It’s been quite a while since my last lay-around-and-do-nothing vacation, so this upcoming trip to Kep is much looked forward to.
We’ll be staying at the Raingsey Bungalows, which have received excellent reviews from various booking sites. Known for its succulent crab (can’t partake due to serious allergies), gorgeous mountains, and hidden exploratory gems- Kep should be the ideal getaway for the Cambodian holiday, Pchum Ben.
For someone who likes to double check, sometimes triple (quadruple…) everything- I find it’s sometimes best to just throw everything into a satchel the morning of travel and if anything is left behind- too bad!
Since I’ve been able to do a bit of traveling here and there around the country for the past year- I’ve gotten down pat what usually needs to be taken. I thought I’d share a few travel essentials that make traveling light (one small bag, ladies and germs!) and easy.
(I know this is going to look like a pure joke to travelers who really are making treks, traveling hard from country to country, and do it all with one or two outfits through the wind, sun, cold, and elements. This post, my friends, is not for you.)
I’ve never understood, yet admire, women who don heels, dresses, and hair fully done on a trip- especially a long one. That’s why I focus so much on comfort when traveling- and for once you arrive at your destination. A few things I always keep in tow, whether in Cambodia or Cape Cod, to make the journey the most convenient and enjoyable as possible.
Comfortable pants (preferably leggings/joggies): Who wants to travel in heavy denim or a mini skirt? If you fall asleep legs splayed or you’re on a particularly bumpy ride- it’s nice to be in bottoms that cover your bits and move with you rather than against you.
Solid Sneakers: Even if you think you’ll remain in the confines of your hotel room or trot barefoot on the sand, it’s always important to have a good pair of trainers in case the opportunity for a mountain trek (or a serious day of mall trolling) pops up.
Cashmere Sweater: No, it doesn’t have to be cashmere- but it makes all the difference. Even in the humid, hot weather of Cambodia I find myself wrapped up in one from the unrelenting air conditioned buses or on a breezy night with a pair of silk shorts.
Clutch: Rather than needing to tote around a gigantic purse or carryall in the evening, having a small clutch or wristlet can save you the annoyance of hauling around a big bag, reducing the risk of theft, and giving you freedom to get out on the dance floor if you so please! Something big enough for your phone, a credit card/cash, a few mints, and a lipstick should do just the trick.
Statement Jewelry Piece: I’d love to carry around my whole jewelry box but alas, it makes more sense to bring one or two statement pieces along with your basics if you want something to stand out, especially if you’ve really stuck to the basics on wardrobe when it comes to packing.
Camera: I’m not technologically advanced yet to have dived into DSLR territory and I gave away my digital camera before moving to Cambodia (why? I have no idea), so I like to take my Polaroid on trips and use my iPhone for quick snapshots. Disposable cameras are great too and I love that film effect- and cheap too! Capture those moments- I’m sure you will want to keep some of them, tangibly, forever.
Reading Material: Whether it be a magazine, Kindle, or book- bring something to read. You might get caught with a delayed plane, a broken down bus, or just plain boredom on a flight. Save yourself the nightmare of overpaying at airport bookstores and get your lit sorted before departure.
Notebook/Notepad: There are many moments throughout the day where a thought will race through my mind and I know if I don’t jot it down immediately, it’ll be lost for good. While we’ve got our phones, they do die- and if you’re not near a power source, don’t lose that winning idea/thought/memory and have something to get it down on.
Swimsuit: Even if you’re heading to Aspen, always bring a swim suit. You may have the urge to swim in the ocean or dip into a hot tub that you may not even have known was available to you. Getting caught without a swimsuit can be a pain-unless you want to go skinny-dipping…and then there might be a reason to just leave one behind on purpose.
Comfy Tank: Again, it doesn’t matter if you’re heading to the coldest place around- having a slouchy, soft tank is absolutely essential for me when traveling. A perfect layering piece, it’s the jack of all trades and can be worn under said cashmere sweater in case things get too hot and you feel the need to undress a bit.
Tank- T by Alexander Wang
Book- Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Shoes- Nike Lunar Flyknits
Swim suit- Insight
Leather notebook- gift
Wristlet/Clutch: local market
I adore trying and testing new beauty products, but quality is hard to find in Cambodia especially for skin that gets super irritated from the lightest of artificial scent or weird chemical. Even Cetaphil can be a knock-off and the majority of things have whitening ingredients or properties to them, so I was supremely excited when I came across Avene, a French skincare line that is perfectly ideal for extremely sensitive skin. I’m absolutely obsessed with the Cold Cream made from beeswax and thermal spring water which goes on thick, sinks in quickly, and imparts a light lily scent that isn’t overpowering. The cherry on top was finding the Avene 50+ SPF for day use where two small pumps will cover the entire face and protect from damaging rays. I’ve been testing out different cleansers recently on my super irritable, easily hivey skin and this Kiwi and Chamomile scrub from the Japanese brand Shokubutsu sold in most drugstores here is the perfect blend of cream and exfoliant to really get the grime off. Coconut oil is my go-to for makeup remover, as it’s gentle, natural, and extremely inexpensive. I used to use this all over my face at night until I came across the Avene Cold Cream but it did tend to be a bit greasy- I felt more badly for my pillowcases than my face though. It’s also an excellent body moisturizer or to slather on before a lay in the sun (I know, I know…bad)- and leaves you smelling like the tropics. My two last favorite products that are always stocked in my cabinet are Bumble and Bumble‘s Surf Spray which takes my fine Asian hair and gives it a bit of oomph and texture, beachy waves and perfectly tousled- just as the surf would do. Tom Ford White Patchouli and Black Orchid are my two all time favorite scents and in my opinion, work great as a unisex scent. Just make sure you don’t bring these on carry on (they’re not within airline guideline size)- they’ll take them from your hands and drop it into a pail without a thought.
If you’re facing some serious pool time, the last thing you want is to pile on concealer, foundation, and then have it all melt off as soon as you get a few moments in the sun. Stay put-together with a nude lip balm or gloss (this is Lady Gaga’s MAC Viva Glam Lip Glass- discontinued now), a spritz of Tresemme on your tresses for easy going waves after you’ve taken it out of a bun; I find it’s the perfect mix between sticky and smooth, with a delicious soft scent and amazing hold. The Maybelline Dream Bouncy (mine is in 70 HOT TAMALE) steps in for my usual powder blush for blendable, mousse-like color that stays throughout the day with the help of Givenchy Mister Mat Primer- which will ultimately keep everything on your face in place. Who cares if you want to rock cat eye liquid liner or shimmer shadow at the beach? That’s your perogrative! The silicone based formula glides on smooth and the smallest bit goes a long, long way. No amount of makeup will mask the effects of heat though, and a misting of Evian Brumisateur will give you instant relief with pH balanced water small enough to tote to the pool.
Now go forth: and remember that it’s not just about the destination or how you look when you get there, but how you feel during the journey, what it teaches you, and what you can give and take away from it.
What are your travel necessities?