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12 Travel Habits I’ve Incorporated Into My Everyday Routine

After traversing the globe, these travel habits have become routine for me.

Mark Twain’s famous quote—“One must travel, to learn”—rings true to my experience. In my voyages to over 70 countries, I’ve picked up many unexpected habits and items simply by spending time abroad and getting immersed in the local culture.

Back home, I’ve incorporated many of these customs into my daily routines and found that they’ve added to my health and wellness. For example, after spending significant time in Japan, I start my mornings with antioxidant-rich matcha and bring my friends small omiyage souvenirs whenever I explore somewhere new. Packing limitations have also led me to make do without beauty tools such as curlers and brushes, which I ended up adapting to my day-to-day life.

Here are some of the most eye-opening hacks and habits that I’ve picked up from traveling with a curious and open mind.

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Drinking Matcha

Replacing coffee with matcha, or green tea powder, has become a social media trend in recent years. However, I first tried matcha when I traveled to Japan in the 1990s, and have been drinking it regularly ever since. In addition to being delicious, the tea has numerous health benefits and provides a stable energy boost. I like to start my day by whisking an organic, ceremonial-grade Uji matcha with hot water and adding vanilla oat milk.

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Having a Pared-Down Makeup Routine

In my earlier days as a traveler, my makeup bag took up a good quarter of my suitcase. Now, all my products fit inside a pencil case. Instead of relying on brushes, I use clean fingers to blend creamy cosmetics such as eyeshadow sticks (Laura Mercier and Rare Beauty), blush balm (Canmake), and liquid concealer (The Saem). I also use a liquid eyeliner pen for easy application and a retractable lip liner and eyebrow pencil so that I don’t need to bring a sharpener. Back home, I’ve stuck to this minimalist makeup that has given me a fresher look.

3 OF 12

Using Reusable Bottles

I bring a reusable bottle with me on my trips so that I can fill it up with free water at airports and hotels. Even when I’m not jetting off somewhere, I’ve adopted the eco-friendly practice of sticking a bottle or mug in my bag whenever I’m on the go. This way, I always have hydration at hand and can benefit from cafe discounts (some places charge you less if you bring your own drink container). Considering the latest findings on the danger of microplastics, I exclusively use metal or glass bottles that keep beverages both cold and warm.

4 OF 12

Hairstyling Without Heat

I used to bring hairstyling tools with me on trips, but I had a traumatizing experience when I plugged a straighter into an outlet, and the plates melted in a sea of sparks. I switched to heatless alternatives like wrapping my hair around a rope and sleeping in it overnight to create bouncy curls. Instead of straightening my hair, I bring smoothing serums that keep it sleek. Thanks to these travel habits, I’ve stopped using heat tools entirely, and my hair has never been so long and healthy.

5 OF 12

Always Carrying Tissues

As a child, my first encounter with a Mainland China toilet—a hole in the ground with no toilet paper in sight—taught me the importance of always carrying tissues. I never fail to stuff a small packet of Kleenex into my pockets before going out, and I carry spares in my bag or backpack. It’s come in handy when I have to unexpectedly wipe a counter or my hands, and I’m able to offer a tissue if someone sneezes.

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Carrying a Large, Featherweight Purse

Travel has taught me that it’s much easier to get around with a lightweight and spacious bag. Without one, I’d find it difficult to walk around all day while lugging my mirrorless camera, hat, water bottle, coat, sunglasses, and other necessities. In my day-to-day life, I’ve switched from heavy purses to barely-there totes. I look for fashionable options such as an elegant Maison de Fleur shoulder bag made from a silky fabric with ribbon accents.

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Wearing Comfy Yet Cute Shoes

When I’m traveling, I easily take 15 to 20,000 steps a day. The last thing I want is to be hobbled by my footwear and unable to see as much as I want. These experiences have led me to regularly reach for comfortable yet stylish shoes, which can get me through hours of strolling and transition from day to night. For example, I have Comme des Garcons sneakers for an elevated streetwear look and leather platform sandals that give some lift but are still easy to walk in. 

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Practicing Minimalism

After frantically trying to cram souvenirs into a suitcase and meet the maximum weight for checked luggage, I’ve realized that it’s a burden to overpack. Staying in tiny Hong Kong and Japanese apartments has also shown me how people can live without so much stuff. Nowadays, I’m very choosy about what I buy when I go somewhere: I don’t want to deal with paying extra for baggage or mailing items home. I’ve adopted the habit of decluttering regularly by selling clothes online and donating whatever no longer “sparks joy.”    

9 OF 12

Getting Small, Local Treats for Friends

In Japan, I learned about the custom of omiyage, or purchasing small local products for friends, colleagues, and family whenever you travel somewhere. I loved the idea of keeping others in mind and sharing a slice of my travel experience with them. In line with this tradition, I look for regional food products such as chocolates from Brussels, salsa from the Yucatan, and teas from Kyoto to gift upon my return.

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Packing a Lightweight, Packable Jacket

While shopping in Asia, I discovered the Uniqlo packable puffer: a down-filled jacket that keeps you warm yet stuffs down to the size of a soda can. I started bringing this jacket everywhere as it could be thrown in a tote bag without adding size or weight. (It came in handy when I wound up under the stars in Kamakura one chilly night!). Mountain Hardwear and other outdoor companies make similar ultralight short puffers as well.

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Going to Restaurants Alone

When I travel, I frequently wind up dining solo. To my surprise, these food experiences often end up being among my favorite memories. I recall sitting at a counter and trying every pincho at a Madrid tapas bar, and conversing about coffee at a Colombian cafe. As a result, in my hometown, I no longer feel reluctant to dine alone. I relish the opportunity to duck into a new place and enjoy a meal by myself.

12 OF 12

Having Offline Entertainment

I refuse to pay for Wi-Fi or onboard entertainment when I fly. I, therefore, load up my laptop and smartphone with entertainment in advance: podcasts, TV episodes, movies, music, and e-books. At home, despite having data on my phone, I still keep some of these items on my device so I can access them at all times. You never know when you might end up somewhere without Internet access, such as a rural or underground location, and need a little distraction.

Hollywoodtalks April 24, 2024

Disagree on the purse. Do not carry anything containing money or valuables outside your body.
Get an RFID pouch and put your valuables and money in that, then wear under your clothes.