This week’s challenge, then, is resolution. Take a photo or find one that represents a resolution you are making… or one you’re not making! What does this resolution mean to you? How will it change your life?
My resolution is to get out and run more. I started during lockdown and I want to take it forward into the coming year and keep trying to improve.
Here’s how to take part:
Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
Comment on this post with a link to your page so others can see your contribution.
That’s it! Super easy.
This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, I will post the next challenge!
Welcome to the new weekly Thursday Photo Challenge, a weekly photography challenge for everyone who likes to take photos!
This week’s theme is nature.
Nature is interwoven with our story as humans. At the same time, we revere it and irrevocably change it. Nature supports life, and is both our saviour and executor. Natural disasters such as volcanoes, tsunamis and earthquakes happen every year. But from the rubble, new life springs forth.
Our contradictory relationship with nature is hard to represent in photography. For this challenge, show what nature means to you, how you see nature, humanity’s place within nature, or something special from the natural world which you have captured with a camera.
Here’s how to take part:
Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
Comment on this post with a link to your page so others can see your contribution and check out your blog.
That’s it! Super easy.
This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, comments will close and I will post the next challenge!
Thailand for Christmas… when my husband suggested it a couple of years ago, I looked up from my work in confusion. What’s there? I always hear of people going, but what do they do when they get there?
For such a big holiday destination, Thailand is very quiet about what it actually has to offer. I looked up “where to go in Thailand” and got very little in the way of useful answers. I looked up “things to see in Thailand” and the articles about that were equally nebulous. Everyone we knew had been, and thought it was great, but no one could tell us what they’d done while they were there.
Basically, it seemed that people went to see elephants and… wear baggy trousers?
Being quite partial to wearing skirts, and not liking the idea of riding a captive elephant, I wasn’t convinced this would be our greatest holiday ever, but I went along with it because my husband seemed pretty excited about the whole thing.
I left it to him to book the plane tickets and accommodation and I worked on figuring out what we would do when we got there. He picked Bangkok as our initial destination, which at least I’d heard of, and I looked around for things to do.
We didn’t realize just how ENORMOUS a city Bangkok is. It’s huge. We were living in China in a city of 10 million when we went on holiday to Thailand and we were still amazed by how big Bangkok is. We were staying quite far out, so we only went into the city centre once, and the rest of the time, we stayed in our district.
After a few days of working during the day and enjoying excellent food at night, we moved on to Pattaya. I don’t see Pattaya really mentioned as a destination by any travel bloggers, so I’ll do a thorough rundown of the city in a separate article.
This was the view from our first Bangkok hotel (we had a great view of another hotel’s pool):
And this was the actual pool at our hotel. It was great for my husband who is a strong swimmer, as it was set up for swimming lengths. I didn’t go in because I’m not a great swimmer and it takes me a while to get water-confident:
This pool’s shape did inspire me though that when we finally bought our next home, we could maybe have a pool in a much smaller space than I imagined. I think this was about two metres wide.
The time in Bangkok was largely R and R, and we didn’t really make it a priority to see or do anything, instead, we enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere and tasting the delicious food.
When it was time to move on, we got from Bangkok to Pattaya on a bus. We took a taxi to the bus station, got a bus to Pattaya, then got in this weird transport vehicle that was like being in the back of one of those army jeeps with the sideways benches and an open back (no seatbelts haha). I was super-dubious about the safety of this vehicle but it got us to our hotel just fine, so I think I was worrying over nothing.
Overall, Thailand does a pretty good job of Christmastime. They decorate trees, put up lights, and it’s generally an uplifting place to be. Definitely a top spot for winter sun.
So we’re moving countries again next week. New tax system. New car registration system. New everything.
At least we’re not moving far geographically, this time. So while we’re in the middle of all this packing mayhem, I thought I’d share my packing and moving tips for moving house abroad, since this is the third time I’ve moved countries between two different continents, and about the zillionth time I’ve moved house in total.
Have the biggest clear-out. Some people say to do it before you start to pack but I find it’s better to do it as I’m packing because that way I know what space I have and what I need to take.
Make the most of your luggage allowance or the space in your car. We like to do as few trips as possible. When we moved from England to China and from China to Northern Ireland, we just took what we were allowed to have with our plane tickets.
Don’t waste money, time, space or the environment on bubble wrap (or even newspaper). Wrap your delicates in your clothes. Seriously, you have these squishy things and these delicate things, put the two together!
Pack out any space inside mugs, pans etc with clothes or other fabrics.
Try to keep books to a minimum. Those are heavy and they take up a LOT of space. Anything that’s not a profound, life-changing, awe-inspiring tome of knowledge with a cover that belongs at the Tate should be switched for a Kindle version (get the Kindle app for your phone or consider a Kindle tablet), and take the hardcopy to a charity shop.
Weigh your suitcases! Use your bathroom scales or get a hand luggage scale. If they’re over 35kg (about 70lb) most airlines won’t take them, so at that point, your best plan is to split your luggage and pay for an extra bag.
In your carry-on, have a few things in case your checked bag gets lost. You’ll want at least a change of clothes and a toothbrush.
Take a handbag/purse. This one’s mostly aimed at guys. You are leaving valuable luggage space on the table if you don’t get a man bag or laptop bag and pack it to the max with bits and bobs. You are allowed to take a carry on case and a handbag/laptop bag in the cabin of every airline.
If you have medications to take with you, be sure to get a doctor’s note (in America) or print out a photo of your prescription (in the UK) so you can prove you were prescribed them properly. Look up what you can’t take into the country, because some places (like UAE) have very, very strict rules. Never, ever take prescription meds into a country with the sole intent to give them to someone else.
Pack your cosmetics according to the temperature of the airports you’ll be passing through. Any cosmetic that’s super-unstable in heat or coldness should go in your carry-on, if possible. Check out my complete guide to traveling with cosmetics.
If you’re moving with a hire vehicle such as a self-drive van, be sure you’re legally allowed to cross country borders with it. Some vehicles won’t let you, or charge you extra for “insurance”.
If you’re taking a fridge, there are special rules for moving a fridge. Don’t ever lay it flat on its back. Empty it and defrost it before traveling. Tape the doors so they don’t fall open and get damaged. Either move it upright or, if your van can’t do that (as many can’t), prop it at an angle using a sturdy box. If that’s not possible either, lay it on the side opposite the door hinges. Let it stand 8-24 hours before turning on, depending how long it was in transit.
Shipping companies will move your stuff around the world if you need them, but they are very expensive, so be sure you really want to take everything you’re moving.
Label your boxes. Even small boxes packed in a suitcase. It’s too easy to forget what’s in them when you arrive, and that means you have to open them all before figuring out which room they go in.
Take boxes directly to the room they’re for. That keeps your thoroughfare clutter-free while you’re emptying things.
Protect your new carpets by putting down cardboard or linoleum in the main walkways e.g. around your front door. Otherwise, everything will get grubby, fast.
Get your electricity, heating, water and broadband services connected up before you arrive. Some countries can take over a month between you signing up and them actually connecting you!
Take a flashlight or torch, a blanket and a solar battery charger (if you’re moving locally, get a solar generator and some charging panels) as backup in case your electricity isn’t on when you arrive. I have moved house dozens of times and I have almost never arrived to find the electricity is working immediately.
Check the car licensing restrictions before moving your car. You may have to swap your licence for a local one, and you will almost certainly need to re-register your car, and you may have to do this within a fixed time. In China, if you want to drive, you’ll need to apply for a driving test and pass it.
If you don’t have curtains, yet, you can get some privacy by draping towels or sheets over the curtain rails, or if you have the right kind of windows, you can jam the top of a bedsheet in there and cover the windowpane with it. If none of these apply, get some liquid Windolene (not the spray stuff) and put a thick layer over your windows with a cloth. People used to do this all the time back in the 80s and 90s.
Moving abroad is pretty stressful, but try to focus on the end point – living in your exciting new country! And share your best tips in the comments!
One thing I saw several times in various cities in China was gigantic things being carried by tiny vehicles. Some of them moved really fast and I didn’t get to capture them all through the lens before they were gone! Here’s a selection of some of my favourites that I did snap:
By Chinese standards, these two e-bikes aren’t carrying a whole lot, but the stand-off between them and the oncoming car was absolutely hilarious to watch, neither party would move, they all just kept honking at each other for over ten minutes. I was on my way to a shop and I didn’t find out how it ended as I wanted chocolate, but when I got back, the e-bikes had disappeared and the car was parked further up the road with a shifty looking security guy in black shades standing next to it.
This bloke in Xi’an was taking all of the packaging somewhere. I like to imagine a single duck egg in the middle of it all.
This guy looked like he’d built a campervan on the back of his bike, complete with easy access ladder, but I can’t help thinking it all looks a bit cardboardy, like it’ll collapse in a heavy rainstorm.
This bloke looks like he’s moving house! All he needs is the kitchen sink.
Meanwhile, this chap is having a smoko from taking his rubbish to be recycled.
But the real, baffling question was, with all those metal poles in the back of this e-bike, HOW has it not tipped backwards?
This guide to travelling with beauty products is going to cover every different type of travel, including taking cosmetics on airplanes (carry on only and checked luggage, domestic and international), high altitude travel with cosmetics, including mountaineering, and protecting cosmetics from extremes of temperature, especially during overland travel with beauty products or flights to/from hot countries.
My cosmetics go nearly everywhere I go, and you’d expect nothing less since I’m a travel and beauty blogger. I’ve had to make up my own solutions to some of my travel-with-cosmetics problems because the hacks most people came up with only work for very specific situations. I’m in the process of writing a separate article on how to decant literally every cosmetic, and will update this article with links when that one is done.
This article contains:
Carry-on beauty hacks for travelling light.
Checked luggage beauty hacks to protect your cosmetics (and your other stuff).
How temperature and altitude affect cosmetics: Read before going ANYWHERE (especially overland)!
Carry-on beauty travel hacks:
When you’re travelling with only a carry-on, your cosmetics need to be as pared down as possible. I know when I pack for a longer getaway, I’m always in a dilemma because I want to travel light but my cosmetics case could easily fill half a normal-sized suitcase, never mind a little carry-on bag.
All airlines worldwide have limits on how much liquid you can take onto planes these days, which makes it even more complicated for women to travel and look their best.
Here’s how to pack cosmetics for 7 days with a carry-on:
Shampoo: Instead of a bottle of shampoo, take a shampoo bar. You could make your own, using one of my recipes such as my green tea shampoo bar, or buy a ready-made one. When you only have one sandwich bag at the airport in which to put all your liquid cosmetics, a bar makes sense.
Conditioner: Another unnecessary liquid. The way I see it, there are three ways to solve the conditioner issue. Either buy some when you land (potluck as to whether you’ll find any as soon as you need it, so not great if you’re going long-haul), make your own conditioner bar such as my easy natural hair conditioner bar recipe, or forego the conditioner completely and use coconut oil instead.
Deodorant: Take a deodorant bar. The only good one I’ve found (ever) is the Lush Aromaco bar which is unisex and actually works as advertised, unlike most natural deodorants. Unfortunately, I don’t have a homemade alternative yet.
Toothpaste: If you can get to a dentist before you travel, they almost always have free samples from toothpaste companies, and these are perfect for travel. If not, a full-size tube will use up your liquids allowance, but you may have to suck it up or buy a new tube when you land. No one wants dirty teeth.
Lotion: If you’re staying in a hotel, you’ll usually get a new tube of this every day. If not, my conditioner bar, above, doubles up as an intensive on-the-spot treatment for very dry skin (use sparingly).
Face cream: If you’re going to South Korea, absolutely under no circumstances take face cream. They have face cream. And it’s better than anything you have at home. Otherwise, decant your face cream into a smaller pot such as a mayonnaise pot (these tend to leak less than the cheaper “travel cosmetics bottles”) or a miniature jam jar. Remember to label it.
Sunscreen: Take a travel mini if your face cream doesn’t contain an SPF. You can also make powder sunscreen using zinc oxide but it’s not suitable for dry skin like mine.
Foundation: Take a cushion or a powder foundation, or boldly go natural with no foundation. A cushion with a high SPF is great for hotter countries.
Eyeshadow: An eyeshadow pencil is your best option so you don’t have to worry about powder breakage on the flight or use up that precious liquid allowance!
Eyeliner: Is very small, so unless you’re seriously pressed for space, just take liquid eyeliner if that’s your go-to, and put it in the baggie at security. Otherwise, an eye pencil can double up as a brow pencil if you choose your shade wisely and take a makeup pencil sharpener.
Highlighter and contouring kit: Ditch. Not worth the extra space in your makeup bag. If you want to contour, very lightly apply your brown eyeliner or eyeshadow pencil to the areas you need to contour and blend, blend, blend until it’s looking natural. White eyeshadow or concealer doubles up as highlighter if needed.
Lipstick: These are often classed as liquids. I prefer a tinting balm with an SPF unless I have a very formal occasion or a cosplay to attend.
Mascara: Get a miniature sample of your favorite mascara either from a store like Bloomingdale’s or from Amazon. It takes up way less space than a big chunky plastic mascara tube. I prefer waterproof brown mascara for travel, and I pair it with Mascara Melt-Off by Too Faced.
Perfume: If you can’t get a travel miniature, just leave it at home. It will only attract unwanted stray men.
Blusher: I use the Benefit Do the Hoola miniature.
Pore strips: If you’re prone to blackheads, especially if you’re traveling to a hot country, take some Bioré pore strips.
And here’s what you don’t need when travelling with a carry-on:
Spray Deodorant: Buy this when you land. A big spray bottle will use up your liquids allowance with carry-on luggage.
Dry shampoo: It’s actually really bad for your hair and unless you’re going for an interview when you land you could just shower, instead.
Setting spray: Seems useful, but if you’re in a situation where your makeup won’t stay put, consider whether you need it on your face or not. In the sort of heat that makes makeup migrate down your face, your pores are open, leaving you undefended against blackheads and spots.
Lip plumper/lash growth serum/false lashes: I love all of these, but unless you’re travelling for a big event, you can live without them for a week.
The first time I travelled with a checked bag, we were moving to China. I stared at my open suitcase thinking I could take anything at all and it would all fit in this ginormous case.
Unfortunately, I soon learned that wasn’t true. I also didn’t know about excess baggage, so I thought I could only take this one case and a carry-on. In case anyone else has never been on a long-haul flight, you just pay for more suitcases and it’s not an abominable amount (about $80-ish with the US airlines; about half that in China).
On the plus side, I’m not a huge fan of traveling with tons of bags and, if you’re a solo female traveller (or a lone female heavily-pregnant traveller, as I was on one infamous long-haul flight from China to Helsinki to Heathrow), you will absolutely want as little crap to carry as possible because you will have to lift your bags at various points.
Take all cosmetics out of their boxes/packaging. If you’re Youtubing, film the unboxing video before you pack! Remember to keep any applicators/spare parts and photograph any instructions in case you need them later.
Decant unwieldy products into smaller, lighter containers.
To avoid leaks, wrap any cosmetics in cling film/saran wrap and put them in a waterproof cosmetics bag before putting them in a checked bag. Especially ampoule type sleeping packs!
To minimize damage, keep powder cosmetics and any container that won’t easily wipe clean in a separate waterproof cosmetics bag to your liquid cosmetics! Store these in another part of your case.
Put anything like books, electricals, clothes that may stain, etc, in packing cubes or supermarket bags to protect from cosmetics or food leaks. The supermarket bags can then be used to go food shopping when you reach your destination! I had a carton of wine explode in my suitcase once because I packed it wrong on a 17 hour flight, and the mess was not pretty! I was gutted because it was the nicest wine I ever tasted, too (a Californian Pinot Noir, if you’re curious).
Protect your cosmetics from damage in checked luggage by wrapping them in (bagged) clothes, so if your bags are dropped or crushed, your cosmetics are safe.
How heat affects cosmetics during travel
The issue with taking cosmetics in checked bags isn’t so much space, but whether the conditions your bag will be in are safe for cosmetics. For example, at Dubai Airport, temperatures can regularly hit 45 degrees celsius, sometimes reaching higher, and while your bag is on the tarmac waiting to be loaded onto a plane, things could melt.
Most cosmetics are intended to be kept between 10-25 degrees celsius, so any major divergence from this could cause the active ingredients in anti-ageing creams to become… well… inactive. Essential oils also have problems when they get too warm.
Collagen in our bodies degrades even in average room temperature, although in cosmetics it’s safe to about 45 degrees celsius (120F to be precise) when collagen breakdown’s reaction rate increases [reference] to the point where it can be broken down within about 6 hours.
Hyaluronic acid is even more susceptible to heat damage – just 30 minutes at 50 degrees celsius causes 81% of the hyaluronic acid in a product to break down [reference – PDF download of research paper]. This actually happened to me when I took my By Nature New Zealand eye cream on a long round the world trip including Kathmandu, Dubai, Istanbul and Athens in the August heat during the 2018 European wildfires. By the time I got back to China, the creams were no longer effective and when I looked into the science, I found out it must have been all the airports where my bag sat waiting to be loaded onto/unloaded from planes. Anything with hyaluronic acid should say home or go in your carry on.
Peptides like Matrixyl are the most resilient to heat exposure. Even at temperatures of 100 degrees C, they won’t break down! [reference]. Peptide creams with no other active ingredients can go in your checked bags with no problems!
Vitamins fare even worse! Vitamin C breaks down from 30 degrees C (86F) [reference]. That same reference states pro-vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), found in many haircare products, is also very heat sensitive.
Vitamin A (a retinoid that converts to retinol) is partly affected, too – after 3 months at 45 degrees C it degrades by about 30% [reference], which isn’t an issue for anyone in transit, but will be a consideration for archaeologists and aid workers, and anyone else camping out in warm climates for prolonged periods who uses retinol cream. On your return to a cooler country, you may need to replace retinol-containing cosmetics. The same reference shows Vitamin A also loses 10% of its potency when stored at 13.5 degrees C for 3 months, up to 34% loss of potency after 9 months.
On the other hand, most other cosmetics can stand to be frozen – in fact, they will often reach freezing temperatures during transport. When I worked for Avon (cosmetics company) my deliveries would regularly arrive frozen.
The main exception to this is Coenzyme Q10, aka Q10, a well-known anti-ageing ingredient which is actually very difficult for your body to absorb. It won’t absorb properly if it’s anything other than body temperature and at low temperatures, it forms crystals and becomes ineffective. In fact, it’s less effective at any temperature below 48 celsius (10 degrees hotter than body temperature), although this is likely to be a temporary effect that will go away when the cream is warmer [reference].
So using this science, we can see that most anti-ageing creams need to be carefully packed in a stable temperature to protect them. For this reason, I reiterate they must be taken to hot countries as carry-on luggage to maintain their effectiveness.
Anything containing Q10 or retinol also needs to be in your carry on when travelling to or from very cold countries. Anti-ageing creams are usually expensive and packaged in bulky or heavy containers so I recommend leaving the container at home and decanting your product into a smaller jar with enough for your trip.
How does altitude affect cosmetics?
There was very little published research about the effect of temperature, I had to cross apply studies on food or other biological applications of certain ingredients, and there’s even less work done on altitude.
Kinetic theory tells us you can increase the effectiveness of any chemical reaction by increasing temperature or pressure (or both) of a reactant. This is why products break down in heat.
But this means they will also break down under very high pressure (e.g. when diving, but who takes their cosmetics SCUBA diving?) and that low pressure (e.g. at high altitude, on mountains or high cities like Lhasa, Kathmandu, or most parts of Peru and other areas in South America) will usually make things less reactive. Except for one issue…
The boiling point of water is lower at altitude. All other liquids are affected in a similar way. This means the temperature at which ingredients will denature will also be lower at altitude (the pressurised cabin of an aircraft doesn’t count here).
Most high-altitude areas are quite cold, but some, such as Kathmandu, can get hot at certain times of the year, so don’t leave your cosmetics on windowledges or anywhere without air con. This is especially true of Lhasa, which is over 3600m above sea level (that’s 11,800 feet).
Cosmetics also have a bad habit (due to the low-pressure environment) of working their way out of jars at high altitude. This is more likely in the low pressure cargo hold of some planes rather than on land but if you’re doing Everest, the last thing you need is to faff with cosmetics (my recommendation for cosmetics to take up a big mountain like Everest or K2? Just SPF 50 sunscreen, chapstick with an SPF or coconut oil, and some soap for hygiene).
If you’re overlanding, you might not even know you’ve reached high altitude, so pack your cosmetics well and don’t take any big expensive ones, just in case they get ruined.
Humidity is another consideration for travelling with cosmetics. Powder cosmetics suffer most from this. They can go hard and difficult to get onto an applicator or brush, or they can even dissolve. You could keep powder cosmetics in a makeup bag with a sachet or two of silica gel to protect them. Keep silica gel away from babies and pets.
Humidity will also affect electricals. Beauty devices are more robust than a lot of devices, however, so are unlikely to stop working unless they actually get wet (aka 100% humidity).
If your bags are likely to get wet, e.g. travelling in a rainstorm or typhoon, put beauty devices in a plastic bag and surround them with clothes to absorb any potential liquid. Also keep them well away from any part of the zippers as these are the weak point in most bags and suitcases, where water is most likely to get in.
In a campervan or other long overland adventure, humidity is the biggest danger to your cosmetics because you’re breathing in your vehicle and causing the air to become saturated with water vapour. This becomes very problematic at night (you’ll see the windows steam up from it).
You can get a non-electric dehumidifier which uses crystals, they’re available at most bargain stores like Home Bargains (UK) or Dollar Tree (US). It could be worth taking one of these with you and putting it somewhere where it won’t get knocked over (they get messy and then they cause more issues than they solve because the crystals are toxic). Keep these well away from children or pets.
So there you have it, the science behind exactly how to pack to take the best care of your cosmetics while travelling, which cosmetics travel well and which ones you can do without! Some cosmetics are seriously expensive, so if in doubt about whether you can safely pack them, leave them at home (especially if they’ve been discontinued and are therefore irreplaceable).