I'm anticipating being reunited with friends from JOYN in Northern India this weekend. I've had many people ask how I pack for such trips so I hope this post provides some helpful tips.
There are many factors to consider when gathering everything you need:
-What culture are you are traveling to? What is appropriate with clothing styles, behaviors, tipping, etc. It may be okay for you to wear a tank top and shorts in a village in Thailand, but it would be unsuitable in a village in India.
-What season is it: Monsoon, Winter, Summer? You may need an umbrella, rain boots, closed toed shoes, winter coats, etc. And remember some places may be hot in the day but cooler at night. It's always a good idea to check the weather reports and bring layers.
-What is the landscape like? Will you need flip flops or hiking boots?
-What kind of bugs will be visiting you? Mosquitos, Spiders, Ticks, OH MY! I was in Thailand for 2 months and had a "bug hut" I slept in. While this may not be cool to some hard core travelers, it was worth the packing space to bring it as it helped me sleep through the nights with no worries or buzzing noises. It packs up quickly and can be used on bunk beds.
-What is the purpose of your trip? Work, Pleasure, Humanitarian? Be sure to pack all the tools you will need to help you do your job or that will aid in your relaxation. This includes things like reading materials, music, research, computer, camera, samples, gifts for hosts, etc.
-What is the financial state of the country you are traveling to? A flashy, expensive suit case that may be celebrated in Paris could make you a target in Bujumbura. I try to be inconspicuous no matter where I travel. Simplicity is always best I think. And always when checking on bags, be sure not to pack valuables in the outer compartments of the bag. It's best to carry these on the flight with you or if that is not possible, pack them in the center, deep in your suit case. I also tend to bring one very simple set of jewelry with me; a simple gold ring (that I wear as a wedding band when traveling alone), a simple bronze bracelet, and 1-2 simple bronze necklaces.
-What kind of medical supplies should you come prepared with? If I am going to be in villages where medical supplies are not easily accessible I bring ibuprofen, anti-diahrhia, gas relief, pepto-bismol, sinus, constipation relief, antacids, alcohol prep pads, hand sanitizer, band-aids, mosquito spray, sunscreen, and a press on thermometer. If I am going to be in a developed city I bring sinus, Ibuprofen, alcohol prep pads, hand sanitizer, band-aids, and sunscreen. And of course you always want to check what vaccines you will need to get before your trip. I also take "Wellness Formula" supplements every day when I travel and "Master Tonic" that can be made at home.
-What kind of snacks should you bring? Do you have any food allergies? Do some research before you go about the local cuisine. India is no problem for me to be vegetarian, but my new gluten intolerance will be a new challenge. How does a living breathing human possibly avoid butter garlic naan?! I always bring a box of all natural KIND bars with me, and some dried fruit and fruit leather (since you want to avoid fruits with no peel in developing areas). This time I'm also bringing gluten free oatmeal packets for the mornings (since all it needs is boiled water) and coffee (as most in the village I go to only drink Chai). If you bring ground coffee, cone filters, and this collapsible travel cone filter from REI, then all you need is boiled water. This is perfect for the train, hotel, etc. A savvy travel tip taught to me by Esther Havens.
Okay, now that we have determined a few things, here is what I am packing for a 2 week trip to India post rainy season. It will be very hot. This is what I pack if I am traveling for 2 weeks to months at a time. I have found this is all I need. I hand wash socks and underwear every week and send clothes out for cleaning when available. Bringing along scarves helps outfits feel fresh for long trips and they are light to pack.
Must-Haves when I travel include:
-Dr Bronner's Soap (I like Peppermint). For month long trips I take an 8oz bottle. For a few weeks I take the 2oz travel size. I use this on my face (you may need moisturizer after), hair (you may need conditioner too), body wash, laundry soap, and I've used it to clean sinks, toilets, and showers before with sparkling results. It's a multi-purpose wonder and a great company that is making big positive changes in the organic and hemp industries.
-Mesh Bag It packs flat and as my clothes get dirty I keep them separate here. When the bag fills up it's laundry time!
-MiiR Water Bottle This keeps my water cold and my coffee hot. I use it every day and save on having to buy single throw away bottles. I take this on the airplane with me and have the flight attendant fill it with water so I don't have to keep asking for it.
-A Tennis Ball and Yoga Mat this is because my neck and back get stiff when I travel. I lay on the floor or against a wall and use the tennis ball to massage my muscles. Keeping some sort of daily rhythm with just 10-15 min of yoga or meditation every morning and/or night, helps to keep my head in a good space.
-Grandma's Secret Wrinkle Spray I use this for travel and for styling when I can't get to an iron. It has a light, fresh scent and works to smooth wrinkles in medium to light weight fabrics and jersey.
-Add-A-Lock an extra lock that fits on most doors, especially those sketchy hotel rooms in the middle of no where.
-All-In-One Plug Adapter and Belkin Surge Protector Power is unstable in many parts of the world and this can do damage to your computer and other gadgets. After you have plugged the adapter into the wall, plug the Surge protector into it. You may have to prop up the structure so that it doesn't get weighed down and fall out of the socket.
-I always leave a little left over room in my suit case (or pack an extra carry on bag) when I travel so I can bring goodies back for family, friends, and me!
My carry on bag includes:
-1 Pair of Wool Socks (international flights get so cold on the floor!) and a pair of undies (incase there are any issues with checked bags)
-Toiletries, Make-Up, and Lotion (keep your skin hydrated. The recirculated air and bathroom soap are no help!) Make sure to check TSA requirements for liquids. There may also be different restrictions according to where you are traveling internationally if you have layovers in other countries.
-A Sweater and/or Scarf
-Water Bottle, Snacks, and Chocolate
-All Travel Documents and Iteneraries
-Sunglasses, Phone, and Any Valuables
-A Book or Two, Pens, Pencils, etc. and Ear Buds
-Work Projects and/or Watercolor Painting Set
-Sinus Medicine (if you have trouble with your ears pressurizing, take one an hour before landing.)
Phew! I think that is everything! Bon Voyage and please let me know if you have any questions or your own travel tips you would like to share!