Some of those golden rules about travel are still gold standard today. The featured image for this story comes courtesy of my son Tom who took the photo while I was trying antigravity yoga at Four Seasons Jimbaran, a very safe and very luxurious resort in Bali.
Travel should increase your sense of daring but not heighten your sense of stupidity. When we travel we should do things outside our comfort zone but not at the risk of needing a helicopter medical evacuation.
Similar to the choices we make when we travel, we need to consider what we travel with. These days it’s the SIM cards, power banks, cables and chords to provide the life support systems for your phone which carries the apps, emails and photos of everything you need. Or does it?
Back in the day, but still for me today, I have a standard list of ten things ready to go in my favourite bag. I know they’re there if I need them and none of them need charging.
- Pen – Even if it’s just to complete the arrival card while you’re flying, it’s worth it.
- Alcohol swab – not to suck on if the bar prices are too high but for any scratch you get, particularly if you’re doing a bit of trekking. Light to carry and easy to store in a pocket or wallet, just a quick wipe and you know that you’ve cleaned your little wound. Also handy if you really need to touch a dodgy tap or door handle.
- Bags – Little zip lock bags and scrunched up shopping bags may be frowned upon these days but they have endless valuable uses when you travel. They’re a quick and easy sick bag, storage for a phone if you’re heading near water, you can store wet clothes and unexpected things you’ve bought and you can safely store those stolen buffet breakfast items.
- Aquatabs – This is as close as I get to doomsday prepping when I travel but given they are light and easy to store it’s not like I’m stocking up on cartons of tomato soup for a nuclear winter. If you get caught without a safe water supply these little tablets can save you and whoever you are travelling with. In not much more time than it takes to dissolve, they turn a dodgy water source into a lifesaver.
- Safety Pin – This will make you look more presentable if you bust a button or zip and you can use it to carefully scratch at a splinter.
- Hard copy – Yes you’ve got all your passport copies, itineraries and bookings in your phone but what happens if the phone can’t save you because it’s broken or stolen? Save yourself by having copies (in a zip lock bag of course) and put them in the bottom of your bag hopefully never to be needed but they won’t take up any weight or space. Countries like South Africa will want to see hard copies of travel documents, particularly if you’re travelling with a child.
- Tissues – Remember Elaine in Seinfeld being caught in a toilet with no paper and the lady in the next cubicle saying, “I haven’t got a square to spare.” Last year in Italy I found myself in a cubicle with no paper and lets just say it was too late to back out of that situation. Thankfully I remembered that in my little day bag I have a couple of tissues (in a zip lock bag of course) for that unexpected sneeze …. or worse.
- Spare glasses – If you need glasses you need to take a spare pair. Why travel to see the sights if you can’t see the sights?
- Cut up photos in envelopes – This isn’t a dad joke bit it is the dad traveller in me. When tech fails and there’s a flight delay or other unexpected period of boredom, a few envelopes that have got cut up photocopies of photos make great jigsaw puzzles and keep young minds occupied for precious minutes. Again, they’re light and easy to store.
- Repack – Not an item but a travel procedure. Make time in your travels to repack and refamiliarize yourself with your belongings and where they are located in your bags. Work out what you need for the next day and whether you need to keep the bundle of receipts from the days shopping. Is there anything you now realize you don’t need that you can donate to a local charity or post back home?
That’s my ten. I like to think I’m a good traveller and that I cover bases for myself and those I travel with. Remember it’s not just about what you’re prepared for but what those you’re with are prepared for.
The picture below is an example of where I possibly didn’t consider the wants of my travelling companion.