You’ve heard about the sarong… Now get ready for bandanas! (Which, apparently, you should always spell as bandana scarves so that your readers won’t think you’re talking about bananas.)
|Hemkund Sahib, India|
As cool as bandanas are, they probably won’t protect you from bug bulls, though.
Head torch is one of those things you never realise you need until you, in fact, need one. Sunrises are cool and all but what are you gonna do afterwards?
|Dinner by the head torch light on the east coast of Australia|
I like having make-up on. It’s not for girly reasons, or societal pressure, or making an impression on anybody. I just like the way I look in lipstick and mascara (and looking good in photos – nobody likes to cringe when they look at their own face). Half of my time in Australia I just went without pretty much any make-up, partly because I was often too lazy to peel it off my face but more because it melted off my face and got stuck to my eyelids in horizontal lines. My eyeliner was everywhere else except for where it should have been.
I discovered the joys of semi-permanent eyeliners some time last year and I’m not looking back. It does not come off. It is annoying as a little brat screaming in a crowded bus to get completely off and you need to use eye make up remover to do so, but dang, doesn’t it look good even after a whole day of Indian heat or just one of those days at the uni when everything’s bad, you’re falling asleep and can’t help but rub your face all the time. You all know the Face Rub of Desperation gesture. Now if only I could find lipstick that stays on the same…
|Hanging on in the cold in Iisalmi, Finland…|
|…and holding on in the heat in Rishikesh, India|
Plasters (for blisters)
You were packing your plasters for your traveller’s first aid kit and reached for the ones for blisters. They weren’t there because on your last trip you just had to have that cute pair of sandals from the street vendor and you used all of them to patch up your feet afterwards. You make a mental check to drop by in a pharmacy to get some more. On the plane you hit your head because you forgot but you convince yourself that you’ll get them as soon as you go shopping tomorrow. You see a pharmacy but you’re in a hurry and decide to just pop in later. Or maybe just a bit later. Days go by. You’re in the middle of the mountains, on a five-day hike, and when you shove your foot into your almost-brand-new hiking boot, you wail of pain. You have made a mistake.
On my second day in India, my sandals fell apart as I was walking. I had to pay ten rupees to a guy selling unrelated items for a normal plaster (that peeled off in the heat after five minutes) and emergency-buy a new pair of shoes. You can never have too many plasters for blisters on you. You might love your shoes, but the feeling is not reciprocated. Your shoes will hurt you. They will rough you up.
Don’t be That Person that ends up carrying their shoes all day.
Notebook and a pen
Ahh, isn’t it nice to finish a good list on a cliché? Everybody seems to promote having writing gear on you. I grudgingly admit that I have not taken the full advantage of having a travel diary with me at all times, even though I should’ve. It’s sometimes difficult to remember to write down your day on it, or maybe you just can’t be bothered to and after a hard day of sightseeing you just want to disguise yourself as a blanket (so that no one will feel the need to talk to you) and browse through the newest AskReddit real-life horror stories thread.
I have so many entries from my Australia trip saying, ‘Umm, I’m actually writing this two weeks afterwards and I don’t remember what I did on this day, maybe watched a film idk?’ that it’s infuriating. I didn’t even write anything down on last year’s Spain trip, even though the notebook was there with me all the time.
But as terrible as I am with my travel notes, it shouldn’t suggest that pen and paper aren’t among the most important things you can carry with you. You can write down addresses and names of great restaurants (and the food you had). You can stop by in a park on a warm day, lounge on a bench and as you’re people-watching, note down the things you’ve been up to lately. If you haven’t kept a diary since you were a pre-teen drama queen (or king, whatever), it can be like a normal diary for you to handle all those feels – good or bad – that travel gives you.
That is what I try to do, even if I sometimes fail miserably.
Whatever you do though, don’t overpack.
What are your packing essentials?