Sunday, April 24, 2016

Since You Didn't Ask

It is time to formalize the unasked for advice we give to travelers whenever not asked for it. 

Yes, it's NDL's Top Ten Travel Take-a-Long Items.

1. Tape. 

Not just any tape. 3M Transpore. If you think there is even the slightest chance of a shoe or sandal giving you a hard time immediately put a piece of this miracle product on the suspicious spot. Really, preventative taping is the key to avoiding blisters and rubs from footwear you may not have worn in awhile (it's been six months since your Sorrel clad Northern foot saw a certain sandal) or that you may not have properly broken in in advance of a trip. We all know we should not be packing new shoes, but we all do it. Once. Keep a roll in your bag. You will be using it and doling it out to all your grateful tour mates. Hero time!

2. Ziploc bags. All sizes. 

Good for undies clean or dirty and especially nice to keep the two separate. If you suck the air out of them (recommended for clean laundry bags only) they act like the expensive vacuum packing bags you can buy on fancy travel gear sites. Additionally: they can hold different currencies as you move from one to another; small purchases are safer in them; they are really good for keeping your travel guides and leisure reading books from becoming tattered in your backpack; if you are hiking rural trails where there are no facilities they can be your mode of packing in and out the bit of toilet tissue you will be very glad to have in your pocket when you are behind that gorse bush; and of course they are perfect for snacks!

3. Immodium and Calmoseptine Ointment

This dynamic duo delivers a one-two punch to what ails you where the sun don't shine. New and different diets tend to do interesting things to the digestive tract. Internal and external problems can be "inconvenient". 'Nuff said. Also, consider above uses for Ziploc bags in your packing for a day trip on one of "those days". 

3a. Did you know they sell individual packs of prunes that make yummy snacks? Just sayin', in case the opposite condition occurs.

4. Headlamp

You might feel silly packing one of these on your trip to Paris until you find yourself trying to read in bed by the light of a horrible overhead light fixture or when you can't even find the switch for that sad light fixture. Can be used in hand as a flashlight for rural or poorly lit urban paths. Is less disturbing to a roommate if insomnia hits or your bedtimes and wake times aren't perfectly synced.

5. Adapters

Be prepared so that you may use the devices you have carefully packed. Know your country and your adapter needs for it. That's all. 
Well maybe there's a bit more. Most lodgings these days provide hairdryers,but if they don't the available outlets will probably fry yours. You have been warned. Consider sporting a natural look coif for the duration.

6. Bags 

Within bags, within bags. You don't want to be carrying lots of stuff, but you should be ready in case you need to. Collapsible shopping bag, inside day pack or shoulder bag, inside regulation backpack or large tote. One of the main uses for the bigger bag is to carry clothing layers shed as the day goes on. Smaller bags are good for the things you need minute to minute. Maps, umbrella, snacks, water.

6b. Folding, zipped tote that can be used as carry-on on the trip home. We often carry-on only outbound to make sure our stuff gets there with us and to keep from over packing, but on the way home.... check those bags and have another to serve as carry on for anything you may have acquired along the way.

6c. Same goes for purses. All the important stuff close to you, not in a big, easy to set down and be picked up by the wrong person bag. Crossbody is great. Keep it in front of you and keep a hand on it. We switch to a smaller wallet than we use at home. One that can accommodate more coins and fewer credit cards. 

7. Washcloth 

If you use one take one. Most countries will not provide them with the bathroom linens. Buy a pack at the dollar store and leave them like breadcrumbs across the continent. Or see #2. 

8. Umbrella

If you are climate control sensitive as is NDL you will appreciate being able to pop an umbrella up and down as squalls alternate with sunshine rather than be confined in a stifling rain jacket all day long. Especially if that day is of the warm and humid variety. Of course if torrential rains are expected, by all means do keep yourself dry as possible, but consider a collapsible umbrella even if you resent the space it takes up in your luggage (it may just be your insurance that you never see a drop of rain the entire time you are away from home). And go for a fun one. Polka dots, flowers, Impressionist paintings will add some color to a rainy day. If you have a desire to fit-in bear in mind that you are more likely to see locals using umbrellas (even as they are turning inside out in the driving rain) than wearing rain coats made for gale force Nor'easters. Unless you are touring on a whaling boat.

8b. Is not an option. NOTHING says TOURIST more than the plastic rain poncho from the historic site gift shop, so please, do not hold that as plan B. 

9. Layers

Sadly, a person who is trying to travel with a carry-on bag only cannot take the wide variety of outerwear options they are accustomed to having for adapting to every five degree weather or precipitation change. This is not too much of a challenge if you are visiting one zone smack in the middle of a season. However, if you are crossing climates or spanning weather transition times it gets trickier. These are times to rough it. You may need to purchase a temporary layer, or layer with what you have in a way that you usually wouldn't. Yes, you may look like you are trying to leave the country with all the clothes you possess on your person if you are wearing your sequined, floral cardigan as long underwear with a windbreaker and a rain jacket over it, but if the alternative is being chilled to the bone and miserable so what? More, thinner layers are better than toting around one bulky layer you may never use.

10. Fill in the Blank

What do you use everyday that you would have to find immediately, and probably not easily if you forgot it?

For us it is Chapstick. We pack them in every pocket. And a migraine kit.

For you it might be dental floss, your favorite chewing gum, contact lens solution, or ???

But remember, unless you are going to the wilds of Borneo it is likely you will be able to replace an essential item  you may have left behind.

Pack light! Go! Have fun! 


Charlotte said...

Great list but I never leave home without my Picnic Kit with sharp knife, spork and a corkscrew. Reason enough to check a bag!!

wynne said...

I'm not doing much traveling these days, but I love the list, in case I do. I need that tape anyway though. I never heard of it!