Since I began sharing more about my India trip on social media, I’ve been getting hundreds of questions coming in. So, I thought it might be easiest to share all the details in a comprehensive post here, rather then sending the same information over & over to different people via DM. It’s hard to believe that I’ll be leaving exactly 3 weeks from today – I’m getting more excited as time goes on, but I also still have so much to do to prepare! I’ll be sharing a separate post in a couple weeks about the appropriate attire for women in India & the outfits I’m planning on wearing. But, for today, I’m answering some of the FAQ’s I’ve received about my upcoming trip:
Why are you going & how long are you there for?
I will be in country for 12 days and the purpose of my trip is not leisure. I will be serving with Freedom Firm for a week at their camp for young girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. I am truly honored to have this opportunity to encourage them on their journey to healing and I know I will walk away from this experience with my eyes opened to what is happening all over the world today. Did you know that globally there are 2 million children forced into prostitution & that human trafficking is now the third largest international crime? The statistics are truly staggering and heartbreaking.
Is this trip comped?
I understand that in the influencer world, it seems like we get a lot of things sent to us for free & receive complimentary flights/hotel rooms on a regular basis. But, I’m going on this trip as Kimberly (not Penny Pincher Fashion) – I have raised all my own funds and put in a good chunk from my personal savings account. And I don’t plan on posting on social media during my trip (for safety reasons), but I will be keeping a journal & plan to share more in detail when I return back to the states. I know many of you were hoping for real-time Instagram photos & behind-the-scenes stories, but I really need to be focused on the sole purpose for my trip, which is building relationships with these girls & pouring myself into helping them recover.
Is your husband going with you?
My husband will be holding down the fort at home with my kids (& the puppy). I’ll be traveling with a team of 6 women who I didn’t know until we began to plan this trip! We all come from different backgrounds and different phases of life, but they are quickly becoming like family. It’s been so fun getting to know each other over the past 6 months and I’m sure we will bond even more throughout the course of this journey as we experience all the highs & lows together.
Are you concerned about your health while traveling?
Thankfully, I am in remission right now, but I will admit that was the #1 reason I hesitated before committing to this trip. Anytime I travel, it is hard on my body – you may remember a few years back when I spent most of our Mexico family vacation deathly ill & confined to the hotel room. But, one of the women on our team is a registered nurse and she is bringing along her kit with antibiotics, IV bags & various medications. So, I already feel more at ease just knowing that there will be someone traveling with me who will know exactly how to get me the care I need should I experience a Lupus flare while we’re there.
What kind of work will you be doing?
I will essentially be working as a camp counselor – there are 20 girls attending the camp who have all been rescued from brothels in India. This will be their first time outside of the city in this type of setting, so we’ll be going for hikes, doing outdoor games & crafts and having a campfire each night. I’m thrilled to have been asked to lead 30 minutes of Zumba every morning of camp. So many of these girls have been tortured, help captive and forced to endure horrific things, so they’ve never had a chance to enjoy the outdoors or even move their bodies in a way that is joy-filled. It took me a long time to choose the right songs & choreograph dances that I felt would be uplifting & fun for them. I can’t wait to see the smiles on their faces as they learn the moves & embrace the rhythm.
This is my first big international trip since our honeymoon to Fiji in 2000, so I’ve been doing lots of research on the essentials for long flights & the best ways to efficiently pack. I thought I would share with you some of the things that I’ve purchased for my trip & what I plan on taking with me.
Quilted Nylon Tote
This is the perfect carry-on bag because it’s super roomy with lots of pockets and the nylon quilting makes it very lightweight. I’ll be using the clear pouches (mentioned below) to help keep the contents neatly organized & easy to find.
I took a chance on this wrap because the clearance price was too good to pass up. This isn’t a thick cashmere scarf like I’d want for the winter months, but it’s the ideal weight for wrapping up in on the plane. It also comes in a marled gray, but I loved this mocha hue.
I mentioned these a while ago in My Monthly Edit and I can’t say enough good things about them. They are durable, wash up well and make it so easy to see everything in my bag. I bought both the larger size (to hold my earbuds, portable charger & cords) and the smaller size (to hold some beauty items). If you’ve been wanting a Truffle case, but don’t want to spend that much, these are a great affordable option!
Once I get settled on my long flight, I’ll slather on moisturizer, apply these eye patches (along with the lip mask below) & try to get some sleep. I’m hoping this will give me the best shot at keeping my skin hydrated and minimizing puffiness once we arrive.
This leather wallet comes in 8 different colors & will hold my passport, boarding passes, license, multiple cards, cash, coins, etc. It also has a detachable strap so you can wear it like wristlet + it’s under $20!
I use this lip treatment every night before bed, so there’s no way I can go almost 2 weeks without it! My plan is to stash it in my carry-on bag & apply once I’m on the plane since that circulated air can be so drying.
I’ve used a lot of different portable chargers over the years and this is, by far, the best I’ve tried. It’s a great price for the quality + it comes with a lifetime warranty.
I don’t know about you, but I always feel hungrier when I’m traveling and I refuse to buy food on the plane, so I like to pack my bag with lots of healthy snacks. These little pouches are pre-portioned to the perfect size and they’re a great mix of salty/sweet that also satisfies my need for a little crunch!
This was the one item I probably researched more than anything else before purchasing. I asked several friends who I knew traveled regularly and I read through hundreds of reviews before settling on this pillow. Getting good sleep plays a huge role in me staying healthy, so I wanted to give myself the best chance I could. I’ve already tested it out at home & it’s a winner!
My rheumatologist recommended that I buy some of these before the long flight – it might seem like an “old lady” purchase, but they will help increase circulation, reduce swelling & prevent blood clots (which I am, unfortunately, at risk for). I won’t be sporting these around the airport, but I’ll toss them in my tote and put them on once I’m in my seat.
I’m only checking one bag, so I have to be strategic about space saving and these packing cubes are a life saver! If you’ve never tried them before, they make such a big difference in keeping your things organized for your travels. Being the neat freak that I am, there’s something strangely satisfying about seeing them fit so perfectly in my bag.
I try to only eat protein bars with clean, minimal ingredients and, since you can’t always find these at the airport, I like to bring them along with me just in case. This flavor is my personal favorite, but they have tons of options here + a kid-size version that my son and daughter both love.
Because space is limited, I decided to go ahead and buy travel sizes of as many things as I could. I don’t plan on wearing a ton of makeup while I’m there, but I love that this CC Cream gives me an added layer of protection from the sun (on top of my usual sunscreen). Macy’s has most of their beauty items at 15% off right now with code FRIEND, so it’s a great time to stock up on the small or full-size versions of your favorite products (I can’t live without this primer!).
I bought this months ago and have already used it quite a bit – it is, without a doubt, the best organizer I’ve ever owned for toiletries & makeup. There are so many different slots & you can move the dividers around (or remove them completely) so all your items fit securely.
Because the first week will be spent in the mountains at a camp, I needed to buy some gear for the “rustic accommodations” (which I’m totally fine with, by the way, because you all know how much I love camping!). It’s going to be an adventure hand-washing my clothes, taking “bucket showers” & eating the local cuisine with my hands. Though we won’t have the modern conveniences of home, I’m honestly looking forward to immersing myself in their culture & living more simply for a change.
Waterproof Rain Jacket
The camp is located in the southern part of India in the mountains, so the temperatures will be much milder (in the 60-70’s). They will also be nearing Monsoon season, so we’ve been told to expect rain & thunderstorms each day. I found this jacket on sale & love that it has deep pockets that zip shut and that it’s a longer length so I can wear it with leggings.
I plan on setting aside time each evening during “quiet hours” to journal about the day’s events. Writing has always been a huge part of my life and it’s one of the things that really helps me process my emotions. I know that hearing these girls’ stories is going to affect me in ways I cannot imagine, so having a way to work through everything is going to be necessary for me.
Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is so important, especially because the sun can sometimes trigger my Lupus & drinking lots of water is my first line of defense. I have a large water bottle that I use at home, but I needed something smaller & more durable for this trip. Also, I prefer a spout like this over an open-mouth bottle where the cap get loosen or get lost.
Malaria is a real risk where we will be, so we’re taking preventative medications and were also told to purchase a strong insect repellent – I’m pretty opposed to anything with Deet due to the neurological side effects it can cause, so I bought this one instead (which I’m told is just as effective).
Because there’s a lake nearby the camp (and there will be lots of rain while we’re there), I wanted to have supportive shoes that I could get wet and that I could easily rinse out & dry. These have good traction with drainage holes in the bottom, so I won’t be sloshing & slipping around. They do run a little small, though – I went up half a size to get a comfortable fit.
This nylon backpack has two zippered pockets and it folds into a tiny pouch, which is amazing for travel. This will come in handy for our longer hikes into the mountains, but I can also see myself using this at home too. It comes in 3 chic colors and is only $35!
Pour Over Coffee Brewer + Stainless Steel Mug
In India, they drink tea several times a day, but I know myself well enough to know that I will still need my cup of coffee each morning! So, I’m bringing along a bag of my favorite grounds so I can make my own to have with breakfast. I tested all the instant coffee options first, thinking that might be the easiest, but none of them were strong enough for me – so this pour-over filter is the perfect solution. And this mug is much cheaper than the Yeti version, but works just as well to keep drinks hot (or cold).
Waterproof Phone Pouch
This is something we just bought before our last camping trip & we love them! If you’re doing any kind of water sports, kayaking or even just heading to the beach, this will keep your phone easily accessible, but protected from the elements. It has a lanyard that goes around your neck & you can still use your phone while it’s in the pouch – genius!
Hindi Dictionary & Phrase Book
We will have translators to help us communicate with the girls during camp, but I also want to make an effort to speak to them in their own language. I’ve been using the Mondly app for the last few months to familiarize myself with Hindi and I just purchased this book so I can look up words & phrases on the fly if I get stuck.
Packable Light Sleeping Bag
Obviously, I can’t fit a regular sleeping bag in my luggage (and I probably won’t need something that substantial anyway), so this packable style is what I’m taking instead. It’s lightweight and waterproof and, with all the camping & backpacking we do as a family, it’s something we will actually get use out of once I return.