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Multilingual Maven: Alyssa Kuwana [Kezari Girl Spotlight #3]

Learning new languages has been a constant theme throughout Alyssa Kuwana’s life and travels. On this Kezari Girl Spotlight, we find out why languages and a local perspective are so important to Alyssa’s travel philosophy. Read on for her advice on becoming multilingual, even if it’s just to a beginner level, during your travels!

Beach or mountains?

Beach!

Favorite & least favorite travel destination?

Favorite: anywhere that has culture, sun, & both the ocean and mountains (the most recent place that checks off all of these is in northern Spain like San Sebastian and Güemes)
Least favorite: Anywhere that’s very touristy and lacks culture.

Aisle, middle or window seat?

Def aisle. I need to use the bathroom all the time!

Greatest travel hack?

Getting over jet lag quickly by:

  1. Staying hydrated on the plane.
  2. Setting your watches and clocks to your destination time before taking off.
  3. Sleeping on the plane at the right time so you will be able to sleep at a normal time when you arrive.

Favorite travel snack?

Peanut butter cups (both salty and savory hehe) or eating local foods on the plane back to savor every last bit of the cuisine.

What 3 items do you always have in your luggage?

  1. Charger and phone.
  2. Noise reducing earphones (a must on planes with lots of white noise and babies).
  3. Notebook and pen to write down any musts for the destination, scheduling/planning, and any cool thoughts or ideas I have while traveling.

Do you travel for business, leisure or both?

Leisure. I wish I got paid to travel!

What do you usually wear while traveling and what do you like/dislike about it?

On the plane or any mode of transport, I like to wear leggings or comfy pants such as the Kezari pants (which fits my phone, earphones, and passport perfectly in one pocket so I can never lose them!) and a tank top or a tee shirt with a sweatshirt. I like that it’s very comfy, which is a must for long travel days. But, I don’t like that it lacks style. If I walk around the city once I get off the plane, I feel like I look like I had just gotten off the plane and stick out.

How do you choose your travel destination?

Wherever life leads me to, honestly. I like to travel to places where I know people so I have a local tour guide, or somewhere where I can speak the language (or travel with a friend who speaks the local language) as it can drastically change my experience there. I also like to look for places that have interesting history, lots of culture, good food, and nice people.

How do you plan your trips? Itinerary or spontaneity?

It really depends. I like to ask locals what they recommend doing, whether it be before I head off or when I’m there. I tend to shy away from very touristy places or chain locations (such as hotels, restaurants, etc) to help support the local economy. I do like to plan out some things I would like to do and pin them on Google Maps so that I can go to them if I wish, but I try not to be so strict on when and where I should be. Traveling should be fun and relaxing. It shouldn’t feel like work or school where you have one appointment to the next. I do, however, like to research some restaurants to visit. Food is a door to local culture, and you can learn so much just by visiting local restaurants.

One thing you wish you could change about traveling?

I wish I could absorb the local language like a sponge. I know that lots of people, myself included, can assume that everyone speaks English and that they don’t need to learn the local language if they speak English. However, that really creates a divide within who one interacts with. I think even learning just a few key phrases such as what is your favorite thing to do, where is your favorite place around here, etc. can drastically change one’s experience while traveling.

Seems like languages are a large part of your travel. How many languages do you speak (& plan to speak)?

I speak English and Japanese fluency, and Italian and Chinese proficiently (ie if you dropped me off in the middle of nowhere Italy or China, I will know how to navigate and make my way out), and I know basic Spanish (I can get around the cities of Spain without a problem and communicate basic ideas). I would love to become more fluent in Spanish and Chinese though and am hoping to learn more languages!

How do you maintain your level of all these languages?

Ooo, good question. Well, I have my phone in Italian to keep up with that and message my host family in Italian as well. In addition, I speak Japanese to my family and text in Japanese to keep up with my reading and writing skills. In addition I love listening to international music and reading and translating the lyrics. That really helps with learning new vocabulary and is a fun way to learn.

What’s your advice for learning the basics of a language before traveling to a country?

I suggest listening to songs or getting apps that have the pronunciation too. I also like asking locals how do you saying xxx. I think the most useful phrase is “how do you say” and then you can point to something and learn a new word!

Funniest travel story?

One time I was at a club in Thailand, and there was a private event going on in one of the back rooms. I noticed really tall people going in and out of there with food in their hands. I wanted some free food, so I decided to take a peek and hoped to blend in with the rest of the crowd. Turns out it was a modeling event, and I stood out so much!

To keep up with Alyssa’s adventures around the world, check her out on Instagram @alyssakuwana

Check out our other Kezari Girl Spotlights on bleisure travelers:

For more travel hacks across continents, check out:

We surveyed Forever21 to see how many pants with pockets they sold.

There she is, staring at you from the clothes rack centerstage in all her glory. You grab her and rush to the changing room, dropping the other hangers in hand to slip into her soft fabric. Glancing at the mirror is just another affirmation – these are the perfect pants. Slim, but not too tight; flared, but not too baggy. The waist fits perfectly around the smallest part of your waist, flattering the figure. The color will make you pop out of the monochromatic New York crowds. You slip your hands into your pockets and– wait… why do your hands feel like… oh no! These pants don’t have pockets! Why is it so hard to design pants with pockets?

We all know that feeling. But this shouldn’t be a ‘thing’.

If men’s pants have pockets (and big ones!) then why don’t women’s? Some chalk it up to history, some chalk it up to men designing women’s pants. We think it’s the former, but first, let’s take a look at the (interesting, but sad) history of women’s pants with pockets.

A brief history of pants with (or without) pockets

Centuries ago, all clothing was created sans pockets. Men and women carried their belongings in small pouches tied around the waist. Then, some 400 years ago, pockets were sewn into men’s clothing, but this same feature was omitted from female garments. In the early 1800s, slimmer silhouettes came into style, so women no longer could wear pockets under clothes but had to wear them over clothes — and their pockets got much smaller. Some say it was a way to keep women powerless. If they had no way to secretly carry items around, it would be harder for them to travel independently or conduct clandestine affairs.

The push for pocket equity began in the late 1800s. The Rational Dress Society, founded in 1891, rallied women to dress for comfort and health by ditching constrictive corsets and donning comfy, useful clothing such as trousers — which, of course, featured pockets. Then, in the 1920s, fashion designer Coco Chanel began sewing them into her women’s jackets. But it wasn’t until the 1970s, when women regularly wore pants, and especially blue jeans, that females moved a step closer to pocket parity.

https://lifestyle.howstuffworks.com/style/fashion/trends-looks/pockets-womens-clothes.htm

Yet, even with pockets in jeans, women’s fashion has never truly embraced functionality. Back pockets are great until your large phone falls out when racing through the narrow streets of Tokyo to catch your train or a pickpocket slips it out of your pocket when you’re busy hunting for the best vintage pieces at a flea market in Paris. Plus, jeans don’t work for every occasion. Worse yet, the tiny pockets in the front of your jeans that fit a lip balm if you’re lucky. And don’t get me started on fake pockets!

So, I was curious to see if women could find pants with pockets in 2019 and surveyed the pants at Forever21. The results?

Out of 12 regular styled pants (not including jeans)…

  • 8 had pockets
  • 6 had pockets that could fit an iPhone 8+ without it falling out
  • 1 had fake pockets
  • 0 had pockets with zippers to keep your essentials from falling out
Pants with fake pockets
Someone, please explain why it’s so hard to design pants with pockets

Were those results surprising to you? While the results were better than what you could expect 400 years ago, this still means a sacrifice between form + function. And in the age of female empowerment, why is this the last industry to hop on the bandwagon?

At Kezari, we surveyed 100+ female travelers and tested our pants on real female travelers to decide what the right pocket size was, zipper positioning, and more. The result? Pants with pockets so big you can fit a phone, wallet, credit cards, passport, medication, phone charger, snacks, sanitary napkins… ladies, your pockets are your oyster!

Not convinced? Read what female travelers around the world had to say about our travel pants with zippered pockets in their reviews.

That’s all for now ladies. What else upsets you about women’s fashion and travel solutions? Let us know.

Bleisure Traveler & Startup Founder: Neha Husein [Kezari Girl Spotlight #2]

After being rear-ended by a driver distracted by texting, startup founder and bleisure (business + leisure) traveler Neha Husein started her mission to end distracted driving accidents through her app Just Drive. Beyond running her company, Neha is a champion for human rights, TEDx speaker and a Her Campus 22 Under 22 Most Inspiring College Women honoree. Read on to hear about her take on travel and entrepreneurship.

First up, rapid fire questions.

Beach or mountains?

Mountains! I was born by the Rockies⛰

Favorite & least favorite travel destination?

South Africa is definitely my favorite. 🇿🇦 Least favorite is anywhere too cold. 

Aisle, middle or window seat?

Aisle. I hate bothering people when I need to get up and stretch my legs!

Do you travel for business, leisure or both?

Definitely both. 

As a bleisure traveler, what do you usually wear while traveling and what do you like/dislike about it? 

I try to maximize the number of pockets I have so everything is on me and accessible, but I love the comfort of leggings which usually have no pockets so I really struggled finding a happy medium. 

Greatest travel hack?

Bring an empty reusable water bottle that you can fill up after you’ve made it through security to avoid buying one/wasting plastic!

Favorite travel snack?

Kind bars! 

What 3 items do you always have in your luggage?

1. Hand sanitizer 

2. Lip balm 

3. Headphones

How do you choose your travel destination?

Recommendations from friends or cheap flights! ✈️

And how do you plan your trips? Itinerary or spontaneity?

A little bit of both. I like to have a general idea of things to do, but I go with the flow during the trip.

What’s one thing you wish you could change about traveling?

Being able to travel the world comes with a certain level of privilege. I wish traveling could be more accessible to people regardless of socio-economic status.

Let’s dive in to your journey as an entrepreneur. What was the biggest challenge with creating the Just Drive app?

Self-doubt. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur so that coupled with the steep learning curve caused me to limit my own potential. 

So what gets you up in the morning?

An oat milk latte and knowing that I have the ability to make a difference in the world. 

What’s your dream career/life?

My dream life would be owning and operating a vegan bakery/coffee shop that doubles as a co-working space. But that’s after I feel like distracted driving is no longer an issue and people feel safe on the road. 

How would you describe your fashion? What are its greatest influences?

I would describe it as functional and warm. My greatest influences are probably my friends. I’m always borrowing things from their closets 🙈

Last but not least, funniest travel story? 

I had a meeting in Austin and wore shorts for the 45 minute flight. The morning of the meeting I realized I forgot to pack pants. 


To keep up with Neha’s journey as a bleisure traveler, founder of Just Drive, and human rights activist, check her out on Instagram @neha1216 & @justdriveapp

Check out our other Kezari Girl Spotlights on bleisure travelers:

For more travel hacks across continents, check out:

5 ways to save over 30% on your budget while traveling

You’re online looking for your next escapade for a quick vacation. While searching or places to go, you have a budget in mind, but by the time you get to the homepage, you feel a stab in the heart. No, it’s not your ex coming out of the computer. It’s even worse— the price you checked online yesterday is 20% more expensive today. You curse yourself for not buying it then but acquiesce to a higher power.

This can continue on and on until you’re on your vacation and you resort to forgetting everything about the budget. But for your next trip, with these little tips you can work your way up to ensure that some of your cash can be trimmed from the total budget.

1) Buy tickets Incognito and with VPN

One quick and easy trick is to clear out your cookie and look. But a better way is to log in in Incognito Mode or Private mode and buy your flights that way. This can change the cost of the flights dramatically, enough that one of my friend’s jaw dropped because of this simple little trick.

One website I enjoy using is Kiwi. It’s my go-to when researching travels and we’ve recommended it to many people. I once bought a ticket on Iberian Air for $180 one way from New York City to Madrid Spain. To put that in perspective, the Acela train (Amtrak’s high-speed rail) has tickets from Boston to New York City that cost around the same price.

A point to note about traveling for cheap is to read the fine print.

  1. Read the weight limit to make sure it’s realistic
  2. Check if and how much they charge to check bags (if you’re planning to check bags)
  3. Enquire if food will be served and if it’s free
  4. Double check if they require you to print out your boarding pass ahead of time
  5. Check which documents are required to be presented.

Budget airlines make a lot of money by charging passengers when their baggage is overweight, to check bags, to order food on the plane or to print out your boarding pass at the airport, so make sure you know what you’re getting for the price! This will ensure that you have a stress free flight the next time you travel.

If you e-mail us at info@kezari.com, we can give you a 20 euro discount code for Kiwi! Just write “Kiwi discount” in the subject line.

2) Hit your friend’s friends network (or couch-surf) 

This is where things get interesting. You could travel around and stay at hostels costing an average of 15 euros a night (around $17) or hotels costing even more… but what if you could save most or all of that money by staying at other people’s houses? One network you can check out is by going to Facebook’s search function and typing in “friends of friends who live in X”. You could even post on facebook asking if anyone has a friend from that country you could be introduced to.

If all else fails, try Couchsurfing. Sometimes, you have crazy encounters with other people and other times you might get the best place in the world, but what it comes down to is finding someone you feel comfortable with. That may come in the form of talking to them beforehand, knowing the host is the same gender as you, or even having the same interests. It can be a fun way to explore as the Couchsurfing community is interesting and brings some quirky characters from all walks of life that are fun to be around.

3) Eat-in

Funnily enough, most people think that if you don’t have a kitchen, you shouldn’t be able to cook. If your cooking skills are a bit rusty, you should check out some simple recipes that are easy to cook on Youtube or check out one of our future blog posts about it. If Couchsurfing, you can always ask to borrow your host’s kitchen and make food for both of you, and it’s one of those skills that gets better with time. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a newfound talent in cooking this trip?

4) Bring a water bottle

In the US, you might be used to getting water for free when you go to restaurants, but in other countries, they usually charge you a bit of money. Even worse, airports charge you ridiculous fees and it’s so easy to get dehydrated on the plane. I recommend bringing an empty water bottle to the airport to stay hydrated. Plus, you need more water the higher elevation you are in, so it’s definitely recommended to fuel up on water whenever you can. I usually like to bring a sturdy 40 oz hydro flask. We cover more items to travel with here.

5) Don’t use cash, but rather your credit card

The exchange rate of a credit card is usually 1-2% higher in most places. When you withdraw from exchanges, they take a higher exchange rate fee that you may not even notice. This can be around 3-4%, or if you use those terrible Euronet ATMs probably 6%. This advice may not work in some countries like India or Vietnam where cash is still pretty much king, but overall this will make ensure any charge towards you can be fought through credit card insurance. Plus, you won’t have to deal with any permanent scam or frauds.

Also, if you want to store your credit cards or cash in a safe location, check out our Kezari pants with huge pockets enclosed with a discrete zipper so you’re not constantly panicking about your card being stolen or lost abroad.

Side note: I’ve seen a rising trend where people who “lifestyle” travel beg while traveling to less fortunate countries. If you see this trend, please don’t do anything to promote it or even become part of it. This lifestyle of a wandering nomad going to poorer places to beg for money isn’t what traveling is about. Traveling is for understanding different perspectives and cultures, gaining new experiences and whatever else you want it to be. This practice is also rude, but that’s for another post.

Any other tips you have in mind? Share in the comments below!

3 Reasons to Love Tencel-Lyocell (Sustainable Fabric)

Studies show that polyester releases 1174 milligrams of microplastics per wash. Cotton uses 20,000L of water per kilogram of fabric, equivalent to one pair of jeans. With this problem in mind, we set out to find an environmental fashion solution and researched alternatives in the textile industry.

After some research and testing, we decided to use Tencel for our pants. You might be wondering, what is Tencel-Lyocell? If you’ve never heard of it, it might sound like a type of medicine for muscles, but that can’t be farther from the truth. Tencel, or Tencel-Lyocell, is a fiber spun from the wood pulp of birch and eucalyptus. Here are our main reasons why we chose Tencel-Lyocell.

Silk-like material

If you visit us or go to any store that sells Tencel, you will notice the feel and wear of the material resemble silk. It drapes beautifully with any kind of clothing you choose to wear. Lyocell also has controllable fibrillation in the pants, which helps maintain the smoothness of the fiber. In other words, it looks like the bottom left:

I’m guessing some of you who are reading this article feel itchy even when you wear plain cotton and wonder how some people could even find wool comfortable. Maybe you’ve looked at different materials to wear (since sometimes I get itchy wearing anything!) and haven’t found a suitable solution yet. In the photo, you can see one of the biggest benefits of Tencel – how cotton looks jagged compared to the fine spaghetti-like fiber of Tencel.

Sustainable production

Lyocell is produced from (FSC-/-PEFC) certified forests and usually from sustainable birch of eucalyptus trees. They reuse 99.8% of the water and chemicals used during the fiber-making process, lessening the amount of waste into our environment and creating an award-winning enclosed loop for production. If you are sensitive to different chemicals, the material is also bleach-free during this entire process.

Durable

We tested the material by washing and putting it into a dryer multiple times. The fabric shrinks only 3% after the first wash and stays the same afterward. You can also travel with it anywhere as it is wrinkle resistant due to the microfibers. It is durable for travels as it is also moisture resistant, making sure that after your long travels you won’t feel gross and sweaty. Right now, we’re conducting tests to see how durable it is, and so far have not been able to break the pants yet.

Verdict/Cons

I feel it necessary to also talk about Tencel’s disadvantages. If you are a price conscious then Tencel does carry a premium to it due to its manufacturing method, costing around $3-4 per square meter, which is quadruple the cost of cotton. Furthermore, there were also some controversies on how the forests were harvested and if they source it from other locations that are also not environmentally sourced. Some of these cons can be argued as unnecessary as the clothes are durable and an investment in your wardrobe rather than a fast fashion trend (a topic which I hope to cover some other time). The environmentally sourced issue is tricky but we are keeping our eyes and ears open for more news.

Anything else you might now about Tencel-Lyocell or any other eco-fabrics? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

Being Present in 3 Simple Steps [Lifestyle Hacks]

We live in an age of constant distractions where it now takes effort to be present.

I’m currently sitting in a cafe as I write this post. Out of all the people who are sitting, 90% of people are on their phones and only 2 people are reading something physical. I wonder what percentage of people are present. I know some people are reading on their tablet, but the biggest questions for me is this— where did the real-life conversations go? How can we become present and focus on what is immediately around us? How can we remember to take care of our mind and body?

Recently, Madison (Madi) and I have been trying out ten-minute meditations every morning. The scientific benefits of meditation have been studied and there are a fair amount of papers correlating meditation with better mental health, but I think everyone starts because they want to be much more present in the activities they do and focus on enjoying their life. Here are a couple things that I have tried that have helped me with my presence throughout my day:

1.) Meditate

It can be running and listening to the same song over and over, or reading a text out loud or singing a chant or a traditional form that I practice by sitting and observing my own body.

In any shape or form, it’s one where the mind loses all of its distraction and focuses on the surroundings and the sensations around you. If you meditate for around 10 minutes a day (Personally, I’d love to do an hour meditation once a week, too, if possible) it clears up what is important to your life and helps you become present. Although the beginning may be hard as your mind wanders all over the place, once the feeling of meditation catches on, then there is nothing from stopping you from doing well afterward.

2.) Deep Breaths

This is a practice that helps when your mind gets distracted throughout the day. Sometimes I set alarms on my phone to go off during random parts of the day to remind me to take some deep breaths. The best thing when starting off is counting to 10 in your head as you inhale, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then exhaling for 10 seconds. Repeat this 4 times per practice and try doing it 3 times a day. Even when you feel stressed, it will help to do this to cool your head, bring you from your emotional state to a rational present state before making any decisions. This helps with keeping your emotions at bay when making important decisions and not letting fear or anxiety creep up as you think.

3.) Listen

Listening doesn’t mean hearing what other people have to say. Anyone with functioning ears can hear— on the other hand, few people can listen. During conversations, don’t think to anticipate what other people are going to say, but remain present and try to understand what they are saying instead. There’s a reason you can understand more from a conversation through intonation than you can through a script. Pretty soon I’ll make another blog post on the in depths of listening, but the main thing to consider when practicing listening is to understand the underlying message that the other person is trying to convey. If you can answer yes to Do I have a lot of questions about what they just stated? then there is a high possibility that you are practicing active listening.

My hope is that this will help with decluttering your mind and grounding you into the present, which is the essence of a true minimalist living. There is no instant gratification, but the effects will outlast anything if you practice these every single day. If you have any other tips you would like to share, feel free to share in the comments below!

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Minimalist Packing Guide [Women’s Edition]

We all dream of minimalist packing: without baggage – physical or emotional. Who doesn’t want to stroll up to the airport with just a carry-on bag, no wasted time or money on that oversized suitcase, and trust your back won’t snap lifting a bag heavier than you? Good news, that can be you.

The holy grail of minimalist packing.

I just spent the last month traveling across the US & Europe with nothing more than a carry-on luggage. Now how’s that for minimalist packing?! Let me explain – that’s coming from someone who used to lug a 30-inch, 60-pound luggage around the world, relying on the kindness of strangers to help me lift that beast onto the weighing platform.

Here’s how I started minimalist packing:

#1: Pack for what you’ll be doing

Seems obvious, but it’s crucial if you want to pack minimalist. We’re all guilty of packing our favourite clothes, even if we don’t plan to wear them. Don’t let that beautiful new bikini you just bought inch its way into your suitcase if you’re headed to Canada for the winter.

#2: Keep quantities low

And manipulate the following numbers accordingly. (This doesn’t mean you should have 2 sets of each!) I like to keep maximum 5-7 changes of clothes handy.

Pants: 0-2 (over here at Kezari, we made Tencel pants for this very reason. So you have 1 pair you can wear with any top, any time.)

Shorts: 0-2

Skirts: 0-2

Plan to re-wear a lot of bottoms. Unlike tops that retain more sweat and smell, bottoms can be worn so many times before washing, and no-one will notice – especially those made of Tencel!

Dresses: 0-2

Casual tops: 0-2

Formal tops: 0-2

Underwear: 5- 7 sets (unless you don’t mind going commando or want to #freethenipple, in which case, props.)

Outerwear: 0-1 (one dressy looking raincoat doubles well as a jacket for a night out and wind/rain protection ie. the UNIQLO block tech parka).

Note: To be ultra minimal, these clothes need to be as thin as possible so they can be compressed in your bag.

Shoes are the biggest culprits of draining your luggage space. Ladies, don’t bring heels. Unless you absolutely need them, they take up way too much space. Stick with:

Closed-toe pair of shoes: 1 (a nice pair of trainers or fashionable sneakers that work for long days of walking, working out and travelling.)

Open-toe shoes: 1 (flats or nice sandals work well for fancy events and water activities.)

#3: Choose Classic Colors

Choose a few colours that all match each other, and only pack those. Opt for solids over prints when you travel. This makes outfit matching easy because no matter what you choose, it will match. Plus, solids are perfect for minimalist fashion.

#4: Compress!

It’s not just what you pack, but how you pack. When packing, I like to sort my clothes into pre-planned outfits and roll them up tightly like crepes. This way, all I have to do is grab a bundle each day. Another way is to use packing cubes to keep everything tight. The secret to a small luggage is to compress, compress, compress!

#5: Packing Hacks:

  • Bikinis can double as underwear
  • If you’re packing another pair of shoes or a purse, stuff it with more items before fitting it into your bag
  • Eye shades and ear plugs will save you if you have trouble sleeping/adjusting to timezones
  • Stick to a small toiletry bag that fits the travel-sized essentials. Grab extra free samples from hotel rooms and use those when you travel. Don’t bring more than a few essential makeup items.

And that’s it! It is possible to travel with a luggage small enough it fits in the toilet stall with you. If you have any other secrets to traveling minimalist, we’d love to hear them below! Until next time.

Shop our minimalist clothing, perfect for minimalist packing!

Want more minimalist content? Check out: Minimalist Phone Usage in 5 Steps