Category Archives: Backpack Travel

A recent adventures update

The time has come to return to Honolulu on the final leg of our most recent epic travel adventure.

For the past three weeks, James and I have had the most incredible series of adventures with some of the best travel companions and friends we could wish for. Our trip kicked off with a one day adventure in NYC with one of my earliest and best childhood friends, Matthew. We explored the #highline and reveled in the gorgeous summer weather. Next stop was London, where we were welcomed to stay at the lovely flat of our favorite British blogger and proverbial “hostess with the mostest” Carla (check out her cool blog Zoubisou). After a truly amazing five day stay in the UK (which will be recapped in an upcoming post), we were off again to Bergen, Norway to rendezvous with our intrepid traveling companions Emily and Pat and received the warmest of welcomes by our favorite Norwegian, Mari. Not only did she open her home to the four of us, but she took on the roles of tour guide, translator, navigator and entertainer! (In traditional Norweigan national attire no less- but that’s a story for another day.) Bergen is a beautiful city and I look forward to sharing our adventures there after I have a chance to process some photos at home to illustrate the stories.

After Bergen, our party of four headed north, flying first to Bødo and then boarding the Hurtigruten MS Løfoten to the magical islands of Løfoten, north of the arctic circle. The awesomeness of our experiences here under the midnight sun are hard to put into words, so I will wait to share more details when the photos can lend some visual punch to my experiences of awe and joy.

After what seemed like the blink of an eye, we were all back in Oslo for our final night before parting ways. James, Pat, Emily and I stayed together sharing laughter, wine and the History Channel’s #vikings until the last possible minute (James and I grabbed the last train of the night from Oslo back to our airport hotel).

A flight from Oslo to Newark and a long overnight layover allowed for one more night with Matthew and his wonderful husband Bobby. We managed a nap and got to sit in on a Mathieu Blue rehearsal for an upcoming performance of his on Monday! It was surreal and wonderful to be a part of the behind-the-scenes with an awesome band and creative team as they launch my best friend’s lifelong dream of performing his original songs (and some rocking covers too) live in New York City. The night wasn’t complete until we grabbed our NYC slices to go and hopped in a cab back to Harlem.

Fast forward to the current moment, and James and I are side by side aboard our #united flight back to Honolulu. I reflect on the past few weeks with a heart full of friends and adventures and can’t wipe the grin off my face. What a trip it’s been. The sharing has just begun my friends, there are stories and memories galore to explore. But first, two more episodes of Vikings, a blanket and a nap are necessary to top it all off.

#summerinnorway was #epic


Atop Reinebringen
Atop Reinebringen Photo credit: James Brogan

Packing tips for a backpacking trip

The irony of packing for a trip of epic proportions lies in precisely the lack of stuff you are able to bring with you. Here’s a few tried and true things to bring and tips to travel light from the road less traveled.

1. Dryer sheets (laundry softener sheets)- I read this tip in a Condé Nast Traveler magazine some time back and it is by far the best piece of advice I’ve used for any kind of travel. I’m an olfactory-focused person, and the dread of the dirty-laundry smell permeating throughout my pack was a very real threat the first time I took an extended trip. Slip a few dryer sheets in-between your rolled clothing to keep the whole bag smelling light, lovely and fresh from the line.

2. A few extra large sealable plastic bags – These are terrific for temporary storage of wet swim suits and for encapsulating dirty laundry. Utilize those dryer sheets again and override the laundry smell by putting a sheet in a sealed bag (especially with the socks) and you’ll be delighted at the effectiveness.

3. Face wipes – To clean the dirty city off your skin, or to de-salt after a day at sea; for those times when a sink isn’t to be had. There’s nothing like a fresh face to make you feel instantly revived. Be sure to go green and buy biodegradable ones!

4. Hand sanitizer- Use sparingly; you’re going to want your own immune system functioning at its peak. Go all natural and avoid the alcohol-based kind. Juni Hand Refresher ( is my germ killer of choice: all natural, fresh smelling and moisturizing.

5. Underwear x2- There is nothing more reassuring on a long trip than having a clean pair of underwear close at hand. Just when you think you’ve packed too many pairs of underwear, pack two more. Take out a shirt or two if you need to make room. TRUST ME. You can re-wear a shirt several times, but undies, well, you get it.

6. Sarong – This was the most versatile item I used in my pack. I picked one up early in my trip to Thailand as a cover-up at the beach, but used it countless ways. It doubled as scarf, a blanket, sun protector, a temperature regulating head scarf, a pillowcase, a dress, changing screen and even a towel. I won’t travel without one.

7. E-reader – I am a book lover. The feel, the smell, the look of a real book is irreplaceable to me. I swore for years that I would never go digital. I felt like I would be betraying the books that have shaped my character to do so. And then I was given my Nook for Christmas. Best. Present. Yet. While I will never lose the pleasure of caressing paper pages, my e-book allows me to bring an entire library with me while never adding pounds to my pack. I download free e-books from my local library’s website. I even download guidebooks, maps and language books of the regions I’ll be visiting. Awesome!

8. Small dry bag – It is comforting to be sure your electronics are protected within the contents of your pack. Even if you aren’t traveling by boat or near bodies of water, rain or spilled drinks are the enemy of your camera, phone, e-book, passport, etc.

9. TSA-approved lock – If you lock your pack, TSA is almost guaranteed to break it open and then you’re lock-less on the trip. They’re really cheap but can help you avoid being a sitting duck. Just remember, anyone can cut open the pack, or take the whole thing- the lock is just to prevent you from the simple unzip-and-slip on the train or bus.

10. Baby wipes and small package of toilet paper – It is essential to have a backup plan in case things go awry. Your body might not be used to the food you’ll be eating. Just sayin’.

11. Carabiners- A few of the simple, cheap carabiners (not necessarily the weight-bearing kind) are a neat and useful tool. I use them to hang towels, hang my pack away from the ants in our bungalow, and to attach my muddy shoes to the outside of the pack after a hike in the jungle.

Go forth and adventure!