I guess you want to know who Erica Ho is.

Erica Ho is a former reporter for TIME in Hong Kong and former geek at Gizmodo and Lifehacker. Her work has appeared in CNN, Yahoo!, MSN, Mashable, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler and Quartz to name a few places.

Erica Ho

Some Interesting Ways To Repurpose Old Airline Amenity Kits

  Erica Ho   2 minute read

First world problem, raise your right hand. Flying business so much you don’t know what to do with those amenity kits once they’ve been used?

Though some of the following suggestions may seem fairly obvious, amenity kits can serve all sorts of useful purposes from functioning as a tablet case to buying yourself an extra lunch with the money you’ve made. The whole purpose is to continually make them useful on the road, even after all of that Molton Brown lotion has been used up.

Donating them is also a practical use, but, short of a natural disaster, here are a couple of ways to reuse an amenity kit.

Sell them

It looks like amenity kits sell from anywhere from $10 to $20 on eBay, so that can certainly add up if there is a stack of them sitting in the room.

Be sure to cover those shipping costs, though.

Sell them for real dollars on eBay.(Placeit)

Tablet case

Repurposing an amenity bag in to an electronics case can be a no-brainer (or not), but some toiletry bags actually fit tablets. It’s the perfect tablet case!

Medicine or first-aid kit

Pretty self-explanatory, but a first-aid or a medicine kit pretty much should be mandatory in anybody’s book on the road. No need to go buy one, just fill up a bag with first-aid supplies already available at home.

Overnight emergency kit (aka the sex kit)

I’m not talking about being stuck overnight at an airport. No, I’m talking about when you are out on a date, and things have the potential to get a little hot and heavy. This keeps it discreet.

Fresh change of underwear, condom, toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, lipstick to touch up in the morning, compact brush, things like that. The walk of shame should not be a humiliating process.

Dirty socks or undies pouch

Tuck the smelliest and loosest items away in the suitcase.

Make up bag

Ladies, we all know this one.

Polaroid snapshot case

Because this site obviously caters to the millennial set—raise both hands if you’re a big kid (30+) and own an Instax—this isn’t a suggestion that should be far too out of line.

Some professional photographers we know have admitted a Polaroid-type camera is sometimes their favorite camera to bring traveling, because it creates a connection with strangers around them (on top of making great gifts).

Those snapshots do eventually collect. Plus, they also can be an ingenious way to store film and other camera accessories.

Pencil case

Enough said.

Bag o’ receipts

Flying for work? Though phones technically have the ability scan things like receipts (Scannable for iOS is one of my favorites, haven’t bothered to find one for Android), there are many times when a receipt gets hastily smashed into a coat pocket, a credit card holder or finds the deep black apocalypse of my purse.

I end up completely drowning in tiny pieces of paper.

Enter the unused amenity bag, great for stashing those tiny pieces of paper once you’ve actually sat down to clean out those pockets and bags. All purposefully stored away so that you can later die at one hundred million expense line items at a time, all sorted by trip.

Receipt origami. (Matt Baume / Flickr)

How To Pack Under the 7 kg Limit for Carry-On Luggage

  Erica Ho   1 minute read

First of all, don’t even try to think about getting away with it if you’re flying out of Asia. Especially in Japan.

Flying budget seems to be the de facto theme no matter the airline. If carry-on baggage (a personal item) is allowed (ha!), there’s often a weight limit enforced. For many budget airlines around the world, that number hovers around 7 kilograms.

Skyscanner has a great reference chart1, ranging from 5 kilograms (Thomson Airways) to 12 kilograms(KLM). For the most part, the upper limit for carry-on luggage is around 7 to 10 kilograms.

Packing light pretty much revolves around how strong the personal packrat tendencies are, but let us leave this embedded deep in the brain: No matter what you think, it is always possible to do with far less than you think you can. People make do. It’s all about guidelines.

For those mathematically challenged, a kilogram is about 2.2 pounds. Seven kilograms roughly translates to 15.43 pounds.

Skip the suitcase, go backpack.

It’s a perpetual debate between the two but this is a clear case where a backpack wins hands down. Even the most lightweight suitcases clock in around 6 to 7 pounds, and that’s an important baseline because every pound matters. Every pound.

In stark contrast, backpacks often weigh much less. Significantly less.

Even though there’s a greater weight range with backpacks, they can weigh as little as 1 pound all the way up to 5 or 6 pounds. Compared to a “light, 6-pound suitcase,” the smallest backpack can free up 5 pounds. (Point being: That’s roughly 32% of the carry-on baggage allowance.)

The wildly popular Osprey Farpoint, for instance, weighs about 3 pounds, which is still 3 pounds less than the lightest suitcase.

To demonstrate how important the equipment is, we went record efficient packing in the Away bag, leaving 35% of the suitcase empty. The bag still weighed 18 pounds total at the airport, surpassing the limit despite our attempts to go minimalistic as possible.

How big is the personal item?

For women, I’m referring to a purse. For men, I’m referring to a man-purse. Or briefcase. Duffel. Not a man.

A personal carry-on is rarely, if ever, counted as carry-on luggage. So feel free to go extra large, with a duffel that has expandable sides.

By the way, the more a personal item looks like a (man)purse, the more likely it is to escape the attention of airline and airport staff. There have been legitimate times I’ve probably packed more in my O.M.G bag than I have my actual suitcase.

Pack the heavy stuff where it is least likely to be noticed.

Clothes, the white elephant.

The basic mantras apply, meaning pack half what’s actually needed, plan on washing clothes, rewearing and layering. Good rule of thumb is to shoot for four outfits (though how disciplined you’re able to be about this will matter).

Ladies, try to be functional in accessorizing as possible here.

For the love of God, please don’t bring that many shoes. That’s dead weight.

Does Basic Economy Ever Make Sense?

  Erica Ho   Less than a minute to read

Actually it can. Not in every situation, but for some circumstances, if the trip is short enough and you’re a great packer, basic economy can be a chance to save some money. It isn’t really the time to be bringing heels (unless you’re wearing them), though.

For example, I could probably wear most of my purse in my winter coat if I’m flying to a winter destination (it has a lot of pockets). How do I know this? Because I do this at home, in New York.

Things to consider:

  • Is the personal item big enough? This Lo & Sons O.M.G bag could probably make it work.
  • How long is the trip? If it’s under three days and don’t need to pack much, it’s a real chance to practice efficient packing. Or if you’re okay with rewearing clothes. (But never underwear, cause that’s gross.)
  • Do you have a small backpack or weekender? Suitcases aren’t really going to cut it.
  • How much do you save? Is the difference under $25 for another airline or for a more expensive fare?
  • Do you plan on bringing things back? In that case, forget it.

Things to mull over.

Lorde’s “Perfect Places” Music Video Is Out

  Erica Ho   Less than a minute to read

Because Lorde is perfect, the hook is insane, the perfect riff on every travel trope, a perfect existential representation of your f*cked up life and a clear manifestation of all those deep-seated psychological issues that arise as summer grinds to a halt, because nothing is perfect and never will be AND NO ONE ESCAPES. Basically, completely perfect.