Category Archives: Pre-departure

20 Ways to Spend 12 Hours in the LAX Airport

On the day of our departure, Kim and I had two remarkably different experiences leading up to our flight to New Zealand. We were booked on different flights from Chicago to LA, both scheduled to allow us more than enough time for check in. However, severe weather caused Kim’s flight to be unexpectedly delayed 4 hours leaving her quite stressed out, literally running through the airport to baggage claim, and checking in for our flight only 5 minutes before check in closed. It was a extremely close call. I, on the other hand, had a lot of time to waste. After getting some Oreos and shut-eye on my 7:00 AM flight, my time at the airport was spent lollygagging. So if you’re ever in a similar situation, here’s 20 ways that I spent my 12 hours in the LAX airport.

1. Prime time people watching

2. Getting travel advice from the nice English chap from the Travel Aid info desk

3. Starbucks = iced chai latte

4. Writing blog posts…

5. Wandering around with a heavy backpack on…do-able, but not recommended.

6. Clear up delayed flight scenarios (thanks Amy Griffin from AirNZ)

7. Get lost…a lot.

8. Play Sudoku on your mini Sudoku player *NERD ALERT*

9. Charge your phone in a really inconvenient spot and get curious looks by all who pass by

10. Organize your purse/carry-on to be productive and pass the time

11. Help an Australian man read his plane ticket since he forgot his glasses (He should have read our blog Making a List and Checking It Twice)

12. Spot the most adorable kid’s luggage ever, toted by the cutest lil’ travelers imaginable

13. Have a phone convo with your Mom, Dad, boyfriend, best friend, etc. Exhaust your contact list…hence #9

14. Wonder why people travel in 5 inch stilettos

15. Pick the cutest flight attended uniforms (Winner: purple skirt suit combo with matching hat and green/purple ascots!)

16. Witness movie worthy goodbye scenes at the departure gate

17. Walk outside and enjoy that Cali weather

18. Secretly hope that I’ll spot the TMZ camera crew

19. See the airport staff interact when changing shifts

20. Eat a ridiculously overpriced sandwich, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and prepare for the trip of a lifetime


Meet the Feet

Since you’ll be traveling with us for the next 7 weeks we thought you might like to get to know us a little bit better…

What country are you most excited for?

Coley: Thailand! I’m a sucker for markets. So just the fact that we’re going to a floating market, flower market, and street markets? SOLD!

Kim: Well obviously I’m excited for each country for different reasons, but if I HAD to pick one I’d say New Zealand because the scenery will be unbelievable and we have some pretty crazy adventures planned. Thailand is definitely a close second because it will be completely unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before.

What are your pet peeves of other travelers?

Coley: Living up to the “American travler” stereotype. For example: expecting everyone to speak English, being loud and obnoxious, high maintenance, etc.

Kim: Ughhh I cannot stand travelers who don’t appreciate culture or who are culturally insensitive. I just don’t see the point in going halfway around the world so you can just do everything exactly the same as at home.

What qualities make a good travel partner?

Coley: Kimmy Kimmy Cocoa Puff is a real go-getter. She is super adventurous and delightfully hilarious.

Kim: Coley Ravioli will be great because she’s pretty go-with-the-flow, has an uncanny ability sleep almost anywhere, and knows how to have a good time.

Do you think something will go wrong?

Coley: More than likely, but every misadventure is part of the experience.

Kim: Yes. That’s half the fun though right?

What is your favorite international dessert?

Coley: I’m a big fan of gelato, but since we’ll be quite a ways from Italy, I’m looking forward to trying pavlova!

Kim: I loved pavlova and Tim Tams from Australia. Also, I hear New Zealand has this awesome ice cream called Hokey Pokey, so I’m really looking forward to trying that.

Favorite accent?

Coley: To hear? English. To impersonate? Southern.

Kim: English!

Describe your travel style.

Coley: Low maintenance. Eager to learn. Ready to have a good time.

Kim: Organized but spontaneous at the same time. I try to do as much as I possibly can in the time that I have. I’d much rather go out, explore, and have an adventure than lay on the beach and relax.

What are 3 things you couldn’t leave home without?

Coley: Camera, chapstick, & comfy shoes

Kim: Camera, journal, and my favorite pair of jeans

If you could choose a celebrity to travel with, who would it be?

Coley: Danny DeVito (preferably as Frank from Always Sunny in Philadelphia)

Kim: Umm…does Jim from The Office count?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten!?

Coley: Alligator

Kim:  Probably kangaroo…tastes like chicken 🙂

What’s your favorite place  you’ve been so far?

Coley: Innsbruck, Austria. It’s simply charming.

Kim: Melbourne, Australia is the perfect city in my opinion. I’m really excited we’ll be going back to spend 5 days in Melbourne so I can really explore it more. Ask me again after this trip and we’ll see if my answer changes.

What are you going to miss most about home?

Coley: My whole family! My nephew will be turning 1 in July, so I’ll be missing his birthday.

Kim: Mexican food, hot showers, and some privacy

What’s your favorite cereal? 

Coley: Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Kim: Hands down, Cinnamon Toast Crunch…a childhood favorite.

3 things you’re planning to cross off your bucket this list summer?

Coley: Ride an elephant in Thailand, go zorbing in New Zealand, and tubing in Laos

Kim: Bunjee jump in New Zealand, ride an elephant in Thailand, and blackwater raft

Making a List & Checking It Twice

No, we’re not referring to the beloved yuletide hit “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” We’re talking about a document crucial to all travelers in the planning stages of their trip: the packing list. Sure, you can buy toothpaste or a new pair of flip-flops at your destination, but do you really want to leave home without your contacts or most comfortable walking shoes? Being blind and blistery in a foreign country doesn’t sound like the most rockin’ time imaginable. Hence, why creating a precise packing list is a must. So, where do you start?

 1: Pick your pack

What brand? What size? What color? These are all questions to take into consideration when choosing your backpack. It’s all about your personal preference and traveling style. Kim and I fancy ourselves to be “fashionable/flashpack” travelers, so after three separate trips to the REI store, hours of research, and several fittings later, we decided to go with the Women’s Gregory Jade 60.  Durable, stylish, and the perfect size for our 7 week expedition.

Step 2: Yes, No, Maybe

Once you pick out your backpack, you have to pick what goes in it. Luckily, my BFF Kim and I wear the same size clothes. This means twice the wardrobe selection on the trip (remember this perk when choosing your travel partners!). To choose what clothes to bring we went through our closets and assigned every item a “yes”, “no”, or “maybe.” It was kind of like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter…only not. Then, we compared our lists to prevent similar items on our lists from making the cut. The key to picking the right clothes are to determine if they’re low maintenance in terms of care (no dry clean only, sequins and beading, etc.) and versatility (can you wear that cardigan with at least 75% of the other clothes in the backpack?). If the answer is no, then it’s probably not worth bringing. Essentially, we just picked a lot our favorite clothes because we knew that’s what we would wear the most.

Step 3: Dry Run

Try to fit everything on your list into your backpack. More than likely, not everything will fit. This just means you’ll have to make adjustments to your packing list and remove items. Kim and I went through our packing lists several times before choosing the right amount of items. It turned out that nothing on the “maybe” list even made the final cut and only 50% of the items on the original “yes” list did either. Try putting different items into different compartments on the pack to find the best fit. Put items used most in easy-to-reach spots. Also, don’t forget to leave some room in the backpack for souvenirs and other items you’ll want to purchase on the road. Just figure out what works best for you; you’ve got this in the bag.

So I’m sure you’re curious exactly what we brought on our 7 week trip to 4 countries with vastly different temperatures? Check it out!

What’s in the Bag?

We  know everyone is probably curious just exactly what we’re able to fit in our backpacks and bring on our trip. We’ll be the first to admit, we’re flashpackers more so than backpackers. Generally, we say we’re backpacking because yes, we’re bringing everything in a backpack and traveling on a ridiculously cheap budget. However, a “real backpacker” will only bring about 3 pairs of underwear, 2 pairs of shoes, and you can forget about makeup or accessories. Wikipedia actually defines “flashpacker” as someone who travels with technology and gadgets including cameras, iPods, and laptops. Based on that definition I think almost every traveler would be considered a flashpacker these days. I mean, seriously when was the last time you saw someone travel without a camera?  So flashpacker, backpacker, tomato, tomahto.

The problem with packing for long-term travel is that there is no universal packing list because every person and trip are different. For example, if you’re camping in Madagascar your list will be vastly different than if you were staying in hostels or with friends in Europe. If you’re traveling to Canada in the winter you would probably need different items than Mexico in the summer.  So based on our specific trip and circumstances, this is what we decided will work best for us.

In a few weeks, we’ll reevaluate everything in our backpacks and let you know what was worth bringing, what we forgot, and what we should have left at home. So what’s in the bag?

Clothes and accessories:

K & C:  3 short sleeve t-shirts

K & C: 1 long sleeve t-shirt

K & C: 2 ¾ length shirts

K & C: 2 camis

K & C: 2 tank tops

K & C:  3 cardigans or sweaters

K & C: 3 dresses

K & C: 1 skirt

K: 1 pair of cargo pants

K & C: 1 pair of yoga pants

K & C: 2 pairs of shorts

K & C: 1 pair of jeans

K & C: 1 pair of jeggings

K & C: 1 pair of leggings

K & C: 1 winter coat (that we’ll ditch after NZ)

K & C: 1 zip-up hoodie

K & C: 1 Columbia fleece jacket

K & C: 1 light jacket

K & C: 1 bathing suit

K & C: 5 pairs of socks (also will ditch after NZ)

K & C: 14 pairs of underwear (this is something we just weren’t willing to go less on… but I mean let’s be honest here, they don’t take up that much room)

K & C: 2 bras

K & C: 3 scarves

K: 2 necklaces

C: 1 bracelet

K & C: 1 crossbody purse

K & C: 1 pair of tights

K & C: 1 tam hat

K & C: 1 pair of sunglasses

K & C: 1 pair of winter gloves (ditch after NZ)


K & C: 1 pair of  Tom’s shoes

K & C: 1 pair of flip flops/shower shoes

K & C: 1 pair of sandals

K & C: 1 pair of heels (flashpackers, I know, I know)

K & C: 1 pair of boots (will also ditch after NZ)


K: Macbook

K: Nikon D60 SLR camera

C: Small point and shoot camera

K: Travel tripod

K: Video camera

K: Western Digital My Passport external hard drive

K: iPod and headphones

C: Small iPod speakers

K & C:  Flashdrive

K: Unlocked cell phone

K: Outlet adaptor

K & C: Extra batteries, chargers, and connecting cords

First Aid/Heath

K: Ibuprofen and Dayquil

K: 8 Cough Drops

K: 10 band-aids

K & C: 50 Multivitamins (one for each day)

C: Midol, Tums, Benadryl, Claritin, Dramamine, Cipro

K: 30 SPF sunscreen

K: Bug Spray (the deep woods stuff with deet)

K & C: Health insurance and travel insurance


K: Small package of laundry detergent

K: Dryer sheets (to keep the backpack smelling fresh)

K: Duct tape (you never know when you’ll need duct tape)

C: 1 reusable canvas bag (for grocery shopping)

K: 15 wet wipes

K: 2 sharpies

K & C: 3 pens

K & C: 1 journal (thanks Mom)

K & C: 1 quick dry towel

K & C: 1 pillowcase (many uses)

K & C: 1 water bottle

K & C: 1 padlock

K & C: 1 drawstring bag (for dirty laundry)

K & C: 1 small umbrella

K & C: 1 mini bottle of hand sanitizer

K: 1 Tide to Go Pen (I’m always spilling stuff on my clothes)

K & C: Passport (and copies)

K & C: Driver’s license

K & C: Credit/debit cards

K & C: ISIC – International Student ID Card  (offers some student discounts)

K & C: 3 extra passport size photos (for visas and emergency)

C: Earplugs

C: 1 deck of cards

C: 1 swiss army knife

C: 1 small flashlight

C: 1 pad of post-it notes

C: Zip lock bags


K & C: 5 pairs of extra contacts

K & C: Contact solution and case

K & C: 1 pair of glasses

K & C: 1 toothbrush

K & C: Toothpaste

K & C: Shampoo

K & C: Conditioner

K & C: Body Wash

K & C: Deodorant

K & C: 2 disposable razors

K & C: Comb

K & C: Makeup remover

K & C: 100 Q-tips (2 for each day)

K & C: Face Wash

K & C: Moisturizer

K & C: Hair gel and spray

K & C: Tweezers

K & C: Nail clippers

C: 1 small bottle of nail polish

K & C: 3 extra hair ties

K & C: Makeup

What's in Kim's bag

What's in Coley's bag

Are You Ready?