25 DAYS IN A BACKPACK

In 24 hours time, my boyfriend Rob and I board a plane from Chicago to Amsterdam, to kick off a 5 week long Euro-trip of a lifetime.

25 days out of those 5 weeks will be spent backpacking: Amsterdam > Paris > Venice (break for a 12-day cruise during which time we will have a shared suitcase being brought to us from the states) Rome > Reggio Calabria > Florence > Barcelona > Lake Como > London > Iceland.

We hope to not have to pay for luggage on any of our flights during the backpacking portion, so after much trial and error here’s what we’ve come up with.

General TSA regulations for the budget airlines we’ll be flying permit one personal item, 10 by 13 by 17, no more than 22lbs. We are pushing this a bit, but crossing our fingers and hoping some clever hacks will keep us from having to pay.

Each of our backpacks slightly exceed regulation size, but won’t be fully filled, and have some  drawstrings and such that will make them look smaller, and allow them to squish into the bins if needed. We will also be carrying low-profile fanny packs under our clothes for personal items, and always wearing layers and our heaviest shoes in the airports as needed.

Here are some pictures: the bag is fully packed with all the items below. It’s amazing how much you can fit if you pack smart.

List of clothes:

  • 8 pair underwear
  • 2 lightweight sport bras / bralettes
  • 8 pair socks
  • rubber flip-flops
  • 3 pair shorts
  • 2 pair leggings
  • 4 tops
  • 2 hats
  • solid tennis shoes for walking
  • 1 romper
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 dress
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 1 cover up
  • 1 lightweight windbreaker type jacket, mine is from Carbon38

List of toiletries:

  • folding toothbrush
  • 2 mini flosses
  • handful of floss picks
  • 2 mini toothpastes
  • mini folding hairbrush
  • full size deodorant
  • sunblock sectioned into TSA-sized container
  • shampoo sectioned into TSA-sized container
  • conditioner sectioned into TSA-sized container
  • razor
  • couple tampons
  • hair ties

List of makeup:

  • mini mascara
  • full size brow pencil
  • full size brow gel
  • full size concealer
  • foundation sample
  • powder sample
  • lip balm
  • one full size lipstick
  • one mini lipstick
  • face halo

Additional:

  • phone
  • charger
  • outlet converter kit
  • Polaroid camera
  • one pack of film
  • headphones
  • travel journal + pen
  • folder containing print outs of all boarding passes, directions, contact info, etc
  • passport
  • 25 euro saved from last trip
  • microfiber towels that fold up super tiny and clip onto our backpacks – 2 sizes
  • similarly designed shopping bag, folds up smaller than an iPhone
  • empty water bottle
  • sunglasses
  • low profile fanny pack, also from Carbon38

General Packing Hacks:

  1. Keep everything organized in the main pocket of your backpack by stacking like-items, i.e. shorts together, tops together, etc, and folding them over then rolling into little sushi rolls and packing side by side to leave room for souvenirs, camera, etc on top.
  2. Keep passport either on your person at all times in a safe, hidden zipper pocket like that in a fanny pack (what I’m doing), or in a hidden pocket in your backpack.
  3. Pack toiletries and makeup in an easily accessible space, like the front pocket, for easy access whenever you need a quick airport/train station touch-up.
  4. Pack a bag within your bag to separate dirty from clean clothes until you can reach a laundromat.
  5. Plan on doing laundry about once per week. We have 25 days of actual living-out-of-a-backpack planned, so we’ve packed generously for about 8 days worth of traveling, knowing we can re-wear certain things, hand-wash undies and socks if it comes down to it, etc.
  6. Do an initial pack, and then see where you can scale back. If you can’t justify bringing that 7th top, don’t. Keep in mind you’re traveling light and will likely want to buy some goodies on your way, so keep it simple.
  7. Wear as much as possible in the airport to make your bag look less stuffed. Wear your larger clothing, heavier shoes, hat, tie that jacket around your waist, just remember to take everything off going through security.
  8. Beauty thoughts: pick and choose wisely. I’m choosing to do my brows and maybe throw on some mascara and lipstick each day. I want to look cute in travel pics but also don’t want to waste precious time primping each morning. I decided to skip the foundation, eyeshadow, etc.
  9. Share space with your travel buddy. Working on a cruise ship we had a very strict 50 lb limit traveling home, or pay for the overage charges. By the time we got through immigration, everyone’s belonging’s were in everyone else’s suitcase, but we made it work. Same rules apply. Share that space.
  10. Function over fashion. We all want to be cute on vaca, but pack for practicality’s sake, you’ll thank me later.
  11. Use the outside of your bag as well. Hats with adjustable backs, anything with a carabiner, etc, can be clipped onto the outside of your bag for easy access and to save inside space.
  12. Pack as many multi-use garments as possible. For example, tops with built-in bras, a maxi skirt that doubles as a dress, a beach cover up that can be thrown over shoulders for sun protection or in cathedrals with dress codes, etc.

Did I forget anything?! Let me know in the comments below.

I have no affiliation with any of the linked items, just love the products, aside from Carbon38. If you do shop Carbon38, use my code KATIEMCG for 25% off your order.

Thanks for tuning in guys! I’ll do my best to keep updating this page as we travel!

XO, Katie

 

 

 

Not a beauty blogger

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Hello friends and welcome back!
I’m doing my best to get into a more structured posting schedule with this lil’ baby blog of mine. To those of you that keep tuning in despite my haphazard posting, I appreciate you more than you know!
Today I want to chat about some of my favorite beauty and wellness products. Like the title suggests, I am *not* a beauty blogger, as in some days simply taking my makeup off before bed is a big victory in itself, amiright?
However, these products have all won my stamp of approval because they’re either no fuss, multi-use, or both! Let’s dive right in:
Lush lip scrub. It’s lush, guys, need I say more? I really love this scrub because I have perpetually dry lips but also love matte liquid lipstick…which we all know can look terrible on said dry lips. Quick scrub with this baby, lick off the excess, balm on top, finish doing the rest of my face while the balm soaks in, wipe it off, liquid lip on top – Lipstick never looked better. It also tastes like bubblegum, so.
Speaking of lips, let’s talk adorable packaging and the perfect deep red for every skin tone. This Jack n’ Coke Lipstick delivers great color payoff, a really creamy formula, (I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality: on par with lipsticks that retail for triple) and is really worth buying for the novelty alone. So stinking cute.
Another lush favorite: solid lotion, AKA Wiccy Magic Muscles. I’ve never been a big lotion girl, as I often find with dance, excercise, etc, that the lotion doesn’t really soak in, and once you work up a sweat, it’s a slip ‘n slide situation that nobody signed up for. Enter our hero, the solid lotion bar. I apply this one right out of the shower: it has a cooling effect for sore muscles and the little coffee beans provide a nice massage. Skin drinks it up and I never feel slimey.
Next up, this magical little bath bomb from Magpie. I absolutely love discovering new indie brands, especially when they’re ran by fellow female entrepreneurs. This almond bath bomb smelled amazing, was super soothing, and had a surprise inside! Check out Magpie’s full line of products, including donut, emoji, rainbow bath bombs…you name it: here.
Alright, the next two: Goddess Rose Mask (far left) and Happy Face Sensitive Skin Moisturizer (bottom right) are the best MudbuM products I’ve found to date.
The Goddess Rose Mask was a gift from my lovely bosses. It comes in a powdered form which allows you to mix with your choice of honey, milk, or water, and tailor the ratios to what your skin needs that day. Its both purifying and moisturizing, and has a nice texture that allows for a little extra exfoliation when I rinse it off. Available in-store at MudbuM.
The Happy Face Sensitive Skin Moisturizer wins this entire blog post. If I could only keep one of these products, Happy Face would be it, no questions asked. It’s an entirely oil-based moisturizer, which typically makes me wary with my combination skin, but it’s deeply moisturizing without being heavy, and the lemongrass scent is delicious. It keeps my skin glowing and balanced all day long and is the perfect base for foundation to prevent that cakey look. It was also purchased through MudbuM, but I’ve also found their Etsy site, HappyFaceBeauty and am so excited to check out the whole line. Once I run out, I plan on buying this facial set to try out all their products.
Sticking with the skincare theme, next up we have this little gem from Embyrolisse. I’m linking the full sized product. What I believe I have here is a sample, gifted from one of my fav MUA’s…heyyyy Aga! which I cannot find online, and is a shame because I love the dual purpose of this product. (I’ll update this post ASAP if I can find this specific product.) Anywho, the moisturizer itself is lovely, a little heavier than Happy Face, perfect for Fall and Winter, and the best part: the top of the cap screws off to reveal a shimmery lip balm, how brilliant is that?
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: my Indigo Rollerball by Nest. The scents I typically gravitate towards are floral and sweet, and while Indigo has those elements it also has some really spicy notes that make it different than anything else I own. It’s the perfect size to throw in a clutch for a night out, and once again, I’m a sucker for the beautiful packaging.
Alright, that’s all for now folks. Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products in the comments below, and let me know if you’d like to hear more product reviews in the future!
XO,
Katie
Disclaimer: some of these products were gifted and some were given for testing purposes (Jack n’ Coke Lipstick + Almond Bath Bomb). I was not paid for any of these reviews. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Every Day is Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day! Anyone else feel like these holidays didn’t really exist before the advent of Facebook? Just me?
Regardless, I really am so happy today is International Women’s Day. I’m so grateful I work in a career where women are at the forefront and continually pushing to new heights. I don’t take lightly my responsibility to raise up the next generation of women to be persistent, powerful, and committed: to both their art and the boundaries they choose to establish as an artist. This is SO IMPORTANT.
As much as the dance and modeling world is dominated by female talent, the people hiring us…and behind the casting table…and those deciding how much we get paid are often still majority male and that can create a disconnect in how we’re treated and perceived. Let’s be clear though, I don’t want to storm the castle walls and replace all the men, I just want, I’m going to go ahead and speak for all women here: WE just want equality. What a concept. (And let’s not forget that this equality needs to include women of all colors and backgrounds, non gender conforming individuals, and members of the LGBTQ community, to really be equality, but that’s another post for another day.)
In an industry that far too often takes the attitude of “100 girls would kill to be where you are” to push you out of your comfort zones and not in a healthy way, I want my students (and my peers for that matter) to be able to stand strong in what they are and aren’t okay with on set.
Some of my go-to phrases are:
“No, I’m not okay with that.”
”We need a quick sidebar please, because this wasn’t discussed in any of our previous conversations.”
”What’s our timeline? Let me know if we need to discuss overtime rates.”
Tone and delivery are key of course, but if more women practice asserting themselves in this manner when necessary, we can ALL work together to dispel the rediuclous myth that women who do assert themselves in the workplace are “difficult to work with”.
Right?
Kick some ass today ladies. And don’t apologize.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
XO, Katie

 

SAVVY TRAVELS

Sometimes vacationing is all sunsets, beaches, and nice dinners…sometimes it’s you and your significant other simultaneously getting food poisoning/a flu bug/we’re still really unclear at this point, and spending hours laid up in the hotel room. (I bring you honesty folks, not glamour.)
In our most recent trip to the Dominican Republic, it was a little of both, BUT it was also full of adventure, new experiences, and much needed time to disconnect, reconnect, and wind down from the daily hustle.
A memory I will keep dear to my heart forever is the hike through Scape Park at Cap Cana: seeing snakes, lizards, fluorescent caterpillars, some of the most beautiful plant life…before finally jumping into the crystal clear waters of #HoyoAzul, or Blue Hole, which gets it’s turquoise blue color from mineral deposits in the natural spring.
It’s a ‘must-go’ in my book as far as the Dominican Republic is concerned.
Something we pride ourselves on above all is “why” we travel.
Alexander Sattler says “I would rather own little and see the world, than own the world and see little of it.”
I truly believe broadening my horizons via travel gives me the tools to walk through life a more intelligent, compassionate, and empathetic person. It’s also fun and indulgent and spontaneously hopping on a plane is the best stress-management technique I’ve found thus far.
As a freelance artist, the idea of affording travel can be daunting, both because our paychecks can be so unpredictable and because PTO, vacation days, etc, do not exist in our world.
So here are ten quick tips I’ve come up with for the ambitious yet budget-conscious traveler:
  1. Put it on your tab. Seriously: I know everyone has this massive and often very valid fear of going in to debt, but when you believe in your art you believe the money will come. Just don’t book trip 2 while you’re still paying off trip 1. 
  2. Let go of the little luxuries. Check out Frontier, WOW, and RyanAir. Bring a comfy pillow and knock out on the flight, it’s worth saving the $100+, I promise. 
  3. Set aside actual cash money in a piggybank or similar, and make it so habitual that by the time your trip comes. you have a nice chunk of change ready to be your ‘spending money’. 
  4. Research the best travel credit card for your needs and use. that. bad. boy. I’m in the process of comparing Venture by Capital One to Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’ll keep you updated
  5. CHANGE. JAR. 4 large mason jars full of change equal $500+, we turned that in earlier this year and applied to funds straight to our travels. 
  6. Bulk up your work schedule before and after the trip: having a check come in right before you leave, or right after you arrive home can alleviate some financial stress. 
  7. Explore AirBnb’s, hostels, couch-surfing, and other less conventional forms of housing. Better yet, hop on a red-eye and replace a night’s stay with an overnight commute.
  8. Pack light, no one cares if you re-wear pieces on vacation. Consolidate a suitcase with your travel partner and avoid extra fees. 
  9. Plan ahead: check out Black Friday deals (how we booked the Dominican), and follow your desired flights on Hopper or similar apps. We found flights from Chicago to Amsterdam for $229 by tracking the flights and booking 6 months in advance. 
  10. Don’t limit your travel to peak season. The majority of the Caribbean for example is 80 and sunny even in the off season, and can be booked for 50% less during those slower months. Just make sure to do your research first. 😉 
Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll share all the amazing small business owners I had the pleasure of partnering with on this last trip.
Where have you been that took your breath away?
What’s a destination on your bucket list?
Let me know in the comments, and thank you as always for being a part of this journey!
XO, Katie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plan, Baby, Plan

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Anyone who knows me, knows I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with planners: I cannot, will not, do not function without my planner.
Thankfully, this girl has found the queen of all planners in the Law of Attraction Planner, and you can find it here on Amazon.
Why I’m in love:
  1. Built in space for a vision board (pictured), detailed goal mapping, and a life-statement to set for the year.
  2. Top to bottom, column format, to list your day from beginning to end.
  3. Space to set a daily goal, and top 3 priorities.
  4. Durable cover, eco & vegan friendly materials, built in bookmark to keep track of where you are.
  5. Storage in the back for adorable included stickers.
  6. Pull-out map to list all your travel goals.
  7. Monthly re-cap (full two pages) to chart everything from exercise, to emotional well-being, to financial goals.
  8. Two full pages of idea/note space after each monthly recap.
  9. AND SO MUCH MORE.
If you tuned into my last post, my New Years Resolution this year is accountability, to myself, my goals (ever-changing as they may be)…and this planner allows me to do just that, with the satisfaction of writing things down, crossing them off my list, and keeps everything beautifully organized.
Do you keep a planner? Have a fav?
Let me know in the comments!
XO, Katie

 

Cheers to a New Year

Last year, as the clock struck midnight, I rang in the New Year on the deck of the Norwegian Jade, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by a cast of friends that had been total strangers just 4 months prior.
So much has changed since then. After completing my dream job, I got back to the states, hit the ground running, auditioning like crazy. I got a callback for Hamilton. My boyfriend and I traveled, I vowed to make all my income off of gigs alone…I had a lot of really great ideas about how life should and was going to be.
Some pretty fantastic things did happen in 2017. I had my face on billboards and two magazine covers. I got a callback for my (next) dream job not once but twice. I am learning to celebrate these things, and own these things.
I’m learning to be my own best friend and number one fan, but to be honest it’s incredibly hard for me and always has been. I’ve always suffered from the “not good enough” syndrome. Instead of celebrating and reveling in the achievement of a goal or milestone, I’m immediately looking to see what’s next. I’m telling myself “it’s about damn time”, instead of “I’m so proud of you.” I spend too much time comparing myself to others. I let other people’s success translate into ‘my failure’.
My resolutions this year are to be accountable, to accept where I am in my career and life, to analyze why I am there, and to take physical, tangible steps towards improving my situation. Every day. To be honest with myself when I feel disappointed or defeated. To treat my career and my personal well-being like that of a friends. To let go of all the “should have’s”…should have moved to LA…should have booked this…should have done that. To recognize that all of those “should have’s” are just my insecurities manifesting themselves, and me thinking that someone else’s timeline or path is somehow the ideal. It’s not.
I am me. My journey is mine and no one else’s. I struggle like everyone else, I hurt, I’m hard on myself…but I’ve also done some incredible things…and I have so many incredible things ahead.
AND SO DO YOU!
What are your resolutions? What do you want to leave behind in 2017?
Let me know in the comments. Cheers everyone! XO, Katie

 

 

 

Making Your Art Work for You

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Post two, welcome back!
Today I want to talk about something weighing especially heavy on my mind with the holiday season upon us, and that’s how to earn a comfortable living while staying true to your art. It’s possible, I promise.
I know a lot of us read those clickbait articles titled ‘100 ways to save’, or ’50 legal ways to make money from home’…and while some of these articles may contain a few useful tidbits, I would argue that downloading survey apps or depriving yourself Starbucks won’t make much of a difference in the long run, other than making you cranky.
As obvious as it might seem, I’ve found that increasing your sources of income, (AKA: booking more gigs!) while decreasing your extraneous spending (creatively! —> this will be the subject of my next post) will allow you to work towards your financial goals without getting off-track artistically.
(In other words, NO, you don’t have to get that part-time “real job” to survive as an artist.)
Increasing your sources of income by getting booked more…let’s get started:
I get messages from time to time from my peers, asking, in short: “how do you book your gigs?”
I can offer plenty of advice and casting resources and that’s typically what I do…however, what I think ultimately sets you apart is your approach, sometimes it’s just as much about “how” we do what we do, so that’s what I want to talk about here:
Patience + persistence + communication.
PATIENCE:
Understand that finding work in your field may be difficult, but is not impossible.
Set aside at least 30 minutes per day to look for new gigs or employment opportunities. For me this is the first thing I do each morning: I make my coffee, curl up on my couch, and apply for as many castings as I can before getting my day started. Devote daily and weekly time to marketing yourself and your art, and accept that it may take weeks or months to start seeing this effort pay off. Remember that so much of casting is determined by factors completely out of your control, like height, ethnicity, and body type. These factors can cost you jobs but can just as well land you jobs. Don’t try to change the industry, change how you move through it.
PERSISTENCE:
People will forget about you, if you don’t remind them. Show up to auditions in-person as often as you can. Keep showing up after rejection, again and again, even when it makes you feel crazy. Reach out to former employers as well as those you hope to work with, on a quarterly basis, every 3-4 months or so, as you deem appropriate, to share your availability, and update your headshot and resume. Update your social media, portfolios, or website religiously, and with quality content.
COMMUNICATION:
Remember that everyone you work with or hope to work with is human first. Be direct in stating your intentions and asking for what you want, but keep in mind: fostering a relationship is the best way to increase your chances of being re-hired. Even in the most formal communications, pleasantries like, “I hope you are well and enjoying this nice weather.”, or “Thanks very much for your time and consideration.” go a LONG way. Send quick, sincere thank-you emails after every gig. If your agent or a friend lands you a particularly great gig, a hand-written note or gift basket is a nice touch as well. Take care of your people and they will take care of you.
What goes around comes around, right?
So…while you’re waiting for this new approach to start working its magic for you, how do you pay the bills that were due yesterday? Pick up classes or apply for work-study opportunities at your local studios, look for background talent opportunities, babysit, be a dog-walker, sell the things you don’t wear or use anymore on eBay, Poshmark or Offer Up, cash in all your spare change…nothing wrong with a side hustle or two, as long as it doesn’t distract from your big-picture goals!
Thanks so much for tuning back in friends, it means the world to me!
Have a question? Want to chat more about any of the ideas I touched on today? Have feedback for me?
Click ‘CONTACT’ and let me know!
XO, Katie