If you've been reading the blog or have come within ear shot of my big mouth, you would know that I'm off to London soon - tomorrow, to be exact.
I'll also be staying for a few days after to visit my aunt, uncle, and baby cousin, and I'm really excited as I don't get to see them very often. The last time I did was also my first time meeting my cousin, who herself was relatively new to the world (imagine!). I was in Paris with G for a video game press event, and my aunt and her precious daughter flew over last-minute to hang out. They're just British like that.
All the fun things! Although - and I know this makes me sound incredibly co-dependent - I'm already dreading how much I will miss G and our fat cat and his fat belly. Blame it on an extended honeymoon period. Or just my period, period. Whichever you prefer.
So, this post is going to be a quick one; I have a few things to wrap-up before I leave tomorrow, and unfortunately none of them involve chocolate. I wasn't kidding about my period. Sorry - it's taken over me like a demon in Doom 3. Moving on, I've put together a few of my travelling essentials for your perusal. Whether you're planning your own trip or you're just curious, I hope you have some pretty things to look at here.
They are an eclectic bunch, but I've tried to keep things natural where I could. I'm also making a contribution towards Greenpop to help level my carbon footprint for the journey, although with British Airways' carbon emissions being among the worst, this will only help a teensy bit. If you have more green travelling tips, let me know in the comments below. I'm aiming to do everything eco-friendly next time around.
Before I begin proper, I would just like to point out that travelling is a massive privilege, and we should be very wary of people who say you have lived in any way a lesser life than you would have had you been better traveled. Plane tickets are expensive as all hell. Ditto accommodation and food. I'm lucky to be going on this trip and I'm so happy it's happening, but I think we should stop romanticizing travel because one, it doesn't give an accurate depiction of the yes, sometimes fun, but oftentimes also messy, intense, and infuriating experience that is travel, and two, hinging value in life on something only very few people get to do is a shitty way to go about being human. Cut it out. Coolio, that done, let's have a gander, then, gov'na. I'm so, so sorry.
P. S. Just booked the second last aisle seat, baby. My bladder could sing. Ah, the life of a millennial, huh?
EYES, EARS, CASH, AND 'PORT
Let's start with the novel, Madame Bovary by Gustav Flaubert. I would normally be taking my kindle, but I bought this hardcopy at a flea market a while back, and I started reading it when it was suggested to me as one of the first stories to every feature a fully-fledged (albeit flawed) female protagonist. It's been difficult to get through because I've formed a habit of thinking each sentence over after reading it. This was something I only did every few chapters in other books, but Madame demands more from me. Perhaps there is something to the work itself that lends to a (very) slow reading. Especially considering it was a (very, very) slowly-produced work. Probably not best for a plane, but excellent for a London coffee cafe.
I think the headphones speak pretty much for themselves - if you run out of battery on your phone you can still wear them to send out a loud 'No, I don't want to know more about your steelworks business, sir, but I only because I'm one of those youths addicted to loud music'. I know, right? A devastating blow, but someone's gotta slay. So, we've covered the in-ears. Next is my crossword book. It's the first one I've ever bought, and the idea came from an episode of The Wire. I think after playing so many digital games, it's nice to have the opportunity to get some pencil-to-paper fun in me.
Then we have ear plugs. As much as I respect the patience it must take to travel with a baby or toddler, I have equal respect for my rights not to hear the struggle. Amen.
My passport also speaks for itself, although it can barely wheeze out enough syllables to get me over the South African border. The tenner is from G, from his trip to London last February. I'm keeping it as airport emergency coffee money, because at twenty-five, I clearly have my priorities in order.
I don't wear make-up when I travel, but it's always good to have some on-hand for nights out and special events. I've been trying the Dr Haushka range, but I think I'll be moving on after this 'cause my skin is sensitive to it, and because it's not vegan. Ditto on the Lancome mascara, but I bought both of these ranges before I went completely straight-edge. Yeah, I do keep my make-up a little too long, but since starting hot yoga, I've not felt the need to wear it outside of a few times a month.
WHOSITS AND WHATSITS
Last but not least, sunnies and a beanie help you keep prepared for the weather situation in your next stop, and can take your outfit from slapdash to anything but in next to no time. A lens for your smartphone will come in hand for quick, beautiful snaps. You can try Olloclip for extra professionalism points, or this one I got from Superbalist. Not as hard-working as the Olloclip, but a good deal cheaper and hey, it's gold.
If you'll be taking lots of pics and using your phone for music and updates on social media, you're going to want to make sure that sucker stays charged. For that you'll need a power bank or rechargeable cover, like mine from Lenmar. You'll also want to take your actual phone, and load it up with offline-listenable tracks for giving a familiar voice to unfamiliar territory.
READ ME, TOO
Some of the brands mentioned in this post (like Boody, Faithful to Nature, SKOON, Soylites, and Lenmar) have sent Toofufu some of the products mentioned in the post and pictured here. They have done so knowing it would likely result in shareable coverage, like this post. Please see Toofufu's mission statement for more information on this. When a review-type piece of information ('it works well') crops up here, it is because Toofufu has paid for that product or service itself. Clicking on the pictures will sometimes take you to brand websites. Don't be alarmed. They're nice.
When you're looking at a near future spent in various airports and hotels, sample- and travel-sized beauty products are your very best of friends. Check to see if your favourite range has a travel pack, like SKOON's, or you can collect and keep all your samples from various online buys for just these kinds of occasions. Faithful to Nature is a good spot to pick up samples - you get some with every purchase. Otherwise, you can always decant your regular-sized bits and bobs into those travel-ready see-through bottles you can pick up from most department stores. I bought a travel pack of African Organics from Wellness Warehouse - they aren't super-well reviewed, but I've grown to love the smell of their Kalahari Melon body lotion, and at R14, you don't need to be very committed either way.
It's wonderful to take a break from routine, but new sights and cities can sometimes be a bit daunting and lonely, depending on how often you travel and for how long. A candle or two goes a long way to make a hotel room feel more like home. The lovelies at Soylites sent me some of their travel-ready soybean oil candles, enriched with baobab oil, essential oils, and shea butter. Read more about Soylites here, and make sure to take a peek at my mission statement. On a related note, baobab is one hundred percent the next coconut oil. You heard it here first.
I went looking for a good natural roll-on recently, not because there's been good proof that normal deo is bad for you, but because I'm on a mission to support eco-friendly brands. And I'm not the kinda person who can go without deo.. Everyone who has had to sit next to me on a long-haul journey after I've forgotten my roll-on will testify to that. Truth be told, I picked this one mostly because of my love of the word 'monsoon'. Isn't is wonderful? It smells and works well, too.
DON'T MIND ME - PLEASE, PLEASE, DON'T
I've written before that I will easily trade pain for discomfort, and planes are not well-known for allowing the very best in warm, fluffy goodness. Two hours in my ass is always numb, my teeth feel weird, and the colour has drained from my skin as my body temperature continues to drop until freeze point. And there I sit, with only the faint smell of stale farts wafting around the plane to indicate that other people are also still holding on to their lives, but only just. In that environment, comfort is everything. For that reason, I'll be doing the smart thing by wearing slippers, and my Boody tights. Who knew something made of bamboo could be that soft? Bonus point for a seamless fit - no vulvodynia acting up on me, no sir!
TOUCH OF LUXE
Not actually a bar of soap, a touch of luxe is that bit of extra nicety that helps travel to feel like the luxury it is. For the plane, I've bought a nice big scarf that will double-up as a blanket - a rather small one, admittedly, but a blanket nonetheless. Not your best shot at warmth either, as G pointed out, 'Just wear a hoody.' After he said that a small something inside of me ticked over, and I've not yet recovered. Call it 'period brain', I certainly do. Still, a scarf is always a good idea. Except in summer. Let's just move on, shall we?
Next up is a pair of really soft, hand-crafted undies from the best lingerie supplier I have ever come across, Black Bean and Silk. I'm going to do a big write-up on them when I get back, but in the mean time, you can browse their Etsy shop here. Knowing your vagina is wrapped in soft, earth-loving material makes the person in front of you who just sent your drink careening over your lap as they suddenly relaxed their seat down a dash more tolerable.
Next I have my SKOON goodies, you can read more about them from my 'Ally' post here, and from their website over here. Treats galore. I'm especially excited to try the Glowdrops concentrate, which is apparently their best-seller. I bought the concentrate with some Balancing Fluid moisturiser to use it with, so I feel comfortable letting you guys know how it went. Will keep you updated. I'm slightly glow-anything obsessed at the moment. If anyone knows a good vegan, animal-friendly highlighter I'd like to know about it - PLEASE!
Honourble mentions: a neck pillow (like a good one, that you don't have to blow up), an eye mask, a fascia-release tool (or try two tennis balls held tightly in a sock, like this), and a travel-sized yoga mat for airport and in-flight aisle yoga.
Not mentioned but also not really only a luxury: at least three sticks of lip balm. You're going to lose one, and the lose the lid for the other. You'll think it's still fine to use but after you drop it and get bits of hair on it, the person next to you will look from it to you and back again until you lose all nerve, huff and pretend you've only noticed just now, and do a great show of throwing it away in your fruit salad container. You'll sit, dry-lipped and in pain for two to three hours, until you find your third and least favourite stick of lippy while you're searching your bag for a tampon. You won't find the tampon, though. But you will guard that stick with your life, telling yourself the smell and tint are not as bad as you thought. Or you're a normal person in which case you have your doubts about this post and you're grateful it's at an end.
See ya in a while, crocodile.