Event in Australia? 10 Packing Hacks

I love noise cancelling headphones!

I am flying Virgin Australia over to Melbourne and my hubster lent me his pair. They actually do completely, remove all the noise! No engine noise/ air conditioner/ people. I’m plugged into the inflight sound system, so I can still hear announcements, but most of the time I am listening to Gordi. Have you heard this beautiful song? I usually dread the feeling of being stuck in a tin can hurtling through the sky with hundreds of strangers. But today I am cocooned in my own little audio bubble. It’s beautiful.

14516521_10154772701925815_2925833273944409455_n
now someone just needs to invent smell-cancelling nose plugs!

My brother rang last week to see if I might be interested in going to the races with him. It’s a two day corporate thing and his lovely wife couldn’t attend with him. Lucky me, I’m going in her place!

I get to attend the races for the first time ever!  Derby Day is an important part of the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne and the theme is Black and White. I am all set; my hatbox stashed in the overhead locker.  Sacred Elixir and Highlad, GO you good things!

I’ll be away for four days, just a wee trip across the ditch.
We kiwis travel across to Australia a lot, and many of us have family there. At some stage, you may find yourself heading off for an event too.  Weddings, funerals, parties, conferences, concerts.
Here are my packing tips for a weekend event across the ditch:

1. Curate your outfits so that you are not taking unnecessary items. A lot of people don’t like to decide ahead of time what they are going to wear, but for any international trip (and with luggage allowances what they are)  it really matters that you don’t overpack. Pare down to one outfit per activity and one extra for flexibility.  Choose a jacket that can do double duty with more than one outfit.

2. Plan your wardrobe. I often draw a little sketch of each days outfits because my brain works better that way. This time though, I took photos because I wanted them for this post… then it was easy to stitch them together into one image on my phone.  I reckon not having to think about what to wear is a holiday in itself… almost as good as not having to think about what to cook for dinner!

14632858_10154772676190815_4014057290149302387_n

3. Coordinate your packlist. It helps me when everything is matchy-matchy. Less variety, sure, but it means that I can change things up easily with less items and limits the number of shoes I need.  This weekend, I’m following the Derby Day theme and packing mostly black-and-white with a few splashes of green..

4. Predict the inevitable. If you have one, use a wheely cabin bag. Mine was just about empty on the way over, in fact, I carried my handbag in it. The cabin bag gives you extra space beyond your suitcase, just in case you (oops!) slip into the shops accidentally and need to bring things home. It would be rude not to…

5. Hydrate on the plane. For some reason, airplane air systems desire to suck all the moisture from my hair and face. I usually arrive looking more like a sultana than myself.  I first found 1 Above flight water on my way over to Sydney for a shoot last year. It’s incredible stuff. I buy the tablets rather than the bottles so I have enough for the return trip.  One turns 500ml of water into the smartest hydration juice for travellers. One tablet’s worth should be consumed over 2.5 hours, so I needed two for my flight.  They come in packs of 4 or 10. Incidentally, it also makes for outstanding hangover juice.  Just in case your event includes merrymaking!

6. Unpack as soon as you arrive. Hang everything in the wardrobe, arrange your toiletries where they need to be. Plug in your chargers.  Pop your PJs on the pillow. There. It’s much easier to relax when everything has its place.

7. Take a mesh laundry bag. I pop all my worn things in there as they come off which keeps the hotel room tidy and makes unpacking once I am home super easy.  Straight to my little laundry back home!

8. Be smart. Make sure you have comfortable shoes as well as those killer heels for the event. I’ve packed a wee pair of $7 canvas flats from the Warehouse, they’ll be in my handbag for race day so I can switch into them for the journey back from the track. Nothing worse than reaching that point (you know the one) where you cannot bear one more second in heels.  I intend to avoid that ol’ barefoot stumble back into the hotel.

14908209_10154772688925815_84968626330909042_n

9. DIYH. Finding a hairdresser for race day is nigh on impossible. So I’ve packed my trusty hot rollers and some bobby pins and I am going to DIY my own hair.  Hot rollers are so much easier than curling with an iron; once they’re in, I do my makeup and once that’s done, so is my hair. Love them. I use Vidal Sassoon hot rollers from Farmers.  This is what they do…

 

10. Be prepared. Just in case, pack some panadol.  If you’ve had a little more champagne than you would in your regular life, a couple of panadol and a big glass of water before bed will pay dividends next morning!  And if you are sharing accommodation with family like I am… those noise cancelling headphones may just save your sanity. Tee hee!

14900387_10154772693285815_5079733515998381786_n

This weekend, I am wearing:
The Chocolat Otto Jacket (gifted)
The Chocolat Printed Drape Tunic
The Chocolat Sydney Crop Top layer in milk
The Chocolat Defender Jacket
The Chocolat Anthem Singlet Dress in paint print
CM stretch satin skinnies (available from TCD)
TCD green boxy crop (four years old)
Taking Shape ponti pencil skirts (from last season, I bought these at the airport clearance store)
Millers comfort shorts (size up in this style).

Mothering Myself

This morning I woke up in my hotel room, feeling rested and calm. I stretched one foot out to the right, one arm out to the left, sliding them along the crisp white hotel sheets that I would never have to heave out of the washing machine.  The smile spread from the corners of my mouth all the way to my ears while my eyes stayed shut. It was beautiful. I’d gone to bed at 9pm and my watch informed me that eleven hours had passed between. Eleven. Deep sleeping hours!

For the good of our souls, sometimes just need a break from all the relational roles we carry.(2)

I woke, packed up my things and prepared for the day. I’m down in the hotel bar now having a coffee before I meet the beautiful Sarah, in person, at last. She’s an all-time favourite blogger of mine. The coffee was made for me by a barista who spoke about the complexity of the bean with an earnestness. I smiled at him, but thought about how I will not have to stack that cup in the dishwasher, or refill a kettle, or check the expiry date on that milk.  Just drink it.

I am such a fan of Sarah, as a writer and a person. Meeting her is very important to me.  I can’t wait to wrap her up in a big hug of thanks. To enjoy food and conversation with her and Annette from I Give You the Verbs! Dear Kate had to go and do some very exciting new work stuff, but you can check out her blog here (next time, Kate!) After our bloggy brunch, Miss Annette and I are lighting off for the Yarra Valley for a girls weekend. We’ll take the meandering way, and she promises that I can stop and take pictures to my heart’s content along the way.

Sarah, Annette and Rach
Sarah, Annette and Rach

This trip to Melbourne is something I’ve been longing to do for years. A chance to revisit my past, reconnect with people I haven’t seen for years and finally meet some I’ve been talking to online for a long time. But even more than the gorgeousness of all that, this trip, for me, is all about respite. I just needed to take some time out from all of the ‘adulting’ and be me, on my own, for a bit. The Rach who isn’t looking after anyone but herself, just for a few days.  I need to mother myself.

I need to stretch out, on a big big bed, all alone. To stand next to my soul sisters and spread my arms wide to the sky. To sleep and wake when I feel like it. To please myself doing anything I feel like doing; compromise free. I’ve explored, I’ve shopped, I’ve chatted and I’ve been blissfully quiet. I’ve drunk wine, I’ve taken a trip down memory lane at my old boarding school, I’ve eaten anything and everything I feel like eating without a single bite being cooked by me.

13423725_10154373945830815_6628180717532856581_n

13427956_10154373946625815_27677651972801694_n

13435553_10154373948535815_4085384062838255891_n

13466419_10154373950745815_1914420783551071616_n

It’s been gloriously selfish and deeply important for me to do all that.

When you become a mum, you don’t know that you are becoming something other than an ‘individual’. It’s something you have to learn. And once you have learned that by heart, there won’t be respite for a long, long time. My kids are now 8 and 11. The teenagers are now 17 and 18. The family has grown to a point that I’ve been able to set them up to manage their lives without me for a few days. The hubster is doing a stellar job with them. Their schedules are all being met.

I could probably have done this earlier, but I wasn’t internally strong enough to push for it. Sometimes, even with great families, it does take pushing for it. You have to fight for yourself the way you’d fight for your brood.

Respite is something we need to fight for as women, as givers, as mothers and wives. For the good of our souls, sometimes women just need a break from all the relational roles we carry. Freedom to just be ourselves, to turn the nurturing inward. To have a rest from all of that responsibility.  That’s what I’m doing.

I highly recommend it.

It might not be a trip to Melbourne. Maybe, if you have one, it’s a visit to your Mum’s place. Or camping in the spring, all alone. Or a solo movie. It might be a journey to see your cousin, or a drive down winding country roads. Find your respite, sisters of mine. I promise it will feed your soul and bring you joy.

It might be easier than you imagine to make it happen.

Go on.  Tell yourself to have and break and then, for goodness’ sake: go do what you’ve been told!

Sarah Bowen: So, I must be fine, right?

Today on the blog Sarah Bowen is talking about Scoliosis, surgery and chronic pain. When I started up the ‘Meet my Peeps’ series earlier this year, to broaden the sharing and to introduce you to some of my favourite people, I knew that you would like them as much as I do. Many of my peeps, like me, have invisible illness or disability and all have chronic conditions.  Things that just don’t go away.  All of them are awesome people with relatable stories.

A lot of my ‘peeps’ are actually people I have never met in person.  We meet online, in the patient forums, on portals related to chronic illness and also, in my bloggers group.  Sarah is a fellow Pipster (that’s what we call the alumni from the Blog With Pip course) which is how we became blogging friends.  She has a gorgeous blog called The Routine Queen where she writes about all aspects of being a mum and something dear to her heart, organisation. I first bonded with Sarah when she wrote about the challenges of being an introverted Mumma.  You can read her post on that, here.  Then we got talking and I discovered that Sarah too, has an invisible, chronic condition.  She writes here about living beneath the radar.

Do you suffer from chronic pain, too?  Come and say hi!  Here’s Sarah:

Many people are surprised to hear that I

Seven years ago, when I was twenty five years old I had major back surgery for scoliosis, a term used to describe curvature of the spine. The decision to have the surgery was a big one. I was told if I left my back as it was it would continue to get worse and could end up causing major health problems (think squashed organs and a wheelchair). But the real deciding factor for me was that the severity of the curve in my spine would make it difficult to carry and naturally birth a baby, something which I was looking forward to in the not so distant future. So the decision was made to have the surgery. Little did I know how much it would change my life.

Recovering from the surgery was intense. Almost three weeks in hospital and three months in a full back brace. At the beginning I couldn’t walk more than a few steps assisted before I was exhausted. Sitting for longer than a minute would leave me in tears. I couldn’t brush my hair, have a shower or go to the toilet unassisted. It was hell. I was told that after six months I would be ‘back to normal’ but its six years on and I’m still waiting.

Many people are surprised to hear that I(1)

There are lots of questions surrounding the surgery and my recovery. For example, I was told a small portion of my rib would be taken to gain access and help ‘fuse’ my spine together. I was told it would grow back (as the front of your ribs are actually cartilage not bone, they can regenerate). What actually happened was three of my ribs were removed and they never grew back.  There was some other complications and lasting nerve damage. I am in pain every single day. Obviously not as intense as the first few months following surgery, but still, the pain is there.

I spent years looking for the answers. Why did this happen? What was causing the pain? How could I make it stop? I went to chiros, physios and osteos. I tried different forms of exercise and natural therapies. Nothing worked. After many hard days I had to face a hard realisation. This was how my body was now; this was how it was going to be.

Many people are surprised to hear that I am in constant pain. Because I rarely talk about it people assume I’m fine. I manage to live a normal life, I work, and I participate in normal activities so I must be fine right? I think for people that suffer from chronic pain there is a certain point where you just learn to live with it, your really don’t have any other choice. And so you get on with life. You stop talking about it because you’re sick of talking about it and you’re sure everyone is sick of hearing about it!

Since my surgery I have become a Mum. I have a three year old boy. When I was pregnant I was almost pain free (must’ve been those hormones, someone please learn to bottle that stuff!) but it quickly returned after giving birth. I’ve had to learn to manage. I could never carry my son on the right side of my body, it’s not easy for me to bend down and pick things up from the floor (not fun when you have toddler!) And I have to grit my teeth when people give me a hug because it really hurts! There are days when I’d love to just lie in bed with a heat pack on my back but of course when you’re a Mum you just can’t do that!

Cold weather is a killer, my body kind of just seizes up. Needless to say I’m not loving winter in Melbourne at the moment! I have days when I have a sook to my hubby about it, I might mention my back is particularly sore, on those days the pain is probably more of a 7 or 8 than its usual 5 out of 10. But most of the time I remain silent because I figure there’s nothing that can be done. I try not to think about it, I try to focus on other things and keep busy, that’s my way of coping.

Another thing that helps me cope is knowing I’m not alone. So when I came across Rach’s blog I was inspired to send her an email, I just needed to tell her ‘I get it’. I can really relate to so much of what Rach shares here on her blog. So I was extremely honoured when she asked me to share my story with her readers. And now that I’m here in this space I’d love to hear from you.

If you live with chronic pain how do you deal with it?

What things help you cope?

What have you discovered that helps you both mentally and physically?