You might expect that being a travel writer, I’d be an efficient packing’s aficionado and in a bag no bigger than a lunchbox, able to cram enough gear for a trek to Mt. Everest. You might suppose that there’d be ‘just the essentials’ such as a spare pair of socks, a camera and a handful of breath mints to stave off simple chronic halitosis and Donner party hunger.
In fact I’ve become what you might call a ‘disaster packer’, over the years. To slap a Band-Aid on any problem, however improbable that I might encounter on the road, my suitcase overflows with obscure items.
These are few examples.
A nose hair trimmer
Ever since my suitcase began spontaneously buzzing at a most inconvenient moment, there I’ve said that I’m beyond embarrassment. Among confessing that it was a personal grooming device or letting my sniggering companions assume it was a very personal ‘massager’, I wasn’t sure which was worse though I opted for the latter.
Various ointments for bug bites, rashes, and wounds
When I was bitten by a koala in an Australian zoo, I wish I could claim the Neosporin came in handy. To a friend of mine, this actually happened. My own injuries have been far more mundane, sad to say.
When rifling through my toiletry kit, once I nearly sliced off my fingertip with a razor. At a blood-splattered marble bathroom that looked like a crime scene, a hotel employee glancing nonchalantly observed with typical British stoicism that was worse thing happened.
Then there was a time in Tenerife, when I gashed my knee opens simply stepping off a curb. Clearly, I should never be without the most basic medical supplies and am a danger to myself.
Shampoo, conditioner, and soap
I’ve brought the salon and soap with me after staying in one hotel that offered a tiny, single sachet of ‘body & hair shampoo’ that wasn’t sufficient even to bathe a hamster.
Silicone ear plugs
You need more of these in airplanes especially.
At the most inconvenient moments, my allergies can kick up and to plug the nasal faucet, there’s nothing better than non-drowsy Sudafed for me.
I rocked up to a pharmacy feeling like death on a cracker in Ibiza last October and tried to describe what I wanted in my non-existent Spanish. It didn’t seem a proper approach to ask them whether they ever watch ‘Breaking Bad’ or they know the stuff put in methamphetamine. Come to think of it; as it probably would’ve been in the party capital of the world if that was going to work anywhere.