is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.


I’m often being asked what my travel must-haves are, the essentials I don’t leave home without.

Ok, that’s a lie. People never ask me.

But people do often ask me why, when I travel so often, I haven’t mastered the art of the light pack. Why don’t I simply throw an LBD, a pashmina and a pair of kitten heels in a bag and have done with it?

Well firstly, if I ever start getting around in kitten heels you can shoot me.

Secondly, I’m a maximalist and proud of it. I once attempted to lug a 30-kilo backpack around Europe filled with bejewelled skirts, cocktail dresses, six pairs of heels (none of them kitten), a hairdryer and a separate bag filled with jewellery.

Luckily my best friend upended the entire pack on the first night and forced me to ship half of it back home before we began our journey. I cried at the time, was thankful later.

So you get the drift. I’m a woman who needs what she needs to keep her sane on the road. Here are five of the 5,249 items I don’t travel without.


Wild Unknown tarot deck
Last year I spent a fortnight doing a tarot tour of South India for a story. At first I pffted and smirked told myself it was totally ridiculous and so 1998 to buy into that sort of thing. But then I started learning about the symbology of the cards and about the history of tarot art and now… Now I don’t go no place without my Wild Unknown tarot deck. Travel can put me in weird places emotionally, so I find guidance from the cards useful when I’m feeling a bit lost.


Nagnata yoga bag
I’m a pretty dedicated yogini and find it’s often the only way I can keep fit and feeling good when I’m travelling. I really hate gyms so you won’t find me in one of those. A couple of girlfriends of mine hand craft these insanely beautiful yoga mat bags from antique and hand-dyed Indian fabrics that they embellish with mirrors and coins. It doubles as a beach bag too, who doesn’t love a bit of versatility?


Wide-brimmed hats
I once carried a stack of five of these puppies to Africa for two months. It was the biggest pain in the arse, let me tell you, and I only wore two of them. But it was worth it for the pics. Not really, but I won’t soon forget all the conversations they started. Usually, “hey mzungu, can I have one of your hats? You have five, I have none.” Followed by a death stare. My stack was much smaller on the way home. I’m pretty impressed by what Aussie brand Lack of Color are doing at the moment.


Apple cider vinegar
Seriously, a whole bottle of the stuff. BRAGG is my favourite because it’s organic, it’s unheated, it’s unpasteurized, it’s unfiltered, it’s un-everything. I use it as a toner on my face (it stings a bit) and as a health tonic. One teaspoon in a glass of water first thing in the morning keeps my digestion on track, always helpful when you’re stuffing yourself full of suspect exotic foods.


I’m talkin’ strings of rupees, a ring for every finger and toe, head scarves, earrings, chokers, you name it. They’re really heavy and I should probably be worried about having them stolen or about losing them, but I feel naked if I forget them and they’re a great way to dress up otherwise meh outfits. Plus they’re my true call to adventure, on go the rupees and up comes trouble. YES. Two faves are Pamela Love and ManiaMania.



Leave a Reply