Travel Like a Yogī, Part 2: PACKING HACKS

I believe I am a miracle worker. Here’s my proof:

In one carry-on suitcase and one personal item, I packed for nine weeks in India.

This was no backpacking trip. My small suitcase contained clothing and supplies for yoga teaching, formal dinners and snowy trekking, with temperatures from 105º to 20ºF.

Notable inclusions: a silk saree and gold sandals, 15 kurtas (modest Indian-style blouses), audio recording equipment, 36 pairs of cork Sarga massage balls, hiking boots, a pair of trekking poles and two months’ worth of Four Sigmatic reishi extract.

How did I get everything to fit?

Two solutions: KonMari-style folding and Aloha Collection zipper pouches.

While not every trip is as epic as the India adventure I just described, these two simple solutions have streamlined my packing for every single trip I take.

Let’s take a look.

Here’s a photo of KonMari’d clothing in my suitcase:


With this arrangement, I maximize space in my suitcase, no matter which suitcase I’m using. Also, I can see each item as soon as I open it up, which means I don’t have to unpack everything in order to find what I’m looking for.

(Also, this way, my suitcase effectively serves as a dresser, which is super helpful when there are no drawers or shelves in my room, as is the case in many Indian ashrams.)

There is a learning curve with KonMari folding. The first time I packed this way, I folded and refolded about three shirts and three pairs of pants before I got the hang of it. After that, I could consistently do it quickly. It’s totally worth the effort.

I learned the KonMari folding method by reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which I recommend highly. If you don’t want to read the whole book – it’s an easy read, but I get it, you’re busy – there are plenty of YouTube tutorials that focus specifically on the folding method.

If you prefer to roll your items, great, but I don’t like how rolling sometimes crumples one end of my garments. It’s the KonMari folding method for me. If you’re a fan of packing cubes, great, but I don’t like them because I have to change the size of what I’m folding to match the cube. 

Boom. Next.

Here’s a photo of happy, chubby Aloha Collection zipper pouches, ready to go:


There are some things I just don’t want to fold, like panties and socks (sorry, Marie Kondo), and there are other things that need corralling that literally can’t be folded, like contact lenses and 36 pairs of massage balls. For these items, I love my Aloha Collection zipper pouches.

I use the small and mid sizes the most – their official sizes are mini, small, mid and max. The small pouches are perfect for my supplements, toiletry items and tech gear; the mid size is ideal for a one-month supply of underwear and some socks. I have a mini size for when I need to tote my tech stuff to a different recording location. This saved my ass one day when I got unexpectedly caught in the rain. My precious microphone didn’t get soaked because it was in a splash-proof pouch – phew!

Once I’m at my destination, I use the mid and small size pouches as organizers. By rolling down the sides, I make the pouches stand up and hold their shape.

Check out my hotel room drawer.


Other uses for the pouches, not pictured here:

I use a max size pouch, Aloha Collection’s largest size, as a laundry bag.

I keep a mid size in my day bag for wet/dirty clothing or a clean change of outfit, food containers that might leak, and really anything that I’d like to keep dry and/or separate from my bag’s other contents.

I’m not sponsored by either KonMari or Aloha Collection, but you can tell them that I’m totally open to that. Wink wink, nudge nudge, seriously, someone please tell them for me.

So maybe I’m not a miracle worker, strictly speaking, but I’ll take these packing hack blessings anyway.

Do you have any packing tips or favorite products to share? Which one of these hacks most speaks to you? What other travel- or packing-related stuff would you like to know?

Drop me a comment below or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

Travel Like a Yogī, Part 1: IN-FLIGHT TIPS

I travel a lot. I did the math for 2017, and I was away from home for 31% of the year. Most of this travel was to far-off places, involving back-to-back long-haul flights from my Hawaii home to my final destination.

All this travel means I spend a lot of time in airplanes, and I’ve made it a priority to get good at it. Read on and learn how to make 14 hours in a metal cylinder a little less shitty.

Here are my top five travel tips for long-haul flight survival (and maybe even enjoyment).

Travel tip #1: Hydrate like a mother.

Literally, I’m saying that you should drink fluids as if you’re hydrating for two. And water isn’t enough. Remember, you’re not just losing water when you’re sublimating moisture from right out your skin. You’re also losing important minerals like potassium and sodium. So drink water and have a banana and a packet of salted nuts.

Or, better yet, if you have a chance to pack some raw or lightly steamed vegetables in your carry-on, do it. The fiber will help your body hang onto the water you drink, and it’s way, way better to eat veggies than the overpriced caramel popcorn from the snack cart. My favorite grab-and-go airplane food is a box of triple-washed organic greens, some baby carrots, a tub of hummus and a half-pound of fresh ahi poke from the local supermarket.

For next-level planning ahead, try this hydration hack. Before you leave home, take two minutes in the kitchen and prep the ingredients for warm salted lemon water. Cut a lemon or two in half, then sprinkle the cut sides with a pinch of good sea salt. Bag ‘em up and throw them into your carry-on. Once you’re through airport security, squeeze half of a salted lemon into your HydroFlask and visit the nearest coffee kiosk for some hot water. This beverage is tasty and great for sipping while you’re in that desiccating airplane air.

Fun fact: I know I’m dehydrated when my bracelets/rings leave deep imprints on my skin.


Travel tip #2: Cover your mouth.

Okay, you know how you can walk through any Japan airport and count scores of people wearing those white paper surgical masks? And maybe you think, oh wow, they’re so polite about their cold symptoms or bad breath or whatever? Here’s the deal with those: the masks aren’t for you; the masks are for them.

Turns out, face masks that cover your nose and mouth are brilliant at keeping your own personal moisture in and much of the ambient nastiness out. This means no more crusty boogers or nosebleeds from dry airplane air, and less risk of airborne irritants getting all up in your breath holes. 

Also, you look super hip to the cool Asia travel ways, yo.

For extra health- and comfort-boosting effects, I put one drop of essential oil on the inside of my mask. The antimicrobial compounds in eucalyptus, the calming aroma of lavender and the stink-masking scent of lemon are all regulars in my aromatherapy applications.

If you’re going to try this tip, bear in mind that you’ll potentially have this mask on for hours and hours and hours, which means that even one single drop of straight peppermint right next to your nostrils might be a bit too brissssk, ya feel me? Like that time I used peppermint Dr. Bronner’s in the shower, undiluted, as body wash, everywhere. MMMMINTY. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Make sure undiluted essential oil won’t make direct contact with any sensitive skin. As another option, I sometimes make a skin-safe dilution of essential oil in a carrier oil like coconut, and then it doesn’t matter if the oil touches my skin or not. 

Pro tip: Instead of a disposable paper mask, get yourself a reusable cloth mask that filters out more pollutants, fits better to your face and is way cuter. I wear Vogmask brand, size L.

Travel tip #3: Buckle up tight.

And I mean TIGHT. Wedge your ass into that economy seat, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and then pull the end of the strap until you feel your iliac crests pressed back and your butt bones forcibly snuggled deep into the cushion.

Here’s why. Often times the reason for back pain is shear forces resulting from an unstable pelvis position, plus sub-optimal abdominal muscle engagement because your body has nothing to push against. Therefore, if you use the seatbelt to lock your pelvis in place, your spine has a nice foundation AND you’re in maximum contact with the back rest so your torso is mostly well supported, too.

For a demo and explanation by a real doctor of physical therapy, check out this video from mobility badass Dr. Kelly Starrett:

Travel tip #4: Pack your own food, or plan ahead.

Airplane food is weird. (Unless you’re in first class. Maybe. I wouldn’t know.) It’s often over-salted and over-sugared. The portion size in these “meals” is just enough to piss me off. I usually decline the meal service (if there even is one) and bring my own food. For a flight that’s 9+ hours, I’m bringing aboard two solid meals and several snacks.

My meals always include a heaping portion of cooked vegetables, like steamed broccoli. Remember travel tip #1? Yeah, my carry-on is mostly food.

If the airline provides a complimentary meal, I request a “special meal” at the time I book my reservation, as a kind of food insurance. I find that ordering a special meal increases the chances that I’ll receive something less awful than the standard fare. And bonus, these special meals are served before the meal service carts begin their slow procession down the aisles, so I get my hot food way earlier.

A bunch of international airlines offer extensive meal choices if you book in advance. I’ve seen vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose-free, diabetic meal, low-sodium meal, halal, kosher, the tempting and mysterious “soft and bland” selection… the list goes on. Not all carriers have these options, though, and most frequently the only choices you’ll hear are “pasta or beef?”

Moral of the food story: bring your own whenever possible because it’s somewhat controllable. Don’t leave your nutrition up to chance, especially when you have to sit in the same seat for another 8 hours while your gut deals with the consequences of whatever you put in your mouth.

Travel tip #5: Pick your airline wisely.

I am famous (in my mind) for budget shopping for my flights. I am also famous (again, in my mind) for dropping an extra couple hundred US dollars to fly with a carrier that I trust and enjoy.

Fool me once, shame on you, you crap-airline-that-shall-remain-nameless. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I will sing the praises of Hawaiian Airlines forever and always, plus their codeshare partners Emirates, Japan Airlines and JetBlue. These carriers have consistently delivered great service for me.

Also, Hawaiian Airlines has my favorite boarding music and best safety video ever. After more than two months away from my O‘ahu home, there’s nothing like the sound of Henry Kapono singing “At Home in the Islands” as I slide my duffle bag under the seat in front of me. As for the safety video, check it out here: 

I wish you good travel ♥︎

Now, over to you, friend. Which of these five tips are most useful to you? Do you have a favorite strategy or genius travel hack to share? Would you like me to share more of my travel tips?

Leave a comment below, and let’s travel the world together with ease, style and FUN.

Big hugs to you, fellow explorer.

Travel Kit for Creatives on Retreat

Every September, I gift myself a creative getaway. I get far away from the home I love, i.e. everything potentially distracting to my creative work, including friends and family. This is a time for solo dreaming, journaling, deep thinking and writing, writing, writing.

Most often, my DIY solo retreat is a cheap hotel in Las Vegas. Despite the carousing all around, I post up alone in the Flamingo hotel where there’s air conditioning, wifi, power outlets, desk space and nothing on my calendar but “create my next Big Thing.” Glancing out the window, I see sunny views of tourists marinating in a sprawling pool with flamingo floaties – and I have zero temptation to join them. I stay at the desk in my little room with hot coffee and laptop, my head down and fingers tapping away.

For this lucky September, I get to stay at a dear friend’s beautiful and remote place in Maine, right on the coast with a gorgeous view of the sea.

Here’s what’s in my travel kit for getaways like this one – my fuel for the creative fire, supplies for my own personal artist’s retreat.

Portable tech:

I might launch a podcast, create a video series, start a location-independent coaching program, more. Whatever the brainstorm, I’m ready with my gear.

  • Video recording device with tripod

    • Favorite: my iPhone and the ProCam app, plus my trusty GorillaPod stand

  • Mini microphone for quality audio recording

    • Favorite: MiC, available at the Apple Store

  • Laptop

    • Favorite: my trusty pink MacBook

  • External hard drive 

    • Because ain’t nobody got time for “storage full” notifications.

Pampering ritual items:

The best inspirations always come in the bath, don’t they? Douglas Adams famously measures his ideas in baths. I get premium insight from premium pampering, so I make sure my product lineup is on point.

  • Scrubs, masks, essential oils

    • Favorite: anything from Lush, especially the mask and scrub combo Cup O’ Coffee and anything that smells like Rose Jam or Flying Fox

  • Candles and crystals

    • Favorite: intention candles by Aloha Elixir, starting with the eucalyptus mint blend Road Opener

Sensory nourishment:

My mind runs on dope beats and hot yummy beverages. To keep me fueled and focused, I prepare a few hours of thoroughly tested deep-think music and bring along my tea and coffee travel wardrobe.

Some type of hot water contraption is in every hotel room and domicile, whether it’s an electric kettle, a tiny coffee pot or an ostentatious Keurig set-up. You can make it work. Just don’t expect your favorite coffee/tea to be there waiting.

  • Good herbal tea

    • Favorite: dried māmaki leaves (indigenous Hawaiian nettle)

  • Super-powered coffee

    • Favorite: lion’s mane mushroom coffee by Four Sigmatic

  • Insulated vessel, mini-strainer

    • Favorite: HydroFlask food flask, maintains both hot and cold like a temperature-control dream, easy to clean, super secure lid, and it’s damn cute

    • Favorite: manatee tea strainer, which looks like a tiny sea cow is hot tubbin’ on the edge of your drinking vessel 

  • Reliable playlists

    • Favorite: my personal Spotify account (follow me @ponyponytail), currently jamming to a genre-bending curated playlist called Pollen

  • Good headphones, plus an aux cable in case my lodging has good speakers that aren’t Bluetooth-able

    • Favorite: Bose noise-cancelling over-ear headphones (QC35 II)

    • Dear reader friend… LMK if you have a super recommendation for a quality, durable aux cable. Currently, I’m using an emergency-purchase one from Walgreens.

Clothing considerations:

I firmly believe in getting dressed up for work, but I do not compromise on comfort. Do you think more provocative thoughts when you’ve got some sexy shit on? I do. And for me, creativity and sex – or feeling sexy and therefore generative – are inextricably linked.  

  • Very cute, very comfy clothes

    • Favorite: Lily Lotus errrrythang, designed in Hawaii and made in the USA, especially the kia bra, the gypsy pant and the lily wrap, buttery-soft separates that make you feel like a professional loungewear model

  • Cashmere scarf and warm socks

    • These may or may not make it out of my room. If it’s 105℉ outside, likelihood is low I’ll be seen in public with these items, but likelihood is high that I’ll need these warm snuggle buddies in the cryogenic chamber that is a typical hotel room. Like, the hotter it is outside, the colder hotels are inside.

    • Favorite: SmartWool over-the-knee socks

    • Favorite: I have a scarf that’s 50% cashmere, 50% silk, all black and very large – it’s a combo scarf and lap blanket.

Procrastination station:

When I’m good and bored, my mind starts releasing thought bubbles of subconscious magic. Many big ideas have come from my aimless musings while driving in traffic or waiting somewhere. But boredom is, well, boring. I’ll avoid it, even though I know it’s good for me.

Instagram, entrepreneur podcasts and YouTube tutorials are three of the sneaky ways I’ll trick myself into feeling productive and engaged, even though I’m really just avoiding boredom and the creative work that follows.

To outsmart my foxy procrastinator ways, I pack along a craft project that occupies my eyes and hands, and I disallow listening to podcasts and sometimes even music. The repetitive action of braiding, wrapping, etc. is enough to keep my monkey mind busy while my deeper creative consciousness gets her quiet time.

  • Mindless crafty project, just one

    • Favorite: jewelry making, like braiding seed beads onto silk cord or wire working

    • Note: This mindless crafting is entirely different from designing jewelry, which is an artistic endeavor and would use up much of my deep-think bandwidth. No bueno.

Here’s the scene right now. I’m sitting in a comfy armchair, steaming cup of Four Sigmatic mushroom coffee at my left hand. I’ve got my Bose headphones on, and I’m listening to my “KWEEN DIME” playlist on Spotify. (It’s good. You should follow it.)

The leaves on the trees outside are just starting to turn orange and red. It’s sunny but cool, and I’m wearing the exact Lily Lotus outfit described above, plus SmartWool socks and my scarf.

Earlier this morning, I got so ridiculously bored that I took a head of cauliflower and riced it using only a santoku, no food processor. My brain went wandering… and here we are.

This blog series, this article right here, stands as evidence of my creative output from this retreat. And friend, there’s more, there’s so much more.

As always, thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Now, I would love to hear from you: what tools and supplies do you use to fuel your creative fire, and what are the strategies that make them work for you? Drop me an email or, better yet, leave a comment below so we can keep the conversation going.

I raise my coffee mug to you. Cheers, love.