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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:


Why am I writing this blog post when I should be at home packing? Oh my gawd, I am procrastinating like crazy! There are some times when I am so good at organizing & I can pack a suitcase in one hour or less. For example, when Jian goes on his business trips, I can pack his suitcase in approximately twenty minutes; it’s incredibly easy. However, when it comes to packing my own suitcase, I drag my feet until it becomes crunch time & I absolutely have to pack or else I will be stuffing clothes into a plastic bag right up to the last minute.

I’m excited to be going on another trip, but I am kind of dreading packing my suitcase. I don’t like the feeling of anxiety that I might forget something important, or anxiety that I am over packing for such a short trip. I think I am an efficient traveler. I try not to bring everything plus the kitchen sink (like my mom does), but there are some times when I feel like I’ve over packed & don’t use half of the stuff I’ve packed. There are other times when I feel like I’ve packed the wrong items & wished I had brought that other shirt/pants. I also get anxious about over packing my toiletries. Of course, I’d love to pack full-sized bottles of shampoo & body wash, but it’s just not practical, logical, or feasible. I always have this fear that I’ll run out of my favorite bath product while I’m on vacation, & I dislike buying new bottles when I should’ve just brought more of it from home. I know that hotels offer their own soaps & shampoos, but I like using my own brand from home. I’ve gotten so used to the scents & how my body has adjusted to the products.

It’s hard to be a female sometimes…with all of those skin care products, body washes, hair products, lotions, etc….when all guys have to bring is a bar of soap, toothbrush, shaving razor, & deodorant. If a guy wants to “do” his hair, he can throw on a hat. Girls always want to style their hair, even for wearing hats. Jian’s got one small dopp bag for all of his toiletries. I’ve got two large organizer bags/pouches to hold all of my toiletries. I try to scale down as much as possible, but even with my bare essentials, I can still fill up two toiletry pouches.

I should stop complaining now & just get to it. I’m one of those types of people who, when pressed for time, can hunker down & get the task done in one fell swoop. So, I’m going to just focus on my task & get my suitcase packed. I’m leaving for Los Angeles on Thursday with my mom, & for the first time without Jian. We’re leaving early to celebrate my aunt’s 69th birthday before our tour. From Los Angeles, our tour group will be flying to Tokyo on Saturday. Then, from Tokyo, we’re taking the Shinkansen to Kyoto. We’ll be traveling around between Kyoto, Biwako, Gion, Osaka, & Nara.

This will be my first trip to Japan without Jian since 2006. It feels very weird to be traveling without Jian for the first time in a long time, especially to our favorite Asian country. I am excited though to be showing my younger cousin around Japan for the first time. I’m so fortunate that my cousin & I are super close & we get along so well. Although she loves hanging out with her parents, I’m sure she will feel relieved to have someone closer to her age that she will get to hang out with, rather than just being around older adults all day. My cousin is a huge Japan-ophile, just like I once was when I was in my teenage years until my twenties. I’m betting that this trip will only make her want to visit Japan more, & probably sign up for a study abroad program at her school. Either way, it’s going to be great. I’m going to leave this blog post & pack. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

The time is upon me. I am finally going to Mexico for that oh-so-special destination wedding I’ve been mentioning on this blog. My cousin is finally getting hitched, & the whole family clan is high tailing down to Sayulita (a.k.a. the Puerto Vallarta region) for a long weekend of partying, rain, scorching heat, & high humidity. It’s going to be a blast. I’m not very keen on attending weddings, so I’m anxious eager to get this show on the road & over with. One thing that I’ve never mentioned about myself is that I enjoy packing suitcases for vacations/trips. I’m not exactly sure why I enjoy this mundane task. Perhaps it’s the ‘extreme organizer’ side of my personality that can really shine in this area. Or it could just be that I like packing & stowing things away into little tiny compartments like a Japanese bento box. I get a special thrill when I’m able to pack a shitload (pardon my French) of toiletries, clothes, accessories & such into a small rolling suitcase without breaking the zipper or the scale at the check-in station. (There were TWO times when I was able to stow a full-size umbrella into my suitcase & not break the umbrella or the suitcase. Except, I did poke a small hole in one of the incidents.) Every time I pack for a trip, I like to stock up on little travel sized toiletries (i.e. toothpaste, hair products, drug store medicine, etc.) & make list upon list of things I need to pack & things I need to get squared away in preparation for my departure (i.e. place travel notices on credit cards, add International travel feature on mobile phone plan, place a vacation hold on mail & newspapers, etc.). No matter how much I try to scale down the amount of items in my suitcase, I always feel like my luggage is going to burst. Through my many travels over the years, I feel like I’ve somewhat learned how to streamline my suitcase packing, but I’m still somehow over-stuffing my suitcase. So, recently, I invested in a space saver garment bag (well, two to be exact…one for me and one for my companion). This space saver bag was not cheap, but it was well worth it. I only wish I had purchased one a long time ago, it would have made all of my trips to Asia so much easier! As per most of my travel-related products, I purchased this space saver garment bag (a.k.a. Spacepak) from the Flight 001 store.

spacepak collage1

spacepak collage2

I’m going to try this out & see if I like it. It’s just one more thing to help keep me on top of my organizational game. I’m so excited to finally celebrate my cousin’s wedding in Mexico! Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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