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Pssst. Top Secret Traveling Tips. Tote Style'n.

THAILAND | Monday, 30 March 2009 | Views [821] | Comments [3]

Friends, family and readers of all ages, please be advised. The following information is strictly based on my personal preferences in SE Asia and may not apply for those of you traveling on a more flexible budget. Every morning I made sure to include most, if not all, of the following items in my handy-dandy messenger bag.

Wreck This Journal: Also known as my travel bible. Weeks before I began my SE Asian adventure, my two dear friends, Abby and Aubrey, planned a surprise birthday party for me...which I failed to attend. I stumbled home from the bars later that evening, or should I say early morning...and found a collection of gifts snuggled up with my down comforter. I was a bit confused at that point (not knowing that the party had been held just hours before) but was so excited to dig through the box of goodies! All of the gifts were fantastic, but the last gift I unwrapped was a like gold. A 200 page, medium-sized, paperback book that was titled, "Wreck this Journal." Every other page housed a creative activity in which I was encouraged to act on.

"Climb up high. Drop this journal."

"Tear this page out. Put it in your pocket. Put it through the wash. Stick it back in."

and my favorite: "Hang this journal in a public place. Invite people to draw here."

I will admit that I haven't followed a majority of the directions, but the actions have drawn a lot of attention from fellow travelers. The journal has survived four weeks of vigorous activity and will have to endure another three and a half weeks before it retires. WTJ (Wreck This Journal) currently hosts scribbles of travel recommendations, phone numbers, translations, exotic fruit names, facebook friends, emails, yoga studios, meeting places, meeting times, bus numbers, airline confirmation numbers, conversion rates, random acts of kindness, thoughts, daily activities, costs of food and a detailed daily account of my adventures. I may be able to remember every detail of my travels today, but come next year, those important moments of my travels will fade and be lost in time. This is the first time in my life that I've had the discipline to record my daily routine/thoughts. Thank you Abbs and Aubs!

Tooth Brush + Mouthwash: A mintaful burst of fresh air and gentle scrubbing. A spa treatment for your mouth. While traveling in borderline third-world countries, I've encountered days full of sweat, dirt, diesel exhaust, sewage, roadkill...pretty much anything foul you could imagine. I may not have been able to shield my body from the filth, but my mouth was entitled to VIP treatment.

As far as mouthwash in concerned, don't settle for the cheap stuff. Spend the extra ten cents on Listerine's Cool Mint. The stronger the sting, the fresher your mouth will feel in the 90+ degree humidity. I also recommend splashing your toothbrush with the Listerine and brushing away any unwanted residue leftover from the questionable street food. It's an easy task to enjoy the simple pleasures of a clean mouth in a dirty environment. Feel like your teeth need a brushing?

SIGG: Another gift I received on my birthday, via FedEx on my front porch from Kelley in SD. A cleanly designed water vessel made of stainless steel that is conveniently topped with a looped cap, which can be affixed onto any bag with a carabinier. This is the one item that I am kicking myself for not bringing with me. Not only would it have kept my water cool, but it would have saved me quite a few dollars. My alternative to the SIGG; a reusable 1.5 liter plastic bottle, courtesy of 7/11 (for 12 baht) with a 2-day lifespan.

Thanks to Hannah and Molly, I discovered filtered water dispensers throughout Thailand. Instead of hitting up the 7/11's on an hourly basis and handing over my precious "baby baht," I could locate one of the off-white contraptions, insert a single baht, press go, and watch the filtered goodness make its way into my bottle. Consuming 8 liters of water a day could break the bank. Who would have thought hydrating would be an expensive hobby...?

Medicine Cabinet, Miniaturized: No, this isn't another episode of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," it's simply a sampling of a first aid kit held together in a small ziplock bag. 2 Advil, 2 Imodium, 2 cough drops, all natural throat spray (with echinacea) from Whole Foods, 2 bandaids, lip balm, sample sun screen packets and a cleansing wipe (donated to me by one of my guesthomes). This may sound extravagant, but it's necessary, especially when more than 50% of the food I'm consuming is questionable. Fortunately, very few of those items have been removed permanently from my ziplock, but I know if a problem arises, I'll be prepared.

The Scarf: This is it's 2nd debut in my blog. It must be important. From my last entry, this square piece of green and black checkered cloth has also served as a beach towel, bath towel, a modified version of a bag to carry snorkel gear, sunshield, hippy headband, bed sheet, skirt, table cloth and a sweatband. Who wants one?!

Pens. Pens. Pens: I strongly encourage attending tradeshows or expos before traveling to a third-world country. Stock up on ink-filled plastic cylinders. These simple objects are treasures for the children. As mentioned in my previous journal entry, the kids totally eat these up. I usually carry pens with me for my own selfish reasons, but I've quickly learned to bring a few extras as gifts.

TP: Bathrooms don't exist in Thailand. There are no baths to be found. Key word: Toilet, and you're lucky if you actually find one of those. In most cases, the "toilet" is an elevated bowl. No flushing, no pluming and certainly, no toilet paper. For a comfortable exit from the non-westernized toilets, I recommend stashing some tissues in ziplock baggie. There's no need to spend extra baht on a roll of TP since most restaurants will provide TP centerpieces on their tables. It's become second-nature for me to grab a couple squares from the tables before entering the disposal chamber.

Liquid Soap (travel size):
A little drop goes a long way. Not only is TP a rare find...you're lucky if they even have soap or a functioning faucet. Hand sanitizer is a great alternative, but I still believe in the real deal. Leave it to the soap and a splash of your bottled drinking water to chase away the evil bacteria. Your immune system will be thanking you later.

Sun Screen by Day, Bug Spray by Night:
The sun is intense in SE Asia and I constantly found myself reapplying the SPF 30 on an hourly basis to avoid the cancerous burns. It worked wonders. One application of SPF won't outlast your sweat, frolicking in the waves or cannon balls in the middle of a corral reef. Save your skin.

Once the sun begins its descent, it's feeding time for the mesquitos. By carrying the bug spray in your travel pack at all times, you avoid the unnecessary trip back to your room, and can also avoid being eaten alive (and possibly contracting malaria).

Fully-Charged Cell Phone: Obviously, the cell phone is the first thing we all make sure we have in the working world. It's our lifeline, our connection to everything. Why would this be necessary when traveling?

Besides communicating with fellow travelers, scheduling meeting times, reconvening with friends in chaotic situations, the cell phone has doubled as my alarm clock, my watch and my currency converter (thanks to the calculator function).

Other notable items:
coin purse, ziplocks (for leftover food or leaky fruit), plastic spoon, snacks, deck of playing cards (could be useful for late night drinking games), i pod + mini speakers (only if there's room in your bag...you never know when you'll need some tunes as a soundtrack)

Please feel free to add other items to this list and let me know if anything listed above has helped you in your travels!




Hi Rachelle,
I'm loving your blog and especially these tips. Everyone's got a 'packing list', but it's these kind of bits and bobs that make your travel experience creative and adventurous.
I've just made this post a featured story on the Adventures homepage, here.
And made you a Top 5 writer here (check the sidebar).
Happy travels,
Christy, WorldNomads.com's Community Manager

  crustyadventures Mar 30, 2009 9:35 AM


what about the guardian angel? Has she helped you yet?

  Larisa Mar 31, 2009 4:04 PM


Beautiful! I love that you're LOVING the journal! :) Your postings are incredible! I'm so proud of you!!!

  Abby Apr 7, 2009 1:42 AM

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