- Travel Topics
Recently I wrote about the five travel lessons we’ve learned from nearly two months of travel. However, the right mindset will only get you so far – you have to have the right tools. Day after day Vicky and I rely on the same, basic items. Yes there are computers, cameras, and $200 backpacks, but what about the unsung heroes of travel? Here is our list:
Coming in at number one by a long shot are tissues. But wait, they’re not just tissues, they’re also toilet paper, and napkins, and they’ll even do your homework! OK, maybe not that, but these little lifesavers are worth their weight in gold. There’s nothing worse than feeling dirty all the time and most bathrooms in Asia do not have toilet paper. Moreover, after about two months of travel we’ve each had multiple runny noses. Tissues are king.
Continuing on the cleanliness theme, we call forth hand sanitizer as our number two travel must have. Did we mention that most bathrooms don’t have toilet paper? Well, they mostly don’t have soap either. Actually, carrying around your own bar of soap isn’t a bad idea either, but it can be a bit messier and isn’t as versatile so we always have hand sanitizer as well. We brought a few bottles with us from the US and have yet to see any sold here in Asia so make sure to stock up!
$200 backpacks are great, but they’re not something I want nor something I need to be carrying around day to day. I want to be able to walk around the city, lightly. This means having a small bag where I can store the aforementioned essentials, as well as a few other things (usually a map, some fruit, and a notebook). The day trip bag is perfect! It’s even strong enough to hold my netbook, if on a rare occasion I want to bring that somewhere. The lighter the bag the better. Sure it doesn’t have bells or whistles (or separate compartments) but then again it also weighs next to nothing.
I feel a bit bad including an electronic device on this list but it’s really handy and very different from a computer. The one we have is simply black and white and not a touch screen – we bought it for only $39 (refurbished). It’s great as a portable storage device. We can load all our guides on it as we travel so we don’t have to carry any large books. Using Microsoft Word we can PDF maps, guides, or directions from our Couchsurfers and upload it all to the Kindle so it will be with us when internet isn’t! We cannot even count the times we have shown documents uploaded to the Kindle to figure out what street we need, what bus stop to get off at etc.
Serves a similar purpose to our kindle but is simpler and good for writing quick things on the go. We keep track of all our costs and like to write quick directions/notes that people give us when we’re out and about. It’s been really nice having this around and it’s quickly filling up, but remember to always have a pen/pencil handy, otherwise it’s pretty useless.
Bottom line, we’re out in the sun all day. If you’re not protecting your eyes with a decent pair of sunglasses (UV protected) you’re not doing your body a service, and frankly, will spend much of the day walking with your head pointing towards the ground. I hated that time in between when I broke my last pair and hadn’t haggled for a new pair – it was a stressful afternoon.
In a separate article I’ll address some leisure activities that Vicky and I have to pass the time. Unfortunately, without internet, normal gaming activities like internet poker. That’s where playing cards come in handy. We love busting these out when we’re waiting for a train, or on a train, or just getting off a train and waiting for the next one…They cost next to nothing and it’s fun to learn new two-player card games. Moreover, as we’ve noticed in China, the locals love them are will literally flock around us to see what we’re playing.
Dengue, Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, the number of mosquito born illnesses in Asia are astounding. Yes, we have vaccinations, but it’s not really something I want to risk. Mosquitoes are everywhere. In fact, last night in our hostel, we had to kill about 10 or so before bed – it’s kind of a nightly ritual. So for us, Deet is a top priority. We recommend getting at least 30% Deet. The more the merrier (except in the case of mosquitoes).
Here are a few honorable mention items that we have recently grown to love and were mentioned in the comments:
Plastic Bags – These were great when we weren’t traveling, but now that we are, it is perfect to carry goods like food/snacks as well as wrap up wet clothes.
Sun Screen – similar to sunglasses in purpose, you have to protect yourself when you are out all day. We always forget this but it is so important!
Sandals – Sandals, such as Havaianas, aren’t just for walking on the beach but also for walking on dirty shower floors in hostels.
What Are Your Favorite Travel Items?