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About Me

About Me

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Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Road Warrior Secrets: 15 Little Things I Never Travel Without

Posted on October 28th, 2013

roadwarrior2

Photo credit: Hostelling International USA

 

When people ask me where I live, I jokingly reply, “out of my suitcase.”

 

These days I am perpetually packed for 11 months of the year, never knowing if I will land in the South Pacific or Siberia.

 

True story: I was in Istanbul, packed for a 3-month assignment in Papua New Guinea when my office called to tell me my project was canceled and I’d be heading to Mongolia instead.

 

Slight change of plans, right?

 

Although my situation is a bit extreme, like all travel warriors, I know what I need, I know what I don’t need, and I know how to charm the airline staff at check-in so they don’t charge me for those extra kilos.

 

Remarkably, I can pack and unpack my 11-month suitcase in 20 minutes flat.

 

Whether bumming around South America for 4 months or being the full-time working nomad I am now, I never leave home without these 15 little items.

 

1. E-Bags packing cubes. These have changed my life, and account for 90% of the reason I can pack and unpack everything I travel with so quickly. I buy them in all sizes, shapes, and colors and they function like drawers in a dresser that I can throw into my suitcase or backpack. They protect and organize my wardrobe so I know where my blouses for work are, which one has my socks and underwear, and that my cosmetics are in the leopard print one.

 

2. A few hangers. I always have one hanger for each piece of good clothing I bring with me. They weigh nothing and provide a tremendous amount of convenience. Especially when I arrive in Addis Ababa after 28 hours of travel and have a business meeting in 3 hours, I can hang my suit in the shower, turn on the hot water, and steam those wrinkles out in 5 minutes.

 

3. Extra debit cards. Travel banking rule #1: Never tie yourself to one bank and NEVER to one debit card. I was once in Bangkok when my bank decided my card had been involved in an international money laundering scam and shut it off without consulting me. I was left penniless in Southeast Asia for 10 days while I waited for the new card to be shipped to me. If I had had an alternate banking option I would have been fine. My advice is to open an account at a new bank before you leave for anywhere, throw a couple grand in it, and pack that debit card as your spare. (Travel banking rule #2: Always have at least a few hundred dollars of cash on you in case of emergency. That’s how I survived those 10 days.)

 

4. Locks of various sizes. I think everyone knows to travel with a lock, but always make sure you have a few different ones with you. Especially if you’re backpacking, hostel lockers can vary considerably, and you may find yourself needing a very small one at one place and a larger one at another. I keep them in my glamorous fanny pack with all of my valuables inside so when I arrive to a place, I whip out my lock, throw my fanny pack in the locker, and all my important items are instantly secured. No fumbling around in the dark room and waking up my new hostel friends at 2am because my locks are buried somewhere else. When I’m traveling for work, I use the TSA-approved locks to secure my baggage as it passes through a few countries en route to my final destination.

 

5. That glamorous fanny pack. My mom bought it for me before my first international trip ever, and I swore I’d never use it. In reality, it’s the thing I use most for my vagabonding adventures. On 18-hour bus rides in Peru, I sleep soundly knowing my passport, smart phone, debit cards, and cash are strapped to my body. Furthermore, as a girl, I always wear a comfortable dress and leggings on these long-haul trips, and strap my fanny pack on underneath my dress so it’s extra discrete. For guys on long-haul trips where you want to sleep worry-free, I suggest wearing yours against your undershirt and then putting a shirt and jacket over it so it’s hidden, as well.

 

6. Earplugs. A no-brainer for getting some shut-eye in 16-person hostel rooms, noisy hotels in the center of the city, and on international flights when the pilot wants to announce every line of longitude you cross. Lately I’ve been using mine while living in my apartment in downtown Doha where lots of construction is taking place.

 

7. A small pair of scissors. They weigh nothing, slip into my cosmetic case, and I consistently surprise myself at how I often I use them…and how often other people ask to borrow them.

 

8. Leggings, a girl’s best travel friend (…sorry, guys). I wear them to bed, layer them with shorts for the jungle, dress them up for going out on chilly evenings, and they are my go-to for warmth and stretchy comfort on air-conditioned night buses. They’ve come in handy while working in the Middle East the past few months when I want to wear a skirt out, but also respect the local dress code.

 

9. A stain remover stick. I’m messy, and access to good laundry or dry-cleaning on the road is not always readily available. A Tide-To-Go stick is always in my purse and it saves my clothing until I get a chance to soak them later. Then I’ll use my 3 ounce bottle of Shout liquid stain remover when I get back to the hotel and that gets everything out.

 

10. Dramamine. If you’re like me, I don’t fall asleep easily on clattering train rides across Vietnam or 12-hour flights to Rio. So I pop one of these babies an hour before the trip and I’m blissfully passed out, drooling on my travel companion before wheels are up. (Not exactly doctor recommended, but relatively safe and effective.)

 

11. A deck of cards. Essential for making friends, passing the time, and creating fun group drinking games.

 

12. Big zip lock bags. Inevitably something liquid will explode in my suitcase as I travel across 5 time zones, so I always use these to pack toiletries in order to protect the rest of my items from splattering shampoo and make-up. Throw in a few extra for packing snacks, transporting wet bathing suits after a last-minute trip to the beach, or for keeping electronics dry and organized.

 

13. Chaco sandals. They aren’t the most fashionable shoe on the planet, but they are well-made, incredibly comfortable, and useful for everything from roaming around Beijing to climbing The Great Wall. They slip on and off easily, are waterproof, and are easy to clean when they get muddy or sandy. As essential to me as my black work pumps or a chic wedge sandal for casual daytime wear.

 

14. A flashlight. It never fails: you will be in a dark hostel room, the power will go out, you will need to paw through your bag on a dark bus at night, you will go jungle trekking at sunset…the list goes on. A flashlight is essential! I used mine most while living in Johannesburg because the city was suffering from a chronic power shortage and our housing block had weekly black-outs.

 

15. A quick-dry travel towel. Don’t pay the extra 2 Euros at every hostel in Italy for a clean towel…and definitely don’t bring a normal, space-consuming towel either. Even for a day trip, pack one of these puppies, which do the job and dry in less than an hour. Perfect for on-the-go!

 

Bonus tip: A safety whistle. Thanks, Legal Nomads for this suggestion. What will you do if you get stuck in a bathroom, lost in the woods, or spooked by a potential robber? A whistle, worn around your neck or wrist, may literally save your life on the road.

 

Above all, follow the golden rule: Don’t pack for “what-ifs.” Pack what you know you will enthusiastically use every. single. day.

 

And remember, capital cities have everything, so don’t panic about making sure you’re prepared for every occasion. I’ve found European skin ointments in Nigerian supermarkets and my favorite American perfume in Ulaanbaatar’s plaza malls.

 

The best part about traveling is becoming detached from all the things you conveniently have at home, and searching for something you realize you need on the road can be a story in and of itself.

 

However, these 15 little things consistently make me feel safer, cleaner, and more relaxed wherever I go.

 

road warrior

Mongolian countryside at its finest

 

 

What are your top travel must-haves? What do you wish you brought on your last adventure? Share in the comments section below!

 

Did you find this article helpful? Please share with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter.

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About Me

About Me

IMG_5937

Hi, I’m Elaina and I want to help you live life on your terms, find a career you love, and travel as often as you want. 

 

I’ve lived, worked, and traveled to more than 60 countries, including some pretty off-the-beaten path destinations like Mongolia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Paraguay. I’ve also lived out of a suitcase as a full-time nomad for the past 4.5 years, ever since leaving my management consulting gig in New York back in 2013 when I landed an international role at a media company that sent me all over the world to work. You can read my full story here

 

What makes my story unique is that I’ve traveled AND built a professional career, working for companies like IBM and Uber over the years. I’ve also spent long stretches of time freelancing and traveling adventurously through South America, Asia, and Africa. I’m currently freelance writing, coaching professionals through career transitions, and working on a few small business ideas while splitting my time between Berlin, the US, and India. 

 

I write about self-development, digital nomadism, charting unconventional life paths, finding REAL jobs overseas, pursuing long-term travel, and living more purposefully in a fast-paced, confusing world. There’s simply no one-size-fits-all model for creating a life you love. I’m not a full-time digital nomad and I’m not a full-time corporate professional: I’ve done things a bit differently and I think it’s feasible for more people to live “off the beaten path” this way. I hope my blog lets you see that it’s both possible and practical.  

 

I started this blog because I want to help you find an exciting career, travel the world, break the norms, and develop yourself both personally and professionally. Read on or get in touch to set up a 1:1 session with me: elaina@lifebefore30.com.

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Currently in: Malawi

 

 

Previously in: Berlin

 

img_6015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Hot

Recent Posts

Coaching

Coaching

Step into my office!

 

Five years ago, I changed my whole life in 30 days. I scored the job of my dreams, quit my job in New York, sold everything I owned, moved to West Africa, and never looked back. Read about it here.

 

Now I use Office Hours to help my clients do the same.

 

Do you want to travel but are scared to quit your job?

Do you want to find a job overseas but don’t know where to start?

Do you wake up in the morning dreading what’s ahead?

Read more

Like Me on Facebook

Like Me On Facebook

Follow me on twitter

Follow me on twitter

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