Saturday, February 28, 2015

What to Bring and What Not to Bring on a One Month Backpacking Trip


Since my crazy summer abroad (from Nepal to Bangladesh to Haiti), I've been asked so many questions.

Q - "How did you survive so long without regular access to the Internet?"
A - "It's easier than you think, and life is actually 10x better."

Q - "Did you have jet leg?"
A - "Only once but I didn't mind, because I was able to stay up late and read more books."

Q - "What did you eat?"
A - "Beans and rice, rice and beans."

Q - "Did you see any elephants?"
A - "No, but I saw hundreds of monkeys and even more lizards."

Q - "How do you use a squatty potty?"
A - "You don't want to know.

But one of the most frequently asked questions is what I brought when I backpacked the Himalayas. Since I am such a frazzled and my-mind-going-everywhere-at-once kind of person, I never give good answers. "Um..hiking boots?" So here I am, sitting down and writing a complete list of what to bring and what not to bring on a one month backpacking trip.

WHAT TO BRING 

1. Good socks. They save your feet from blisters, which could make your trip miserable, and they keep your feet warm and dry.

2. Personal hygiene products. Girls, you know the obvious one. Trust me, you can NOT find tampax in Nepal. And all other personal hygiene products such as deodorant, lotion, soap, have bleach in it to pale your skin (the opposite of America's tanning sprays/tanning lotions). Speaking of...

3. A good deodorant. Trust me. When you're hiking in the 100+ degree heat with no electricity and no water available to you, you're going to want a trusty deodorant. I used Degree Motion Sense Anti-Perspirent, and it worked GREAT. I only had to put it on once in the morning and I was fine for the whole day.

4. Baby wipes. Might sound weird, but this is actually the number one thing I suggest that you bring. Most of the places we stayed had showers but sometimes they didn't or the showers they did have didn't work. Being able to wipe the dust and dirt off your skin before you crawl in bed is a luxury. Also, you can find ones that don't smell like gross babies. I used Huggie's baby wipes, in their Cucumber and Green Tea scent. Ahhh.

5. Bug spray. I didn't find that mosquito nets were necessary, but I suppose it depends where you stay. However, with all those viruses spread by mosquitos, bug spray is TOTALLY necessary. Or you might end up with dengue fever like me :(

6. Hairbands. The Himalayas is no place for curling irons and make up. So for any girls who feel like they'll die without something pink and floral in their backpack, I brought ALL the headbands I own, and boy do I have a lot! I wore them almost every day. Usually it was because my hair was CRAZY and I had nothing to do with it. But sometimes I wore them to spice up my outfits, considering I only brought about three t-shirts.

7. Layers. Although you'll be getting sunburned at 9 in the morning, the evenings get terribly cold. Think leggings, dri-fit long sleeved shirts, a rain jacket, and if you are cold-blooded like me, bring a hat! I wore my hat almost every night, I swear, I wouldn't have slept without it.

8. Head-lamp. I actually didn't bring this one. I brought a flashlight. But imagine it being 9pm in a village with no electricity, trying to balance in a squatty potty (aka a hole in the ground) with your hands full of toilet paper and a flashlight. Trust me. Get a head-lamp.

9. Germ-X. Get a little travel-size bottle. Although I'm sure that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't do much to cleanse you, it makes you feel a little better after you use that squatty potty.

10. A journal. Write about everything! Where you went, what you saw, what you smelled, who you met. I re-read my journal so many times. I miss my friends so much, but I am thankful to have the memories written down for me to re-live.

WHAT NOT TO BRING

1. Umbrella. When you are hiking up and down mountains, it's kind of silly to hold an umbrella. But when it rains, it pours. I suggest just bringing a rain jacket.

2. Many snacks. I suggest bringing a couple helpings of trail mix or even some gummy worms or something cute like that. But I was surprised by how many of my own snacks went to waste. We always ate either at a local's house or at a local restaurant. And any snacks could be bought straight from the many fruit stands all around.

3. Many clothes. I brought 2-4 shirts, 3 pants, 4 pairs of socks, 1 pair of hiking boots, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of Toms. That's it. And that was MORE than enough. Wash your clothes at night, if you feel the need to.

4. Technology. Leave the laptop, phone, and iPAD behind. You're surrounded by beauty. Look up at the mountains, not down at a screen.

5. Jewelry. There are so many bad things that could happen. You're climbing around in the dirt, hopping across rivers, and feeling your way through the electricity-free villages. There is no need for jewelry. It will get lost and/or stolen.

6. Perfume. First off, it will attract bugs. Second off, you're going to be smelly and sweaty and gross anyway, so you might as well quit trying.

7. Fear. I had no idea that spending a month in Nepal would involve teaching the village children how to play volleyball, going white water rafting with a guide who barely speaks English, eating daal bhat (rice and bean soup) for every meal for seven days in a row, parasailing above the Himalayan mountains, or taking a tour through Buddhist temples. If you're not going to go with an open mind, ready to take on every and any adventure that comes your way, you might as well stay home.

And of course, bring a camera. You're going to want to remember everything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Clean Slate: Jumping on Board of this Clean Eating Trend



Through Blogging for Books, I was given a free copy of Clean Slate by the editors of Martha Stewart Living in exchange for an honest review.

As a vegan, gluten-free eater, I was instantly drawn to this book. While I do eat relatively healthy, I also like to binge on potato chips and gf pretzels and granola bars and other processed foods. I'm definitely no where near eating "clean."

I've been dabbling in the idea of eating cleaner, but I always end up hungry and reaching for a bag of chips. This guide is exactly what I needed to learn more about what and what not to do, or what and what not to eat.

Just flipping through this book makes me want to eat clean. Nearly every page has a mouth-watering, bright, beautiful pictures of fruits, veggies and grains. The recipes are neat, easy-to-read, and there's even a color coded system so that you know what is vegan, gluten free, dairy free, etc.

One thing I love about this book is that it starts off with a guide. I fell in love with guides when I got my other favorite cookbook, Skinny Bitch by Kim Barnouin, for Christmas last year, and I was SO excited to see that this one had one too.

It's loaded with information on different fruits, veggies, meats, and grains. There are pages labeled "Protein" or "Antioxidants" with lists of different foods that will meet your needs. You name it, this guide will tell you what to eat to get what benefit. I loved all of the information!

Did this book inspire me to start eating clean? Take a look inside my fridge! As soon as I read through the guide and flipped through the cookbook, I raced off to the farmer's market. I am now loaded with kale, arugula, spinach, bananas, apples, grapes, carrots, onions, tofu, oranges, strawberries, nuts, and even salmon! (This little vegan is taking a cheat day on a fish she's never cooked..hmm..let's see how this turns out!)

And here's the deal breaker for me..these recipes are EASY. There are no funky ingredients. I've looked at several (trying to figure out how to cook this salmon) and all of the ingredients are already in my pantry/fridge. I hate finding a great-looking recipe, but having to spend twenty dollars just on it's ingredients. These recipes are so practical but so diverse and loaded with flavor! I really can't wait to try them out!

While at my school's cafe this morning, trying to read the guide, I was stopped by several friends (only one of them being vegetarian) to flip through my book and talk to me about it. Looks like some other people are becoming interested, too! ;)

I 100% recommend this book! 

I also recommend shopping at farmer's market. My local one, Produce Junction, supplied me with a two-weeks supply of all the produce I mentioned, for sixteen dollars! Can't beat that!