Refining the contents of my backpack is a process that will last as long as I’m on the road. With space at a premium, every item that goes into the bag has to be well thought out. I’ve downsized and streamlined, but I’m always on the lookout for resourceful products that make packing easier and take up less room.
Here are a few of my favorite finds:
BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Bambino Compact Hair Dryer
One item I wish I had packed during an eight-week trip to Hawaii and Alaska was a hair dryer. Most hotels provide them, but not all, and now that I’m living on the road I like to control whether or not I have dry hair when I want it, especially in cooler climates. I’ve had the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Bambino Compact Hair Dryer for a year, and it’s more than up to the task. Even if I didn’t have space constraints I would consider using this as an everyday hair dryer. The Bambino is as powerful as a good-quality, full-size model. It’s dual voltage, a must for international travelers, and the wattage is low enough that I haven’t burned out any hotel room fuses (not with this hair dryer anyway).
Exfoliating soap bar
There’s no need to bring both bath gel and a mesh scrubbie when an exfoliating soap bar does double duty. I picked up a lovely one with ground almonds at the Yorkshire Soap Company while I was in England. It lasted nearly three months, drying quickly and storing easily in a small plastic bag. (Don’t forget to remove it from the shower in between uses.) I’ll be re-stocking with one of the hundreds of varieties of exfoliating soap bars offered on Etsy.com.
Packable sun hat
For a while I traveled with a wide-brimmed straw sun hat I bought in Spain because I needed one on the spot. But unless you want to wear the hat every time you pack up and move from place to place, one that can be rolled or folded is much easier to stow and carry. For my trip to Southeast Asia, I researched options and settled on the one in the picture above. It’s no longer available, but I’ve found something similar to replace it. These particular packable hats are made from grosgrain ribbon, which is attractively detailed and sturdy enough to keep its shape.
Butterfly Twists Fold-up Flats
I once lamented not having enough room in my backpack to bring along a pair of shoes that wasn’t entirely functional like sneakers or sport sandals. Problem solved. These stylish, fold-up ballet flats from Butterfly Twists take up hardly any space at all. They come with their own cloth bag for storage and are comfy enough for even sensitive feet. I don’t walk miles in them, but for casual nights out with friends I have footwear that’s not frumpy. And unlike the well-known fold-up flats from Tieks, which retail for nearly $200, Butterfly Twists’ “Sophia” is a budget-friendly $40.
One Last Tip:
When I started traveling internationally, I switched to the Body Shop brand for some products, including their Tea Tree line so that I have consistency with facial care. If I ever run out of something on the road, chances are I’ll be able to refill it easily enough at one of their 2,500 stores worldwide.
I also like the Body Shop’s Coconut Oil Hair Shine. It can be used on dry hair, as it’s intended, and also on wet locks as a leave-in conditioner. The best part is that the oil is solid, freeing up coveted space for other things in the oh-so-small, airline-regulated, carry-on liquid toiletries bag.