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The Careful Art of the Capsule Wardrobe

Despite all of my talk last week about all of the beautiful midi skirts and satchel bags and kitten heels that I would love to throw in my suitcase, I am a slightly fanatic follower of the capsule wardrobe system.

My favourite and equally, most despised part of preparing for my travels is definitely putting together my travel wardrobe. As in, a few carefully selected items of clothing that all mix-and-match together perfectly. And figuring out what stays and what goes is always much easier if I sit down and think about all of my available outfit options – if something doesn’t go with anything else, it stays behind, stored away in my Dad’s spare room. No, I’ll never be nomadic in the sense that I own nothing but the contents of my suitcase. I love books, and I love clothes, and ridiculous as it is to buy clothing and books only to leave them to gather dust while I’m off on my adventures, I can’t help myself. I try to be strict about clothes shopping though. At least, I try to limit myself to a general rule of timeless pieces that aren’t going to go out of fashion within a few months. I tell myself that that’s a reasonable solution, anyway. Books can be read at any time, and I will one day – a few always join me on my travels, and I churn through them at lightning speed when I return home. You should see the Olympic-speed page turning on Christmas day. It’s impressive, if I say so myself.

I always pack more tops than bottoms. I think everyone does, right? A pair of trousers – I rarely jeans because they’re so heavy and slow to dry – shorts, a skirt or two and a few dresses. Mostly light tops, a jumper, a light coat. For shoes, I take a pair for rainy weather – a pair of waterproof, quality-over-quantity brogues – something a bit dressier but also so easily casual – black ballet pumps – and sandals.

The result is endless possibilities… well, I say endless. At least 21. 40+ if on a chilly evening that requires a cardigan or jumper. I’ve met girls who’s backpacks are about as tall as they are, who are carrying about 50 dresses, 20 skirts, 20 pairs of jeans and tops… and then I walk around, slightly smug, in a different outfit a day for at least the first three weeks of my travels, with a tiny case that doesn’t need checking in, that I can lift into the overhead locker all by myself (not that I ever decline any kind offers of help… who says chivalry is dead?), I have room to shop, and most of all, I can skip around from country to country without snapping my spine under the weight when it’s time to move on.

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No doubt I could cut it down further – cut down on tops, limit myself to one skirt, but I find that if I’m travelling for more than a few weeks, I really don’t want to be too strict with myself, even if there is a very likely chance that I will find myself lured into clothes stores and markets abroad… I am pathetic enough that I find myself missing certain dresses or pairs of shoes, so now if it’s one of my favourites, I take it with me. Even if it is a bit cumbersome – like the pink skirt that is made from about 1000 layers of tulle, but it’s my favourite.

And yes, my suitcase also matches my wardrobe. Happy accident. Red suitcase, red handbag, neutral wardrobe. It just works. The red dress that has recently become a favourite is questionable though, I’ll admit. Red on red on red on red? Too much red… I think I’ll have to save that to days when my suitcase is tucked away in a hostel, warm enough that the red cardigan is not necessary…

There’s always that one item of clothing that doesn’t quite merge as perfectly as the rest.

A great site for minimalistic-but-fashionable packing tips here.

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Wanderer

The Pains of Restless Soul Syndrome

yup      and currently my spirit has been home too long for the liking…

Hello, my name is Emma and I have R.S.S. As in, Restless Soul Syndrome – yes, with capitals, because I think it should be recognised as an official condition. It drives me crazy. What’s that saying about… you can have it all, but not at the same time? Or something like that. That is my life. There’s two sides of me; the crazy, spontaneous-trip taking, digitally nomadic, wandering hobo creative travel nut, and the somewhat sensible, but equally ambitious, city-loving Fashion photographer. Part of me wants to spend the rest of my days (or the next several years, at least) seeing every inch, documenting every moment, building up this blog and making a freelance, online living, on the road. The other side of me wants a cute little apartment in London, or Paris, or somewhere in Italy, and to build up an amazing wardrobe and focus on getting my portfolio into the big fashion magazines.

When I’m travelling, I feel guilty for not devoting 100% of my time to work, even though I still am working (you know, about 50% of the time), so then I come home, as I did at Christmas, to focus primarily on work, sneaking away only for a few days here and there, and yet I find myself still feeling guilty. Guilty for confining myself to one place, to one office, one home, when there is so much of the world that I have not yet seen and so many things that I have not yet done! R.S.S is a contrary bastard.

I think it’s obvious that my ‘cure’ will be found in balancing out my needs out better. I’m still trying to become truly ‘digitally nomadic’ in my business. Too much of my work is still UK-based, and while popping to London frequently is great, and I adore it, I need to spread things further afield. I’ll live in London one day. That much is obvious to me. And Paris, and at least one Italian city. I’m just constantly torn between my impatience to move there now and my impatience to see every single country in the world. Yes, I’m only twenty-two. There’s plenty of time to do everything I want to do, but damn it, I wish it were possible to choose one thing that I want and temporarily switch every other desire off until I’ve finished with the first one.

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Wanderer

My 5 Travel Site Musts

The verdant limestone bluffs that form the Phi Phi Islands open at Wang Long, a famed dive site with submarine tunnels and caverns. Though hit hard by the December 2004 tsunami, the place has been cleared of debris, and diving is as popular as ever

At a glance, I have about 1050385 travel-related web pages listed in my web bookmarks. I’ve become weirdly OCD about organising my bookmarks, so I know exactly how to find just that exact website whose entire url name escapes me.

Still, out of those 1050385 bookmarked web pages, there are a select few that I use again and again, be it for booking my flights, finding a bed for the night, or reading about the adventures of others.

  1. Skyscanner. Let’s start with the most addictive, shall we? Skyscanner is simple enough: select the airport/city/country from which you wish to depart, choosing either a specific date or the month in which you will be flying, select where you’re flying to, and behold, a list of prices with various airlines. It’s a flight comparison website. What I find most addictive is the ‘fly anywhere’ option… I love browsing and seeing where I can jet off to. Many a spontaneous trip has been born from my Skyscanner addiction, I can tell you. Sure, it has a few hiccups – sometimes it will display an incorrect flight price, but generally it’s accurate. And you always find those mistakes before booking any flights, so no worries there.
  2. Couchsurfing. I have met so many lovely people through this website, many of whom I’m now fortunate enough to call my friends. Thanks to the freedom of modern day travel, I have friends in more countries than I have visited – often due to this website! This is the perfect website for if you’re short of cash, or, like me, you simply prefer to stay with locals when you’re travelling. It’s an online community designed to bring together ‘surfers’ – aka, the adventurous traveller, to you and me – with hosts, who will offer them a bed for the night, or if they can’t do that, their company, a drinking partner, a tour guide – whatever. Yes, there can be some safety concerns. I’ve heard them all from my loving but a tad over-protective friends. You know, warnings about lone young women staying with strange men, in a strange city, in a strange country with a strange language and no money. Blah blah blah. Honestly, as long as you’re careful, and you keep your creep-radar on full at all times, you’ll be fine. There are women hosts too, you know (if it does worry you).
  3. Seat61. While I love flying (a little too much, perhaps. I get such a rush from take off), I like to travel by train as often as possible. The views are nicer (and there are many more window seats, so it’s much less likely that I find myself wrestling with strangers over the best seat), the ride kinder on my ears, and it gives me a chance to say ‘ooo what a lovely little village… I think I’ll go and explore’. Somewhat adrenaline junkie I may be, but I am not about to jump out of a plane because ‘ooo, that mystery space of Earth 30,000ft (at a guess) below me looks pretty… I’m sure they won’t notice if I borrow a chute and just float on down there for a browse.’ This site is the creation of Mark Smith, ‘career railwayman’, who luckily saw a need to breakdown to us wanderlusters exactly how to get from any A to any B via train, from routes, approximate prices and timetables. Very handy!
  4. NomadicMatt. This guy is something of a budget travel king. His blog focuses a lot on money-saving tips, from how to get cheap flights and cruise tickets, how to choose the best insurance and credit cards, to how to build a successful travel blog of your own. While now days he has a base in NYC (though according to his blog he only spends a few weeks there at a time before jetting off again), he travelled constantly as a digital nomad from 2006 until New Year 2013. Six and a half years of travel!? I think he’s definitely earned his crown.
  5. BlaBlaCar. Again, for when I want to see the world pass me by – or I just want to nip to the next nearest city or a quaint nearby village with no public transport links. If people have planned a car journey, they can sell spare seats for a small fee. Tip: even if you think you’re travelling light, always message the driver to check that there is space for your luggage. Don’t just presume that they will have room for your matching LV luggage set – or your teeny tiny rugged canvas rucksack, if you’re me.

Honourable Mentions:

Finding the bare essentials:

Airbnb.
Hostelworld/Hostelbookers.
Warm Showers. <—-so useful when you’ve just stepped off a stuffy train/bus/boat after a day-long journey with no air-con, having spent the entire trip stuffed into a sweaty overweight stranger’s fat folds. Yes, such an event has happened to me. Yes, therapy is ongoing.

Money makes the world go round…

Global Work and Travel. A great site for finding work abroad; paid, voluntary, internships, etc.
‘7 digital nomads explain how they live, work and travel’ <—- very inspiring post, and links to several great blogs.
WWOOF. While it’s really useful that every country has it’s own WWOOF website, I find it a little annoying that each of those websites requires a seperate membership, and even more so that each membership ranges everywhere from £0 to £50. If you’re planning to ‘wwoof’ and travel across many borders, this can get quite pricey. Still, a great source for finding fruit picking/farm work if you’re looking to experience something different than museums and beaches.
Verbling. Teach English online.
’50 Travel Magazines that want to Publish your Writing’

Inspirational bloggers:

Adventurous Kate.
JacksGap.
The Odyssey Expedition.
The Runaway Guide.

A to B:

Hitchhikers.org 

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