Backpacker turned Hairstylist- Cutting my own hair while travelling

After 3.5 months, I came to the point where I could no longer stand the greasy strands, sandy scalp and all around unruly mop I have been sporting on top of my head.

A couple of weeks ago it all came to a head (get it..a head…no pun intended…actually no that is a lie…I thought of that pun way before I even started writing this post)

Anyways, we were back staying in Villas Macondo in Tamarindo, and I knew they had a hair dryer. This meant, for the first time, in a long time, I could check out the status of my bangs and give them a trim.

Now why on earth would I need to trim my bangs when they haven’t seen the light of day for months AND will likely not be seen again for the remainder of the trip?


See what I’m sayin!

Sanity, pure sanity. As much as I have adopted the free-spirited, makeup-less, “when did I last shave my legs” backpacker lifestyle, every once and a while I still need to feel fancy.

Now, the thought of a selfie bang trim strikes fear into my heart. I have flashbacks of sitting on the side of the sink as a child as my mom cut my bangs mid-forhead, using a piece of scotch tape as a guide. Seriously, I’m cringing just thinking about it

Luckily for me, I had come prepared for this day. Prior to leaving, I had a little one on one time with Chris Lawry at Lavish Salon in Victoria Between creating a magical sun kissed hue and cutting my hair in a way that would make it grow out nicely, he taught me how to trim my bangs.

(side note: If you are in Victoria and need a stylist, stop reading, and call them. Your hair will thank you).

So here is a little step by step approach of how things went down for my selfie bang trim.

P1020868Step 1- Be Afraid: First, take your hair out of its messy bun for the first time in a week. Look in the mirror and marvel at how sunscreen, sweat, sand, and saltwater makes for some pretty intense natural volume.

Step 2- Conditioner is your Friend: Next, try and brush your hair, realize its impossible, and opt to jump into the shower. Use the ole “mitt-ful of conditioner approach” to get rid of the knots. Keep in mind, this approach only works when you know your bestfriend is coming for a visit the following week who has promised to bring you a conditioner refill.


Step 3- Brush that Shizz: Shower complete, now brush your hair. Be disgusted with yourself for the amount of hair that is coming off your head. As you clean out your brush, and end up with enough hair to make coat for a small rabbit, vow to yourself to remember to brush your hair more frequently. Immediately forget about the vow until you are writing a blog post about it several weeks later.

P1020875Step 4- Access the damage: Try and remember which way you parted your hair, back when you cared about things like hair parts. Comb your bangs forward to see just how impressive your hair growth as been.

Now spend several minuted trying to take the perfect long bang selfie. Opt for a side mouth smile.


Step 5- Moment of Truth: Ask your husband to take a picture of you trimming your bangs. Try not to cut yourself as he directs you where to put your arm so he can see your face. Ultimatly decide to pose for a photo and then actually do the deed without distraction.

Pull your bangs into middle of your forehead and trim slowly with the scissors pointed upward. Start with small cuts, and let go of your bangs every once and a while to access your progress.

P1020884Step 6-Be Shocked: Stare at yourself in the mirror and think “wow, I think I actually nailed this”. Decide that your new found fancyness warrants leaving the unflattering orange glow of the bathroom and heading out into better lighting. Take your last selfie.

Then be so exhausted with the whole process, opt not to blow dry the rest of your hair, and then just put it up in a bun for the night.

It was good while it lasted!

Honestly, I was totally prepared to butcher my fringe and rock a French braid for the rest of the trip, but Chris’ instructions made the whole process go super smoothly.Check him out if you are in the Victoria area!

If you are heading out for some big travelling adventures, but want the option to keep up some style, I would highly suggest a pre-trip visit to your stylist to pick up some tips.

Have you ever cut your own hair? How did it go?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

5 Items I’m So Glad I Packed

As many of you know, I spent A LOT of time planning my packing lists. I even gave a full run down of everything I brought here and here.

I think I did a pretty good job too. I would probably have packed more underwear, and less dresses, but other then that, everything else has worked out well.

All my stuff has been pretty essential, but there are a couple items that stand out from the rest. Things that I often think to myself “Oh man, I’m so glad I packed my…”

So without further ado, here is my list of 5 things that I am SO happy I packed:

P1020680Electric Toothbrush– I have my friend Shauna to thank for this one. She recommended this cute little toothbrush to me, and I’m so glad I listened. It’s battery operated, and keeps my pearly whites, pearly white. The fact that they come in all sorts of funky colours is an added bonus.

Yes, mine is zebra print…jealous? I also feel I should point out that the brush head is not as yellow as it looks, its just the lighting. Stop judging.


Hat- I was on the fence as to whether I was even going to bring this hat. It’s hard, and doesn’t pack well, which means I have to carry it whenever we are travelling. I decided at the very last minute to take it, and that I would ditch it if it proved to be a problem.

Well, I am SO glad I did. I literally wear this hat everywhere (as I’m sure you can tell from my photos). It keeps the sun off my whole face, and breathes well so my head doesn’t get all sweaty. It’s getting pretty beat up these days. It’s full of sand, and some odd stains, but I love it, and just hope it lasts me the whole trip

P1020682Old Navy Bag- This little shoulder bag looks like It’s gone through a war. It has a huge rip on each handle, there is gum stuck in the pocket, and marker leaked on the inside so there is a giant green stain covering the entire bottom. Yet it just keeps on trucking.

I originally bought this thinking I would use it just as a beach bag. You know, throw in a towel , and a book and head out the door. Well, it has become so much more. We literally use it for everything. It’s my grocery bag when going to the store, it’s my purse for going out, and most importantly, it is the bag we use to lug all our food around in. It’s been through so much, and is in such rough shape. If it actually makes it to the end of the trip, I feel like I should frame it.

P1020681Lots of Sunscreen- I think in total we brought 6 containers of sunscreen with us. All of which were various strengths, and types. Although this may seem excessive, I’m so glad we did. Sunscreen is uber expensive down here. If it’s between lugging around an couple extra containers, or spending 18 dollars on a new bottle, the decision pretty much makes itself.

The real test will be whether or not we can make what’s left last the next two mos!


Towel- Some of us packed a towel (me), some of us didn’t (Shaun). This was actually a seriously stupid point of stress for us at the start of the trip. One our first hostels didn’t supply towels, and we were both sharing mine. Every day I would say that we should go find Shaun one of his own, but it took over a week before it happened. By that time my towel was rank. I would find myself glaring at him every time he came back from a surf session, and wiped himself off.

It was around this point in the trip that I realized I have a serious emotional reaction to dirty laundry. After that, I made sure my laundry was done regularly, and Shaun went and bought his own towel.

Also…I should point out that these are not our towels. I forgot to take a photo, and am too lazy to go back to our room to do so. It would be sweet if these were our towels though!

What are your travel must haves?

Pura Vida!


Follow me on Twitter: @caketress

Packing List Part 2


Things are getting serious here on the packing front. With 3 days to go, I’m feeling fairly organized. Although I am still unsure of how things are going to go once I actually attempt to put all these glorious items into Tatonka! For those of you who know me well, it will come as no surprise that I’ve been Youtubing “packing techniques“. This link is likely how it will go down.

Lots of stuff to cover, so lets dive right in. First, let’s take a gander at my toiletry bag, and all the goodies that are inside.


This is my fabulous Roots travel bag that folds out into a toiletry case that you can hang on the back of a door. It makes it so much easier when you are staying in places with small bathrooms, as it clears up the counter space. Wanna see what’s inside??

photo 4 (2)

Toiletry Case Goodies

So starting from the top left:

  1. Makeup Case, for those of  you who missed it, check out my post Makeup for Travellingl to see what’s inside!
  2. Hairbrush
  3. Toothpaste
  4. Diva Cup and Diva Cup Wash. Won’t go into to much detail, but seriously a travelling girls best friend!
  5. Shampoo, Conditioner, Facewash. The facewash has an exfolliant in it to help me scrub off all the suncreen, salt and sweat!
  6. Body Glide- I use this when I’m running races in hot climates, and thought it might come in handy here. It basically makes sure you don’t end up chaffing during long sweaty workouts/hikes.
  7. Next Row: Two pairs of earrings. Cheap, easily replaceable
  8. Q-Tips
  9. My uber cute travel electronic toothbrush and some replacement heads
  10. Bug spray, a MUST! full size and travel size
  11. Deoderant, another must!
  12. Two containers of sunscreen, Shaun is also bringing some, because for some reason he’s not keen on my shimmery stuff!
  13. Razor and Razor heads
  14. Comb
  15. Last row: Nail polish. Pedicure is happening today, and I’m planning on just slapping this colour on my toes continually for five mos!
  16. Eye cream from Lotus. A recent Sephora purchase that I just feel I can’t live without
  17. Hair Ties
  18. Meds!! Have a mother who is an RN, I’m prepared for EVERYTHING. So, in no particular order I have Pepto, Gravol, anti-diarrhea pills, Benedryl for any strange reactions and to be honest, upon writing this, I have one set of pills that are a mystery to me. Note to self, seek clarification prior to departure!
  19. Lastly, manicure stuff. Gotta keep those nails short, and those brows tweezed!
photo 5

Things to help the hanger and other goodies!

This next batch of goodies include things that will help me cure a disease that effects both myself and my loved ones HANGER (Hunger+Anger). Once my blood sugar plummets, I am not a peach, and become senorita hangrypants!

  1. Quest Bars-Oh how I love thee. You better believe I’ll be getting my mom to bring more of these babies down for me when she comes for Christmas
  2. Almond Butter- I’m a nut butter fiend! This little jar will keep me going until I can find a suitable substitute down there.
  3. The rest of it- Headlamp, clip to attach my water bottle, sunglasses, waterproof bags
  4. What’s the stuff in the plastic bag?? Wellll, many of you know I paint faces as a part time job, so I’m bringing a couple supplies in case I get the opportunity to make some little gaffers into rainbow butterflies! (I guess they could  be big gaffers too!)
photo 3 (2)

Fitness Goodies

I guess these aren’t ALL fitness goodies but many are. Starting from the top.

  1. Towel
  2. Sleeper sheet, in case we run into any sketchy bed situations
  3. Hats. I’m still debating the white one. I know I’ll get tons of wear out of it, but it doesn’t travel well, so it likely won’t fit in my bag.
  4. Walking runners and workout runners
  5. My band, I talked about this in my Staying Active While Travelling Post
Titty Tonka's Trinkets

Titty Tonka’s Trinkets

This is everything that I’ll be carrying in my daypack to start off with (and yes, I’m named her Titty Tonka, cause it makes me laugh everytime I type it!)

  1. Sketch Book and Pens- I’ve been doing so much art lately, I couldn’t imagine not having something to draw with while down there.
  2. Three starter books, they will undoubtedly be read within the first week.
  3. Flip Flops to wear when we get off the plane
  4. Charger and ear buds for Iphone (not pictured, since it was taking the picture!)
  5. Notebook with all of our important numbers in it. I’ve also documented a whole bunch of workouts in it as well!
  6. Our map
  7. Extra meds and Quest Bars for the travel period
  8. Our netbook, camera and their chargers. We bought the netbook used, and it’s pretty slow. Thanks to some magic from my favourite IT guy, it’s up and running slightly faster. In fact, I’m trying it out today for the first time writing this post! The camera is my moms. I use my iphone for everything, but it’s been acting up lately. I wanted to bring a camera to start off with to see if I get any use out of it. If I like it, I’ll get her to bring one down for me when she comes in December

PHEW! The longest post, on the smallest netbook known to man. I’ve love to hear your thoughts. What am I missing? What should I leave at home?

What are you travel packing secrets? Any tips on how I can fit all this in my bag?

Next post will be travel day!! hurray!

Pura Vida


Makeup for Travelling

Well, this is where the “Hot Rollers” portion of “Hostels and Hot Rollers” comes in. I’m not going to lie, I’m a girly girl, and I like to get glam every once and a while. I also became a certified makeup artist this year, and with these credentials came a huge expansion to my makeup collection. Obviously I want to keep things as light as possible for travel, but there are still a few beauty essentials that I knew I would want on hand.

After much soul searching, and little shopping, I narrowed it down to these 9 products, and 3 brushes.

My "kit"

My “kit”

Foundation: Anyone who has been around me in the past month knows I’ve been searching the world for a light coverage, mattifying powder foundation with an SPF. Apparently, this is a tall order. I thought that if I found a foundation that had an SPF, I could eliminate the need to bring a sunscreen for my face, and cut down on the number of products I was bringing. Traditional sunscreen makes my face shine like the top of the Chrystler building. This is also the reason that I steer clear of any and all BB Creams. The only foundations I found that had an SPF, had way to much coverage. Obviously I will need to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, but I didn’t want to be applying layer upon layer of a really visible foundation. In the end, I decided to bring my favourite powder foundation. The Lise Watier compact give me light coverage, mattifies my shiny skin tendencies, and is an all around fabulous product. It doesn’t have an SPF, but I’ll just suck it up and bring sunscreen.

Blush/Bronzer: I’m bringing my NARS “Super Orgasm” blush, what a name eh? It’s small, so its the perfect travel size. I’m also going to bring my MAC bronzer. I love these two products, and although I won’t use them on a daily basis, they’ll be all I need to get my face a little glam for a night out.

Mascara: I love mascara, and I knew I would be bringing a tube with me.I also heard from the lovely Maribel of Stroller Adventures, that it is notoriously expensive in Costa Rica. So I wanted to make sure I brought some from home. I thought about bringing a waterproof mascara to help combat the sweat and surf, but the idea of having to try and scrub that stuff off my face every night didn’t appeal to me. In the end, I stuck with a traditional cover girl lengthening mascara. You just can’t go wrong.

Rosebud Salve: This stuff is AMAZING. It’s a lipgloss/moisturizer/all around magial item. I can’t tell you how many of these I have gone through in my lifetime, so I knew it would be an essential item.

Sephora eyeliner: I wasn’t going to bring this (in fact, I’m still on the fence). This is a kohl based liner, which makes it really versatile to create different looks. That being said, Kohl is smudgeriffic, and that doesn’t mix very well with heat and sweat. I probably will bring it, but only wear it if we were going out somewhere nice for an evening out (and then instantly regret it as it starts to run down my face:P)

BabyLips Maybelline: I can guarantee I’ll run out of this stuff within the first month. This is a fairly new product, and I think I’ve gone through two tubes already. It’s a peppermint scented chapstick with SPF 15. It goes on so smooth and keeps my lips…I want to say moist…but I hate that word…juicy? That’s really not that much better. I’ll go with luscious, it keeps my lips luscious.

Maybelline eyeshadow pallet: I have a zillion amazing eyeshadow pallets in my makeup kit, but they are all gigantic. I wanted to find a pallet that was really neutral, but had a couple different colour combination options. This little one I found is perfect. Whites, browns, and beiges, some shimmery, some not. Again, this won’t be part of an everyday look, but nice to have the option.

Neutrogena Moizturizer: This was the SPF for my face I ended up deciding on. I’m actually happy that I went this route, as I was able to get a 30 SPF, an option not often found in the powder foundations. With a history of skin cancer in my family, I want to make sure I’m as protected as possible for this long term stay.

Brushes: I’m bringing one large angled brush for bronzer and blush. The foundation has its own makeup sponge for application. Then I’m bringing one eyeshadow brush. It’s fluffy enough that I can use it for both application and blending. Lastly, an angled brush, I will use this for filling in brows and smudging eyeliner.

So there you have it! Makeup essentials for a backpacker who loves glam.

Do you travel with makeup? What are your essential travel beauty items?

Pura Vida!


Our pre-travel checklist

There are always things that need to be done before leaving on a vacation:get a pet sitter, turn off the lights, but leaving for 5 months adds a whole new dimension. Here are some of the major things that Shaun and I need to cross off our lists before we go.

Passports and ID: An obvious one, and thankfully one that we just got checked off. You want to make sure that your passport is valid, which means it shouldn’t expiring in the near future. If you are leaving for 5 months and your passport expires in 6 months, I’d say you are better off getting it renewed before you go. Also double check your ID. Shaun had to get his drivers licence renewed early, as it expires while we are away. Another handy tip would be to take copies of your ID, and leave it with a family member (one who won’t lose it 😉

Pets: Oh Bearcat. For those of you who have never met our lovely furry companion, let me take a moment to fill you in. Bear, or Barry, is our overweight, diabetic, toothless cat.

The Bear- Looking very magjestic

The Bear- Looking very majestic

We love her so! Figuring out what to do with Bear was a huge obstacle for this trip. She’s a little more high maintenance then most cats, as she needs to be fed twice a day at certain times to keep her diabetes at bay (or her Beetus as we call it). We wanted to make sure she was well taken care of, but didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. We looked into a kennel, but the cost of 5 months was way outside of our budget. We started looking for house sitters, and my brother stepped up to the plate. It’s nice to know that Bear will have a friend the entire time we are gone, and that the house will be looked after at the same time.

Travel Insurance: I’ll be honest, I’ve been procrastinating on this one, but I know it’s important! Take a look at all your policies, and make sure you have appropriate coverage. Also, jot down the information you need to access your policies while travelling.

Veronica 2

Veronica, she doesn’t normally look this clean!

Cars/Insurance: Lindsey and Veronica are our two trusty steeds. This is a big one to cross of the list still. Both Shaun and I are planning on getting storage insurance for our cars. Not only will this protect us if anyone bumps into our cars, but our strata requires that all cars parked in our parkade are insured. We’re also going to ask my brother to start our cars up, and drive them around the parkade once a month or so. This will help make sure our tires aren’t sitting on the same spot for too long, and Lindsey and Veronica will know they are still loved.

Bills: I’ve been going through the painfully tedious process of calling all of our providers and getting our services cancelled or reduced while we are gone. I’ve also made sure that our bills are either set to come out of our account automatically or that we get an electronic copy when they come due. I’m also going to be setting up an auto-pay for all of our credit cards as well. (sidenote: Shoutout to Telus, for being the best cable provider ever. They gave me amazing service. I’ll be switching everything to them as soon as I can get out of my current contract with their not so fabulous competition).

Banking: Closer to the trip I plan on making a trip to the bank so cancel all my contributions to my savings accounts. I will also be setting up a friend with a temporary POA on my account. This will make sure that if anything happens while I’m away, he can act on my behalf, and get it sorted out.

Cancel Memberships: Gyms, Magazines, newspapers.  All of my monthly memberships will have to go!

Doctors Visit: Although it’s not mandatory to get any vaccines before leaving to Costa Rica, I did go to the Dr’s for a check-up. It was the perfect excuse to go in, since I had been procrastinating for way to long! This would be the time to stock up on any prescriptions you made need to cover the duration of your trip.

Saying Goodbye: The countdown to departure seems to be speeding up, and I’m feel like I’m running out of time to see everyone before I go! Plan carefully, maybe even write a list of everyone you want to touchbase with before you go. For Shaun and I, it involves travel weekends to both Port Hardy and Vancouver. If we could go back in time, we would have planned this out better, as we find we are stressed about trying to fit it all in.

What do you do to prepare for big trips? Do you think there is anything that I’m missing?

25 days to go!!!

Pura Vida!