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From this past year until now, my little family & I have been traveling a lot. Whether it’s to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, or anywhere else in between, we’ve surely racked up quite a few miles on the road. Jian & I aren’t quite ready to take our little bean on an airplane ride just yet. More than worrying how she’ll react being cooped up in a pressurized cabin with nowhere to run around, we’re still not completely confident regarding airline COVID safety practices. So, we’ve only opted to take our little bean on trips to places we can turn into a drivable trip. On top of all that, Jian & I are too stingy to pay the extra airline baggage fees in case we have to check-in our little bean’s stroller, car seat, &/or any other baby gear too large for the overhead bin.

Since we have been traveling a lot lately, I thought I’d share with you some of the essential items I always pack in my suitcase. There are a few items I absolutely cannot go without, either because of my persnickety-ness or because of my sensitive skin, but I just won’t travel without them. So they may only be essential items to me personally.


01. Like the compulsively organized person that I am, I am a firm believer in using packing cubes when I travel. Packing cubes (& compression bags) are some of the world’s greatest inventions. They keep your fresh clothes clean, your bags organized, & you won’t believe how much you can store in one of those lil’ suckers which means you can bring more junk with you when you travel to soothe your over analytical thoughts on what to pack. I don’t understand how people can just throw things in their bag & go. I don’t care if you know how to Marie Kondo origami-fold everything into your suitcase. Packing cubes make preparing for a trip so much more efficient & easy.

^ This is not the way to travel. ^

02. If I can’t find travel-sized versions of my at-home skincare products, then I will transfer small amounts of each into small reusable TSA-friendly containers. Luckily for me, I have developed a skincare routine that works perfectly for my dry skin, but also doesn’t require me to use more than 3 to 4 products. So it’s easy for me to travel with mini-sized versions of my daily skincare regimen. I don’t wear makeup, like ever, therefore my usual toiletry bag when I travel is about the size of a small men’s dopp bag.

* EXAMPLE *

03. Ever since I was a little child I’ve had severe allergies. I’m practically allergic to most shellfish & fruit known to mankind. Dogs & Cats used to be my arch nemesis (damn you, pet dander!). I mean, when I was in high school I got allergy tested by my family physician & found out I was allergic to over 100 different things (not all food related). I had to get two allergy shots weekly all throughout high school & take prescription allergy medicine. Nowadays, I only take over-the-counter allergy medication as needed, but I always carry a bottle of nasal spray with me whenever I travel. (My preferred brand is Flonase.) It’s a quick & easy way for me to immediately combat my allergies. Plus, Jian uses it now as well whenever he gets that tickle in his pickle…um, sinus…like after he’s walked through the perfume aisle at Sephora or passes by a Bath & Body Works/White Barn/Yankee Candle Co. candle store.

04. Until my little bean was diagnosed by a dermatologist as having keratosis pilaris, I never knew I had it too. I just lived with having those tiny little bumps on my skin my whole life. It never bothered me, never itched, or felt irritated. It just felt like having permanent goose bumps. I’ve used numerous types of lotions to keep my skin feeling less dry & patchy, but the bumps were always there, not noticeable unless you touched the skin. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties when I started using loofah sponges when I bathed. Once I switched from a loofah poof to the long wash cloth style, it was such a game changer. I was finally able to fully scrub & exfoliate my entire back (not just my body). That’s when my keratosis pilaris bumps started to go away. My skin feels immensely smoother in texture, & I can definitely see a difference in a more even skin tone. It has definitely improved the dryness & overall itchiness of my skin, which I’ve battled my entire life. I love using my loofah wash cloth so much that I have an extra one that I bring on all of my travels.

05. As I have said before, I am a compulsive persnickety person. Not really a ‘Type-A’ kind of person, but just very stuck in my habits & personal preferences. I like the way my at-home body wash smells & how it works well with my specific skin conditions. This also applies (no pun intended) to my body lotion. I have a proprietary mixture of various body lotions that I use at home that also works on my sensitive skin. So it’s obvious that I also bring travel-sized versions of these items with me on all of my travels. I have been known to use hotel-provided bath products when necessary, but my preference is to use my own body wash & lotion because it works best on my always dry & itchy skin. I know it is totally extra of me to practically bring my whole bathroom with me when I travel, but I at least try to keep everything to a TSA-approved travel size.

06. I remember the first time one of my former bosses explained to me how she kept a small pill case in her purse at all times. She was often getting migraines & stomach irritability, so she always kept a small packet of over-the-counter medicines in her purse. But of course, me in all of my compulsive glory, decided to upgrade that to a full on first-aid kit. It made sense back in those days when large tote bag purses were the trendy style & I used to use a messenger bag style purse. I put everything in that purse like a crazy bag lady…everything from nail clippers, to folding scissors, to cough drops. Even as I downgraded my purses over the years to be more compact & practical, I’ve always found a way to incorporate some sort of first-aid pouch. This pouch will include over-the-counter headache medicine, folding scissors, bandage plasters, & a few emergency feminine sanitary products. When I travel, especially overseas, I will include a few extra items like cold & anti-diarrhea medicines because who has time to Google Translate every single thing at a foreign pharmacy.


When I travel on long flights, mostly to overseas, the select items listed above are what I like to pack. These items are mostly to be used on the airplane, but they have definitely made those long flights more bearable. Slippers are great to keep your feet clean & reduces swelling. Neck pillows are so much more comfortable & more sanitary than using those thin cotton pads airlines pass off as “pillows”. Even before this pandemic happened, I’ve been an avid user of disposable face masks, especially on airplanes. The recycled, barely circulated cabin air really activates my allergies, so using a disposable face mask really helps to reduce my allergy symptoms. In recent years I’ve tried to not bring my personal tablet with me when I travel. I end up not using it that much when I’m on a trip, & I am more paranoid now than ever regarding property theft targeted at obvious tourists. However, on long flights I will bring my tablet, lest I go crazy over sheer boredom & lack of good in-flight entertainment options.


Now that I’ve got a kid to travel with, she also comes with a lot of her own baggage (yes, pun intended). I try to keep my little bean’s travel gear to a minimum. I don’t want to be one of those people who loads up the hotel luggage cart on a mere 3-night stay.

* EXAMPLE *

Here I’ve compiled a short list of the must-have items in her little kid’s packing list.

01. I will start off by talking about my little bean’s keratosis pilaris skin condition. Though it’s not curable, it is treatable, which means if you have it you just have to work at it most of your life to suppress the symptoms. We as parents treat our little bean’s keratosis pretty much the same way as I treat my symptoms. We have a soft silicone exfoliating brush that we use along with a gentle baby bath wash & delicate skin baby body lotion. This combination of silicone brush, bath wash & baby lotion has improved my little bean’s skin & reduced the keratosis breakouts on her skin. We still have a long, long way to go in fighting this skin condition, but these are our go-to products that we can’t go without during every bath time at home or away.

02. Almost every child has a favorite snuggle toy for naps & bedtime. Our little bean is no exception. She has a butterfly lovey security blanket that is her absolute favorite to sleep & play with. We have to be extremely careful with this item because it has since been discontinued by the brand, & the only place to get a replacement is eBay, apparently. It’s because of this that we never bring this with us when we travel, for fear of losing it. Our little bean has already lost one of her other favorite stuffed toys during one of our hotel stays in Los Angeles, & we were lucky enough to be able to get her a replacement without her knowing the difference, but we are not planning on doing that every time she loses one of her “special friends”. (P.S. We call all of her stuffed toys her ‘friends’.) Fortunately for us, this butterfly security blanket is not the only thing she is able snuggle with when she sleeps. When we travel, we will bring one of her other replaceable stuffed toys for her to use during nap time & bedtime.

03. I have a travel set of kid’s cutlery & snack boxes that I like to use whenever we take our little bean out to eat, at a restaurant or at someone’s house. She has a growing collection of kid’s utensils that she uses at home, like plastic bowls, spoons & forks, but I have a specific set of utensils that she only uses when we go out. Our little bean also has her own insulated lunch bag to carry everything in. That way we don’t have to bring her at-home stuff out with us & replace them every time she loses something. We take her mealtime eating kit with us whenever we know we’ll have to feed her outside of the house. It’s very convenient & easy to clean. Plus, we feel like we are inconveniencing the restaurant if we ask them for kid’s stuff, even if they have it. For me, I like to bring our own kid’s cutlery when we go out because it just calms the germaphobe in me.

04. This goes with the previous item, the sippy cup. Our little bean also has an ever-growing collection of these at home as well. She has one for all of the stages, from baby bottle style all the way up to full on toddler trainer cups. We have a tall sippy cup that we specifically use whenever we go out with our little bean. It can hold a larger volume of water which is good when we’re going on road trips & don’t have opportunities to make sudden pit stops. Right now the sippy cup we are using has a hard silicone tip, but we are very slowly trying to teach our little bean how to slurp from an actual straw. She knows how to sip/gulp from an open cup, but you know me, & you know I don’t like myself or my kid getting messy, especially when we’re away from home (& a fresh change of clothes).

05. When we go on family trips, I like to pack a few simple toys for our little bean to play with when we are in the hotel room, or staying at a relative’s house. I don’t pack an entire toy chest worth of toys, but I will select at most 2 or 3 toys to entertain my little bean, especially when we the parents are trying to get ready in the morning & need to distract her for several minutes. Some toys I will consider bringing are a sandwich-sized Ziplock storage bag of plastic animals, or one of her interactive toys like her toy cell phone. I try to not bring toys that are difficult or expensive to replace, & I like to bring toys that are compact & easily packable into her small duffle bag.

06. My little bean loves to read books. We can read at least 5 or 6 children’s board books in the morning before we get out of bed. So, I like to bring a mini selection books for my little bean & I to read together. My little bean also has a bedtime book that we read together almost every night before she goes to sleep, & I like to bring that book as well. When packing for my little bean I won’t pack more than 3 or 4 books, including her bedtime storybook. I try not to bring too many books in case we happen to buy more books when we travel, which is often.

07. This last one is optional. I read in some other mommy blog that it’s best to try to recreate the child’s sleeping environment as best as possible when traveling, so the baby won’t have a hard time going to sleep, but sometimes that’s just not feasible, or practical for that matter. I used to bring my little bean’s crib blanket when we traveled, so she’d have some comfort reminder of her room back at home, but lately I’ve been going through a ‘less is more’ phase, & I’m trying to scale back a lot of the junk we bring with us on vacation. I don’t bring her crib blanket on our travels anymore, but if we were perhaps to go on a longer vacation or go somewhere overseas, I might be more inclined to pack it along.


This is the end of my list. I must confess that we are taking another trip to Los Angeles, & leaving this coming Sunday. We didn’t go on that last Los Angeles trip I talked about in my previous blog post, the one where my nephew celebrated his high school graduation & birthday. Jian asked me repeatedly, yet casually, if we should go but we ended up saying no. Honestly, we really needed a break from living with my mom, & my little bean needed that time away from smothering grandma as well to develop & mature.

This time we are going to L.A to celebrate our new niece turning one year old, & celebrate another nephew turning four. We thought it would be more meaningful to have our little bean interact with more kids close to her age. Also, Jian wants to snoop around the L.A office of his company’s department. I guess I should mention that this isn’t exactly a “vacation”. Jian still has to work everyday (except on Monday’s Memorial Day observance), but I get to spend quality time exploring the city & the area around our hotel with my little bean. My mom won’t be traveling with us, as she just recently returned from L.A herself, so this will give us even more badly needed time away from my mom, a.k.a. grandma -slash- super crutch for my little one to revert back to acting like a baby & not want to learn how to walk at all. It will be interesting to see how things go. Maybe I’ll write another hotel review post since we are staying at a brand new hotel we’ve never even heard of before. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

I always promised myself that if I ever have a little bean I would not get overloaded with too much baby/kid stuff, like toys & playthings. It’s so easy to fall into that trap of wanting to get your little bean all the cute things you find. I truly envy those Europeans whose homes don’t look like children live there at all. Also those Euro-parents that can fit everything their baby needs into a super slim backpack. After taking my little bean on multiple trips, I tend to look at what other parents pack so I can take notes & pair down all of my essential items.

I’ve seen moms who bring out backpacks the size of suitcases, filled to the brim with everything (probably the kitchen sink too), & I have always made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t be that mom with the ginormous diaper bag (or one that remotely looked like a traditional diaper bag). The bag I use to carry my little bean’s diapering tools is still quite large-&-in-charge, but I think I’ve been able to slim it down as much as possible. Here is my ultimate list of top 3 absolute must-have essential items that I keep in my diaper bag at all times.

01.

A spare change of clothes. I have a small Ziplock bag with a spare long-sleeve onesie, leggings & a pair of socks packed in my bag at all times. It is inevitable that any little bean will “spill their beans” (no pun intended) while out & about. A spare change of clothes is absolutely necessary to have on-hand. Even if you’re only at the grocery store or shopping mall, you don’t want to keep your kid in their poopy clothes until you get home. It’s better to swap out their clothes wherever you can (I’ve done it in the trunk of my car), & it minimizes the chance of a little bean public freak out because they’re stinky, sticky & wet. (I also pack a spare Ziplock bag to throw the dirty/wet clothes in.)


02.

A first aid kit. I keep a small pouch in my bag for first-aid items like: bandages, a Tide stain remover pen, a pair of folding scissors, & a mini pill case filled with emergency adult items (i.e. Tylenol, acid reducers, etc.). I also keep a small tube of gum soothing gel for my little bean since she is currently going through her difficult teething phase. And you know, for mom specifically, I keep a little stash of sanitary napkins for those special times-of-the-month, if you know what I mean. Having a first-aid kit in the bag is super useful & can be customized to suit any family’s needs. It has come in handy many times while we’ve been on the road with no convenience store or pharmacy nearby.


03.

A fidget toy. My little bean is kind of weird & likes to play with things she can easily chew on like: straws, plastic spoons, or coffee drink stoppers. Pretty much anything she can gnaw on is her new favorite “toy”du jour, & no, she’s not into traditional teething toys or those silicone rings you pop in the freezer. However, I have found those pop-it fidget toys made popular by the mini-millennials of TikTok are an easy & affordable toy you can throw into any bag/purse to entertain your little bean while on the go. These toys are great because not only are they fidgets, some of them are made of BPA-free silicones/plastics, which is safe for the little bean to chomp on. I got my little bean the flower press toy by mushie (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09Q55NT9Q/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1), & I’m so glad I thought of keeping it in her diaper bag. We’ve already used it at restaurants when she’s starting to get a little restless, & it’s kept her entertained for at least until we’re ready to pay our tab. I also love these toys because it’s inevitable for the little bean to drop everything on the floor after they get bored, & these toys are super easy to wipe down & throw back into your bag.


Those three items are the absolute top items I must bring with me at all times when I take my little bean out. Even if I don’t pack a traditional diaper bag when I take my bean on a little outing, I will definitely pack these three things in a mini bag. There are a couple of other optional things that I like to keep in my bag when we go out such as:

  • Anti-bacterial wipes: These are for wiping down all those fallen toys that my little bean will shove right back into her mouth to teeth on. Also, because of the you-know-what virus, it’s never a bad idea to have anti-bacterial wipes on hand to clean up sticky hands, or quickly wipe down anything the little bean might touch when you’re at a restaurant or public place. It’s also convenient for the parents to use as well.
  • One (or two) extra bibs in a Ziplock bag: My little bean is drooling a lot during her teething phase, so she often wears bibs to catch all the drool. An extra bib comes in handy when she soaks through the first one. Also, it’s a great barrier for those one-off, rare times the little bean might barf on the road, which my little bean did twice on our last road trip to Los Angeles two weeks ago.
  • An extra pacifier. Ok, so not all beans use pacifiers (& not all parents believe in those little suckers), but for those of us who do, it’s pretty handy to have an extra pacifier stowed away in the bag. I am a little more bougie & always keep at least two on hand. At home we have the mainstay pacifier that our little bean specifically uses for naps & bedtime (or when she gets ultra fussy). Then, on the road, the little bean has a travel pacifier that we don’t mind if it gets lost or dirtied.

Thank goodness my little bean is somewhat smoothly transitioning from the infant stage to toddlerhood. Then I can easily swap out items in her diaper bag that she no longer needs. It is also incredibly lucky for us that a few of our close friends just had little beans of their own. Then we are fortunate to pass down a lot of our bean’s gently loved items to her new friends. I almost can’t wait until my little bean outgrows her need for a diaper bag so I won’t have to lug around even more stuff when we go out together. I say almost ’cause I don’t want my little bean to grow up too fast. I still want to savor these precious younger times when she still has a need for diapers…& a need for me, her mama. Until the next diaper change, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

Last week I had one of the most delicious lunches in a very long time: half of a toasted French baguette sandwich, a small mixed greens salad, a small cup of smoked paprika flavored potato chips, & a bottle of lemon sparkling water. That lunch really made me feel so satisfied. It put me in a really good mood that day. Eh, but that’s beside the point. The main point of this blog post is that Jian & I took our little bean on her first vacation-slash-road trip.

Jian took a week off of work during the Memorial Day holiday, & we planned a trip to Los Angeles to visit my extended family down there. Yes, I know the Memorial Day holiday was quite a bit of time ago, but with this little bean taking up so much of my life, & Jian occupying our one & only shared desktop computer, I haven’t had much free time for myself other than to play a quick level of an app game on my tablet whilst sitting on the toilet. (I don’t dare stay in the bathroom for too long, lest my mother scream bloody hell that she can no longer carry or distract her grandchild for another minute. My mother has just as short an attention span as my little bean, & even less stamina to keep up with her.) This is all completely frivolous information & totally beside the point. Let’s get on with the main topic, shall we?

Jian & I had carefully planned a road trip down to Los Angeles to visit extended family whom have never seen our little bean in person up until now. Our little bean has only seen aunts, uncles, cousins & the like through a tiny little screen on mommy’s smartphone. Jian & I of course made sure that the both of us were fully Covid-19 vaccinated before we decided to travel anywhere outside our city bubble. Luckily for our little bean, she got to get her vaccine through me & my delicious breast milk. Yes, you heard me right. My breast milk contains antibodies, which can transfer to the babe through breast feeding, which shares with the babe the benefits of mommy’s vaccine.

Both Jian & I were a little worried (me more so than him) that our little bean would not be too happy being confined in her makes-the-baby-too-hot car seat for several hours. So we made plans to take frequent breaks to let the little bean stretch her legs & get some fresh air outside of the car. It turns out that we didn’t really need to take so many breaks. We only stopped for gas, one extra diaper change, & a quick lunch break at a designated rest area. Otherwise, the little bean slept in the car for most of the drive down the interstate. She did complain a little bit about being too hot in the car, but once we blasted the air conditioning, she went back to her regularly scheduled napping.

This is little bean & me after eating lunch.

Originally, Jian & I had planned on staying at one of the super hipster boutique hotels that we’ve heard so much about through Instagram. There was one hotel in particular that we were excited about staying at, but it was a little bit out of the way from where our family lives, so we ended up taking the practical route & stayed at a hotel close to family. That hotel ended up being the best decision & made our trip so effortless & enjoyable. We were close to craft coffee shops, restaurants, & a huge shopping mall, yet also close by to family. Also, having a mini kitchenette in our hotel room made it so much more convenient to take care of a little babe who is still bottle feeding.

Our little bean instantly acclimated to hotel living & fell in love with our hotel room the moment we stepped through the door. She made herself right at home on the king-sized hotel bed, rolling around & playing with her blanket from home. We just plopped her down in the middle of the bed, & she was making all sorts of happy cooing sounds & playing all by herself while the two of us casually unpacked all of our travel gear. Normally at home, our little bean would’ve been whining as soon as we put her down on the bed. At home she won’t even give us two minutes to change out of our pajamas in the morning before she starts crying to have us pick her up from the bed. At the hotel, she immediately would entertain & amuse herself while Jian & I would do our own things like taking a bathroom break or grabbing a drink from the fridge in the kitchenette.

This is little bean & Jian in our hotel room.

Over all, we had a great time visiting family. The two of us were quite pleasantly surprised that our little bean allowed us to do all of the usual things we do when we visit Los Angeles, like hang out at coffee shops, go shopping at our favorite trendy neighborhoods, & eat at various types of busy/crowded/loud food places. This little girl was super chill the entire duration of our trip, except for when she was feeling hot & restless. We thought the weather in Los Angeles was going to be raging hell fire hot, since it is…well…Los Angeles in early summer after all. I even bought the little bean a portable stroller fan, but it turned out that I didn’t really need to use it on most days. The weather was very warm, but not unbearably hot like we were assuming it would be. It turns out that I’ve been using the stroller fan more at home than I ever did on our travels.

Our little bean had a great time with all of the grown-ups (aunts, uncles, and grandparents). I thought she’d see little kids in our family & immediately warm up to them, since they are small like her, but she was actually nervous around the other little kids in our family, her first cousins. Also, as it turns out, our little bean isn’t really afraid of dogs (as long as they’re not the size of Great Danes or German Shepherds). She’ll tolerate them running around the house or sniffing her, but she won’t put her hands close to them or pet them at all. A few of my cousins each have a dog of their own, & our little bean was just fine around them. I thought she would be a little freaked out by them since she’s never really been around animals before, but she took on the situations like a champ!

Well, we’ve been home for a couple of weeks now, & we just realized that we spent most of our time in Los Angeles hunting down the next craft coffee shop to quench our caffeine addiction. Along the way, we unintentionally hauled a bunch of coffee beans to make drip coffee at home. Jian & I are already extremely familiar with all of the local coffee roasters in our region, so finding a new & interesting bag of beans while traveling outside of our area is always something we enjoy doing. When we first started our journey into frequenting craft coffee spots, there weren’t more than just a small handful of roasters based in Los Angeles; a lot of the beans we tried were all imported from Portland, OR, Chicago, IL, or Santa Cruz, CA. Now there’s a lot of local coffee bean roasters based out of Los Angeles, & we were excited to try these new beans at home.

Our coffee bean haul

Wow, I can’t believe my little bean has been napping for nearly 2 hours, giving me time to sit down & properly write this post. I better wrap this up before she wakes & demands all of my attention. I am currently snacking on French Comté cheese & listening to lo-fi music on Spotify. (Check out my playlists & send me a follow if you’re there.) Now it’s time to cook dinner & send my brother off to the airport. Oh, did I forget to tell you that my brother has been in town this past weekend? Oops! Well, I gotta go now, but until next time… santé!

Today’s song of the day:

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