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Which shoes to choose?

Lets face it. I have too many pairs of shoes. In fact, if you look at the very top of this page, you’ll see a page named ‘feet’ – this is because I like to take pictures of my feet in different places, but it has also shown me that I am always wearing different shoes. I may have a problem.

Today, however, I’ll make the most of the problem and run through a different variety of shoes and what they’re good for, when you’re travelling. Hopefully you can give me advice too, because I have yet to find the perfect shoe. (Christie over at ChristieThinks seems to be getting close!)

I want to start with an ode to my favourite shoes ever. I bought these at Old Navy, at the very last minute before leaving for my year abroad in Ecuador. If you are good friends with me in person, then I have told you about these shoes. They started to wear away at the sole after a year of wearing them everywhere around the world, and I gave them away. I still regret it. I have never stopped looking for their replacement, and still haven’t found their equivalent anywhere. Sigh.



Not really ideal for much walking, but they do look fun and take up no room at all in your suitcase. The high-tops allow space for an insole, which helps give them more support. I do love my converse shoes, but I don’t really travel with them anymore.




Kind of the same deal as converse – no real support, but they go with pretty much everything and are great to stuff into an already full bag, as they take up no space and weigh nothing. My man complaint is that they get VERY stinky, very quickly, and you can’t wear them extensively or they will wear out after a few weeks. I wore the light grey ones in the picture below for my entire week in San Francisco, and they were far from ideal – they killed my feet (although I did walk up to 10kms a day, so that’s my fault for not planning on better walking shoes), and they already smell too bad to wear anymore. From now on, I will keep them for shorter trips, and wear socks in them. I always bring the purple ones below when I travel for work, because they are great to wear inside at conferences and meetings.



Rain Boots

Definitely one of my favourite types of footwear, but also completely impractical for travel. They make me feel invincible when I wear them, but they just take up so much room that unless you’re driving somewhere, you can’t really travel with them! Can someone invent roll-up, comfy rain boots with solid soles please?


Winter Boots

Being from Quebec, I definitely know my way around winter boots. I went through the usual adolescent phase of refusing to wear them, but now I’m all about proper winter footwear. Problem is, they are also super annoying to carry around everywhere. I love my purple Sorels, but they live at my mum’s house because I don’t really need them in BC, nor do I want to take up valuable suitcase space for them! I also used to have a pair of Merrell boots which were beautiful, functional and warm, but the sole cracked after a few winters. Now, I make do with a pair of black Hush Puppy boots – they look good with pretty much everything, and while they are not very warm, they are exactly what I need for going to conferences in snowy places in the winter. The same problem remains though, that I have to wear them on the plane if I want to take them at all.



Other impractical shoes

These include flip-flops, which I now only take on beach holidays, and slip-ons with absolutely no arch support, which I usually just wear around town when I’m at home. No sense bringing these travelling unless you’re not planning on doing much more than going to the beach.


Big ol’ leather boots

Man, I love these boots. They are definitely my favourite style, and I can’t wait till autumn so that I can wear them again. The ones on top are my original, completely beaten up ones, that I still wear when it’s raining, or muddy, or anywhere that my shoes might get wet. They feel like slippers. The onesbelow are my ‘nice’ ones, that I’m (trying) to take care of.

I’ve been on a lot of trips with these boots – the only drawback is that the sole is a bit hard so my feet do hurt at the end of the day, but otherwise, if my trip consists mainly of city walking and no demanding terrain, I will continue to bring these with me. They just make me feel good! (And the ones cause the shoe-cleaning staff in airports to run after me)


Actual, sensible walking shoes

That’s right, I actually do have some of these. Full on running shoes, that I never take anywhere unless I know that I’ll be out and about and running around, and unless I know that it’s a setting where I won’t care about how I look (Let’s be honest now. Style goes into almost every shoe decision that I make). The other shoes that I like for easy trails, and that are actually my favourite, are my Keen shoes – the blue ones below are a bit more city with less grip but tons of comfort and support (and the chickens approve), and my actual favourite, comfortable, tons of support, and grippy for easy to moderate trails, are my Keen Toyahs. Problem is? They are bulky and heavy, so not convenient to stuff in a backpack, and quite clunky, so they don’t go with everyday outfits.



So, what’s the verdict?

The verdict is that I’m still trying to find the all around best travel shoes, and sandals! For this trip, I’ve decided to go with black Birkenstocks that go with everything, because I know that they offer comfort and adequate support for days of city walking and standing around, and I’ve just bought a pair of barefoot runners from Merrel (Pace Glove), based on the fact that they are light, squishable, offer moderate arch support, good enough traction, and that they are SUPER cute. (Seriously. I’m sad to say that looks have such a big part in this.)

I just finished the first day of my 4 week trip, and the Merrells remained comfy after walking all day. I’ll let you know how they fare on Banff’s trails, and during my Mantracker run in the Prairies.  Keep an eye out for pictures of my feet wearing them in different places across Canada 🙂


In my bag: dry goods


Apparently, I haven’t posted in a month!

It all started with a monster university paper, which I left to the very last minute. It completely drained me of the will to write, and then work got really busy, and then I can keep making excuses, but the point is, it’s time for me to write again. And guess what? I’m going to write about packing… again!
This time, I thought I’d tell you about my favourite dry products. What’s the point? Well, it’s nice to be able to bring everything in a carry on, and it’s also nice not to worry about anything leaking in your bag. So, here’s a rundown of some of my favourite and not-so-favourite carry-on beauty bits. I’ve found that for any trip, all I need are the following 5 items, plus deodorant and contact solution.

1. Soap (obvi)

Any bar soap will do. I like the way this one smells. It’s that simple. I keep the cardboard box to carry it in between hostels.

2. Shampoo

This is Lush’s Seanik shampoo bar, and I fell in love with it right away. I have short hair, and I’ve always struggled with shampoos that make my hair a bit too soft and a bit too limp, and then it just flops around all day. This shampoo has solved the problem – it contains sea salt, which appears to make my hair just messy enough to hold all day! Lush also has a bunch of different shampoos for whatever your needs are.


3. Hair product

Speaking of short hair – this product has changed my life! It’s essentially rice powder, with a bunch of other things mixed in. Pretty simple – sprinkle it on, mess my hair around, and it holds all day. All I ever bring with me now.


4. Laundry soap

The only way to travel for an extended period of time with a small amount of luggage is to do your own laundry. I love this soap, because it’s everything friendly, it’s canadian, and it has fun smells, like rootbeer float, pina colada, cupcake and key lime pie. These little bags are about $2 each at Ottawa’s amazing Terra 20, and are good for 2-8 loads. What more could you want! I haven’t tried it to hand-wash anything yet, but I’m sure that it’ll work just fine!

5. Toothpaste

Now, this is an interesting one. Another great product from Lush, these Toothy Tabs come in many flavours and are the weirdest, freshest thing you’ll ever brush your teeth with. They are also very weird! The baking soda base has a bit of a salty taste, and honestly, it’s like having the full force of all the Lush store smells explode in your mouth all at once. My mouth has never felt cleaner than after using this toothpaste… But.

These toothy tabs are nice to have for a quick weekend getaway, something that just sits in the bottom of my quick escape bag, but I probably won’t buy them again. Sure, my mouth felt super clean right after I brushed my teeth, but in the morning, my mouth tasted weird. It also makes me gag in the morning, for reasons I don’t understand. $5’ll get you 40 tabs, which isn’t the best for my small budget. I also kind of got tired of the taste, and was left not wanting to brush my teeth.


Bonus favourite dry product: Towtabs

These are AMAZING! These tiny little pucks, about the size of a peppermint candy, turn into a full sized cloth with just a drop of water.

I first bought them as a quick ‘why not’ purchase, to see if they actually worked, and they do! They really made me happy when I was in Africa – too often, there was no water in the house, and all it took was a capful of water to have a quick “sponge bath”. If you see these, grab them – you never know when you’ll need them!

What are your favourite travel products?

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FAQ – How to breeze through airport security, in 7 easy steps!

I was just at a conference in Winnipeg, and I caught a ride back to the airport with one of the other attendees. She seemed a bit nervous about what to do at security – what goes where, what do they look for, etc. and had a lot of questions for me, so I figured I’d write a post since some of you might also have some questions. I’ve posted about carry-on luggage a few times, so it makes sense that I should now talk about how to prepare your carry-on to get yourself through security as efficiently as possible.

It’s all about being organized! It’ll help you get to your gate faster, the security guards will be friendlier, and it’ll make the people behind you happy. Wins all around! (Hint: the person behind you could be me. I fly almost every week. Let me help you make my life easier.)

This is my personal advice, based on what I do when I travel. I’ve heard a million stories from other people, who have gotten away with a bunch of stuff, and that might be you too. However, by following this list, you can be certain that you will fy through security.

1. Have your travel documents in hand – boarding pass and ID!

2. Make sure that your laptop and 3-1-1 bag are within easy reach

3. Make sure that your pockets are empty

4. Take off any jackets/hats/scarves/belts

5. Take off your shoes.

6. Know what’s in your bag

7. Get out of there quick!

1. Travel documents

I’m not going to lie guys, this is my biggest pet peeve. You check in, and about twenty feet farther is the security check point. Hang on to your boarding pass! If you’re like me and you want to eat and sometimes shop before you head to security, make sure that you keep your ID and boarding pass together in an easy to access place. The time to look for your boarding pass is NOT when you are standing in front of the agent!20130520-103227.jpg

2. 3-1-1 bags

A 3-1-1 bag is a small ziploc bag in which you put whatever liquids that you are taking on the plane. You can use the ones that the airport gives you, but a regular sandwich sized bag works too.


– Make sure that all your liquids are together in one bag.

– Make sure that your liquids are under 3oz/100ml. I recommend putting your liquids in bottles that are 100ml or less. I’ve heard from other people that it’s ok to use bigger bottles as long as they are not full, but since there’s no way of proving how much liquid you’ve got, I’ve also heard about security agents not letting them through. If you run out during your trip, you can easily buy refills anywhere. The only thing that I haven’t been able to find everywhere is contact solution. If you are going on a longer trip and bringing only carry-on, I would bring more little bottles of contact solution, and bring dry versions of the other toiletteries I need, or buy them when I get there. TurnipseedTravel has compiled a beautiful list of options for you.

– Make sure that the bag is the right size.

– Make sure that it’s quickly accessible. There’s nothing worse than holding up the line because you’re rummaging through your suitcase, trying to find your little bag.

2.5 Electronics

The only thing that I’ve ever been asked to take out is my laptop, and that’s every time I’ve travelled. Be prepared!

3. Make sure that your pockets are empty

I’m just talking about metal here – change, jewellery, watches: these all need to go through the scanner. Otherwise, they’ll send you back and forth until they figure out what’s beeping.

4. Take off any jackets/hats/scarves/belts

Doing this means that they don’t have to ask you! I promise, they’ll love you.

5. Take off your shoes. You don’t always need to, but doing it in advance means that you’re set if they do ask you.

I just went through security wearing new Keen slip on shoes. The agent looked at them and told me to keep them on, and they beeped – apparently, there’s a metal shank through the bottom. Now I know! Two options: make sure your shoes are metal free, or just take them off.

6. Know what’s in your bag – toss any liquids, and leave awkwardly shaped things at home.

This kept happening to me: I have a nifty key chain that’s a spoon handle. EVERY TIME I go through security with it, they pull me aside and check by bag. They always let me leave with it, but I’ve decided it’s not worth the extra time, so I just leave it at home now. Same goes for you – know what you’re travelling with!


7. Get out of there quick!

Once you’re through the metal detector and your bags are out, pick up your things and organize your bag somewhere else. This especially helps when it’s busy. At a certain point, when everyone puts on their shoes and belts right after the detector, the conveyor belt gets too full of bins to continue rolling, and stops the whole process. They have handy chairs and tables a few feet away from most security areas – use them, and help everyone out!

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Rethinking carry-on

In my last post about carry-on luggage, I was going away for three weeks, and I managed to fit everything into a rolling suitcase and a laptop bag. I actually ended up bringing a whole suitcase, because I was going back to my parents’ and figured it was a good opportunity to move more stuff here.

This time, however, I am travelling with carry-on luggage only. I have to bring more things because it’s winter where I’m going, and I am bringing a smaller bag than usual.

Here is the context:

I am going on a five day business trip to Saskatoon, where it is currently -16 degrees. In order to get to the airport from here, I have to take a ferry, a bus and a sky train. Once I’m in Saskatoon, I will have access to a vehicle, but the snow, and my trek to get to Vancouver airport, mean that I am not interested in bringing a rolling suitcase.

First of all, use Vanessa’s advice about what to pack. I’m bringing 5 tops and two pairs of pants, three sweaters, and one pair of indoor shoes – I’m going to a conference and I don’t want to wear my winter boots all day. My Toms shoes are ideal for this, because they take up no room in my backpack.


I have finally, finally found a way of packing that works for me! I have always been a fan of rolling my clothes so that they take up less space, but I was forever unrolling things while rummaging through my backpack, trying to find the parts for each day’s outfit. As of last week, I have started rolling outfits together. This wouldn’t work for a longer backpacking trip, but it is a wonderful solution for short trips with designated outfits. Last weekend, I was on another four day trip, in a different hotel every night. It didn’t matter which way I had packed my bag or which outfit I felt like wearing – every night, I was able to take everything out, and repacking in the morning took me 4 minutes, because the unworn outfits were still rolled together. I also roll up the worn outfits the same way, with dirty socks and undies on the inside. When I get home, I just toss each roll in the laundry bin. This time, I’m staying in the same hotel for the whole weekend, so I will unpack and hang my clothes to look more presentable!fr_305_size880

As you can see from the picture above, I am also bringing a few other things: my laptop, some files for work, my cell phones, charger cables, and my Kindle (indispensable). I LOVE my Osprey laptop bag, but I don’t want to bring it, because it doesn’t fit comfortably when I’m wearing my backpack and running between buses and ferries and trains, and even less so when I’m wearing a winter jacket. My Herschel bag has a handy laptop sleeve on the inside. It’s not the biggest, but works for my macbook. I packed up everything to take pictures for this post, and then had to take out my laptop to write it. Unfortunately, this plan is not perfect. When my laptop is in it’s protective case, it’s really hard to pull out once the bag is full. Not ideal for security, or watching Netflix during my layover. However! That’s why I chose the purse that I’m bringing – it is just large enough to fit my laptop! It certainly doesn’t offer much padding, but it helps in getting from point A to point B when I don’t have time to unpack and repack.


Beyond all of that, what’s left are my toiletries. I’m not gone for long, and I’m staying in hotels, so I don’t need to bring too much. I have a nifty folding toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini perfume vaporizer, and mini shampoo. I actually have these because I’m lazy – over the next two months, I am repeatedly away for 5 days at a time, with 2-3 days home in between each trip. I prefer to have travel-only things, so that I don’t have to keep taking things in and out of my bathroom (the annoying wet toothbrush when you leave in the morning!), or run the risk of forgetting something at the last minute. My travel deodorant, hair stuff, toothbrush and a few pieces of jewellery stay in my cute little Cath Kidston bag, and I replenish as I run out. The perfume (the Travalo is a brilliant perfume dispenser – you fill it with your favourite perfume, and it’s TSA friendly!), shampoo and toothpaste go in my 3-1-1 bag, which I keep right next to my laptop, so that it’s handy to pull out at security.


And that, my friends, is how you pack five days into a backpack! I’m a little bit annoyed that it’s winter in Saskatoon. Last week, I went to the Okanagan and stayed at a chain hotel where there were fitness facilities. I brought some light running shoes, my workout clothes, and my bathing suit. This time, because of the weather, I am wearing boots on the plane, and my scarf, tuque and jacket have taken the place of my workout stuff (but that’s ok, because who am I kidding).

What it really means is that in the summer, I’ll be able to easily pack 7 days worth of outfits into this bag, and with my bathtub laundry skills, I’ll be able to travel this way for the whole summer!



To pack or not to pack? Part 2 : Three weeks, one carry-on

Yesterday, I posted about travelling for 3 months with a 36 litre backpack. 

Today, my situation is a bit different. I’m going away for 3 weeks, which will be spent partially in meetings, partially hanging out with family, and partially going out with friends.

Is it possible to pack for this trip without checking any luggage?

The answer is yes!

I (kind of) followed Vanessa’s advice. Her blog post is great because it details each part of packing. Since I’m still supposed to be packing right now (and doing dishes, and cleaning), I’m just going to post what I ended up deciding to bring. I actually ended up bringing more stuff than what Vanessa allows for.fr_1417

In this picture is everything that I’m bringing.

Clothes : 2 pairs of pants, 3 dresses, 5 nice tops, 3 pairs of leggings. 12 pairs of socks and underwear (re: I don’t want to have to do laundry over and over), 6 tank tops (I wear them under everything, and then to sleep each night), two bras, and one pair of yoga pants to sleep in. Also, one pair of indoor shoes.

Toiletries : The pink stripy thing contains bits and pieces – toothbrush, deodorant, jewellery and makeup. My 3-1-1 bag contains shampoo, soap, etc. – anything liquid.

This is the final product. It actually contains what I’m going to wear on the flight, so I actually have some free space.


Others : I’m going on this trip for work, so I need my laptop, cellphones, etc. (sadface) Along with my rolling suitcase, I am bringing a ‘personal item’, which is my laptop bag. It contains (obviously) my laptop, some paperwork, my phones, my kindle and a tuque that I’m currently knitting. I’m actually not sure if I’m allowed to bring needles on the plane, but we’ll see!

So, all in all, this is everything that I’m bringing for my 3 week trip.


Not too bad! I feel like when I take off for my RTW trip, I’ll be able to do it with my good ol’ 36er!