Heeeeeyyyy....so obviously I haven't written in a while. I am incredibly sorry. I ended up switching jobs while in China right after returning from my trip back to the US during the Chinese New Year about six or seven months ago. After some subterfuge and a slight bout of depression this blog just kept getting put on the back burner.
Well, now that I'm back in the good ole U.S. of A, I'm going to try and catch everyone up on what transpired post-year-of-the-dragon. I think this will be good for me as well as allow me to reflect and document everything in a more complete format. I have hundreds of pictures with hundreds of stories I can't wait to share with you...but those will have to wait until my next post.
For now I give you: Claire's Top 10 Non-Essential (but should be) Travel Items
- Playing Cards - these are more frivolous than anything, but if you are traveling there are going to be parts of your trip where you are just waiting...and that get's boring, so make sure you bring something entertaining along. Reading material can also help you pass the time, but card games give you the choice of a solitary or group activity. Make friends.
- First Aid - prescriptions aside, bringing along some common over the counter drugs can help you cover all the bases of traveling's less glamorous side effects. Pain killers (Ibuprofen), anti-diarrhea meds (Imodium), allergy meds (Benadryl), a laxative (Milk of Magnesia), bandaids, neosporin, etc. are good things to consider. Different cultures prescribe and practice medicine in different ways, so keep something with you that you know will work to avoid a medical mix-up.
- A Map or GPS - I appreciate getting caught up in culture as much as the next person, but I also like being able to find my way back to my hotel or hostel. My sense of direction has gotten keener with each trip I take, but I cannot tell you how many times Google Maps has kept me from ending up on the wrong side of the tracks or the other end of whatever city I'm in. A must for men - haha.
- Hand Sanitizer - You are most likely going to get sick when you travel, but that doesn't mean that you still can't take steps to prevent it from happening. Don't be patient zero. Plus, bathroom amenities are different everywhere in the world and sometimes those amenities do not include soap. Better sanitary than sorry.
- Small Umbrella - good for rain or shine. You can always try to check the weather before you leave for a trip, but that is not always going to be what you want it to be. And as I have learned from Asia, umbrellas aren't just for rainy days. You can beat the heat and avoid that unpleasant sunburn you weren't prepared for by just chillin' under your umbrella during the hottest part of the day.
- Empty Water Bottle - staying hydrated is important. I know this, you know this, stores in touristy locations know this and that is why they severely mark up the price of water. Plus, storing up drinkable water in questionable places is definitely a must. So save yourself some money and a potential parasitic infestation and bring a water bottle with you.
- Towel -The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy says, "A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have" and I completely agree. Interstellar hiker or not, a towel is not just a towel - it can also be a pillow, blanket, bandage strips, tinder for a fire, converted into a pack, binding or rope, shelter, etc. You can even origami them into little animals for companionship if that floats your boat.
- Backup Documents - Print copies or carry a USB with scans of your passport, itinerary, reservations, driver's license, etc. Keep a few copies in a few different places. Should you get pick-pocketed or mugged, this will really come in handy.
- Make-up Removing Wipes - Not just for make-up. I've cleaned off everything from wine to blood to mud with these things. Whether it was freshening up from a 13-hour cross-country train ride or getting gum off the bottom of my shoe, these babies come in handy. Plus, should you find yourself without TP, these will suffice. I guess you can substitute moist towelettes if you want to seem less girly.
- An Open Mind - Cheesy, I know, but still...no matter where you go or what you do, you are going to encounter things that are so incredibly different. You should never let that stop you or deter you from making each trip a learning experience in some way. If you are confused by something, ask questions. If you try something new, make mistakes. It's all part of the experience and it will definitely make for a great story someday.
And if you don't like my list, here is an article that lists 50 more lists for your pre-travel perusal: 50 Articles About Things You Don’t Dare Forget When Traveling