When preparing for a trip, it is often the case that one finds themselves pouring over all the possible day to day items that could be used and ends up justifying reasons for carrying all sorts of crap along with them. The train of thought goes something like this:
Well, I could do some scuba diving there … so why not throw in my own snorkle, googles & flippers! I mean, I have them – and they certainly don’t get used here at home! How perfect!
Surprise, surprise: if you don’t use it at home, chances are it will just be some more dead weight in your bag. (By the way – they’ll give you those free if you rent the rest of the scuba gear…) Even knowing this, however, it can be quite hard to narrow down the packing list. Sometimes this is because one’s bag can hold more than you need – and if it fits in, why not bring it along? Here’s why not: because it isn’t necessary.
Packing rule of thumb: the longer the trip, the less you should take. For my 4 months around the world I’ve got about a weeks worth of daily clothing, shoes & flip-flops, pack towel (left in Rabat, Morocco), 4 pens (left all over the place), camera + accessories, sleeping bag, sarong (multi purpose towel/blanket), a handful of guidebooks, pullover rain jacket with liner, cheap sun glasses, toiletries, and a small first aid kit. I still lay out clothing and toss half of it back, figuring out how much weight I want to carry, if I have clothes appropriate for all the various climates I may encounter. Lots of things that you may need can be purchased on your trip (foreign power adapters are always cheaper in the country of visit), and it’s key to have extra room in the bag to anticipate these possibilities.
I’ve done very well on this trip, and before this morning I had used every item but one: the first aid kit…
My travel luck has been pretty good thus far, but around 6:30 this morning a Turkish stomach bug pulled me out of bed. Those delicious street stall sandwhiches I enjoyed yesterday: not so good on the second pass over the taste buds. This ritual repeated itself a few times, with me heading back to bed hoping for the end of the maddness. Thoughts at the time: ‘Wow! I need to chew more…’ – ‘Good thing I’m not on a night train right now… can I still make the one to Sofia tonight?’ – ‘At least cleaning up is more fun than making the mess…’ – ‘My perfect record with street food survival: tarnished.’
I knew it was bad in the later instances as my stomach continued to expunge: all that bottled water I drank at 7am, back up by 8:30. Didn’t spot the Pepto, but I’d be surprised if it stayed down. By ten I was finally able to lay down and just get some rest. Waking up and holding my stomach as I lay staring at the ceiling, hoping like Godon Brown for a peaceful settlement soon. Eventually all the rest did its work and I tackled sitting up and joining the world of the living around one. My lunch order: two fantas and a dessert – something heavy to sit and absorb the maddness and some clear liquids with some sugar and calories. Need … energy.
Five hours later, the fantas are still down and I’m thinking of hunting down some food. We’ll see how that goes! Still resting up – may need a nap soon.
10 pm: night train to Bulgaria.