Tag Archives: #travelnoire

Does packing light have to = looking basic? 10 days in Europe: a backpack & tote bag

You know what I hate about a lot of these travel blogs? They appeal to people that think flats & tanks tops are appropriate “dressy” clothes for going out. The 2-shoe rule for carry-on bags I see regurgitated over and over drives me nuts. Any trip, even with just one carry-on, I always have (1) pair of running shoes, (2) pair of loafers and (3) a pair of high heels.

This trip was 8 days of exploring & 2 days of transit, broken down into:

Days 1 & 2: En route — extended layover in the UK

Day 3: Amsterdam pt 1

Day 4: Prague

Days 5 – 6: Paris

Days 7-10: Amsterdam pt 2: tulip festival & more!

My packing List:

Quick Summary: 2 pants, 1 skirt, 1 dress, 7 tops AND… OMG, 3 pairs of shoes! Flats, Sneakers & Heels.

*If you’re not fancy, the number of tops can be cut down to 4. Two worn on plane, Two packed.

In Detail:


Front pocket: liquids bag, foldable tote bag, mini flat iron, travel antibacterial wipes

2nd pocket: 2 pairs of men’s socks, water bag/ plastic bag flask

IMG_4159 2

3rd pocket: 1 pair of chinos (Rolled & Banded with rubber bands), 1 thin skirt (R&B), 1 LittleBlackDress (R&B), tiny travel towel

Main compartment: heels & flats


Laptop space in main compartment: compression bag of 3 lgslv shirts, 1 turtleneck & 2 sweaters  [each day 1 sweater/turtleneck with lgslv shirt underneath]

Update:  Wanted more flexibility in storage arrangement, so i R&Bd the tops & ditched the compression bag [both methods work equally]


On top of  shoes & space saver bag: Lingerie Bag

Mini Mesh zip pocket: tampons, bar soap, face scrub brush, shower cap

2 small side pockets: 1 specialty shirt, 1 gator tank for running

—2 large binder clips, clipped anywhere — can be used to hang scarf as privacy in hostel & hold up cords

Tote Bag:

*All items packed in my Tote can fit in a much smaller bag for extra-light travel. Also, I’m bringing a large plastic Target  bag to wrap my purse in when I leave them w/hostel front desk for the day & will tie plastic bag to my backpack ( I carry a small clutch & foldable grocery bag through the day) — my purse is Coach so I don’t want to attract any potential thieves.

  • 1 light running jacket (R&B)
  • ziploc sandwich bag: eyebrow kit, liquid eyeliner, blending sponge, eyeshadow mini palette & brushes, powder foundation & brush
  • ziploc bag: mints, antacid, aspirin, gum, bobby pins, emery board
  • passport, USB (with backup info), 1 packet of premixed instant coffee
  • hairbrush/comb
  • ziploc bag: necklaces/extra watch
  • ziploc bag: cords & batteries
  • snacks & extra ziploc bags
  • Champagne large & lightweight scarf(wide & long enough to be wrapped around your body like a towel / worn as a skirt)
  • **a MacBook Air can fit in purse but was not brought on this trip

-smartphone tripod (carry bag hooked onto outside of purse or placed inside)

Wear On Plane:

Liquids bag (front pocket of backpack) – basically all hair products #naturalhairproblems: 


  • .3 ml bottle of hair serum (cut & taped label from original bottle)
  • 3fl oz bottle of conditioner
  • .3 ml bottle of lotion (I refilled one from a hotel with cocoa butter)
  • travel-sized hair spray
  • mini squeeze bottle of hair oil / (can be used for sustain oil or dry shimmer body oil)
  • Heat Protectant (for blowdrying/flat ironing)
  • 25ml spray bottle for liquid foundation (yes, it works like a pump bottle) [pink] & mouthwash [green]
  • .3 ml plastic balm jar/container for solid, whipped shea butter [to carry around in my day clutch as a lotion substitute]
  • .3ml plastic balm jar of toothpaste
  • Mini Shampoo
  • “poo” cover-up spray
  • 25ml spray bottle for liquid makeup primer
  • travel hand sanitizer spray stick
  • travel sized hair gel OR other hair styling product of choice

*Used a $20 DYMO label maker to keep everything labeled

*The Dollar Tree & The Container Store are some of the best places for bottles – TCS is really good for special sizes that you don’t want to buy in bulk online

Lingerie Bag:

Underwear, 2 camisoles (R&B), 1 pair of compression pants (R&B), leggings (for bed) & pantyhose

Compression bag: 3 long slv (black, gray & olive), 2 short SLV/tank (Gator shirt, Maroon sleeveless faux mock neck)


  • Stick to neutral colors & fabrics —> simple & chic
  • Hand wash some light items; do laundry 1x — I’ll do mine Paris since it’s the midpoint
  • Items in packing bag were laid flat & folded once.
  • Items in other pockets/nooks/crannies, rolled & wrapped with a rubber band (R&B).
  • I tried a balm jar before w/liquid foundation but too much foundation ran out and made the jar hard to open, so now I only use spray bottles.
  • In hostels, I dry with mini-towel, but wrap scarf around body if not able to dress immediately. Scarf is also used as a coverup for religious sites & the beach.
  • For colder climates, if a coat is necessary, wear it on the plane. If not, just layer multiple shirts & sweaters — saves space by avoiding bulky items.

Will update with photos of my outfits after the trip! Happy packing. 🙂

Hiking in Hebei – Cangyan Mount 苍岩山

Shijiazhuang (石家庄) is the capital of Hebei province, a province neighboring Beijing city & a large contributer to the influx of migrants into the city. A second – tier city,  at present there isn’t a whole lot to do which would attract a foreign visitor to stay for a week, however if you’re in Beijing, this is a nice offering for a day trip of hiking in one of the Buddhist holy mountains.

Cangyan Mountain 苍岩山

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This 1039.6 meter mountain, takes about 2 hours to ascend and has been featured in director Lee Ann’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (WoHu CanLong 卧虎藏龙), and the Karate Kid. If not able to climb, a lift is available but the beginning point of the lift is about 20 minutes further up the road from where the tour bus will drop you off. Hiking is recommended. It’s not a very steep mountain and you will miss most of the sites if you take the lift up.

Known for its three Buddhist temples, with the most famous being Fortune Celebration Temple (福庆寺) because it’s situated in the direct center of the mountain, this is definitely a place worth taking a day for.

How to get there:

Tour bus leaves from Shijiazhuang XiWang Bus Station (石家庄 西王 客运站 shijiazhuang xiwang keyun zhan)

The bus station is quite far from the Shijiazhuang West Station (the station coming from Beijing), so my friend and I took Bus 1 then transferred to bus 314 (can also take 9). Get off at XiWang Zhan (西王站)。Cross the street and locate the red sign of bus station, next to ICBC.

At the station, you can purchase both a Round-trip bus ticket for 48 元, and a cangyan  mountain entrance ticket for an additional 65 元, saving you 5 元 off the gate’s on-site purchase entry fee.

At this point, you can board the bus (Departures: starting from 8:40am every 30 minutes until 5:30pm. Returns: last bus leaves at 7pm – check with bus attendant. Times are also dependent on number of passengers ). Check your ticket and match it to the bus number. About a 2 hour ride.


The bus attendant will ask you for a phone number for contact, and will also inform you of your assigned departure time. If you have a chinese phone number, be aware that China Unicom does not have good reception in the mountains.



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