When I travel, I like to do so in comfortable clothes, especially in hot countries. Most women will probably be with me on this but for me, there is nothing worse than wearing an uncomfortable bra while you are hot. So when the good people from The Travel Bra company approached me to test out their travel bra, I was a very willing guinea pig for the ultimate travel bra review.
Through my work in international development, I am often required to visit a lot of very rural and less developed places. Transport to and from such remote areas often takes me on very bumpy roads or dirt tracks which can be very uncomfortable, sometimes even painful, for women not wearing a supportive bra. My recent trip to an indigenous community in rural Colombia was the perfect way to test out the travel bra, as I had to travel on a dirt track with hundreds of potholes for a number of hours. The bra really supported my chest and kept it bounce-free despite all of the potholes. Support: passed!
An added bonus of the travel bra is the many hidden pockets. There is a pouch for passports, a pouch for credit cards, and a pouch for smaller belongings. No matter where you are travelling to in the world, there is often at least some small risk of petty crime. For that reason I like to keep my valuables on my body and not in a bag. I am not a big fan of money belts, as they get really sweaty after a while and I also think they are uncomfortable.
At first I was a bit worried that my bulky hardcover German passport wouldn’t fit in the pouch, but it is so stretchy that I could easily fit it in. I also put my back-up credit card in the bra and my engagement ring in the small pouch at the front. Quite a lot of things to fit in just a bra you may think, but it was actually quite comfortable. Of course the Passport dangles around a bit if you wear a loose top on top of it, but if your top is tight, this won’t happen. I needed to be quite active on my trip as well, taking photos, interviewing people, and chasing after adorable little children. I honestly didn’t expect to stay so comfortable all day. Safety and comfort: passed!
The travel bra is like a sports bra, so I also tried it out for some sporty activities, including hiking and yoga. To test it to the limit I even wore it during a hot yoga class. For those of you who don’t know hot yoga, it is a 90 minute yoga session in 42 degree Celsius heat. As you can imagine this is a sweaty old business, but the bra absorbed the sweat really well and didn’t leave any sweat stains. Sporty activities: passed!
All in all, I am super happy with the travel bra and really recommend it to women who need comfort while travelling, as well as peace of mind in terms of safety.
My friend Katherine recently flew to Los Angeles for a conference – and discovered Shopping Outlet Malls! Katherine bought an entire wardrobe refresh for less than $1000 – but risked losing all her savings in excess baggage. Here’s five tricks she shared with me on how she got her loot home without paying excess baggage:
- First, before you start to pack, set aside your heaviest clothes to wear on board. (If you have space left over after packing everything else you can still pack some of them back in your case): Wear your heaviest shoes and carry your heaviest carry bag; wear multiple layers – you can always take layers off once on board and put them in your carry-on bag; wear your heaviest jewelry and put heavy small things, like torches, in your pockets. Anything you actually wear is not counted towards your baggage allowance. You can save up to 5 kilos just by wearing your heavy stuff.
- Set aside your heaviest jacket to carry over your arm on to the plane. A single coat or cardigan not packed in your on-board bag is not counted in your on-board baggage weight allocation even though it might weigh up to 5 kilos – especially if just happens to have a few heavy things in the pockets! You can store your coat in the locker once on board.
- When you start to pack set aside any heavy things of low value – Runners due for replacement, T-shirts or jumpers that have seen better days, low value toiletries, that cheap heavy carved mask that perhaps your brother may not like as much as you think, etc. Fold everything flat and neatly. Once everything is packed, now you can add on top those things of low value. Then, if you get to the check in counter and find your bag is overweight, it is easy to take out and discard your low value items Since extra kilos are really expensive – depending on the airline, up to $10 a kilo – it is worth it to me to jettison an old pair of runners that were close to done anyway, than to pay $20 in extra baggage to bring them home.
- I have always found that airline staff appreciate me being willing to take things out of my case and will reward my effort by letting me get away with 1 or 2 kilo over.
- It is amazingly easy to become quite accurate in guessing the weight of bags just by seeing how hard it is to lift. So it’s a good habit to get into at checkin to take note of the weight of your bag at the airport and note how hard it was to lift. You will learn very quickly to tell how hard or easy it is to lift a bag as to whether a bag is over or under 20 kilo and it’s a really handy skill to have.
Hi my name is David, recently my wife Shari and daughter Banchy and myself travelled from Australia to my daughter's birth country, the very beautiful Ethiopia. We travelled for 3 weeks in the north of the country after a short stay in Addis Ababa, the capital.
Money changing opportunities can be scarce at times so I changed enough money for our trip early on. Hence, we had quite a bit of cash for convenience sake.This is where the Travel Trunks became invaluable. I was able to keep enough cash in my wallet for the day and keep the remainder of cash secure in the pocket of the travel trunks.
At night and on occasion while in our room or getting breakfast I kept our passports in the safe but during the day I could carry them on me comfortably and safely with the cash in the travel trunks if I felt we may need them. This gave me terrific peace of mind. My wife and daughter also wore the Travel Bras and were able to keep spare cash and hotel key cards in them. So handy. So convenient.
These travel garments are so practical. So sensible. So comfortable.
Thank you The Travel Bra Company for bringing this idea of safe, secure, comfortable travel garments to light. It's ingenious!
Travel Report from Peta:
Hi, my name is Peta. I’ve just returned from an amazing trip to Iran. My highlight was walking around a town called Yazd. This gorgeous town is in the south and has beautiful cobble stone roads in the old part of the city. It’s known for its baklava. Iranian people are lovely but as a single woman traveller I found it important to pay keen attention to the local rules: no singing (including humming!), no dancing and definitely no skin or hair showing.
I have travelled a lot as a single woman (India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Cambodia, Indonesia) and I usually just pack as much cash as I am happy to have stolen. However, this is impossible when you are travelling in a country with trade sanctions and no ATMs that function for tourists e.g. Burma, Iran, Syria and Russia to a certain extent.
So on my trip to Iran I had to carry thousands of dollars on me because I was frequently separated from my bags and concerned about other tourists or locals picking up my bag.
My Travel Bra was useful not only because it could carry the cash but also because it seemed to be resilient enough to stop the cash (US paper notes) getting soaked in my sweat. This is quite an achievement when you are wearing a Travel Bra under two layers of conservative clothing in the desert during an Iranian summer!
This photo of me where I have my orange scarf on is the day I went into the desert east of Kerman - it was 42 degrees but my cash stayed safe and dry in my Travel Bra :)
I didn't get a photo of me just in my Travel Bra because local people often went looking through my phone on the bus and I was a bit paranoid about images that I was carrying as well as not wanting to have a semi-naked photo on Instagram while I was in-country in Iran! I got followed in Esfahan bizarre - that was definitely a low light. The would-be thieves were so persistent that I ended up getting a taxi to get away from them.
I loved my Travel Bra so much that I have just bought two new Travel Bras to take with me to Java at Christmas time - always good to have emergency cash when you are bussing it through rural Indonesia ;)
Creating a new business like The Travel Bra Company, lucky for me, involves lots of travel. On my way to the USA recently, I made a stopover at Hawaii. Hawaii is totally do-able on under $1000 a week. I spent a week on the remote volcanic island of Kaua’i. If you haven’t been before – put it on your list – way up high. My travelling companion on this trip was a feisty 73 year old, Kathleen, with whom I flatted when I lived in Washington DC some years back. While Kathleen and I stayed in Kaua’i in a great little country bunk house we found on Airbnb, our first stop was the Seaview Terrace café at The Kaua’i Hyatt. We ordered coffees and set ourselves up on the sumptuous chairs, spreading out our maps, notes and guidebooks on the huge coffee table with a magnificent outlook over the blue ocean bay. Here we plotted our week together and regrouped daily to plan more excursions.
Kathleen managed blues bands for a living before she retired so, of course, we had to check out the music scene of Kaua’i. We met a wonderful woman, Haunini Kaui, a very gifted singer and musician, and we became her groupies. Haunini studied for four years at Berkley on a music scholarship www.hauninikaui.com. Every night we followed Haunini to each of her different gigs around the island where she played with different local musicians.
It wasn’t the reason I went to Kaua’i, but it turned out that the island is a foodies' paradise. At the historic Koloa Fish Market there were lots of great fish poke (raw fish in marinades). The Kalua slow-cooked pork melted in my mouth. The laulau beef was wrapped in taro and tiki leaves and steamed. OMG. The coconut and sweet potato pie was delicious. Each morning we ate the sweetest grapefruit and oranges I have ever tasted, picked straight off the trees at our bunk house. And the local Anahola granola with fresh local raspberries and blackberries on top was just too good.
I wanted to hike down the Alaki Swamp trail to the wettest place in the world – 468 inches a year. What can I say? It was wet! Sadly, too wet to walk all the way that day without my big boots. We consoled ourselves with yummy Bean and Portugese sausage soup at the nearby Lodge. Next time I come back to Kaua’i I will be sure to pack heavy hiking boots and wet weather gear. Yes, to Hawaii.
There are lots of great hikes in Kaua’i – day hikes and overnight hikes. And for such a small island there was so much diversity, from the rain forest to savannah, to its famous beaches to rivers and mountains – all largely unpopulated and unspoilt. I know food always tastes amazing after a big hike, but the Hawaii Puki Dogs at Hanalai were gourmet – and clearly made with love. We washed them down with home-made lemonade before heading across the road to the Community Hall to listen to Grammy winners Doug and Sandy McMasters play the most remarkable slack string guitar.
There’s something about Kaua’i’s town of Kapaa that takes me back to my Byron Bay surfie chic days. Funky health food handouts, timber buildings painted blue and green, crystal shops and, of course, surfboard shops. Café Coco served us pumpkin coconut soup with crunchy pumpkin seeds and an edible flower swimming on top. And then there was the banana bread… And don’t get me started on the shaved ice. And all over Kaua’i there was so much shrimp and fresh seafood, poi and rice, endless different local Hawaiian fusion flavors and tastes and all at street food prices.
And always we ended up back at the Seaview Terrace at The Hyatt for coffee. I don’t usually rave about hotels, but this place was opulent, not in a tasteless way but in a way that turned the occupant towards the ocean and made the water seem even more magnificent than it already was. I promised Kathleen that when The Travel Bra Company becomes really successful we will one day come back to Kaua’i and stay not at the bunk-house but at The Hyatt, my shout.
You really don’t need to wear a Travel Bra on Kaua’i as it’s not very crowded and there is not a lot of pickpocketing, but on my morning runs I wore my Runners Travel Bra with spare cash in my dropdown pocket just in case I sighted something good to buy. Kaua’i is great for running – for some reason people don’t tend to keep dogs, so you can run on country roads and not get barked at. We were there in April, too cold for these Australian bones to go swimming or snorkeling.
By the end of the week, Kathleen and I were doing so well on our budget that we could shout ourselves a boat trip along the Napoli Coast. Absolutely fantastic. Lava caves and 4000 meters (yes meters not feet, this is not a typo) cliffs. We saw whales, dolphins, turtles, and fish and danced to the Rolling Stones in the back of the boat all the way home.
Kaua’i is easily do-able for under $1000 per week, plus change. Don’t forget to pack hiking boots and do pack your organic cotton and bamboo Travel Bra – it is still the most comfortable bra you’ll find, so it’s good to wear on the plane.:)
Creating a Start Up like The Travel Bra™ Company is exhilarating but exhausting. Any day now I am taking off to my current favourite rest and replenish health resort for under $1000 a week, the Ubud Sari in Bali. I will be kicking back with organic fruit mocktails and soothing foot massages with eyes closed and all worries gone.
This place has everything an Australian health retreat has, but for only a fifth of the cost. The detox programs are designed by a medical doctor and really work. I felt great – amazingly great – after I did the Body, Mind and Spirit Rejuvenation. It cost me less than $US1,000 for seven days and six nights and that included absolutely everything.
When you arrive at Ubud Sari (they pick you up at the airport), you have you own personal attendant throughout the week who oversees your detox and schedules all your activities. But don’t think it’s all just lying around detoxing. Man, it’s busy! – rice paddy walk in the morning, followed by yoga and meditation, followed by organic detox juices with special herbs. Then you have to fit in massages, facials, body scrubs, steams, deep tissue body work, shiatsu, candlenut scrubs, reflexology, more juices, more massages, saunas, swims and facials, as well as a cranio-sacral therapy treatment. My one piece of advice? Unless you are seriously ‘clogged’, skip the daily colonic hydrotherapy. Ubud Sari will tailor a program just for you and substitute these with extra massages or facials.
What I loved about Ubud Sari was also just hanging out in the open air organic vegan café where it was easy to meet other women and chat – main topic of conversation being of course how our lives were going to change when we got back home and how we really should do this detox thing more often.
My one vice was to sneak out every morning between treatments and down a delicious short black coffee that an enterprising young man sold me – here was a man who really understands what a woman wants!
I love Ubud – being up high it’s cool even in summer and there is lots of yoga places. My favourite? The Yoga Barn. And there are lots of organic vegan restaurants and
wonderful shops and galleries to explore. Every afternoon I spent an hour or so just walking the streets and rice paddies.
Oh, and Ubud Sari has wifi in the café, so you can still stay and work if you really have to.
Research by New York Police in the 1990s revealed that not only is it possible to profile a criminal but it is also possible to profile a victim. Some people just scream ‘rob me’. You can reduce your risk of being a victim on a holiday with a few simple precautions:
Listen to your instincts and just don’t go somewhere or with someone if there is any doubt that you are 100% safe - whether it is down a street, into a bar, or with a group of people. Take a taxi rather than risk walking back to the hotel in the dark if you don’t know the area. Stay with crowds.
Don’t advertise your wealth. If you are walking through a poor area, don’t wear expensive jewellery or carry an expensive handbag, try to fit in. Leave glamour for a time and place where you are with others in the glamour set.
Keep your spare cash in your Travel Bra™ or in a hidden compartment in a safe bag. Only keep enough cash in the wallet you use to meet that day or evening’s needs. Keep two wallets.
Walk confidently. A fearful tourist is more likely to attract a thief than a confident tourist. If you find yourself in a dodgy situation, just keep saying to yourself ‘don’t even try it buddy’ and somehow that is the message that will be heard.
If the worst happens, just give them whatever they want. A lot of experienced travellers keep an 'I surrender' wallet with some money in it (not too much but not too little either), just in case. Hand it over and run.
Do your parents a favour and register at DFAT before you go overseas. It’s a good idea to also check DFAT’s travel advice for the destination you are heading to, and you can subscribe to their travel alerts. Remember the Australian Government is always there for you when you are overseas, but NOT if you break the law in that country. And don’t forget to wear your Travel Bra™ – our Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s got one!
We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to The Travel Bra™ Team!
Founder and creator of The Travel Bra™, Dr Annie Holden, is an anthropologist who has worked all across remote Australia and internationally in India and Papua New Guinea. Annie is an avid adventurist solo female traveller and invented The Travel Bra™ because she needed one and couldn’t buy it. Travelling to places like remote western India where there are no ATMs and the Highlands of Papua New Guinea where leaving your passport in your room is most unadvisable, Annie needed a solution. She also needed a challenge and starting a new business seemed like a crazy enough thing to do in your late fifties – but that’s another story…
Brenda Barnett is a lingerie designer with over 17 years experience working for international lingerie firms. Skye, Brenda’s daughter was not quite crawling when we started The Travel Bra™, but she’s running wild now.
Taylah Smith is our beautiful Travel Bra™ model studying paramedics and nursing oncology. She’s smart!
Gareth Schroder is our industrial designer extraordinaire. And now the proud Dad of Charlie, who was only a glint in his Dad’s eye in The Travel Bra’s™ early days.
This report is the first in our series of blogs on travel adventures for under $1000 a week. Welcome to The Travel Bra™ blog. Send us your stories of holiday adventures you’ve had for under $1000 a week. We’d love to hear them. And remember – Keep Valuables Close to Heart with your Travel Bra™.
My travel lust compass tends to point me to foreign lands. But this January I am landing myself in a great and inexpensive holiday destination very close to home – our very own Sydney. I’m here doing Airbnb in Double Bay ($35 a night for a gorgeous 1920s apartment decorated with film memento and geeky action figures with cocktail parasols) only two minutes from Sydney Harbour.
Man, Sydney Harbour is amazing. The three-story-high Harbour Ferries juggernaut their way over to Manly indifferent to the tiny race boats hurtling past at full sail. Beautiful sandstone cliffs and little pockmark islands create the most interesting harbour. I’m tempted to borrow a dinghy and spend a week just exploring all the nooks and crannies, but too busy. Tonight I’m heading off to the Domain to the free Opera in the Park. No glass allowed, so I’m decanting my vino into a plastic sports bottle. Who cares? The line up kicks off with Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie Overture and finishes up with Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. I’m most looking forward to the William Tell Overture (Hi Ho Silver! Think theme song The Lone Ranger).
The Sydney Art Gallery was also on my list – the Pop to Populism exhibit was interesting although the Gallery Shop was busier than the Gallery itself which is ironic given that the Pop movement was premised on a rejection of mass consumerism!
But first I’m going for a swim at Coogee Beach, followed by coffee and gelato. My what a beautiful city this is. The Sydney Festival runs from 8 – 26 January and there is heaps of amazing free stuff. Not to mention just sightseeing – which is not my usual style but I still remember the feeling of awe I had when I first laid eyes on the Sydney Opera House. There is also plenty of eating and drinking – definitely my style always: just outside my apartment yesterday there was a little pop up market – the paella was packed with mussels and shrimp and very yum.
There is probably no better place in Australia to spend Australia Day than on Sydney Harbour or on Bondi Beach and so many free events to choose from. However this year I do have an invite from a very cute man to barbeque at his house at Bronte Beach which I believe I should not miss.