Packing List Answers

30th October 2009

There were lots of questions on the packing list post, so I thought I’d supply some quick answers:

How do you fit ALL THAT STUFF into your backpack??


My backpack is like the TARDIS. It’s a Crumpler Barge, made to carry camera equipment and a laptop plus some extras. It’s big for a daypack, but I use it for work everyday as well as traveling.

I was wondering if you would share what brand of sunless tanner you use?

After much cross consultation with beauty magazines and very pale friends, I use Clarins Self Tanning Gel, which looks like this:


A tube lasts forever, and after a couple of applications, people always ask if I’ve lost weight, which is American for “you look hot.”

I am curious — do you actually follow your toiletries list separately each trip? Or do you a keep an always-packed toiletries kit (with its own toothbrush, lotion, etc) and just throw the whole thing in your bag?

The latter. Though I do double-check against the list because I am anal. Also, I find it very satisfying to refill the little toiletry containers.

Why hand sanitizer only for foreign countries? The airplane is filthy enough, no matter where you go, no?

Before I had a kid, I only traveled with sanitizer in countries where I thought it would be tough to find public sinks, places where there’s a thriving street food culture for example. Now I carry a 20-gallon container with fire hose attachment, which I use to spray down the entire interior of the plane before I let Hank touch anything. On the advice of our pediatrician.

Is there a reason that the cuticle scissors aren’t grouped with the nail kit?

I don’t use them for my cuticles, I use them as scissors. Cutting tags off clothes, cutting out things to paste in my journal, makeshift weaponry should someone try to hijack the plane or use more than his alloted half of our shared armrest. That kind of thing.

Would you ever consider a make-up post?

My main thing is that I use Clinique’s City Block tinted sunscreen instead of foundation. It looks like this:


It evens out my skin tone. Plus, I’m 1000 percent more likely to apply foundation daily than sunscreen, so it saves me from burning when I’m unexpectedly in the sun for thirty seconds or more. Or when I spend too much time in the glare of our refrigerator light.

What podcasts do you download?

This American Life. What podcasts do you download? I want to know more about good podcasts.

77 thoughts on “Packing List Answers

  1. JennJ

    Love Podcasts for travel – along with This American Life, I enjoy:
    CBC’s Q Podcast
    On The Media

  2. Katie

    Fresh Air and All Songs Considered! More than once have I discovered a new band from ASC while on a trip, thus cementing the association between some awesome new music and wherever I’m going at the time.

    I’ll be interested to see what non-NPR podcasts get recommended.

  3. Lisa

    At the top of my good podcasts list is KCRW’s “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman. While there is some L.A./California-specific content (farmers’ market reports), Evan’s mix of topics never fails to include segments of more general interest. Accessible via and iTunes.

    There’s a separate feed for occasional and related videos with Evan… what are we calling these? Vidcasts? Video podcasts? Whatever they’re called, they have great tips: how to sex a fennel! what do to with those gorgeous squash in the autumn market! composting tips!

  4. Vee

    Coverville — I’m a sucker for cover songs.
    Decoder Ring Theater — original episodic old-time-style radio plays
    Short Cummings Audio — Little 6-minute family life essays. Kind of a cross between Dave Barry and Garrison Keillor

  5. Kyre

    The Moth from NPR – 15 minute true stories, told before a live audience. Amazing, gritty, funny and even I can focus for 15 minutes.

  6. Meg

    Fresh Air
    Studio 360
    To the Best of our Knowledge
    Selected Shorts (short stories read by folks with great voices)

  7. Fatemeh

    I love This American Life, too.

    But I’m a total geekgirl, so I lovelovelove TWiT. Leo LaPorte is a technohunk, and his guests are always most excellent.

  8. Katie

    The Sound of Young America – Jesse is the pioneer of the New Sincerity movement.

    Fresh Air – Terry Gross is amazing.

    On the Media – Great media criticism, if you’re into that.

    You Look Nice today – Good for chuckles.

  9. Jill P

    NPR: Most Emailed Stories of the Day podcast. All of the days most popular stories in one little podcast = the only podcast you need. Though listening to stories that are months old can be not-so-fun, so requires a little organization ahead of time.

    Food Podcasts (but make you dangerously hungry on plane): APM The Splendid Table, KCRW’s Good Food with Evan Kleinman, NPR Food Podcast.

  10. J

    The Bugle ( by John Oliver of the Daily Show and Andy Zaltzman. Even though the show focuses on the news, the podcasts in the archives age well because they are so damn funny.

  11. Jen

    Jawbone Radio is one of the best independantly produced podcasts out there. Also, I wish Len and Nora were my mom and dad. Just sayin’.

  12. Rachel

    I am a food person so I also download KCRW’s “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman and Splendid Table from American Public Media.
    My husband will also do keyword searches on anything he is interested in on, and download various podcasts from the NPR archives. This is awesome! Though I did tire of the ones generated by the “california prisons” search.
    I have listened to various financial podcasts, but haven’t found one that stuck with me. Also, my husband and I were loveline junkies, so we sometimes listen to the Adam Corrolla podcast via itunes.
    I am starting my own business, and listen to scape from Cubicle Nation podcasts as well.

  13. Ris

    I listen to Inside the New York Times Book Review. It is a great way to keep up on new releases and find out about great books to read.

  14. Chloe

    My regular downloads include WNYC’s Radio Lab, and The Moth Podcast. I also throw a Car Talk on my iPod every once in a while, sometimes I need a laugh on a long journey.

  15. Jolie

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned “Selected Shorts.” It’s my favorite. John Lithgow reading Roald Dahl, how could you not love it?

  16. kristen

    I’m also a TAL podcast geek and I listen to it constantly.

    I also listen to the New Yorker fiction podcast – current authors pick old stories from the New Yorker archives, read them aloud, then talk about why they love them.

    NPR’s Selected Shorts is good… LearnItalianPod for language lessons… Poetry Foundation’s podcast…

  17. Pictou

    Selected Shorts is a must! There is nothing having a short story to fill the time, and SS does it so well. The quality of the literature and the wonderful actors who read. It’s a real treat.

  18. Carlie


    Radio Lab
    Mark Kermode’s film reviews
    Adam and Joe
    Bafta Archive
    Horror Etc
    New Yorker Fiction
    Museum of the Moving Image’s Pinewood Dialogues
    Best of YouTube
    Daniel Kitson
    Jamie’s Ministry of Food

  19. Elise

    People have already mentioned my faves. Check out the various TEDTalks & Stuff You Missed in History Class

  20. Teela

    I absolutely have to mention Radio Lab again. It’s amazing. One of the hosts has his own show as well, called “hmmm Krulwich on Science.”

  21. superblondgirl

    I need a cell phone or MP3 player that can actually handle podcasts. My MP3 player is a) Dell and b) pretty much dead, and my cell phone is at least 400 years old. Sigh. I miss TAL, I used to love that show when I actually was in the car at the right time to hear it!

  22. tortoiseshelly

    Love that you answered the questions! As for podcasts, I listen to:

    – Sticks and String (I’m a knitter, and this is a fantastic knitting podcast by an Australian man named David Reidy.)Although oriented to knitting, it goes into knitting/yarn history, Australian culture and events, etc.

    – Cooks Illustrated Video Podcast (Excellent!)

    – Learn to Speak German with

    Having read all the recommendations for The Moth, I just added it to my list. I’ve also been thinking about listening to “The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd” with my niece and nephew. It’s supposed to be a family-friendly radio drama where Dr. Floyd (a scientist) goes up against the evil Dr. Steve and along the way teaches kids about the people and history of the world.

  23. laurie

    Ditto on TAL and the Slate podcasts. I also love love love TBTL (Too Beautiful to Live). Until September, this was a nightly show on KIRO in Seattle. Since being unceremoniously canceled by KIRO, Luke, Jen, and Sean have been doing their imaginary radio show as a daily podcast from Luke’s house. They three of them are so genuine and lovely that I (and what they lovingly call their “tens of listeners”) listen to the podcast religiously. Download it from iTunes or stream from


  24. Aarika

    My always-first-to-download podcasts: Never Not Funny hosted by my favorite comedian of all time, Jimmy Pardo. And, from the man who brought us The Sound of Young America – Jordan, Jesse, Go!.

    Also, I never knew I needed a tinted moisturizer but now I MUST HAVE IT. Such a good idea.

  25. Sarah Y

    Ditto on the NPR ones mentioned already plus PRI’s Speaking of Faith.

    Also, zencast, available at

    Love this series of dharma talks mostly given by Gil Fronsdale. Occasionally they include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield and Andrea Fella.

  26. Emira

    Some real winners at the CBC:
    WireTap (with Jonathan Goldstein who is also part of American Life I believe)
    Definitely Not the Opera (or DNTO)

    And if you’re feeling really science nerdy:
    Quirks and Quarks

  27. steph

    NPR Most E-Mailed Stories – great NPR sampler when you don’t have time to listen to everything… and it makes house cleaning no sweat.

    I would love This American Life, but it crashes my ipod, so I don’t love it so much.

  28. Amber

    Hee hee, I like your answer to my question about the sanitizer.

    I love TAL, agree with others here that The Moth is awesome, and I’m also a big fan of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

  29. Amber

    Also, I use Clinique City Block for pretty much the exact same reasons you list, and I love it, except that I think it smells really weird.

  30. Kelley

    I love This American Life, The Moth, and the New Yorker Fiction podcast, which is only once a month so it’s a treat. The one from January is amazing. I think it’s called The Living Dead but it’s not scary. I keep it on my ipod permanently. You should hear it!

  31. Sarah

    WTF by Marc Maron. He had a radio show on the early Air America, and I am still a big fan. Crude and neurotic.

  32. Manders

    Ditto to everyone who said The Moth. AMAZING. I listen a lot to All Songs Considered, but really only because I’m a music junkie. Dunno if Hank’s a Sesame Street watcher, but they put out a podcast that’s basically a mini-me version of the show. Lots of fun–I’m in my mid-twenties and single and I enjoy it (actually, i probably shouldn’t have just admitted that).

  33. Molly

    Mountain Stage – a 2 hour show of fantastic live music broadcast from my home state (WV) on NPR


  34. Kristin

    We have the best public radio station in MN, The Current. They play the best music that no other radio station would consider(some of my faves: Avett Brothers, Metric, Band of Horses, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, The Big Pink… I could go on and on!) They have a podcast for their “Song of the Day” that gives you a free MP3 song everyday, and their weekly “musicheads” breaks down the latest releases. Great if you’re looking for new music. You can also stream the radio station live from your computer or iPhone!

  35. Sara

    Love those podcasts!

    Planet Money
    Several from the Quick and Dirty Podcast list (Money Girl, Nutrition Diva, etc)
    Selected Shorts
    Car Talk
    NPR’s Story of the Day

    And I completely second Laurie’s shout out for TBTL. So funny and genuine. Love it.

  36. Jan

    Same as Laurie in #21, I gotta have “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”. I even bought one of their ball caps which has embroidered on the back, “NPR without the dignity”.

    I also like “Says You” also from NPR, a must for anyone who loves the English language, especially as spoken in America.

  37. Jessica

    My podcasts:

    * This American Life (PRI)
    * Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me (NPR)
    * Car Talk (NPR)
    * Sunday Puzzle (NPR)
    * A Prairie Home Companion (NPR)
    * The Moth
    * The New Yorker Fiction
    * President Obama’s Weekly Radio Address
    * The Sound of Young America (PRI)
    * The World – Geo Quiz (PRI)
    * You Look Nice Today
    * Hey, Brooklyn!

    A few of them are really quite short; 5-15 minutes (The President, Geo Quiz, Sunday Puzzle and Hey, Brooklyn!). I also subscribe to a few language lessons to keep up on my German.

  38. Jessica

    By the way, Maggie – thanks for asking everyone to post about what podcasts they listen to. It’s great to read what is out there and look forward to listening/subscribing to a few that your other readers have mentioned.

  39. Maureen

    Lots of stuff from CBC – Jian Ghomeshi’s Q (interviews with very interesting people,) Nora Young’s Spark tech stuff)plus documentaries, discussions, endless options. CBC is fascinating.

  40. Jennifer M. in PA

    In addition to “This American Life,” I also download (from NPR):
    The Writer’s Block
    Selected Shorts
    Sound Opinions
    This I Believe

  41. Rebecca

    CBC’s (Canadian) “The Debaters” episodes. Comedians hilariously go head-to-head in a formal debate format. They can use a combination of “facts” and “funny”, and the winner is decided by applause. :-)

  42. Maggie

    Even though everyone has already said all three of my faves… I love them SO much they’re worth another mention…

    THIS AMERICAN LIFE – can’t live without it

    THE MOTH – so great, you never know what kind of story you’re going to hear, but they’re always true!

    STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW – I have learned so much fun and interesting and RANDOM stuff from Josh and Chuck… Look forward to them every week!!!

  43. Molly

    My faves (many/most previously mentioned):
    * The Moth
    * TAL
    * Never Not Funny
    * You Look Nice Today
    * Jordan Jesse Go
    * The Sound of Young America
    * David Mitchell’s Soap Box (has finished, but 24 eps to catch up on — hilarious)
    * Radio Lab
    * Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me
    * Radio Lab

  44. MJ

    In addition to TAL – I love “Speaking of Faith” with Krista Tippett – NPR’s platform for conversation about diverse, enlightening paths to the mountain top.

  45. Melissa

    I listen to podcasts while I’m in the kitchen as well as traveling. It’s a great way to keep myself from taking the cupcakes out early, keep stirring the risotto, etc. Time flies!

    I’m miserly, so I listen to free podcasts. Then I feel guilty and donate to the station–so it works out.

    The How Stuff Works guys are fantastic–they crack me up, and I get smarter. I also enjoy the Old Time Radio Mysteries.

    Stuff You Should Know
    Stuff You Should Have Learned in History Class
    KEXP Music that Matters
    Rachel Maddow Show (no commercials!)
    Keith Olbermann
    This American Life
    Old Time Radio
    Kitchen Sisters Hidden Kitchens

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