You’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Before you roll your eyes at this topic, remember that American tourists are attacked by wild bears they attempt to feed by hand every summer in our own national parks. Visitors to the geysers at Yellowstone National Park still manage to get burned by the scalding hot water despite strict signs and fences. In other words, if Americans can manage to put ourselves in danger in relatively familiar and supervised areas where our own language is spoken, we need to be extra special cautious when we’re traveling overseas in an unfamiliar country where we don’t speak the language.
There Is No Walmart at the Corner
There might not even be a 7-Eleven throughout the entire continent over which you’re traveling. Of course this article has to be written generally as you — the traveler — have practically the entire world landmass to travel across, but for the purposes of this writing, we’re assuming you’re in a remote third world country. In general, Americans are used to conveniences that might be tough to buy abroad, such as over-the-counter medicines, bottled water and maps. We are used to convenience stores that provide these items located sporadically throughout our journey. Finally, we are used to little things like a national infrastructure that takes care of the “little” details of life — like electricity, clean water, safe food, a place to go to the bathroom and even a road or two.
Authority versus Safety
Traveling under such circumstances can be exhausting, frustrating and dangerous. Most if not all of the rules your counselors or guides provide to you have one goal in mind: to keep you safe and alive. For example, unless you’re traveling on a religious mission, any rules someone gives you about clothes to wear or not to wear is to keep you physically safe.
Multi-functional Items and Improvisation
Because many things you take for granted are hard to find, keep an eye out for any one thing that can be used for two or more reasons. Your handkerchief can be put wet on your head, beneath your hat, to both cool you down and help prevent the sunburn starting on the back of your neck. Baby wipes can be used to clean your hands, and used ones pulled out of your back pocket have just enough alcohol and fabric left in them to help start a campfire under rainy or wet conditions.
The 10 Top Traveling Essentials
This list may require modification depending on your destination, the climate and the time of year. As a general rule, always try to wear your heaviest items on the flight over. People may look at you oddly, but it doesn’t count against your baggage weight and it’s easier to wear it than it is to carry it.
1. A hat.
2. Comfortable, “broken in,” trail shoes or boots.
3. Baby wipes.
4. Antiseptic gel.
5. A handkerchief or scarf.
6. A flashlight.
7. Electrical current converters and surge protector (the mini versions).
8. Protein bars.
9. Band-Aids (purchase the ones pretreated with an antibiotic so you don’t have to keep up with the tube).
10. A pocketknife.
No matter where you travel, be sure to pack only what you need. But taking few essential items can save you money, time and hassle.