6 Things We Buy When We Arrive
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We want to travel with as little stuff as possible. Less stuff equals less weight and more space. We’re extreme, so it’s likely that rather than take a bus the final leg of a journey, we’ll walk the three to five miles instead. It’s amazing how much difference a couple of pounds can make on comfort and mobility. Our travel pattern is centered around house sitting, so we’re staying in a location anywhere from several days to three or four weeks. We keep a bare minimum of supplies on us, like one to two ounces of hygiene essentials that gets us through transition periods. Since we carry such a minimal amount of personal items, when we settle into a location, one of our first goals is to get our personal hygiene supplies. We look for the best value on each item, making sure it meets our needs.
The Six Items on Our Shopping List
We usually find this at a dollar type store. We look for a bottle that is big enough to get us through our stay but not so big that we’re wasting a bunch. Having short hair means we use less. Shannon's shampoo of choice is 2 Chic Ultra-Volume.
We get the sensitive toothpaste, preferably without any type of sugar in it (read the label and avoid sorbitol and saccharin). Also, avoid toothpastes with beads in them, they may ruin your gums by getting stuck and becoming infected (The jury is still out on this, but a great starting place to get more info is Dental Patient News). Our toothpaste of choice is Bexident toothpaste.
At home we had a great dental hygiene routine thanks to Dr. Ellie and her book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye: A Do-It-Yourself Mouth Care System for Healthy, Clean Gums and Teeth. It has been great and kept us cavity and plaque build-up free for five-years. We sadly, can’t upkeep this while traveling, because of space and weight. However, we do continue to use Listerine.
Bar soap is the most economical soap option. We prefer something that smells nice and fresh, and we know we go through a standard bar in about 10 days. We avoid all anti-bacterial soaps, even going as far as to use our purchased soaps over the hand soap wherever we’re staying. We most commonly find store brand soap, or Dove soap.
Since ashy skin just isn’t sexy, lotion is a must. It needs to be of decent quality to be effective. We left home with a container of Eucerin, however now, we can generally find a store brand that does the trick.
6. Bath Scrub/Washcloth
This may seem odd, but it surprised us that washcloths and exfoliating bath scrubs aren't a common fixture in every shower and linen set in Europe. We feel squeaky clean with a nice exfoliating scrub down, so we pick up a cheap scrubby. At home we used a natural loofah that we'd find in a Mexican market and get the entire loofah plant for under $3.00. We'd then cut it into shower size pieces. The plastic one isn't as good on our skin or the environment, but it's the 80/20.
What We Keep in Stock
Then we have the items we stock up on as needed. These are the essential items that we choose to always have with us. They are items that give us a sense of normalcy and make us much more comfortable, or we simply couldn't do without.
Nothing like a clean, exfoliated face. We avoid chemicals and plastics* by using rice flour. In the US we bought small amounts in bulk from Whole Foods or Winco. So far, in Europe, we have found small bags of it in ethnic corner markets. Not only is it a great hack for avoiding chemicals and plastic pollution, but it’s a budget hack too. We spend under a dollar on a month or so supply, versus four to five dollars on a drug store face scrub.
*The Story of Stuff Projects article, Plastic Microbeads: Ban the Bead is a great place to learn more about the pollution of plastic microbeads.
Contact Lens solution
This is a must for Shannon. No skimping here since eye health is critical. We purchase what we need, when we need it and refill our travel container from it. We wash the travel container and never reuse old solution. Shannon has been disappointed to not yet find her tried and true solution, Opti-free in travel size.
We used to use Q-tips every day, but now we do our best to reduce our use to every two to three days. We can’t give them up though, dirty ears are gross.
Face SPF and Moisturizer
Skin health is a priority. We want to have fabulous skin today as well as 30 years from now. So, we carry this with us at all times. We don’t use much, but we use it daily. On our last shopping trip we got Neutrogena, oil-free with SPF.
Donate and Giveaway the Extra
Inevitably there’s extra product when we leave to relocate to our next house sit or destination. We’re big advocates of not wasting and have had difficulty adjusting to a new mentality of not packing leftovers for later use. Whatever we have extra of, we leave with the homeowner or donate wherever possible.
We’re always evaluating and challenging ourselves to use less. We see if we can use just a bit less of shampoo, pushing it further each time until we find out the bare minimum that we need. We do this with all of our products, saving us money and reducing our material impact on the environment. We challenge everyone to do the same!