As you all know, I spend some time each year overseas working on designs and sourcing the most divine organic cotton and linen, scouring markets for the prettiest silk and lace. I spend a lot of time and energy finding embellishments, vintage fabrics and the cutest boho trims, as well as working with tailors and seamstresses to bring my designs to life. I've become something of a seasoned traveller over the years; it's second nature, as natural as breathing. I love the colour and the thrill of sourcing materials, but I also love the locals, the street food and the little back alleys, and of course the cute kittens! So many people ask me advice on what to pack or how to feel comfortable when I travel... so here are my Top Tips for Traveling - Sea Gypsy Style!
1. LESS is definitely MORE....for sure.
I never regret packing too little ...never, but almost always regret packing too much. When I travel I like to move around, and lugging a huge suitcase or back pack can be such a struggle. I love packing light – it’s very freeing! Over the years I’ve learned not to stress too much about the little things, and I have really streamlined my packing list. You can pretty much get anything you need in most countries these days and often way cheaper than in Oz, So why break your back carrying all that stuff?
One rule I try to live by is no more than 2 of anything if going to a hot country. It’s so easy to wash in the sink and clothing dries overnight. Always pack a washing line; a length of plastic rope to hang across a room or on a balcony. and don't forget the pegs! So that’s two pairs of undies (or pack the old horrible ones and chuck them as you go), two light dresses, two bottoms, light pants or shorts (at least one pair of longs as it's great for preventing mozzie attacks in the evenings). I often bring white as mozzies hate white and I couldn't care less if it gets less white-looking. It can always go in the dye pot when I get home! Most of the clothing I make is designed to be scrunched, so it’s perfect for traveling – very suitcase friendly and great to mix and match.
One super light wool pashmina lives at the bottom of the bag for those freezing flights, trains or broken air con in rooms. This can be used when needing to look respectful whilst visiting temples, too. I always bring a cute sarong to lay across the bed to make it feel homey or to wear as a wrap, use as a towel or wear on the beach… but mostly a security blanket for those cheapo rooms that don't provide a top sheet.
Lugging shoes is a pain, as are sore feet...so yeah bring the cute Birkenstocks but I have learned the hard way that good foot support is critical for happiness. If you are spending a day exploring, whether it’s a temple, the rainforest or the markets and back alleys, then good walking shoes / sandals are a must. Ugly as they may be, the absolute best shoes I have for back street wandering are my Keens. I adore them and don't care if I look like every other traveller... after all, that is what I am there to do: travel.
Even though I always pack light, I ALWAYS bring a spare set of clothes in my carry-on bag in case my luggage gets lost, along with my wool pashmina, a notepad and pen to record any sudden bursts of inspiration and a paperback book to read on the long journey.
2.Stuff the Make Up
I’m serious. It melts off anyway. I bring coconut oil that can be used for a myriad of things, oil pulling, moisturiser, anti-frizz or keeping the plaits at bay. So its toothbrush, travel size organic shampoo and conditioner (as I hate chemist brands), my soap container with a small natural soap which can be used for washing clothes too, and a small pot of coconut oil. A travel sized Tangle Teaser hair brush - not only the best ever hair brush invented that doesn't make your hair frizz but also so small and compact. A few comfy hair bands for the above mentioned plaits and I couldn't stand not having at least 2 flower clips that can be used to create a bazillion styles, keep your hair up and add to the tropical ambiance.
I bring a small bottle of Tea Tree oil for cuts or mozzie bites. I usually don't bring any meds as the local Chemist have everything you need at the cheapest ever price and if I do get sick...it's their kind of sick and the local chemist knows exactly how to get me back on track.
3.Travel Documents & Money
A photo copy of your passport and itinerary...not kept with your passport.
At least 2 Credit/travel Cards kept separately, one in your wallet and one in your back pack or suitcase (just in case) and I like to split my money too....(just in case). Best card to get....after so many years and so much research is NOT a travel card...they are rip offs....Citibank is the only international card that doesn't double dip, so yeah you pay the fee in local currency when withdrawing money but you won't be slammed at home with the $15 bank fees. Also take out the maximum amount of cash so you are not always paying the withdrawal fee time and time again. Never exchange at the airport before leaving, rates are rubbish.
Let your banks know that you are travelling because they often put a stop on your card due to security reasons if they see a withdrawal from overseas. Maybe even put your daily limit.
4. Live like a local
When looking for a place to stay, hotels further away from the man tourist areas will offer a more authentic experience, as well as save you money. I much prefer being further out than being smack bang in the middle with all the other tourists. It’s quieter, and often much friendlier, and I am free to do things at my own pace.
No matter where you go or who you meet, always be polite...you are a visitor in their country and they are doing their best to speak English. Treat others as you wish to be treated; show a little kindness and it will be returned to you. I always make great connections with the people I meet when I am traveling, some only for a few moments, some for many years. I often return to the same areas and and it is wonderful to rekindle those connections, and to be remembered fondly.
When it comes to food, it’s always a good idea to avoid the tourist traps and eat where the locals eat. Street food is often cleaner than restaurants where you can’t see the kitchen. First, you should know that the best street food vendors usually specialise in one dish. The best part is that you see them prepare it in front of you. If you haven’t seen them cook it – don’t eat it! Only eat HOT fried food. Be adventurous and explore beyond cities into the fringes and back alleys, where places specialising in particular cuisines can often be found.
5. Most of all, get out there and have fun!
Plan ahead, but not too much. Allow a little room for a change of plan should a serendipitous notion enter your head. Be free to change your mind, go with the flow and experience everything that your chosen destination has to offer.
Don't be afraid... The world is a wonderful place.
Hugs, Daniella xx