When I first started traveling I was a minimalist. Maybe it was an attempt to not appear pretentious through demonstrations of luxury.
Plus I wanted to live like a local.
Truth is though, I'm not a local.
My skin doesn't respond to the sun the way a Malagasy's does. My hair doesn't take the heat like a Nigerian's, and my face doesn't like humidity like a Thai's.
I now travel with my "Bag of Luxury", chalk full of items that I used to leave at home, that now I don't leave home without.
Most of these items can be bought in travel sizes or can be put into small travel sized containers for your trip.
For me their biggest achievement is giving me a spa-like (or home-like) feel while traveling, saving me from looking slovenly without weighing down my bag.
10. Travel Mousse
What do Madagascar, Thailand and Nepal all have in common? Among other things...their ability to leave your hair completely frazzled.
I skip the hairspray and opt for a post-shower mousse for styling and combatting against frizz.
9. Dry Shampoo
You never know when you just won't be in the mood for a cold shower, and hot water is rarely something you should count on.
8. Travel Straightener
I bought a compact, wireless straightener for about £40 in the UK and have loved every minute of it. The charge lasts around 40 minutes which is enough for me to straighten my frizzy ends for a few days.
The only downside is that once it's empty, it's dead weight until your next charge.
7. Dental Floss
I love street meat, but street meat doesn't love my gums. In Mongolia I got inflamed gums from all the dried yak meat, and ever since then Dental Floss is a must for me.
6. Facial cleanser & moisturizer
As cities are getting increasingly polluted, our skin is getting increasingly exposed to exhaust, dirt and all sorts of chemicals in the air.
Cleansing my face at the end of the day - and moisturizing - has made me feel extremely fresh and rejuvenated after a long day of exploring or hiking.
Armpit and leg hair have their place in tourist "laissez-faire" fashion, but I tried going rogue only to find myself feeling stickier and less myself, so now I always pack a razor for trips under 1 month or my epilator for trips over a month.
4. Compact mirror
Cracked tooth while rafting?
Pain in your throat while you're in the jungle?
Hair in your eye while you're trekking?
Part of an "adventure" is the element of surprise, but being able to inspect yourself for any number of reasons can feel a lot more comfortable than having to ask a stranger to look inside your eyeball or your mouth for a foreign object. I always bring a compact mirror.
3. Eyebrow Liner & Eye Liner
This one might sound girly but bear with me.
When you make friends with locals and they want to bring you out for a nice dinner or just to hang out in the evenings, you're not going to want to look like a bum. They put effort into their presentation and I like to mirror that effort. I find that throwing on some lipstick and eyeliner is a lot easier and more lightweight than packing nice clothes, and it makes me look more polished for the nicer occasions.
2. Nail file & nail clippers
Back at home I bite my nails like they're candy, but in countries where there's a lot of dirt, spitting, and squatting, my hands rarely make it to my mouth.
As my nails grow out I find it so nice to be able to maintain them. It gives me a "girly" feeling and is practically weightless.
I always bring about a dozen Qtips for cleaning cuts, cleaning ears, fishing dirt from my eyes, eyedrop tool...the list goes on. I have never regretted bringing these lightweight gems.
Stay tuned for the items I always leave at home!