9 Must-Haves for the Female Flashpacker
So you’re not a scruffy, college-aged backpacker anymore, who enjoys stinky armpits and going days on end without showering (!) – but you’re also not the next Paris Hilton, who has a seemingly unlimited budget and gets to stay at the Four Seasons every night.
So who are you?
If you’re like me – you’re somewhere in between those two extremes: in other words, you are a (luxury) flashpacker!
What is a flashpacker? I first heard this term on a Rick Steves’ podcast while he was interviewing “Nomadic Matt” – and it was Nomadic Matt who introduced me to this term. Basically, a flashpacker is a backpacker who has a little (or a lot) more experience than a backpacker, and a little (or a lot) more cash in their pocket. A flashpacker wants authentic travel experiences, which often bring tougher conditions (i.e. like hiking the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu). But they also want a hot shower and a kick-ass hotel room every once in awhile on the road, and generally they have the cash to swing it.
If this sounds like you, and you’re a girl who appreciates feeling like a girlwhen you travel – then this blog is for YOU. Whether I’m staying at a hut-homestay high in the Andes, or at a post-modern high-rise in Bangkok, I want to feel even the smallest bit of luxury. To me, this is one of the biggest differences between being a flashpacker versus a backpacker, particularly as a girl.
So here is my list of items that will give you a feeling of luxury,
- Rose Water Spray – The smell of roses gives you a mental and physical uplift in about one second flat! I keep a small, travel-size rose water spray in my purse when I travel, and love to use it on planes, in (hot, dusty) train stations – really anytime I need a little “time-out,” or mental reset. Not to mention, we all need extra moisturizer when we travel – and this will help. Where can you buy: Whole Foods or Amazon. Brand I Use: Heritage Rose Petal Spray. Price Tag: $6.
2. A Great Scent or Perfume – About two months into a three-month South America trip, I ran out of my favorite Pacifica perfume. And believe me, did I MISS it! You don’t realize how nice it is too smell good until, well, you simply don’t smell good anymore. And the perfumes I like, which are more organic, are simply hard to find abroad (especially in South America). To that end, what I find most helpful is to bring along several travel-size scents – Jo Malone and Pacifica both make great travel sizes, and I find their scents divine. Where can you buy: Whole Foods, Amazon or Nordstrom. Brands I Use: Pacifica & Jo Malone. Price Tag: $12-65 (for travel size).
3. Coconut Oil – If you travel a lot, you know there is one thing you 100% need: MAJOR MOISTURIZER!!! So many aspects of travel dry the skin out: from the stale air on airplanes, to sunburns, to long train trips and hot, dusty hikes. One thing my friends and I could never get enough of while traveling was moisturizer. Not to mention, coconut oil can be used to moisturize your entire body, your hair, your nails, and can even be used as a makeup remover! So you get mucho bang for your buck. And the scent gives me that coconut-y, on-vacation feel, and is great as a base layer with your favorite perfume. The good news is: you can buy coconut oil almost anywhere, in any country – just go their local market (this is why I never pack it)! Where can you buy: Pretty much any market. Brand I Use: Anything organic. Price Tag: $8.
4. Silky Eyemask – There is nothing luxurious about getting shitty sleep. And when you travel, there are a lot of sleep variables that you can’t control. If there’s a lot of light coming into your room, it’s going to make it very difficult to get a good night’s rest. If it’s very difficult for you to sleep, you’re also going to want to add ear plugs to your packing list as well. Experiment with different brands to see which masks and ear plugs work the best for you, in terms of fit and feel. Where can you buy: Amazon or your local drugstore. Brand I Use: Sleep Mask Purefly Natural Silk Eye Mask (Amazon). Price Tag: $8.
5. Small Candle of Your Favorite ScentWhen you travel, especially if you’re mixing hostels with budget-friendly options – you’re going to come across some rooms that don’t smell all that great. I have been in many rooms where I wished I had a candle! This is only a habit I’ve acquired in recent years. While a candle may seem like a luxury that you can’t fit in your bag, I beg to differ: if you find a nice, small one – the benefits it provides you will way outweigh (yes, pun) its small weight. Where can you buy: Almost anywhere. Brand I Use: Pacifica (great, small size & heavenly scents). Price Tag: $10.
7. Probiotics – The biggest luxury of all is having a happy (and flat) stomach! When you travel, you’re going to be eating all kinds of food (and drink) that your body is not used to. Taking probiotics before and during your trip is the best insurance you can have as far as keeping your tummy happy. Additionally, as 70% of your immune system resides in your gut, taking probiotics will also keep your immunity strong as you travel. Probiotics are a MUST for me, and when I travel without them, I regret it! Where can you buy: Amazon or Whole Foods. Brand I Use: Jarrow EPS (look for a room-temperature stable brand when you travel, like Jarrow’s – not one that needs to be refrigerated). Price Tag: $22.
9. A Few “Wow” Wardrobe Pieces – My first trip to Europe, back when I was a scruffy backpacker – I brought all my old clothes that I intended to dump out along the way. And dump ’em I did, all throughout Europe. Good plan, from a packing standpoint. But from a looking and feeling good standpoint? Not so much. By the end of that trip, I felt like a bedraggled, broke college student (which I pretty much was). I definitely did not feel my best anymore. And that is exactly the opposite of how you want travel to make you feel. So either plan to bring some of your favorite, easily packable “wow” pieces – or pick up a few great finds along the way, like the amazing off-the-shoulder tops I found in Colombia (one of the sexiest countries on the planet). Where can you buy: Anywhere. Even Forever 21. Brand I Use: Depends. Price Tag: Variable.
10. Tea – One of the things I love to bring with me, sorted in small, clear bags, is tea. Few things can calm me as instantly as tea can, particularly if I have been traveling all day and am tired, stressed out, or just annoyed and don’t want to deal with people anymore. A hot cup of tea, particularly if read with a good book in a new place, is one of the true pleasures of life. And though you will find great new teas in many countries, you can still bring a few packets of your own for those occasions when you can’t find it. I love to bring Organic Ginger tea with me, as it calms the stomach no matter where I am or what I have been eating. Where can you buy: Any market. Brand I Use: Yogi or Traditional Medicine. Price Tag: $5.
11. Small Personal Memento – Finally, to make you feel at home wherever you are: bring some small, personal memento that means a lot to you, and will cheer you up every time you look at it. Especially if you are traveling solo, this will give you a lift during those times when you feel lonely, and make you smile. For me, that meant packing two hand-drawn cards from my niece and nephew, cards they had made just prior to my departure. Their colorful drawings made me smile, and the sweet words inside of their cards made me feel loved. Any room I stayed in longer than 2-3 days, I posted their cards in a prominent place near the door, so that I would see them every time I came and went. Price Tag: Free.
These are the most important items on my list! If you are a fellow female flashpacker, what small luxury items top your packing list? Let me know in the comments below, and happy travels!