Beauty Travel Essentials.

This post, I think, is geared a bit more towards the ladies, but I’m sure some dudes could find some of these things helpful as well (maybe not the make-up part, but other stuff).

During my year abroad, I discovered a few holy grail products when it comes to traveling with all your beauty essentials (especially when trying to pack everything into one small carry-on sized bag). Here are some items and things that I found helpful, and hopefully  you will too. A lot of these products are going to be from LUSH, which is a brand that I love. And LUSH has several locations around the world, making it super convenient for travelers.

Before I get into the list of items, I would like to say that when I have a suitcase that I’ll be checking in, I prefer to stuff all my liquids/cosmetics into it mainly because I hate the hassle of having to take them out of my carry-on at security (especially if I already have to run my laptop through too). Also, if I’m checking the bag in, that doesn’t limit the amount of beauty products I can bring as much as a carry-on does 🙂

Alright, so here’s my list:

1. Solid Shampoo

LUSH sells a great variety of solid shampoos. My favorite is Jumping Juniper. What’s great about solid shampoos is that they’re super tiny and weigh nothing. And the best part? You never have to worry about having that dreaded moment when you open your suitcase and feel gooey liquid all over your favorite clothes and shoes. Worst feeling ever and we all know we’ve been there once before. And don’t be worried that they don’t work as well as liquid shampoos, I find that I even prefer the solid shampoos to the liquid ones. And they last for about 80 washes, so no worries about them not lasting that long either.

2. Dry Shampoo

Sometimes, when you’re traveling, there just isn’t enough time to give your hair a good shampoo rinse…that is where dry shampoo saves the day. I recommend getting this at Sephora since they tend to sell travel size versions of various dry shampoos. Two of my favorites are Oscar Blandi and Batiste. Batiste isn’t available at Sephora, or at least, it wasn’t the last few times I went, so I recommend stocking up on that one before your trip (you can find it online and at Ulta).  I tend to prefer the Oscar Blandi one for traveling, however, since it’s a powder instead of a spray.

3. Solid Scrubs

Once again, LUSH has some great solid scrubs. I prefer scrubs to soap, mainly because I like to exfoliate every time I shower. My favorite from LUSH is the sugar scrub. It smells great and does the job of exfoliating gently wonderfully.

4. Shower Gel

You can always try and stock up on travel sizes of your favorite shower gel or buying travel sized containers and decanting your shower gel into one of them. I, however, prefer to use LUSH bars. Can you tell that I’m a LUSH fiend? My FAVORITE one ever is King of Skin. It’s ridiculously moisturizing…to the point of not even really needing lotion when you get out of the shower. It’s that amazing. And, once again, they are super easy to travel with. Just make sure you pack it in something like a tin container, or wrap it in tissue-like paper because they melt at high heat. I’ve never had an issue with it, but, better to be pre-cautious just in case.

5. Face Wash

When it comes to face wash, I’m super particular because I have sensitive skin and many face washes are prone to breaking me out (which is something one does NOT want while traveling). I have two face washes that I LOVE, so I’ll usually pick one and pour it into one of my travel sized containers and bring it with me. In case you’re wondering what my two favorite face washes are: Michael Todd True Organics Charcoal Detox and Clean and Clear Continuous Control. I use these with my Clarisonic Mia 2, which goes with me everywhere because I love it. Michael Todd also sells a lot of travel kits. They’re super convenient and I really can’t recommend them enough. I like things that are  natural and organic (pretty obvious with my LUSH obsession) mainly because I find that they work best for my skin and Michael Todd’s products are AMAZING. Oh and Michael Todd ships worldwide. SUPER convenient.

6. Make-Up

I’m not even ashamed to admit that there is no way in hell that I will travel anywhere without bringing my make-up along. Now, that being said, I don’t bring my entire make-up bag with me. I have a smaller cosmetics bag, where I pack my essentials. This includes: foundation (I use Dior’s Forever), ONE blush (I usually bring my MAC mineralize skinfinish in Cheeky Bronze because I find that I don’t really need bronzer with it. They don’t sell it anymore, but the current Soft and Gentle is pretty similar), ONE eyeshadow palette (My FAV is Classic Nude by Physician’s Formula), lip color (I prefer to use lip butters rather than lipstick so I’ll usually bring 2 of my Revlon lip butters), mascara, and last, but certainly not least, mattifying powder (I have an oily face, yo. Gotta keep that ish under control. My fav is by Makeup Forever). Now, along with all this, I bring 3 make-up brushes. My foundation brush, blush brush, and powder brush. I don’t bring an eyeshadow brush because I’m content using the one that comes with the palette. I know this all seems like a lot, but seriously, I fit it all in a small cosmetics bag.

I’ll usually also bring along make-up remover wipes because I like to use those before I use my clarisonic. As far as other things, like lotion and perfume, I usually dispense those into travel size containers.  LUSH does sell solid perfume, though, just sayin’.

I think that’s all for my travel beauty product essentials. Leave me a comment below with a product you absolutely can’t travel without! And ladies, please tell me I’m not the only one who brings make-up with her on her travels. Please.

I’ll be posting that Puerto Rico post I mentioned soon.

¡Hablamos Pronto!

Italia Part 4 – Siena

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to make a post regarding Siena because we were only there for a few hours…and it sucked. I had, by far, the worst meal I have ever been served in my life there. I’m not exaggerating. But I’ll get to that part later.

This adventure starts with the journey of finding the damn bus station that we needed. True to form, Diana and I had done little research regarding where we needed to go to take the bus to Siena. We figured we’d follow the signs…ahahaha how stupid. I forgot that Europe doesn’t really believe in street signs and labels. After wandering aimlessly for awhile and asking for directions to the bus station twice, I finally spotted the thing as Diana and I were crossing another street. We made it 10 minutes before the bus was scheduled to leave. We bought our tickets (after dealing with some attitude from the ticket vendor) and were finally on the bus to Siena. The ride from Florence to Siena was pretty short. Diana and I passed the time listening to music on our ipods.

Once we arrived in Siena, we realized we had no idea what we wanted to do there. We figured we’d start by going to find the famous Piazza del Campo. Again, it took us a little longer than it should have to find it…and I wasn’t all that impressed by it once we did. I think I had built it up too much in my head and it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

Once we were done there, we went off to find food. We decided on a little place since the menu seemed decent enough. Oh man, we really should have just waited until we got back to Florence. We ordered our food (we each ordered pasta) and started to chat while we waited to be served. It should be noted that Diana’s back was facing the kitchen area, so I was the one with the view when the woman came out with our food. I tried to keep my facial reaction to a minimum, though I think Diana could tell that something was wrong. You see, I saw the woman walking towards us with what appeared to be lean cuisine. I shit you not. This was our food: More

Flight Woes.

I was so hoping so have a nice, relaxing travel back home…alas, it was not meant to be. My day got off to a rough start with the fact that the service that was taking me to airport got me there at 8:00, roughly an hour and a half before my flight. I usually like to be at the airport 2-3 hours before my flight. So I was speeding to the check-in desk and then later through security. By the time I got to my gate they had already started the boarding process.

However, our flight was scheduled to take off at 9:30, at we were still sitting on the plane at 10:00. At 10:15 the captain announced that the plane had mechanical issues and that the repair was estimated to take at least 2 hours. So we all had to be taken off the plane again along with our luggage. Now, in Spain, a lot of times you have to take a shuttle that takes you to your plane. This meant that I had to carry my carry-on up and down several flights of steps. It was no cake walk.

Since we were now 2 hours delayed, this meant I was going to miss my connecting flight in Charlotte. Unfortunately, the employees were of no help because they said they couldn’t do anything about connecting flights until they had a new estimated time of arrival. Suffice it say that there were some very pissed of flyers (myself included). They were nice enough to give us vouchers to buy snacks at the cafeteria so once I did that, I sat down on the floor and waited. Ultimately, our flight was delayed 5 hours. They announced that those of us that missed our connecting flights would be helped once we arrived to Charlotte. This meant that I had no idea whether I would be on a flight home when I arrived to Charlotte or if I would have to wait until the next day.

Now, let’s talk about the plane we were on. It was old. It was no wonder that there were mechanical issues. Also, this was the first time I’ve flown a 9 hour flight that didn’t have screens in each seat for people to pick their own in-flight entertainment. There was just one regular sized screen towards the front section of the plane. Then the movies they played were old. My face must have been one of sheer denial when I saw the beginning credits for SPEED began to play. I mean, I love Sandra Bullock, but maybe something recent like The Blind Side would have been a better choice. I wasn’t really interested in any of the films they played and I couldn’t really sleep because I was so anxious about getting a connecting flight which meant that the flight felt like an eternity to me.

Finally, after 9.5 hours of flying, we made it to Charlotte. However, we weren’t allowed off of the plane because the line at customs was completely full. So we waited another 20-30 minutes to be left on the plane and were greeted by a customs like that took about 30 minutes to get through. Once we all had our luggage, we were all running to the counters to see about our connecting flights. There were so many of us and we were causing such a commotion that a Charlotte employee asked, “Where are you all coming from?” To which we all screamed, “MADRID!” Finally, they had to make a separate area for us at the check-in counter. When it was my turn, the guy informed me that they had rebooked me for an 8:00 flight…it was currently 7:30. He proceeded to tell me to hurry because they were probably already boarding. I proceeded to run like a mad woman to security. I made it to my gate at 7:50, sweating and panting, only to be informed that my flight was delayed an hour.

Thanks to the delay, I was able to call my parents and inform them that I would finally be arriving in Maryland around 10:20…6 hours after my original arrival time. Thankfully, the flight from Charlotte to Baltimore was only an hour. Granted, by the time we landed, I had been awake for 22 hours, so even 5 minutes felt like an hour.

This whole experience may have put me off US Airways for life. I had never had an experience like this and I’d really prefer not to have a repeat. I must say, though, that after all of that mess, I have never been so insanely happy to finally be home.

Italia Part 3 – ROMA

The final part of our Italy trip led us to Rome. Getting the train from Florence to Rome was so easy and nice, especially when compared to the Pisa-Florence train debacle. The hotel we were staying at wasn’t too far from the train station so it only took us about 10 minutes to walk to our hotel. The only sucky part was that it was raining and holding your umbrella while lugging around your suitcase in the tiny Roma streets is no cake walk. We made it to our hotel without getting lost! Shocking for me and Diana.

When we went to check-in, the receptionist informed us that our room wasn’t ready, which wasn’t all that surprising since we were early so we decided to wait in the lobby. While we were in the lobby, we asked about the wifi. The receptionist proceeded to tell us that since our room was upstairs, we wouldn’t have wifi since wifi was only available on the first floor. She said that since we wrote that we preferred 3 single beds when we booked, they gave us the room upstairs. My friend from Maryland still hadn’t arrived in Rome yet, but Diana and I made the executive decision that we would be willing to forgo the 3 single beds in exchange for wifi. You have to understand that Diana and I pretty much didn’t have wifi while in Florence because our hostel’s wifi was complete and utter crap. There was no way we were dealing with no wifi. So instead of each of us having our own single bed, our room consisted of 1 single bed and a double bed. However, the single and the double were smack dab next to each other…so, essentially, it was just one giant bed:

MegaBedEmily had the “single” bed while Diana and I shared the double. It actually wasn’t so bad…and totally worth having wifi over.

Once we got our things settled in the room, Diana and I took off to explore Roma a bit. We quickly realized that crossing the street is a very scary affair in Rome. In Spain, I don’t mind crossing the street even if there’s no crosswalk because most Spaniards stop to let you pass. In Italy, however, there was no way Diana and I would cross a street without a crosswalk. They drive like maniacs! Exploring had to wait a little, though, because our hunger was our main priority. We ended up eating at a small little restaurant near our place (I can’t remember the name for the life of me) and it was pretty good. We were also able to satisfy our coffee fix there, which is always a good thing. We ended up wandering around and just seeing where we ended up. We walked to the Trevi Fountain, the pantheon, and while we said we weren’t going to walk very far…we somehow ended up at the Vatican. I didn’t even believe Diana when she said that I was looking at St.Peter’s Basilica. I was in actual denial that we walked all that way. We took some pictures and then proceeded to the metro because we decided there was no way in hell we were making the walk back to our hotel.

Once we arrived back to our hotel, we were pretty exhausted and just wanted to go eat. Diana had done some research on TripAdvisor and read about a restaurant near us called Mamma Angela’s. We walked over and it ended up being an excellent choice. Our food was delicious! The service is pretty great, too. It’s obvious that the waiters know a lot of the clientele are toursits and really want them to leave with a great impression of the restaurant. There was a slight (hilarious) misunderstanding between Diana and our waiter, which I won’t write on here but it made my evening. Don’t worry, though, karma came back to bite me for making fun of Diana’s embarrassment. But that happens later on in our travel. But, if you’re ever in Rome, I highly recommend Mamma Angela’s. The food is AMAZING (best pasta and tiramisu) and the waiters are incredibly nice and friendly.

Day 2 had been established as our “picture day” because it was suppose to be the day with the nicest weather. Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain: More

Learning to Leave.

If you go to the About the Expat section of my blog, you’ll see that I mention that I am an avid reader. Recently, I was rereading one of my favorite books, Paper Towns, by one of my all-time favorite authors: John Green. I read this book years ago when it first came out and I hadn’t reread it since. If I loved this book before, it is now one of my top 3 favorite books. I relate to it so much more now that I’ve had this experience of living abroad. There were 2 quotes that struck me the most when I was reading the book. The first:

It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

If you are an expat, I’m sure you can relate to this quote. I was so nervous about leaving my home, friends, and family when I was getting ready to move to Spain. And then once I arrived, I realized how stupid I’d been to be so scared. I never really had horrible homesickness (luckily). I honestly didn’t start to miss home until Thanksgiving. And at that point, I only needed to hold on 3 more weeks because I knew I was visiting home for Christmas. While I am super excited to be going home for the summer and spending time with my family, I am also thrilled at the idea of returning to Spain in September and planning all my next adventures.

For all the future auxiliares (I know BEDA and the Ministry have started handing out placements), I know that it seems so insanely scary to uproot your life to another country, but just as the quote says, leaving is hard until the moment in which you finally leave. You will meet new people and make new friends. I am so grateful for my tight-knit group of friends here in Spain. Diana, Sean, and Dan are the greatest friends I could have found here. It’s rare to find people who you just “click” with and that’s what I’ve found in them. My Italy trip wouldn’t have been half as fun if I hadn’t had Diana with me. And then there is my amazing Spain family. I will never be able to thank them enough for taking me in and making me another member of their family. I’ve gone from being the baby sister in my family back home to the big sister here and I’ve loved every minute of it.

The other quote that struck me while I was reading was the following one:

Leaving feels good and pure only when you leave something important, something that mattered to you. Pulling life out by the roots. But you can’t do that until your life has grown roots.

This is so utterly and completely true. Before Spain, I had never been away from my family for longer than a few days. I went to college in-state and I saw my family every weekend. Not to mention since my mom works at a sorority at my university, I saw her during the week too. I’ve lived in Maryland my entire life. My dog is in Maryland…I know this probably seems absurd…but I realllyyyy love my dog. All of my friends are in Maryland. Maryland is my comfort zone. So completely uprooting my life to move to Spain was a big decision. But this journey wouldn’t have half of the significance if I didn’t leave all those things behind. So while I know many of the future auxiliares are likely scared shitless about this move…that’s good. That means it’ll be all the more worthwhile once you’re finally here in Spain…or wherever it is that your journey is taking you. Can’t wait to meet some of you this September 🙂

Italia (Part 2) – Firenze. This Post is Ridiculously Long. Sorry.

Florence was definitely a highlight in the Italy trip. Now that I’ve been back a few weeks, I can say that Florence was my favorite city. It was a close tie with Rome, but something about Florence just appeals to me more. As the title mentions, this post is pretty long. I thought about breaking it up into 2 posts, but I don’t think it’s worth it.

This was the view from our hostel.

This was the view from our hostel.

After the debacle that was getting to the train station in Pisa to get to Florence, getting to the hostel we were staying at was pretty easy. I think it was probably around a 10 minute walk from the train station. We were the first people to check into the room so we got to pick our beds. We chose the bunk beds that were kind of separated from the other 2 bunk beds in the room. There was a semi-wall dividing us from the rest of the room and we liked it because, well, we weren’t sure if we’d get along with our roommates or not. After unpacking all of our stuff, we went off to venture the streets of Firenze. We ended up walking through the Market of San Lorenzo, which was about 5 minutes from our hostel. Diana and I already had our minds set that we wanted to buy leather jackets while in Florence since the city is known for having great leather products. So the market was the perfect shopping place for them. We entered one shop and liked some of the jackets, but we were put off by the salesperson who was quickly becoming much to pushy and really trying to pressure Diana and me into buying the jackets. Since it was the first store we’d gone into we didn’t feel comfortable buying the jackets and were trying to explain to the man that we wanted to look around before we made a decision. He got visibly annoyed with us so we just decided to leave. Also, this was also the man who kept telling Diana that the coat she was trying on looked “great around your boobies.” We should have just left after that. More

Italia (Part 1) – PISA

ImageFirst off, I am really sorry for my lack of blogging. There was really no way I could blog while in Italy and then I needed to get adjusted to being back at school. Now that I’m more into my groove of things, I feel like I can finally write my Italy posts. First up, Pisa!

Our trip began with a RyanAir flight straight to Pisa. This was my first time ever flying RyanAir and after all the horror stories I’d heard, I was more than a little anxious about the flight. My friend Diana ended up being in the fetal position for most of the flight since the flight attendant somehow managed to stuff Diana’s carry-on under her seat, which meant Diana had no leg room. None. I was okay for the flight until the landing. Worst landing I have ever experienced. I was fairly certain we were going to land sideways on the tarmac. Everyone was rocking side-to-side as we went down the runway. Granted, we all laughed about it afterward, but it was still scary.

Once I had my bag, Diana and I made our way to the bus we needed in order to get to our hostel. We had a slight bump finding the hostel from the bus stop because the directions we had were terrible. Would it kill people to use street names when giving directions? Once we finally made it to the hostel, we dropped off our bags and went off to find the tower. Now, let me be clear that in the entire walk from the bus stop to the hostel, Diana and I had not seen the tower. So when we left our hostel, we began walking in the direction we assumed the tower would be. This only lasted for about 3 minutes when we decided we were heading in the wrong direction and proceeded to turn around. Diana then says, “Oh my god, Yari. Look!” I had no idea what she wanted me to look at and I thought she was pointing at the car parked in front of us so I was really confused…until I looked up and saw the tower! Suffice it to say that we felt pretty damn stupid at that point. I had to take a picture to commemorate the moment we saw it: More

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