Lithuania and beyond – with only a backpack?
One of Aunty’s favorite daughters is off to Lithuania for an entrepreneur camp (all expenses paid except for getting there). After the 4 day camp, she plans to join groups that feed and house for labor during the day, and then backpack across Europe with a friend for a few months. A real adventure, almost like Bilbo Baggins without dragons and dwarfs.
Some tips from friends include ALWAYS saying “Bon jour” when entering a business in Paris, and bringing your own bandaids because they are terribly expensive in Europe ($10 for a small pack). Bring postcards from Hawaii to show off, since Hawaii is so foreign to foreigners and other tourists.
Make copies of your passport, credit cards, travel docs and give them to someone at home. Keep a copy in your luggage. If your documents get lost or stolen, you will be able to retrieve the information to show at the American Embassy.
Aunty’s own travel tips included what to pack, though being limited to a backpack made most of the items moot. Aunty does NOT plan to travel with only a backpack, and life in the senior lane requires comfort and leisure.
Here are Aunty’s travel packing tips copied and pasted:
Aunty is a late packer for flights – which is a very bad habit. Minutes before leaving the house for the airport finds me scrambling for last minute things to take, and I invariably forget something that I need, and thus have made a list of things to pack. Aunty’s carryon bag is always ready to go – just needing last minute additions like makeup, charging cords, address book, cereal, snack. Here’s Aunty’s packing list:
For the carryon bag
- Toiletries such as toothbrush, small toothpaste, makeup, shower cap, deodorant, tweezers, nail file (small ones pass the TSA inspections).
- A folding fan – just in case the terminal, airplane, room, etc. gets hot and stuffy – you will be glad you have this little portable tool. Aunty usually keeps a fan in her purse (Aunty has a big bag).
- Makeup stuff, sunscreen, moisturizer, vaseline (if you get real dried up), eye drops,
- Headsets (though Hawaiian Airlines and others do provide free headsets now, and you pay to watch on your own individual screen)
- iPad, iPod or something to play with or read or do
- Socks in case your feet get cold, jacket or scarf. Aunty brings a 45”x60” piece of rayon or polyester fabric to act as a blanket because sometimes the airline blankets feel and smell yucky. (note: Hawaiian Airlines now does not provide pillows and blankets so if you do get chilled on flights, bring something to keep warm.)
- A set of plastic cutlery like knife and fork that comes packaged in bentos (in case you need eating utensils in the hotel), disposable chopsticks.
- Instant coffee packs so you can have a fast cup of coffee with just a cup of hot water. Aunty packs either Nescafe that already comes with cream (from San Francisco), or some Vietnamese coffee packs (from Chinatown).
- Small ziplock bag of cereal. A cup of coffee and a bowl of cereal is Aunty’s breakfast, every day, for the last 30 years. It makes for a very easy start of the day.
- Jewelry and accessories that coordinate with outfits. Just bring what you will wear.
- Rubber slippers – can be used to walk around in your hotel room or when going to the spa.
- One set of undies – just in case your luggage gets lost, at least you have one clean one.
- Folded up extra plastic bags. Aunty also has her “Tokyo” bag – a folded vinyl bag that can open up and act as an extra suitcase in case you bought so much stuff that you need another suitcase
- Essentials: charging cords for phones, computers, iPads, cameras (Aunty sticks them in a zippered funky cosmetic case and when I keep it in my carryon bag even if empty so when I see it when packing, I remember to put all those essential cords in it before leaving.)
- Address book, my little notebook of all my user names and passwords if I plan to use the computer, your laptop or iPad if you are like Aunty and have to log in and do computering.
- 1 empty water bottle with cover. After you pass TSA, you can then fill up your water bottle so you have water when you want on the plane. Sometimes the water bottle might “sweat”, so a bottle wrap might be a good idea to keep the bottle insulated.
- Blow up things like pillows for the back, neck, etc. Whatever will make you comfy. Because they are blowup, they don’t take up a lot of space in your bag.
- Snack for the plane – I love to take Manabu musubis – those perfectly salted rice balls are fantastic ambassadors of good will – I always bring extra to share with seat mates and/or the nice flight attendants on Hawaiian Air.
- Maps of the place that you are going to. Having a compass also helps since the Mainland use directions such as north, south, east, west – unlike our Hawaiian directional navigations of mauka (mountain), makai (ocean), Ewa, Diamond Head.
In your purse (bring a big one)
- Men might think that we women have bags that are too big, but we can be lifesavers with our big bags when the little needs come up. I usually empty out my regular handbag and pull out the stuff I usually use like my wallet (only take 1 or 2 credit cards that you will use), lipstick, cell phone, pens, business cards, pills, camera, bandaids, mad money (because when traveling we should be a bit mad and spend a bit foolishly, imo).
- Your “drugs” such as medications, vitamins, etc. Aunty brings a plastic pill box with 7 days worth of compartments, each with my daily dose of Strontium, Super Food, and Intestinal Correctional Formula 1 (I know, I know, too much information…)
- Reading glasses. If you have bifocal glasses, bring a pair of reading glasses to make movie viewing easier on the personal screens because of the angle of the screen otherwise you will have to lift your chin and watch – which is a drag, or you can wear your bifocals upside down and look weird.
- Aspirin/Advil, whatever you think you will need just in case.
- Li Hing Mui or ginger for air sickness and also because it tastes good. Chewing gum and hard candy are good too.
- Sunglasses, watch, voice recorder (in case you have a great idea or a memo to remember), notebook, pen.
For your Checked in baggage
- 1 set of clothes per day or event, pack fewer bottoms than tops and try to coordinate so they mix and match. If Aunty packs too lightly – then Aunty has a good excuse to go shopping for clothes at our destination (poor Aunty, lol!)
- Undies – tops and bottoms.
- 1 bathing suit if you plan to go to the spa and enjoy the jacuzzi/steam room/etc.
- A hat for protection from the sun. Uncle likes to wear a baseball cap on the airplane – keeps his eyes shaded and protected from the air flow from the vents.
- Sleeping and/or comfortable clothes while in hotel room (Aunty must admit this is what I always forget.) I call these my bodobodo clothes that I normally wear around the house.
- Shoes and extra socks – make sure you bring comfortable practical shoes or sandals
- A bottle of unopened water, wrapped in a towel and sealed in a plastic bag. This is for the first day at the hotel before you get to a store to buy water – otherwise you will probably pay for the hotel room bottle of water which is rather pricey.
- Your gifts from Hawaii to the people you will visit. Aunty always packs little treats from Hawaii to give to the hotel desk clerk, taxi driver, maid. It makes them happy and that is always good karma. Mele Macs by Island Princess are round balls of exquisite delight and always welcome. Remember to take these out and put in your bag after retrieving your luggage from the carousel so it is ready to give from the start.
- Garlic pepper dried ahi poke from Yama’s, pulehu tako, pipikaula, poi, pancake taro mix. Never go empty handed when visiting – that is one local rule. Aunty uses ice packs to keep the perishables cold (frozen poi also acts as an ice pack) and wraps the entire bag in newspapers, or paper bags, then in plastic (or cooler bag) and puts it in a corner in the suitcase. The baggage area of the plane gets super cold during the flight, like being in a refrigerator, and so your food arrives safe and still chilled.
- Aunty just learned another great tip for keeping things such as flower leis cool if carrying them on the plane – instead of using cold packs (which might be disallowed) – use bags of frozen vegetables! Mahalo to Sly of Le Flowers on King Street for that great and useful tip!
Here is what Aunty does to make sure her stuff doesn’t get smashed or banged up in the suitcase. Put one of those cardboard crates that Costco has for packing our purchases at the checkout into your suitcase. Get a box that fits the depth of the suitcase as high as possible and still be able to zip the case closed. This will really strengthen the walls of the suitcase. Aunty has brought back cookies from Trader Joes intact and unsmashed because they go right next to the box walls and the middle is packed with the less fragile stuff such as clothing, shoes, etc.