom @ Waegook Tom
    September 17, 2013

    You carry Tabasco sauce everywhere you go? That’s…slightly insane, yet also genius as I absolutely adore the stuff, too.

    My laptop and iPhone are always with me in my hand luggage, as are a fresh pair of underwear, socks, a hat and a t-shirt, plus my electric razor, which I’d be lost without! Plus the see-through plastic bag of liquids – lip butter from the Body Shop, contact lens cleaner, hair serum and face products from Lush are my essentials in there. Always, always, ALWAYS.

    Apart from that, well, it varies from trip to trip.

    • Leah Walker
      September 24, 2013

      Ummm….hello, high maintenance. I know who I’m going to travel with. There’s no need for me to bring my toiletries. I can just use yours.

  • Jennifer
    September 17, 2013

    We’d be a dangerous pair. Shoes and bags are my addiction. I also organize my closet by color and have all short sleeves and sleeveless together followed by the color order restarting with 3/4 and long sleeves. The top racks are dresses, skirts, and pants. And just typing that out, I might have to admit to being OCD about my closet…

    So I totally feel you on visualizing your packing!

    • Leah Walker
      September 24, 2013

      Hello, my sister in OCD. Frankly, I don’t think it’s a big deal. So what if we only use white plastic hangers? Well, that just slipped out.

  • TammyOnTheMove
    September 17, 2013

    I can’t stand bland food either. I always take a travel size herb dispenser with me. It has 4 compartments and I fill them with salt, pepper, chilli powder and paprika. It is only about 3cm high and is also a keyring, so really handy for traveling.

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