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Lessons Learned the Hard Way

There are many suggestions in guide books about 'what to bring' when going on a trip.

You'll always need something from home whether it's 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years.

Although I have read certain parts of the guidebook that lists these sorts of things and I did go through the list METICULOUSlY when we left Korea, there are few items that they don't tend to mention in the book that I've learned are pretty useful, you guessed it, the hard way.

Zip Lock bags - these things are indispensible, albeit not industructable but hey, they're cheap enough that you can carry about 50 of them with you!

They're great for toiletry items and allow you to catagorize so you not always confused every time you have to unpack your bag. I have all my shower stuff in one, my face stuff in another, my 'feminine products' in another, my hair products in another.

(And yes, for those of you who are rolling your eyes at the amount of products I'm carry, I'll kindly ask you to refrain as I travel with someone who rolls them at me on a daily basis)

Number one reason they're great? They keep things dry. And if you've ever moved your whole life around every couple of days in a humid climate where things tend NOT to dry, you'll understand the lifesaver that a dry-keeper-item is.

Granola bars or, as my nephew calls them, 'noalies' - hunger is not a good thing. It's even worse when it kick starts the stomach juices and then leaves you with terrible pains the next time you actually have a proper meal.

Finding food that doesn't upset your stomach here is difficult enough without having to worry that you've screwed it up yourself by going too long between meals.

Granola bars are filling, easy on the stomach and easy to carry. Our digestive lives have changed dramatically since we started carrying these around.

I'm sure nuts or some type of whole wheat crackers would do wonders as well but anything processed, sugary or sweet will not give you sustainable energy, not help your digestion and not assist you in fitting into the only clothes you have on your back.

(There are some more delicate items that perhaps guidebooks don't want to mention as then they would have to EXPLAIN why they would be needed. For the sake of future travellers, I'm throwing this WAY TO MUCH INFO out there)

Toilet paper - I read a quote from writer PJ O'Rourke said something along the lines of travelling in SE Asia requires a lot of trips to the bathroom.

That pretty much sums it up. You get to the point where numerous bowel movements in one day does not phase you, unless they are occuring at a food posioning rate of once every 10 minutes for 8 hours (been there, done that, thank you).

In these countries, you will find some place have the paper but even in Korea I karted it around as well because you just..never..know.

If you're at a loss, you will find a small hose, similar to a garden hose, attached the wall. Water will come out and you can 'clean' yourself that way but frankly, even when in the bathroom, I'm STILL not sure how they do it without getting their pants all wet.

Carry the paper. Just do it.

Rash ointment - I'm not talking about the hayfever, allergic kind. I'm talking about the diaper kind. Yes, I know, perhaps revealing a bit more information then you'd need but let me spell it out a little bit more.

In most cities, you walk around A LOT. You want to see everything so of course this makes sense. In hot climates, the cities are usually the hotest. Doing the math of:

Walking many distances + hot hot weather = SWEAT.

If you multiply the SWEAT by the distance between your thighs this will = very uncomfortable.

Hence, the ointment. Walk around Bangkok in 35 degrees celcius and you'll know what I mean.

There's more to be learnt I'm sure. And perhaps these were lessons best learnt on your own.

But hey, anything I can do to help prevent other people's sort guts, wet pants or chaffed legs, I'm happy to do it.


liz said…
you are always full of useful information!

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