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Ladies Only

This post is for ladies only, so guys, mosey along.

Ladies, are we alone?

Okay, I’ve been dying to discuss a few things with my fellow female travelers. To make things easy, I’ve numbered these burning topics below, starting with what I consider to be most pressing as we quickly approach the one month countdown.



1. Our Monthly Visitor

(now we’ve definitely lost any of the lingering, curious fellas)

When I was in Africa last time I settled for using what was available-pads. Not the most comfortable & certainly not conducive to certain activities but I was living in hot and dry Tamale, Ghana and swimming was not a part of my weekly activities.

This time around, I’m less familiar with many of the places we’ll be going. We don’t have our activities completely mapped out so I want to be prepared for anything, anytime. I’m carrying a 40L backpack this time which doesn’t leave a lot of space for hauling “supplies” around.

(On a side note, had you have seen the amount of luggage I brought to Africa the first time, you would have died laughing and assumed that I had enough room to carry a year’s supply of pads for the whole village. Ahhh….live & learn).

What I have decided upon is the Diva Cup. This took a little getting used to but I read about someone using this in another travel blog and she gave me the courage to give it a try. I’m aware that running water will often be hard to find but I believe a person can overcome this by bringing in a water bottle. Best part is, you only need to change it 2-3 times/day.

Question number one- would you take the Diva Cup on the road for a year or do you have any better suggestions. (feel free to email me if this gets a little personal)


2. Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

I have long hair to the middle of my back and it’s quite thick. I think the positive side of long hair is being able to wear it in a pony tail or braids to keep it back and change things up.

What I’m not sure about is washing all this hair! A 40L bag means a super small shampoo and conditioner that I can hopefully refill along the way. Are there any places you know of that these products are scarce? Or perhaps dry shampoo is the way to go?

Question number two-what do you do about your hair on the road?


3. Wardrobe Malfunctions

I think that all of us can remember several items we’ve taken on overseas trips that ended up being completely ridiculous. The item that comes to mind for me is a light green, wrinkle-free dress shirt that I brought to wear to my job in Africa. The concept was great, it didn’t wrinkle at all but the light coloured, stiff polyester cloth showed every single bead of sweat in bright green. Picture bright green pancakes on your first day of work. Not good!

I’ve gone over tons of packing lists from other female travelers and everyone has great ideas…but a slightly different combination of items.

Question number three- what was the best thing you brought on your trip that you would HIGHLY recommend and what got ditched a week in?

Thanks in advance for your advice my friends!!

PS- I love the camaraderie of female travelers across the world swapping tales from the road. If you want to share great stories all summer long, check out Nomadic Chick’s “Summer Chick Tales”.

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38 Responses to “Ladies Only”

  1. Mariah May 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Hey Shawna,

    I’m leaving in July and I am definitely considering the Diva Cup.

    I also have long, thick hair and my best advice is to not be scared to get it trimmed on the road. I’ve gotten my hair cut by people who don’t speak English and it hasn’t turned out that bad… yet.

    As for the wardrobe, bring jeans! Packing lists always advise against this, because they are heavy and take up more space, blah blah. I love my jeans and brought two pairs with me to South America.

    cheers,
    mariah
    Mariah recently posted..spirit airlines sketchy

    • Shawna May 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm #

      Hi Mariah!

      This is all great stuff!! I’m surprised by the jeans. I have seen a lot of people advise against them and I have to say, I did find them really tough to hand wash. But I do primarily wear jeans when I go out. I need to rethink this….Lulu Lemon yoga pants just might not cut it.

      Where is your first destination!?

      Thanks again!
      Shawna

    • Lusso Bags September 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

      Best haircuts anywhere have been in Thailand. Don’t worry about paying for a trim prior to departure–you can always switch things up along the way.
      Lusso Bags recently posted..Keep Your Phone Charged

  2. Mariah May 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    I’m heading to Vancouver for a couple of weeks in July, then off to Fiji for six weeks, then New Zealand. This plan changes rather frequently!
    Mariah recently posted..spirit airlines sketchy

  3. Dalene - Hecktic Travels May 5, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Random advice…

    - Totally agree on the jeans. I didn’t take any, regretted it, and bought a crappy pair in Ecuador.
    - Bought myself a Moon Cup, which I believe must be the same as a Diva Cup (although, I think a Moon Cup holds more?) I don’t really like to use it as I think it’s uncomfortable, but it has come in handy when I’ve been out of supplies and not near anywhere to buy something else.
    - Small shampoo bottles are a waste of time. I did the same thing, and then had nowhere to fill them! Ended up buying regular size bottles. I also have a 65 ltr backpack though so a little more room. I would keep it long, much easier to travel with. I also had some “interesting” hair cuts along the way, but the damage is much easier to hide when you can put it in a ponytail… :)

    I think that’s it! I admire you for the wee size of your pack – don’t see many people doing that!
    Dalene – Hecktic Travels recently posted..The Hospital

    • Shawna May 5, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      Hi Dalene!
      Another vote for jeans! You and Mariah may have saved me from making a grave packing error! Thanks for the advice on shampoo as well. No sense in bringing “convenient” small containers if they turn out not to be convenient at all!

      By the way, Skott and I found your information on House Sitting really helpful!

  4. Erica May 6, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    In Mexico and totally cannot find tampons. I think I will look at the Diva Cup/Moon Cup in the future for sure.

    Shampoo we just bought a normal bottle and are carrying it with us. I have a 40L and Shaun a 50L so we split a lot of our supplies.
    Erica recently posted..A Doorway Into San Miguel de Allende

    • Shawna May 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

      I’m pumped that you’re going with a 40L bag as well! Since you’re packing so light, any insight on the clothing that made the most sense for you, as far as versatility? I would definitely give the Diva Cup a try. It’s a little bit awkward at first but at least it gives you an option for those times when tampons are impossible to find. They definitely didn’t seem to exist in West Africa.

      • Erica May 11, 2011 at 4:37 am #

        Try to get an infinity skirt or dress before you head out. Brooke covers it on her blog Her Packing List and it has been the most amazing thing. A thing to lay on at the beach, a skirt, a dress, a last thing to wear while doing laundry… And you can feel girlie. And a bandana – because they can be used for everything.
        Erica recently posted..A Post For My Father – Templo Mayor- Mexico City

        • Shawna May 15, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

          Hi Erica!

          Is the infinity dress the one that you can wrap a bunch of different ways? If so, a girlfriend of mine was just telling me about this last night. Do you have a link for Brooke’s packing list, or do you remember where you got yours? Maybe I can find it online!

          Thanks so much : )

  5. jill May 6, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    So, I decided to give LUSH shampoo bar a try — and have been loving it so far. 3 rubs is all it takes (I have shorter hair though). The theory says it should last for 60 washes which roughly mean a 6 month supply per bar. And then in terms of refilling a small shampoo bottle, depending on where you are you might come across tons of those little shampoo sachets thingy (they’re everywhere in Asia) – here in SA, I haven’t seen any but I haven’t really been looking for them either.
    jill recently posted..Eating ‘Hormigas Culonas’ – Colombian Ants With A Large Arse

    • Shawna May 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm #

      Thanks Jill! I’ll have to try that shampoo bar…I think it would be good to have on hand even if I didn’t use it all the time. Do you still wash it out with water? By the way, thanks again for all of your help with our blog!!

  6. megan May 7, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    My hair grows incredibly quickly and is much thicker than it looks so most of the time I just put some pins in it and wore it up. It also takes forever to dry so I just washed it at night and hoped it would be dry by morning. I carried a regular sized (maybe 250 ml?) shampoo and didn’t bother with conditioner at all.

    I also once wore a knit cap (we call them beanies in Australia no idea what they’re called elsewhere in the world) for 2 weeks straight. Even to bed. It was cold :D I nearly ended up with dreadlocks :D

    • Shawna May 7, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

      Thanks for the info Megan! I think a good go-to hat will be key! A beanie is a good idea because you don’t have to worry about it getting squished. Awesome idea!! I’ll have to see what’s out there.

  7. Jodi May 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    I have a lush bar you can have.

    • Shawna May 11, 2011 at 3:52 am #

      Sweet! You’ve been a huge help on #1 and #2 ; ) Any thoughts on wardrobe!?

  8. Amy May 11, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    (1) The Diva cup sounds like a good option, but I don’t have any experience with it so I’m no help. I didn’t have trouble finding tampons anywhere we went, but then again we didn’t go anywhere too far off the beaten path. I even saw them in remote places – always the o.b. type kind outside the U.S., even in Europe – but I tried to make sure I was stocked up on supplies when we were in more developed areas. One thing you may want to try if it doesn’t weird you out and you take birth control is trying the pills that only give you your friend four times a year. I changed my pill shortly before the trip for other reason (I was trying to reduce my migraines) but only have my period 4 times while we were gone was an awesome side benefit.

    (2) I started off the trip with mid-to-long hair and because I only got it trimmed twice, it’s pretty long now just over a year later. I personally think long hair is the way to go because (1) it gets really damn hot and I can’t stand having my hair down when it’s hot even if it is short; (2) even if my hair is short, I’d still want to wash it semi-regularly; (3) you generally don’t have to worry about styling it or getting haircuts. I generally washed my hair every other day because I was lazy and pulled it up half the time anyway. Again, I didn’t have trouble finding shampoo or conditioner anywhere. Just be aware the world loves Pantene; I personally do not. I am slightly a girly-girl and had to deal with giving up my sulfate-free salon stuff, but I survived. We found Dove products almost everywhere we went and mostly used that. My husband and I used the same bottles and carried the smallest full size ones we could find. We also used our shampoo to hand wash clothes.

    (3) I totally recommend bringing a little black dress. I bought one made of a travel fabric from REI and it was awesome. It could be a beach cover up; it could be casual for day; it could be semi-dressy for night. If you get one, try to get one that is conservative. Mine falls just below the knee. The only thing I didn’t like about mine is that it was too low-cut, but I wore a scarf when I was in certain places. Which brings me to another necessary item: the scarf. You can pick one (or two, or three) of these up on the road for cheap. They work as an accessory, and a lightweight cover up when you’re cold or in a conservative country. Or something to cover your mouth with when you’re driving through smoggy traffic in India. I also was glad I brought my jeans; I wore them everywhere to look normal in the cooler countries. Mine were relatively light, so I didn’t mind toting them around unused in the hot countries. I never had to handwash them and just wore them a ton until we found a machine to wash our stuff in. Another thing I was glad I had was jewelry. I brought (and bought more) necklaces so I didn’t get bored wearing the same outfit (plus it is an excuse to buy lightweight souvenirs!) I would advise against bringing more than one sleeveless shirt; most of the places where it was hot enough to wear it was the places that required covering up more.

    • Shawna May 11, 2011 at 3:50 am #

      Hi Amy,
      Thank you for your detailed answers…guys totally overlook this stuff but these are the things I need to know! Your thoughts on #1 are great. I tried “skipping” when I was in Africa but somehow either this or the malerone pills were making me feel crazy bloated. I might see if it works at all this time, especially in areas that would be most challenging to find a good bathroom! I think the long hair is staying now too…a go-too bun is a great option for hot days and makes grease less noticeable. ; ) Lastly, great items for the clothing Q! I agree that a scarf or sarong can go a long way. We’re bringing buffs too which will be great for hair, smog and dust. I love the idea of picking up jewelry along the way too! We won’t have any room for keepsakes so this will along me to sneak a few items and perk up my wardrobe!!
      Thanks SO much for the info!!

  9. Sanny May 12, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    1) I use a MoonCup and I love it! I’ve been using it for over a year now and I’m not even started on my RTW trip. Although that said, I’ve only had 1 periods in the last year, as I’m on hormonal contraception.

    I currently have an implant in my arm (Implanon is the brand) and it releases progestin constantly. I am one of 20% who have no/little periods. Be warned: you could be the 1/3 who get CONSTANT periods/spotting – that would drive me mad. Its side effects include altering your period pattern (but so does every hormonal contraception) and weight gain (I gained 3 stone – ugh!) but it lasts 3 years a time and it means I don’t have periods (I’ve had 4/5 in the last 3 years) so I’m happy.

    2) I agree with Jill, Lush Shampoo Bars are brilliant as they’re solid bars (like soap), they last for ages and they make your hair shine. You use them like normal shampoo: wet hair, rub bar on hair a couple of times, lather up and rinse. I had a purple one and it smelt divine.

    3) I was looking at American Apparel Le Sac dress for when I leave. It is one size fits all (great if your weight fluctuates), is available in MANY colours and is 7 dresses in 1 (depending on how you twist it). The only problem is it seems a bit short so it may be frowned upon in many areas. I think most of my clothes will be dark/black as it will cover up sweat and dirty marks, and I’ve never really been a peacock anyway.

    I’m definitely taking a pair of jeans/jeggings. A good pair. I’m leaning more towards 7 for All Mankind Double Knit Leggings as they’re good quality and will be more comfortable if I decide to wear them when I travel. (I practically live in jeans now – so I don’t see why I won’t want a pair whilst I run around the globe). Plus, how out of place would you be if you were in Europe and didn’t have a pair of jeans on you?

    • Shawna May 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

      Hi Sanny!
      Wow, on point #1, you are the luckiest person ever!! I need to check into this!

      I’m pumped to hear good reviews about the Lush bar. I had fears of it leaving yucky residue behind but it sounds like they’re fabulous!

      I’m going to check out the American Apparel website. There are a few things people have recommended that they make. And on the jeans note, still working on this one. I have a pair of skinny jeans that would pack light and I guess as long as it wasn’t humid these would work. The feedback definitely has been pro-jeans so far!

      Thanks again!! I’ll have to check out your blog!!

  10. Rowena May 15, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Ahh gotta love the lady issues! :-) My least favorite part of travelling!

    Hmm, so never heard of the dive cup – no help there. I have always made sure i had a stash of tampons and used pads if i was getting short and when it wasnt essential for the other (eg no swimming). Looks like im a little behind the times or out of the loop with this one. Will have to check it out!

    As for hair. Mine is long and suuuper thick! Ive always hauled around shampoo and conditioner but found that i was always wearing a cap so at the end of the day it really didnt matter too much if i washed my hair every day or every week (or two – depending on where we were) – it was all about what i could put up with! Sounds so gross now sitting in my comfy house! :-)

    Im really surprised at the amount of people suggesting jeans. They were the first thing to go when i was travelling! Way too heavy and take too long to dry and if you are out hiking and they get wet man are they heavy! I wouldnt recommend them at all, especially as you guys are visiting some unusual countries and may not have regular access to driers or even time for them to dry out on a line somewhere. If you want jeans perhaps look at travel jeans? Seb has a pair and they dried a lot quicker than regular jeans and were heaps lighter. Looked very cool too! Definitely take leggings. A dress. Sarongs (greatfor a multitude of things!) long thin tops and long thin pants – go the yoga pants! (some countries you will need to be covered up in but it will be hot so you want to stay cool!)

    Ill try and have a think and get back to you if i think of anything else! Shows how long it has been since i did any serious travel! :-)

    Cant wait to hear all your updates btw and i definitely vote for a trip to Oz! ;-)

    • Shawna May 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

      Hi Rowena!
      Thanks for your advice! If we do make it to Australia I would love to meet you, Skotty has mentioned lots about the great friends he met over there.

      My sister-in-law has a Lush bar so I’m going to give this a try. In addition to it being lighter I also like the fact that you have a smaller chance of getting shampoo or conditioner all over stuff.

      Yes, the jeans are perplexing me. On one hand, I understand why people want them but when I was in Africa, my jeans were the worst to hand wash and the worst to wear in the heat. I wore them a few times in the evenings but that’s it. My girlfriends have suggested a pair of black leggings and long yoga pants. I think I’ll check out some travel jeans just in case though too! I’ll let you know what the final verdict is!

      Thanks again : )
      Shawna

  11. Kaitii May 16, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Hey Shawna,

    1) I’ve been using the Diva cup for 2 years now and I just love it. When we went camping, not too long back, there were no bathrooms and i just used a water bottle to rinse. As far as comfort goes just do some lunges once you get it in to see if you can feel it. If you can try again.

    2) Lush solid shampoo bars are the greatest thing ever. My friend git me hooked on them and she has long thick hair. Hers last 3 months, mine last a year. They are fantastic and quite small. If you are looking for one I have a spare in a tin. Just let me know if your interested. The other suggestion I had was dreadlocks. My coworker travelled for five years and said it was the easiest way to go. She also wove souvenirs into the dreads. Just a cool idea!!

    • Shawna May 18, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

      Hi Kaitii! I’ve been working on lunges at the gym so I can get my work out in and make sure my diva cup is good to go : ) I’m really curious about the idea of dreads. I think my greatest fear would be shaving them off after! haha I can’t believe it’s just 28 days until you guys take over at Thornton Ave!! Skotty painted the fence so it’s looking much better in the backyard. See you soon!

  12. Chelsey May 18, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    Ooohhh! Do the dreadlocks! Two of my gf’s did that when they went traveling and loved them. One still has them and the other wishes she did. They both looked great in them too, as I’m sure you would.

    • Shawna May 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Wow,Chelsey, that’s an interesting idea!! I love that you’ve made your way to our blog : ) Question on the dreadlocks, would I have to shave them off?

      • Skott May 18, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

        Maybe we take a look at a dreadlock growing contest??? I love it!!!

  13. Steph May 29, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    Never tried the diva cup, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about that new birth control pill where you only have a period 4 times a year. Maybe that’s an option?

    About the hair, I’ve used dry shampoo which works okay, also the solid shampoo that looks like a bar of soap from Lush which lasts quite a long time.

    Wardrobe, jeans are essential, maybe a plain black or white dress that you can accessorize differently depending on what you’re doing…

  14. jackie (mom) May 31, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    hi shawna if you just get pregnant before you go you won’t need any divas or anything else !

    • Shawna June 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Haha…that’s an interesting approach. I’m not sure I want to be pregnant and have a huge backpack though…I think my legs will give out!

  15. Faith June 3, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Yeah, I just chopped my hair off. I was so tired of trying to deal with it in different weather that I woke up one morning telling my husband I was going to shave my head and he suggested I just cut it short instead. It needs to be washed so much less now! And it takes so little shampoo! I love it.

    The diva cup is definitely the way to go.

    I have this blue shirt out of this weird fabric. It’s SUPPOSED to look wrinkly, and when it gets wet with sweat it’s not too noticeable, and dries really quickly.I wouldn’t know how to tell you how to find it or anything, but it’s pretty great. I prefer wearing skirts to pants, they pack smaller and aren’t as hot. But I’m usually alone on this.
    Faith recently posted..But What Does it Mean!

    • Shawna June 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

      Wow! Good for you for taking the leap. I am guessing short hair feels amazing on hot days and you never have to worry about tangles!!

      I’m learning that with shirts, the fabric is almost the most important thing. I know they say cotton can be bad because it doesn’t dry well but a really thin cotton in a dark colour seems like a good idea and it feels really comfortable. I’m think I’m going to avoid “techy” travel clothes for now as I’m not sure I’ll actually enjoy wearing it.

      Thanks for your advice!! So far I’m really pumped about the diva cup!!

  16. Lusso Bags September 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    First thing to ditch: clunky boots. Even if you plan to do backpacking on trails, comfortable, lightweight running shoes are the way to go. Otherwise, a good pair of tevas or chacos will suffice for warmer climates.
    Lusso Bags recently posted..Keep Your Phone Charged

    • Skott September 28, 2011 at 2:40 am #

      Yeah, we are definitely glad we said ‘no’ to the clunky boots. Runners and flipflops are the way to go!!!

  17. Lusso Bags September 28, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    Yep, more comfortable, less weight, and get you up and down mountains (or anywhere) with just as much ease, if not easier since you won’t be battling blisters from wearing a boot you’re not used to.
    Lusso Bags recently posted..Thank You for the Support

  18. Vicky September 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    I just came across your site and wanted to say how much I love it! I am currently planning a rtw trip with my boyfriend to start sometime next year. This page has been incredibly helpful! I’ve read a lot about the diva cup – but honestly I just don’t think I’m cut out for it, it scares me a little bit haha. Now that you have started your travels already how do you feel about the diva cup/jeans/lush bar shampoo??

    • Shawna September 30, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      Hi Vicky! Welcome to our blog, I’m pumped that you found some of the info helpful! So yes, I probably should follow up with this post because the DIVA cup turned out to be a disaster. I really disliked using it on the road. Without going into too much detail, basically it’s a pain when you are having to use public washrooms where the sink is separate from the stall. Now that we’re in Morocco where I’ve visited many yucky squatters (particularly at the bus stations) and I wouldn’t dream of using it..running water and soap in the squatters are hit and miss…more often miss. My primary concern had been finding tampons along the way but it seems that you just have to plan ahead a little….stock up in the big cities. As for the lush bar, it was great and I actually wish I would have brought 2 because with my long hair, I’ve already used it all up. It was much easier and lighter to carry than separate liquid shampoo and body wash. You can get them in the UK but we didn’t seem them anywhere else after we left Canada. I haven’t really missed my jeans but people definitely wear them everywhere…even in the 30+ weather here in Morocco….so if you do decide that the weight and hassle of washing them isn’t a problem, they are probably very versatile. Right now I’m loving my “gypsy” pants instead…silk flowy pants that feel way better in the heat! Can’t wait to hear about how things go as you prepare for your trip….contact us anytime!!

  19. Vicky March 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm #

    I’m definitely going to stay away from the diva cup — my main concerns were all the things that you just explained as being issues/problems. And it truly just seems uncomfortable. Our trip planning is slowly crawling along. We are going to have a travel website acoupletravelers.com where we hope to combine travel and food (I love food and cooking and currently have a food blog). I have already bought an infinity dress – though I have yet to learn how to wear it! This might be an awkward/personal question so don’t feel obligated to answer but I was wondering about birth control — if you use it what did you do — bring a full year’s worth of pills — in which case did you have to pay full price for each packet? Thanks for any and all your help!
    Vicky recently posted..Daring Cooks March 2012 – Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

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