I can't travel without these 3 packing essentials
I've heard so many people pose the question "What are the three things you can't live without when you travel?" And inevitably, the answers are always almost the same: passport, smart phone, money. Sometimes clean clothing or a good guidebook makes the list. I've been thinking about my own past travels lately and I've been remembering that there was once a time, not that long ago, when you didn't need all that much money, there were no such thing as smart phones, and you didn't even need a passport for certain trips. Here are the three things that have really been with me since the beginning - they come along every trip.
1.) The blue speckled sarong. Picked up at a university sidewalk sale, I can still remember being upset because the big sign said "2 for $18", and I didn't see the small print that they were individually something like $12 or $13. As a poor student, this irked me! But I didn't take my consumer indignation out on the sarong, which has been with me through thick and thin. It proved most valuable in Malawi, where it was a sheet, blanket, shower curtain, towel, skirt, wrap - anything I needed it to be. It's also been a picnic blanket to watch Shakespeare in the Park, a scarf around my neck on endless airplanes, and a quick, easy beach cover up. It's thin, soft, and easy to wash and dry.
2.) Cocoa butter lotion. I've been obsessed with the Body Shop since I was a small child and it represented the best of the exotic offerings of the big city, with such intriguing concoctions like carrot and papaya skin products. I started getting cocoa butter products for Christmas and birthdays and it has always been my go-to skin lotion. I've also used their shower cream, solid lotion sticks, body butter, and lip balm. It has doubled as a hair conditioner for me and even - crazy! - to polish up a pair of scruffy shoes. One time it backfired - in Malawi. It was so, so, so hot that the lotion just sat on top of my skin and the heat seemed to magnify the scent. Probably didn't help that all my toiletries were cocoa butter products. It actually took me a few years to get over the intense association between the smell of cocoa butter and my early struggles adjusting to life in Africa - I'd smell the lotion and feel almost panicky! Fortunately, the passing years have reunited me with this product and have mellowed out my memories.
3.) The purple plush bunny. This little key chain bunny was an early acquisition from the Herstmonceaux International Study Centre, in East Sussex, where I spent a semester abroad as part of my undergraduate studies. This was my first really big trip and I loved my time in the English country side and all things associated with English gardens - especially lavender As you can see below, the bunny is holding a little mesh sack which at one time contained lavender scented pellets. The smell is long gone, but I've remedied this by adding a few drops of essential oils. The bunny is attached to a mini mag-light flash light (ultra helpful in Africa!), a Worthington's beer promo bottle opener which I picked up at the Study Centre's pub (where I later worked), a set of nail clippers, and a leather key chain from my alma mater of Queen's University. This little guy has been with me for every trip and made his debut when I went on my first solo trip around Europe when I was finished my semester. A stuffed animal is always worth the space in your pack, in my opinion. For more intimidating trips, like Malawi, I also brought along a larger, homemade stuffed purple bunny I picked up at a gift shop on Cape Clear Island, Ireland. Never underestimate the ability of a purple plush bunny to soothe a troubled soul!
What are the three items you can't live without? Are there any that have been with you since day one?