Sitting here I can’t get the words out to describe exactly what this trip meant to me. Somehow within those two weeks, without me even realising, i grew to understand myself more than I possibly ever have in my whole life. I felt strong, independent and free, all feelings that i barely remember these past five years. I did things i never believed I was capable of and pushed myself in ways that no one will understand but me, and that’s ok. But the one thing i am now certain of is ‘Everything you ever wanted, is one step outside of your comfort zone’.
Part One – Unless you’ve just met me or have been living under a social media rock, it would be hard to miss that I recently jetted off to South East Asia for a backpacking trip throughout Northern Vietnam. Not only was this trip one of the best overseas adventures of my life, but it was simply put – life changing!
Now I understand that’s a big call for a two week adventure, but after going through a bit of a rough patch recently and booking nineteen days before leaving, the rather obsessive planner within me had no time to google the trip, nor the funds or time to purchase out of season clothing or even physically prepare to carry my backpack! Plus the added pressure of meeting up with a super fit friend, who had already been gallivanting S.E.A for three months. So with all of the above, I just lowered my expectations to prevent disappointment. But turns out, my methods have been wrong all along and that hopping on a plane with barely any preparation is actually one of the best experiences you can have in life.
Left to Right – Lane Bryant Bras; Smooth Full Coverage in 36D, No-Wire Cooling Bra in 38D (ideal for sleeping, planes and everywhere its hot!), True Embrace T-Shirt Bra 36D, Body Essentials Plunge Bra and my favourite Sassy Cotton Briefs (14/16)! Plus my Valeria Leather Wide Fit Sandals (on sale now too!).
So as mentioned above, due to recent life changes my funds were teetering a little low, yes, I realise I booked an overseas trip even with those low funds but that’s what you do when you need a hallelujah moment isn’t it? So I was fortunate enough to have Lane Bryant and both Australian brands; Sequins & Sand and 17Sundays come onboard to help with my backpacking wardrobe. For which I will be forever grateful for, as not only did this elevate pressure from me, but allowed me to prioritize my funds into so many life experiences that I otherwise may have missed out on.
Left to Right – Arizona Birkenstocks, Asics Kayano runners, Converse All Star White Ox, Haviannas and Lane Bryant Valeria Sandal (as above).
Now I am the first to admit that two weeks carrying my own luggage does entitle me to weigh in on most backing conversations. Because lets be honest, two of those nights i stayed on a luxury five star cruise ship! But this was one part of the trip I did research, as footwear is heavy and well, I wasn’t that keen on carrying my backpack as it was. In hindsight I am happy i did pack all five pairs, I most frequently wore my converse as the weather was much milder than expected. Although if you are planning on a homestay and trekking, I would suggest hiking shoes. I used my runners and was constantly losing grip in the clay like dirt, which you don’t want when you are standing on an ledge half the width of your foot, overlooking a five story drop. From what i could see in Sapa you could easily purchase/hire hiking boots there to save carrying them.
Choosing which pair of sunglasses to pack was another predicament. Not only did i need a pair that suited all of my outfits, were lightweight, durable and most importantly protected my eyes. But also due to the risk of damaging or losing them, did not cost hundred of dollars, but of course still needed to look like they could be!. I ended up purchasing a pair by Quay Eyewear which I found first in a store, but then online at PureModa. This was a last minute decision and the postage was super fast, almost overnight fast which was impressive.
Left to Right – Amazon Kindle, Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen (SPF 50+), Hydralyte, Lifeproof iPhone case (Waterproof), Travelan, Berocca, Cygnett extra battery charger, Converter with USB plug, Sally Hansen Diamond polish, Spray on Bandaid for blisters, 3B cream and Bushmans 80% DEET repellent.
Aside from the basic clothes I packed (listed below) these are the items that I am most glad i didn’t unpack, as toiletries were nearly the first to go after my initial attempt to strap on my fully packed backpack solo. I have linked as many products as possible for details, but have to note how happy I am that I took Travelan. Unfortunately having been sick at least one day across all of 6 times I have visited Asia, I decided to make the investment in prevention rather than cure. Now it could be Vietnam as this was my first trip, but I can certainly say throughout my street food, market and locally home cooked food I was healthy and energetic, ok maybe not so much after those days of trekking, throughout the entire 14 days.
Left to Right – ASOS crinkle top, 17Sundays Harajuku Batwing Cape (Ideal for traveling as it packs up small!), Sequins and Sands Dress (I also took one of their lightweight Celine cotton slip dress ,which I wore under my Eb&Ive The Keys Kaftan that is coming in a post soon) and my 17Sundays Basic Suger Tee Dress (I also took the Basic Circle Tee Dress and a second Basic Suger Tee Dress in a different stripe print).
In total i packed; one pair of lightweight skinny jeans, four day dresses, one fitted knee length skirt, one pair of cheesecloth harem pants, two t-shirts, one cheesecloth white shirt (I wore this shirt frequently!), one evening top and two pairs of shorts. Another item that I highly suggest investing in for sun protection is this Sha-De UPF50+ wrap. I used this piece as a blanket on the plane, scarf when it was cool, light cape in the sun, sarong when I forgot mine on the boat and even as a bag at one point when mine snapped. All this from a tiny wrap, that is self sufficient in it’s own little bag that fits in your palm!
I will have a second post coming very soon detailing my itinerary, as I had so many incredible experiences I want to share, plus a few extra photos! In the meantime you can scroll through my Instagram to see even more photos.
Oh and I also have a new blog! Noticed that one yet? So happy to be able to finally launch an even bigger and better space for us all. What are your thoughts?
Love to you all x
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