I have recently read quite a few posts on packing lists.
You know the sort of thing, "My ultimate packing list" or "Carry-on bag must-haves" or "Top 10 travelling essentials."
But none of these cover any kind of emergency that you might have. Even if that emergency is potentially embarrassing or messy.
We all go to the toilet
Why isn't travel toilet paper a "must have" on these lists? It is on mine!
Going to the toilet and finding there's no toilet paper when it's too late is not only messy and embarrassing, it can also be a health hazard! So why are people afraid of mentioning it?
If the word "toilet" offends you for some reason, you could just suggest people pack a travel pack of tissues! After all, lots of us have used a grubby old tissue in a pinch.
Speaking of toilets
I've literally never met anyone who's travelled through a developing country and not got diarrhea.
Delhi belly, Montezuma's revenge, travellers' tummy, TD, the Aztec two-step - call it what you like, you are bound to get it if you go even a tiny bit off the beaten track.
But where are the recommendations to pack a load of rehydration powders and a pack of Immodium? The opposite problem can occur too when you travel, particularly when you get dehydrated, but I don't recall seeing any kind of laxative on a packing list.
Some of us throw up
Most of us have experienced travel sickness at some point. So where are the travel bands?
And many, many a young backpacker has fallen victim to over-indulging in the local spirit and has made a spectacle of themselves, only to find themselves dehydrated and hungover the next day. But why does no-one mention rehydration powders, or hangover "cures"? (Probably because the latter doesn't exist, but still...)
Half of us have periods
Half of career breakers have periods. Actually, the exact figure might be a bit over half. But why does no-one include towels, tampons, moon cups or those little disposal bags on their "must have" lists?
This is the one omission that really surprises me about packing lists written by women. It's one of the first things we chuck in our bags even if we're only going to the end of our street, never mind around the world! Even most men wouldn't be surprised to find a bumper box of tampons in your bag!
Also, you know that when you're travelling, even those with the most regular of cycles can be caught out unexpectedly. Even if you're as regular as clockwork, you might get so caught up in the excitement that you're early, or late (in which case you may have an entirely different problem).
Most of us will get dirty somehow, and need to clean up
And for general clean up purposes, where are the tissues, the wipes, the hand sanitiser? It's not just a case of not being gross, or feeling gross, it's genuinely important to keep you healthy! No-one wants to spend their trip lying down or throwing up.
Why aren't supposed travel "experts" telling us we need to pack some stain remover wipes and some little plastic bags in case of emergency? We all know we're going to need them and pretending we never go to the toilet, have a period or simply fall over in the mud, is not helpful and doesn't provide the novice traveller with the right information to help prepare them.
So, here to help you is a proper packing list
Well, it's more of an appendix really - just stuff to add on to your "sanitised" packing list.
- Travel toilet paper
- Travel wipes
- Stain remover wipes
- Hand sanitiser
- Small disposable plastic bags*
- Rehydration powders (like Dioralyte)
- Immodium or similar
- Travel sickness bands
- Sanitary protection of your choice (there's a blog post on what those choices are here)
- Period pain management of your choice (paracetamol, ibuprofen, heat patches, etc)
- Contraception of your choice
*I know they're terrible for the environment but so is that mess you are going to make and I don't want to smell it when I'm sat next to you on the bus ta.