traveling essentials-summer in the south
I've been in New Orleans for nearly a month, so I thought I would write a post about traveling. New Orleans isn't THAT far, but being gone for nearly a month had me panicking as I packed. That said, I packed some stuff that hasn't been touched (dress sandals, needlepoint) and desperately wish I had brought more T-shirts and a pair of sweatpants.
1. Pack a change of clothes in your carry-on. I know, this is travel 101. When I checked my bag, my agent said that it would probably catch the next flight to NOLA and arrive the next day. Not only did that mean I would have to spent 60 extra dollars to uber to the airport, but I would have no clothes when I arrived at 1 AM. Luckily I was in JFK, which is essentially an overpriced mall with Airplanes. I picked up some essentials at Victoria's Secret and found a men's undershirt, the only T-shirt on sale that wasn't bedazzled with an I love NY Logo. It's Bread and Boxers-and it is SO comfy. My boyfriend found a few for super cheap in TJ Max and I am so excited to add them to my T-shirt rotation. But, if you want to prevent 28 dollar T-shirt purchases, just make sure have at least the essentials in your carry on.
2. A good backpack. People mocked me mercilessly for buying a Brevite camera backpack. Yes, I own a DSLR but it's not like I am a photographer or an outdoorsy person. That said, I used my DSLR to capture all the pictures I took in the archive, alongside tons of pictures in NOLA. And the Brevite was a lifesaver. The portion devoted to protecting my camera is great, but the backpack itself is so roomy it was great as an easy to carry carry-on, a backpack for hauling my laptop/camera/books/recorder to the library, and for packing when I decided to spend a night in the Ace Hotel. it was pricey, and I do look like I'm a hiker when I wear it, but honestly it was so worth it.
3. Book a hotel visit if you can swing it. I spent the majority of my one month stay in a room I rented in the Treme. I like the room and the house has all the essentials. That said, I have seen a not insignifanct # of roaches, I sleep on a mattress on the floor, and on the hot days the window unit doesn't really cool it off. So, when my BF visited we checked into the Ace Hotel. It was super hip and had a WONDERFUL bath tub, a king bed, and a mini bar (whoops). But it was so refreshing to take a little break from my cheap living situation and play tourist for a few days.
4. Find a pool. It's summer. In New Orleans. It's hot. But even if you are spending your summer somewhere a little more temperate, definitely pack a swim suit. I found the Country Club, a bar/restaaurant with a wonderful pool and hot tub situation out back, but there are tons of hotel pools and public pools across the city.
5. Only bring 2 pairs of shoes. I brought these slides from Aldo, alongside some dressy sandals from Madewell, flip flops, and my running shoes. I really only needed the slides and sneakers. Pack a shoe you can wear with a dress or with cut offs and you really can't go wrong.
6. Bring so many T-shirts. I wore variations of T-shirts and jeans everyday when I was in there archive, plus when I was playing tourist (plantation tour, walking through the lower 9th, sweating as I walked around the quarter) and by the time I got home I always needed to change. Plus, I was wearing them with jeans and with skirts etc. I ended up buying two new shirts here, a Defend New Orleans T and a Nevertheless, She Persisted one. While I was happy to support two very hip local companies, I could have come a bit better prepared.
9. Unless you are really picky and leaving the country, only back travel bottles of shampoo. These are so that when your bag is delayed or you arrive at midnight and do not feel like running to a 24 hour pharmacy, you can shower. But really, you can pick up everything you need at a local grocery store and if you are lucky, like me, there is even a Sephora downtown.
10. The Baggu Duck Bag. It's perfect. On the flight here, I had just folded it up and put it in my suitcase, using my Brevite for everything. But as soon as I got here, it served as my everyday bag when I wasn't headed to the archives or needed less stuff. On the way back, I just folded it all up and was good to go. Any foldable tote will do, but this Baggu tote is 26 dollars and such good quality (though I had a white one and exploded a fountain pen on it: would not recommend).
11. Olay face wipes: I can't tell you how many times these came in handy: on the hours long drive home from Angola, when I was sweating in the car. After the plantation tour at the Whitney. When I got the insides of a district donut all over myself and needed to wipe off. And when I got off the plane exhausted at 1 Am and couldn't will myself to shower. I got in the habit when I took the bus everywhere (greyhound4life) but I love em.