If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I spent most of May travelling, and it was amazing! I started in Florence, Italy, moved on to Amsterdam, and then headed south to Montpellier, France. Next up was London, and then New York City on my way home. It was an absolutely incredible month full of walking (I was averaging 15km/day!), amazing food, beautiful places, and learning. I took hundreds of photos and fell in love with the world all over again. Anyhow, I wanted to share what I packed (lots of it was homemade—no surprise there!), some travel lessons and tips, and some pictures. Cue the wanderlust!
Hello, Italy! Florence is the first stop on my May adventure, and I already love it. I landed around noon and so far I’ve managed to wander, squeeze in a wee nap, and have some utterly transcendent gelato (seriously, non-Italian gelato is forever ruined for me). Have you ever been to Florence? Have any tips for me on things to do? #travel #italy #explore #wanderlust #may #nikonphotography #nikon #flying @klm #florence #florenceitaly #spring #sunshine #getoutthere #adventure
To be honest, my phone was probably the most important thing I brought. Everywhere I went I’d buy an inexpensive SIM card (€5–10) so I’d always have access to Google Maps and Google Translate. Since I was travelling alone for most of the trip, this was a massive confidence boost for me. I didn’t have to worry about getting lost, and I was able to do research on the fly. I used the “near me” feature on Google Maps all the time to find nearby restaurants, cafes, parks, and random sights I would’ve otherwise missed. I was able to use the “send my location” feature to tell friends at home precisely where I was. I felt so much safer and more confident just knowing I had that wee little computer in my pocket, and I can’t recommend travelling with your phone enough for this sort of on-foot exploring adventure (you can probably ditch if for beach resort vacations).
Mine doesn’t have 3G, but aside from being a better typing/research device than my phone, I used my iPad Mini to score free guide books. I installed the Kindle app and signed up for a free 1-month Kindle Unlimited trial. Most of the books available on Kindle Unlimited look pretty awful, but they had a surprisingly good selection of Lonely Planet guides; one for most of the cities I was visiting! Those were super handy, especially because I could search them by keyword.
I also used the Kindle and iBooks app instead of lugging around real books. I still prefer real books, but the stack I wanted to bring was two feet tall 🙁
I took the exact compact of pressed foundation I used in this tutorial, and it was great. I did take some loose powders as well, and they got all jostled up and made a big mess whenever I had to open them in a new destination, so the pressed versions quickly became favourites. Most of the exact recipes I used are from my upcoming book, but if you can’t wait that long, I’ve got lots of great makeup recipes here, too 🙂
I filled one with lotion (which I barely needed because it was so delightfully humid everywhere I went!) and one with some concentrated unscented liquid laundry detergent. The non-leak, squishy, durable nature of the GoToobs makes them super well suited to travel, and I was so glad to have some laundry detergent with me. Most places I stayed (all AirBNBs) had laundry, but they didn’t supply detergent. Given I didn’t stay anywhere for longer than four days, it made no sense to purchase a full pack of detergent for a single load of laundry—having a wee bit on hand was great, and 2oz/60mL lasted for the entire trip.
Airports, train stations, and public places in general are pretty dirty, and getting sick on a vacation is not my idea of fun, so I always make sure to travel with an alcohol based hand sanitizer. The alcohol part is important—you want one that’s at least 60% alcohol and contains no triclosan. The alcohol will physically destroy bacteria (unlike triclosan, which poisons bacteria), so you aren’t contributing to the evolution of super bugs. I’ve yet to find one that’s fragrance free, but considering I really only use hand sanitizer when I travel, I’m not hugely fussed about it.
Another reason to travel with hand sanitizer: if you’re alone, it removes the awkwardness of washing your hands at restaurants. Do you leave your things unattended? Take your things to the bathroom and risk the staff thinking you’re pulling a dine-and-dash? Wash your hands before asking to be seated? Agh. Hand sanitizer!
It’s an utterly stunning day here in Amsterdam—perfect for wandering the canals and eating gelato! I ran into a friendly British couple who snapped this for me 🙂 #exploreamsterdam #thenetherlands #holland #netherlands #explore #travel #adventure #may #spring #adventure #smile #instaamsterdam #instanetherlands
A photo posted by Marie Rayma (@marierayma) on
It’s effective, and awesome. I’m also kind of smitten right now—call it the lip balm of the moment for me!
I travelled with two bars and they took care of my shaving, soaping, shampooing, and hand-washing needs for the entire trip. BAM. I did take them as whole bars (rather than slicing them up or grinding them down) as my itinerary included plenty of drying time.
Ok, so… I actually forgot to pack my powdered acidic hair rinse. Durrr. When I was in Florence I bought a lemon, juiced that, and used that (mixed with water) to rinse my hair, but in Amsterdam I managed to find a wee shop along the Albert Cuyp Markt that sold citric acid, so I bought a wee baggie of that. Having the dry stuff on hand is brilliant. So much nicer than questing for citrus fruits! Wherever I was I’d mix it with a bit of warm water in a plastic cup and have that one hand to follow up my shampooing with (why?).
I was dithering back and forth on whether or not I should take my nice camera on the trip—right up until the day I left! In the end a photographer friend had a great suggestion; get a new strap that’s not emblazoned with the brand and model of your camera so you aren’t a walking advert for pick-pockets. The Black Rapid strap I ended up getting is much less “STEAL ME”-ish, and its shoulder sling (rather than neck sling) makes for much more comfortable lugging of a heavy camera. It also attaches to the camera the tripod mount. The guy at the camera store told me that I’d love that part… it’s neat. Can’t say I’m hugely sold on it over the more standard attach-at-the-top strap method, but it’s neat.
I’m currently shooting with the Nikon D750, and I love it. I upgraded to it from the Nikon D5000 (which has a crop sensor) to shoot my book, and it’s a beast of a camera (it’s what I’m shooting all my YouTube videos on, too). I brought the 24-120mm f4 kit lens and my 50mm f1.4 for a lighter, low-light option.
The plus: the photos I got were lovely. The minus: the camera is pretty heavy, especially with the 24–120mm on it, and I definitely felt like a theft target lugging it around. I took a day off from it in NYC and that was amazing after weeks of taking it everywhere.
You should always make sure you’re travelling with a good day pack (I really like my Fjallraven Rucksack No. 21—it’s bright red!). Something that’s properly sturdy, with good straps and some back ventilation. Something I like about the Fjallraven one I brought is that it’s a bit tricky to get into; with two leather straps, a flip-top, and a drawstring before you’re in the main pack, I felt a big safer about pick-pockets riffling through my bag without my notice (this did also translate to it being a bit of a pain in the arse to get into the pack myself…). I also really liked having a pack large enough to stuff my camera into it when I wasn’t using it, plus snacks, a lightweight jacket, and some extra sunscreen.
I have plenty of 1L/1Q water bottles, but I went with a smaller one instead. 500mL is small enough to quickly drink in the security line up, and when it’s full it isn’t dumb heavy. It also fit nicely into the water bottle holder on my backpack—the 1L Nalgene bottles are often too fat for daypack water bottle holders. A water bottle is just generally a great idea, though; hydration is important, especially when you’re walking 15km+ every day! Most of the cities I visited had good refill options (Amsterdam was the best!) and I’m sure I saved loads of money by never paying for bottled water.
I used this stuff every day, evening and night. It’s fantastic, and my skin was incredibly happy throughout the entire trip.
My favourite cleansing balm is incredible for removing makeup, sunscreen, and anything else my travels threw at me. Fantastic.
Snacks + a small reusable container
Bring food—especially for plane days! Most of the airlines I flew with were super budget; one was so cheap the chairs didn’t recline and even the ginger ale cost extra. I was so happy I’d packed proper meals and some good snacks for the long flights; just be sure whatever you take is either customs friendly (avoid fresh fruit & veg and animal products) or be sure you eat it all before you land.
Something that makes packing your own food significantly nicer is travelling with at least one good quality, won’t-leak sealing leftovers container. I brought something like this and it got a lot of use, mostly re-packaging restaurant leftovers for safe, leak-free travels. If it was ever empty when I was travelling I could always wash it out and stuff it with socks so it wasn’t dead space in my suitcase.
Hello New York! Thanks for greeting me with this incredible (32°☀️) weather 😄 This is the last stop on my May of wandering, and I’m here for 5 days. I’d love to hear your recommendations if you have them! #travel #nyc #newyork #centralpark #explore #explorenyc #summer #may #smile #selfie #usa #wanderlust #travelnyc #instanewyork #instanyc
I took one carry on sized suitcase, but checked it through since I had a daypack as well. I’m a big fan of tightly rolling everything up and securing my little clothing rolls with elastic bands; it’s wonderfully efficient and I’d bundle similar items together (t-shirts, tank tops, etc.) to make things easier to find.
- 2 Icebreaker merino tank tops (merino is naturally anti-stink, so it’s awesome for travel)
- 2 fashion tank tops (these got a lot more wear than the merino as they were light & floaty and most of the trip was pretty warm)
- 2 lightweight long sleeve tops (fantastic for layering!)
- 2 t-shirts (this was too many; I slept in one and never wore the other)
- 1 lightweight fashionable-ish looking sweater
- 1 Smartwool merino hoodie in black
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of Lululemon yoga pants (perfect for flying in; comfy and no metal bits)
- 2 pairs of shorts (one was knee length and the other was shorter)
- 1 skirt (with pockets!)
- 1 dress (worn once, and only to prove to myself I didn’t pack it in vain)
- 7 pairs Icebreaker merino underwear
- 4 pairs merino wool socks
- 1 lightweight fashion type scarf
- My Thermoball hoodie from The North Face (ultra packable and wears well in a wide variety of temperatures)
- My Arc’teryx Codetta rain jacket (layers really well with the Thermoball hoodie to make a properly warm jacket if needed)
- A good hat with a wide, all-around brim
- Olukai Heleuma shoes (I wore these more than any other shoes—SO COMFY!)
- A pair of Merrell minimalist runners (I barely wore these, but it was nice to have an alternative pair of shoes)
- A pair of fancier looking, but still super comfy, sandals
Things I Could’ve Left at Home
- My curling wand; I used it once
- The dress
- The t-shirts (at least one)
Ok! That’s what I brought. What do you always travel with? What are your top packing tips? Share ’em below!