15 Things You Should Travel With (that you might not realize)

The following is a list I composed of absolutely necessary items that we’ve traveled with during the past year + of our around the world trip. It is possible to do things differently but I find that our way allows us to travel lighter and thus more comfortably (and cheaper because we can fly any airlines with just our carry on). Everything pictured is what we actually used!

1. The Perfect Backpack
Plan on researching these details a year to 6 months before you leave on your trip! Height and weight play a factor in which bag you will be lugging on your back. The waist and chest strap on my Osprey Farpoint 40 S/M really helped to take the weight strain off of my back/shoulders. I literally could not imagine traveling any other way after using this bag! Kenny used the same backpack but in the M/L size which adds an extra 2L of space, and it was still inconspicuous enough not to make us look like “backpackers”!


2. Travel Socks
Travel socks will be made to wick moisture and odors, eliminating the need to wash them after every use. You may be able to go a week or two before switching them out which means you don’t need to carry so many pairs. I personally love the Smarwool brand socks and started with 3 or 4 pairs. As we near the end of our journey in Asia I currently have 3 socks total. Sad but I will totally be rebuying these!


3. Travel Underwear
Same idea as the socks but with underwear. Yes, it sounds weird and it may feel weird but traveling with 4 or 5 pairs of travel underwear versus a couple weeks worth of regular underwear makes a huge difference in space. Plus, this leaves more room in your bag for the rest of your absolutely necessary items, and your back will thank you! Kenny and I are all about comfort and ease, making traveling easier and more enjoyable along the way. I tried the Exoficcio and Patagonia brand underwear for the past year. I preferred the material of the Patagonia but both worked very well! Shopping online there seems to be more style options than what they will have stocked in store, but if you do head into an R.E.I. or Patagonia you can get a better idea of sizing before ordering from Amazon etc.


4. Unlocked Cell Phone
Don’t plan on doing this the week you leave for your trip. Talk to your cell phone provider now to see what steps must be done in order to unlock it. After verifying your information, you may need to finish the payments on the cell phone itself before the company will concur. It may be easier to unlock and old phone which no longer has service attached to it and less of a worry while you travel. This way no matter where you happen to be, purchasing that countries’ SIM card will allow you to have a connection to the world (and maps with directions to your next adventure).

5. No Fee Debit Card
Fortunately or unfortunately many parts of the world still operate on cash only. Even in high tech societies like Japan, cash is king. Having a debit card that will not charge you those pesky withdrawal fees will save you a nice chunk of change. Plan to get this account set up before you leave, as signing up from another country may be difficult and require an in person visit to a branch if you attempt to do it anyways (I know because it happened to us, HAH!). You can still sign up online though! I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend the Charles Schwab debit card — The way it works is that you can go to any ATM and take out money. It will still warn you about fees. The charges for that transaction will still show up on your account but at the end of the month it all gets reimbursed! You don’t pay a dime!

6. Packing Cube
Know what will make your life easier. I didn’t realize it at the time but humored my bf by using it for my clothes. It turned out to be a semi structured medium sized packing cube that fit all of my clothes. I repeat, ALL of my clothes. Somehow this magical cube fits more in it than me folding things directly into my backpack or trying the “rolling” method. I don’t know how but — it. just. works. I used the largest sized black one by Eagle Creek and would not go without it.


7. Day Pack/Purse
Obviously you will not be lugging your awesome travel backpack everywhere so have a nice sized day pack to take on, well, day trips whatever you might be doing. My purse was a bit larger than I’d normally carry but it worked out to be able to hold my cell phone, camera, snacks, a water bottle, etc. I spent $4.99 on my second travel purse, as I did not want anything eye catching going through Central America. The other quality that I got this for was the material, while faux leather was extremely foldable so I could squish it into my backpack no matter how full that already was and have my hands free. Kenny used the Patagonia Atom Sling which also worked out great and was utilized on the daily!


8. Titanium Spork
You never know when or where you will be chowing down! If you get hangry like me, it doesn’t hurt to have this dual utensil on hand. The titanium makes it super lightweight to always have around, whether on a long bus ride, in the middle of nowhere hiking, or buying food from a convenience store.


9. Credit Card –
Duh! Why worry when you travel? After every trip from Europe I would be notified that I needed a new debit card because of this or that security threat. If you’re planning on traveling for an entire year or longer it may be difficult to have your new card sent out and be able to safely retrieve it wherever you may be. The added bonus of the credit card is that you hopefully choose one that gives you added points that can be redeemed for air miles or other travel perks. I would plan on signing up for these about 6-9 months before your trip so that you have ample time to meet the requirements for the signup bonus and you can then decide the best way to enjoy those perks while you are out and about traveling the world. While looking up flights you may notice that they don’t make much sense. A long international flight may be cheaper than a hop to one country over, or by using rewards a really big trip could be just $100 plus 15,000 miles.


10. Travel Towel
While many places we stayed provided towels there were some that did not and it would’ve been a shame not to have showered only for the fact of not having a towel! These are not huge fluffy towels that we know and love, but absorbent shammies that also wick moisture and dry fairly quickly. They can also be used as a picnic blanket, sheet, pillow… etc!


11. 64 GB SD memory card!
I highly recommend getting a large one instead of multiple smaller ones. I had one for my camera and never worried about having to delete pics to make more room for others (although we did travel with our laptop). It was really nice to save the memory card and have access to all of our photos and video whenever I needed to. Plus it is less little items to keep track of AKA misplace and lose.


12. Lightweight Waterproof Jacket
I’m always running a bit colder than everyone else so having a lightweight jacket is always useful whether walking around town or in an airplane. I searched for a waterproof jacket as we were about to leave for SE Asia and found one that rolled up into its pockets and could fit in just about anything (including my purse).


13. Combination lock for my backpack –
I started with three (one for each set of zippers on my backpack) but really only needed one that would loop through all of the zipper pulls. It was more peace of mind if I had to leave my backpack (containing everything I would be traveling with).


14. An All Purpose Soap
While I still had my shampoo and separate face soap it was nice to have one bar that could do it all and easily go through any airport security. I’m talking about the Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps which you can pick up at any Target or health foods store. They are mild soaps which can be used for the body, face, hair, hands… whatever. I prefer the almond or peppermint smell the best, but there are many too choose from 🙂 We also carried a mini bottle of the liquid soap as well, it was that good!


15. Power Bank (external battery charger)
We used this one by Anker — It was great for anytime we’d be away from our home base as it charges any of your electronic gadgets and will allow you to have about a weeks worth of charges without an electrical outlet! It’s high speed, not too heavy and keeps you connected to the world. It also has two ports so you can charge multiple devices at one time. Phew!



16. Travel with a Partner!
The most cost effective way I know to travel is with someone! This works well for safety of course, but consider splitting food costs, taxi rides, air bnb’s…! Plus you’ll always have someone to help you photograph your adventures!


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Reviving the Portland Food List

< P O R T L A N D > [ 19 Left ]

…made some progress but still have some things to look forward to as there are some new places that opened up in the past year!

1. Apizza Scholls
2. Bamboo Sushi
3. Beast
4. Bete-Lukas
5. Biwa
6. Broder
7. Chez Machin
8. Cocotte
9. Double Dragon
10. Egyptian Food Cart
11. Fireside
12. Fogo de Chao
13. Good Taste
14. Kachka
15. Ken’s Artisan Pizza
16. Le Happy
17. Le Pigeon
18. Little Bird
19. Lucky Strike
20. Pok Pok
21. Portland City Grill
22. Roe
23. Screen Door
24. Sok Sab Bai
25. Tanuki
26. TarBoush
27. Wong’s King
28. Yakuza
29. Yama Sushi
30. Yuzu
31. Andina
32. Ataula
33. Blue Star: Coffee Coconut Cheesecake Donut
34. Bollywood Cafe
35. Daily Cafe
36. HK Cafe (dim sum)
37. Imperial
38. Khao San
39. Lang Baan
40. Lardo
41. Luc Lac
42. Marrakesh
43. Nostrana
44. OSO Market
45. OX
46. Piazza Italia
47. Matador
48. Teote
49. Toro Bravo
50. Ringside

< H O N O R A B L E M E N T I O N S >
51. Ground Kontrol (haha)
52. Bunk Sandwhiches
53. Mother’s Bistro
54. Hat Yai
55. Portland City Grill
56. Urban Farmer
57. Montage
58. Departure
59. Noraneko Ramen
60. Boke Bowl
61. Por Que No
62. Kukai Ramen
63. Yuzu
64. Saucebox
65. Saburo’s
66. Cha Cha Cha
67. Khao San
68. Whiskey Soda Lounge
69. Lucky Strike RIP
70. Smallwares RIP
71. Gruner RIP

< NEW >

1. Maurice (not new but… new to the list)
2. Kayo’s Ramen Bar
3. Aviary
4. Oba!

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Black Canyon to Sutton Mtn. & the Painted Hills

We heard about an easy hike about 5 miles in total up to Sutton Mountain — It’s walking on an old “Jeep trail” that is fairly flat and calm. After driving through Mitchell and stopping for some gas we were pretty quickly at the parking spot. We saw some other hikers (they were decked out with backpacks and hiking poles — from Bend) who were also planning on hiking to the top of Sutton Mountain. They weren’t exactly sure which way the trails were either and knew that it was kind of something you’d find and figure out along the way. We started off ahead of them but quickly saw there was no path really and let them take the lead so we could follow. Our Elsa decided to hurry up alongside them but once we got her back we actually lost sight of them and had no idea which way to go. We picked a mountaintop and headed in that direction, which was a lot of fun. Steep, uphill fun!






WE MADE IT! On the way down I saw a slithering snake and I didn’t look long enough to figure out what kind it was but I did let out a scream. Shortly after that Kenny saw a coiled rattlesnake which we made sure to avoid with the doggy. The grass was very tall so it was hard to see exactly what was lurking. Thankfully we made it down pretty easily and with no more snake sightings despite how brushy and steep it was!


We passed this on the way to John Day River and the Painted Hills… Snake #3. Thankfully this one was dead —


We happened to go out on such a nice day — The sun was shining with clear skies but it wasn’t too hot! Thankfully this is May and not quite summer so it was perfectly picturesque. There were definitely some tourists out, so many in contrast to where we had just hiked from which was basically deserted.




After we returned home, (think we made it back around 5 pm after stopping in Prineville for some dinner) we read again about getting to the Mt. Sutton hike. Apparently there was a gate and no markings of a parking lot so all 7 of us trying to hike Sutton were in the WRONG PLACE! We’re planning on going out again in search of this mysterious place thinking the actual hike will be a lot easier than what we did today.

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Yayoi Kusama: My Eternal Soul

The exhibit being held at The National Art Center in Roppongi goes on till May 22, 2017! We were so lucky to be there while this was still in Tokyo and had the perfect day at the museum. It cost 1600 yen which is about $14 and is soo worth it for such an extensive exhibition, and I do not mind supporting the museums that bring us these amazing shows. The first time I experienced a Yayoi Kusama installation was similar to the one pictured below, except it was in Copenhagen, Denmark at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. They had a set up in a small room which only four people were allowed to experience the Light of the Gleaming Souls at a time. This time they had a path set up so that viewers could walk through and out. Learning about Kusama’s childhood and seeing her early works was really fascinating — She strives to make art that promotes togetherness and unity which I also enjoyed from her, considering that she struggles with depression and actually lives in a mental institution. Check out my video below to see our experience!



Check out more of my pictures from the exhibit on my Instagram @nikkibrittain

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Chanel S/S 2017 Mini Flap

I have been loving the latest collections from Chanel recently. My favorite color is gold, closely followed by iridescent and then turquoise, so when I saw the new mini flap while I was in Hong Kong I could not believe it! The other bags the SA brought out were mini squares which paled in comparison to the glimmering iridescence of the one below! (There was a primary blue caviar, primary blue calfskin, pastel yellow chevron patent leather, black chevron patent, and caviar red chevron). The ones that have been catching my eye are a metallic lambskin which gives it an ultra shine that changes colors and is kind of hard to capture in one photo! I call it a mood ring mermaid bag — lol… It will match everything, right? I do usually wear neutral colors although I love crazy combinations so I think this little purse could be a great pop of color and interest to any ensemble.

My unboxing video to be uploaded soon and pics of possible outfits in an upcoming post 🙂





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