We’re not Kate Middleton (I would be very surprised if she read this so I can say that in confidence). We don’t have a hair stylist and a wardrobe that mystically appears. We don’t have a jet with an all-inclusive luggage allowance. How is such a challenge possible, then, I hear you ask?
When one has not been blessed with naturally silky straight locks, but rather a frazzled bush with the odd appearance of a dread lock after a wriggly night’s sleep, it is hard to maintain such a head of twigs. It is of no surprise to anyone that women shave and it is up to you which parts you’re shaving, but I am a believer of at least shaved legs and pits. This is not easy in a confined space that measures under a metre squared, which, I might add, both the toilet and shower share and includes a plug hole small enough for only a pea to fall through. The final hurdle is having no choice but to bring nothing else except for hand luggage on a five week trip of New Zealand. This means no straighteners, no hairdryer, no fancy shoes, and no hair brush. The avid explorer will read this and think ‘what a bimbo, you’re not a true explorer without your North Face windproof, waterproof, and drizzleproof coat’! This is not the case. Understandably, those keeping Mountain Designs in business did laugh at my neon scarf and wax-look jacket from H&M and, yes, I was freezing in the King’s Canyon. I did not anticipate such cold conditions – I wish I had discovered Mountain Designs before I left for Alice Springs. I have, this time, come fully prepared to feel both warm and like a lady. How exciting!
1) The essentials are obvious. I have a HUGE coat, which will already be a nice winter coat chosen with your good taste so it should make you feel all lovely anyway. In my bag I packed (fun game for the van): 4 jumpers, 6 tops, 1 pair of jeans, 2 pairs of leggings, 2 skirts, 3 dresses, pyjamas, 1 hoodie, thermals, a rain coat – from Mountain Designs LOL – and slippers. Yes, this ALL fits in my hand luggage.
Perhaps some snow chains for the South Island and a lamp for when there is no power are sensible purchases too. I have a man to deal with that stuff, though. I used to take care of that but he enjoyed preparing for our camping adventures so much how could I say no. The not so important things (but the things that are small enough to fit in your luggage and make you feel like a lady) –
2) You must say no to high shoes. There isn’t any space for that. I opted for some strange looking things that the youth of today call converse. Except mine are not actual converse, they’re actual NEXT. The grip on these will support me through the ranges (perhaps not my ankles so much, but I am young and strong). This means I don’t have the weight of hiking boots, or trainers. Woohoo! I feel a lot more elegant in these ‘shoe boots’.
3) You don’t have to wear khaki pants and a Jurassic Park coat just because you’re out on an adventure. Every woman has a safe outfit that never fails to make them feel like a lady. I have a beautiful cream dress from Laura Ashley that I can wear with a pair of woolly tights and boots with my functional puffy coat. This I shall save for the fourth day that I will have been without power and water. Mmmmmm, nice.
4) A lip stick. Great for the days when only joggers can be worn and you haven’t showered for three days. The bimbo in me listened when Harpers Bizarre asked “what is more elegant than having a red that’s all yours?” I want to feel elegant. So I fell for the consumer trap and brought some lipstick from MAC.
5) The answer to having no straighteners: A quick divide of the mane down the middle and a loose plait of the hair with each bunch will leave a nice wave when the hairbands are removed. Or, when you’ve made the dreaded move of washing your hair in a cold van twist the hair from the top to the bottom and leave twisted to dry naturally. Perfect! No electricals needed.
6) The nails. Having worked on reception for a 4* hotel prior to this trip it has become natural to have painted nails – mostly because they’re now stained – but it does make my hands feel nice. So a tiny pack of throw away nail remover pads and your favourite colour is the answer. Nice.
7) Finally, just buy a cheap disposable razor on arrival for that unwanted hair – simple.
I am quite clearly not a hiker, or a rambler, or a wild sports person that would climb a rock or go kayaking – yes I know New Zealand is THE place for it. I have an open mind, but unfortunately for my partner I haven’t been created with sporting genes and I am aware that there are loads of exciting people that have. So this is in no way meant to offend anyone as I know everyone has different tastes and interests. I woke up a day before we left and wondered how I could feel like a lady on a trip because I definitely did not feel like one in Alice Springs and thought that I cannot be the only one! We’re in a campervan exploring the villages and the Maori culture and I enjoy discovering quirky cafes and talking to the locals. I am not THAT boring!