I lived in a tropical country for most of my life and would take weekend road trips almost every other week. Back then, I thought that treating myself and exploring the beauty of my country was something that would nourish my soul from the burnout of work (buuut that’s a topic for another time). All kidding aside, from all the trips I took back in my 30’s, I thought I had it down pat with my road trip essentials or “Pen’s Road Trip Survival Pack”, as I used to call it. However, with age (hmm..or should we say, maturity?) and restarting life in Los Angeles, my very own survival pack has seemingly evolved.

I’m not saying it was easy peasy done in a jiffy, but what was remarkable is the difference in things I used to think I needed compared to what I actually did.  Maybe it’s maturity or recognizing the fact that my only focus was to enjoy this time, relish in the place, and the person I am with…OR is it because my partner took care of the Airbnb booking, navigation, chains on the tires and did the actual driving? Whatever the real reason may be, I still want to share what Pen’s 4.0 Survival Pack looks like these days:

1. WATER – staying hydrated during the ride and your trip is a must! I cannot survive without at least a few liters a day. Mind you, restroom stops should be planned accordingly.

2. FOOD – which can be divided into snacks for the ride and easy meals you can prepare in the Airbnb to save on time and money. For us, it was eggs, bacon, hotdogs with cheese (my latest discovery!), pineapple juice (anti-inflammatory and my absolute fave, especially when you add… RUM!!), bread, rice, yogurt, cheese, and butter (because bread is life but bread with butter is lifer). With this spread, breakfast is served all hours of the day…which in my opinion, is the best meal of the day.

3. DOG FOOD, DOG SNACKS AND DOG CLOTHES – must make sure the puppies are well taken care of no matter what! A crowd favorite is thinly cut chicken or turkey mashed with rice and sprinkled with grated cheese… YUM!

4. SUPPLEMENTS AND EMERGENCY MEDICINES – with our uhm, stage in life, we cannot go a day without our magnesium, zinc, vitamins, and omega fish oil intake. Can’t forget headache, allergy, and stomach acidity meds (my new best friends since I turned the big 4-0).

5. THE RIGHT CLOTHES AND SHOES FOR THE WEATHER – I must say thermal socks and comfortable waterproof non skid shoes are lifesavers. Gimme all the toasty thermal warmness goodness!

6. SKIN CARE PARAPHERNALIA – as an Asian, I follow the recommended 11 step skin-care regimen religiously. But for this trip, I tried to scale down and just brought the ABSOLUTE necessities: facial oil cleanser, facial wash, toner, Vitamin C serum, under eye cream, and moisturizer. For a day out, I also add sunblock (Biore Rich Aqua Essence is highly recommended), color correcting treatment with SPF 30 to boot (with the cold, can’t help but have red splotches on your face, so gotta even that out), BB cream (again with added SPF 40) and lastly my handy dandy LIP BALM. I swear by Aquaphor – which also serves as an eyelash thickener and all-around balm. This all sounds pretty basic, right?

7. PERFUME – we can’t have ourselves smelling like ^%^* all weekend, so my fragrance of choice was Jo Malone Orange Bitters.

6. FLASHLIGHT – for better visibility when attaching your snow chains, power outages, and random wildlife sightings. DO NOT FORGET!

8. FIRST AID KIT – we always have a portable kit handy for the car and or any trip we go on. I find that bandages and antiseptic ointments (I swear by SILVEX® Wound Gel) are my absolute must-haves.

9. AANNNDD… THE MOST IMPORTANT PART…. THE ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST! This is crucial to establish the overall vibes in your car and the rest of the trip. This kept our 5-hour long ride fun and light hearted (even if we were moving at a snail pace up the snowy mountain road). Elsa and Anna were great companions. Check out our Spotify playlist here:


10. BE PRESENT – whatever you do, wherever you are, whoever you’re with, ENJOY every moment! Being fully present is what makes any experience the best and is honestly, the most important part of Pen’s Survival Pack 4.0

‘Til the next trip!