Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sequin Cat's guide to living out of your handbag

While chatting with a friend recently in a cosy café, I learnt that she spent six weeks travelling over Summer using only hand luggage. She mentioned doing the washing once a week as a bit of an inconvenience, but was thrilled by how much money she'd saved.

Unfortunately, I cannot claim to be as much of a travel goddess. What I do know, however, is how to survive for days living out of your handbag.

For whatever the reason, occasionally we find ourselves unable to go home at the end of a night out. If you're lucky, a friend will offer some floor-space, or even better, a couch. But how to survive the following morning? What you carry in your handbag should be sufficient to disguise the damage and avoid the scornful glares that walks-of-shame typically receive.

You wake up. Once you've established where you are, it's time to get moving. Bananas are great for a bit of brain power, demolish hangovers and are commonly found in fruit bowls, regardless of season. A glass of water doesn't go astray at this point either. If you can find tea bags and a kettle, even better.

Breakfast down and your brain should be functioning on at least a basic level. Next stop, personal hygiene. If your hosts offer you a shower, you've hit the jackpot. Enjoy their delicious shampoo and body wash and emerge fresh as a newborn. The rest of us however must make do and mend.

1. Hide the evidence.
Remove incriminating makeup and under eye blackness with makeup remover. A piece of toilet paper and some body wash will do at a pinch. At worst, splash your face and wipe old makeup to the outer corner of your eyes.

2. Makeup!
It won't be perfect, but it'll get you through the morning (or afternoon...) I like to carry two eyeliner pencils in my purse for this very purpose. A little white in the inner V of each eye will make you look more alive than you feel, and a neat line of black on the lower lid makes your smudgy look more rock chick than heroin addict. Eye pencils are generally small, light, and thus portable, and a line of kohl does away with the need for mascara (although some likely remains from the night before!) Wake up your face some more with a light pinch of each cheek. Who needs blush? Finish off your morning fresh look with some clear gloss on your lips (and eyelids if you're feeling it!) Lip balm or gloss can also be used for on-the-go hair styling if you wake with a serious case of bedhead. Otherwise style as best as you can with water and your fingers. I usually carry a spare hairclip in my bag.

3. Freshen up.
Unless you're clever enough to carry a travel toothbrush in your bag, you'll likely have to rough it. Toothpaste and your finger will make you feel a lot happier than not brushing your teeth will. Rinse, repeat.

4. Time to go...
If your host is up, ask them to point you in the direction of the nearest metro station/bus stop. If you're the only one standing, your best bet is to let yourself out and find a main road. You'll get home eventually! You should always have a travel pass or some coins in your purse.

5. Work it!
Throw on those oversized sunglasses that you cleverly stowed in your bag the night before and pop that iPod on high. Strut down the street in your ultra high heels in the sunshine and laugh about last night's crazy antics.

Living out of your handbag: a checklist
  • makeup essentials: white eyeliner, black eyeliner, clear gloss
  • travel pass/coins
  • oversized sunglasses
  • iPod
  • mobile phone
And for the experts...
  • hair clips
  • miniature bottle of hand cream (for hair styling, makeup removal, random dry patches etc.)
  • fresh pair of knickers
  • a pen to record all the funny anecdotes that come back to you

With preparation this thorough, you needn't go home for days! Happy travels....


  1. haha this is amazing, i'm totally going to be taking your advice in about five days!


  2. Love the bit about removing the evidence!

  3. I'm usually good at packing little essentials in my bag - deodorant, mints, panadol - But I always forget the knickers!

    Mostly I end up going commando the morning after... sometimes it's better not to wear undies at all.

  4. well put!! although i'd be craving a shirt and bra within a day or so... knickers can be washed in a sink if desperate!

  5. Ahaha, love it! Nice to hear about what happens "on the other side". We boys... I mean, us dudes (yeah!) do tend to only care for part 3 (at least the most sophisticated ones do), and the evidence to hide are not always of the makeup kind :)

  6. @Hannah Elzabeth: Good luck on your adventures!

    @WendyB: We don't want to look like total trashbags on Wednesday mornings, do we?

    @Pattycakebatter: Panadol: genius! I usually just use whatever deodorant I find in the bathroom.. men's, women's, it doesn't matter

    @Melissa: There's not much you can't do with a sink and a bar of soap!

    @Xavier: I'd love to read a male's perspective of an impromptu sleepover if you care on sharing?

  7. Well, I don't mind sharing, even though I sincerely doubt there'll be any such "let's keep it glamorous" than in your own life-out-of-handbag process. Plus, I'm not sure I can speak for the whole of Parisian Males.

    But, anyway... Basing my sources on my recently renewed rekidling (arrr!) of after-midnite lifestyle, I think I can affirm than must of us of the beardy kind, would first look at the following (using your own categories):
    - Hide the evidence: clean up unwanted hairs from place of sleep. You know. The curly ones. If there is such a case, remove unsighlty condom(s)+package(s), throw in building dumpster on the way out (don't flush, don't use hosts trashcan) ;
    - Make up: find a good excuse to leave while not sounding like a douchebar to your lady host. Like, "do you want some croissants for breakfast?" If sleeping with a male friend, oh well, just high-five him and leave. Next round's on you ;
    - Freshen up: you don't have toothbrush. No you don't. Munch on a few tic-tacs, you'll brush once at home. Maybe ;
    - Time to go: indeed, don't forget to pee -- you never know how far you could be from your home :) Flush, lower toilet seat (remember: not a douchebag).

    Ok, now that we've had a laugh, a look at what would be perfect, really:
    - Wake up
    - Remember where you are.
    - Strategies
    - Alone in bed? Sleep some more!
    - Not alone?
    - a male friend: push him out
    - a female friend: get out of bed as silentyl as possible, make yourself useful while she wakes up (make coffee?)
    - a romantic partner: cuddle
    - host want you
    - to stay: great! enjoy breakfast and conversation! But don't forget to dress. Or not, right?
    - to leave, like, ASAP: grab clothes, dress, leave ASAP
    - time to leave. Bid farwel to your acquaintances, and wish them a good. Stroll down to the local Métro station, and start making plans for next time. Also: start thinking about buying a travel toothbrush, maybe.