5 most useful/useless items for Asia in our bags
Finding the balance of bringing enough things, while not carrying the whole house with you is an important part of the ritual of preparing for a long trip. Skip it and you end up either with a bag full of things you never use, or with a one that provides little of what you need. The latter is preferable, because you can buy what you need at your destination and if that destination is Asia, like us, you can get it much cheaper than back home.
If the idea of setting off with half-empty bag scares you, here is what our experience has been. Maybe you will find it…well, useful.
This list was not as easy as you might think, because it turns out we packed rather well. Still, after some family discussions we ended up with:
1. Little black dress – yes, I have one, who knows why. I found it the other day while reaching into the depths of my backpack I have not been in for months, aka. winter jacket area. Maybe once we get back to my land and I meet up with friends it might come in handy, but at the moment the thought of its existence in my bag only makes me laugh. (update: 485 days in and I still have not put on the dress even once)
2. Hand sanitizer – sounded like a grand idea – small, light and a quick way to protect one self of the dangers of unsanitary places that lurk e-ve-ry-where. Yet, the cute little bottle stayed patiently in a pocket somewhere for awhile and got used once in the train after we found it and now its gone again. Yet, we still live. Go figure.
3. Selection of shoes – this has to be number one, because they weigh a lot, they take up space and even though I have a lovely variety of soft meshy and light shoes, Cons and another one or two pairs (I know, an idiot), my Birkenstocks have not moved off my feet and now I sport a lovely tan line because of it.
4. Microfiber towel – this one was contributed by Mr.Blab on one of his impulse buying adventures. Those towels are horrible. Yes, they soak up the moisture, but they also soak up the life out of you and stick like frog feet to everything, including skin that does not like to be stucked on. One is used like a cuddle sleep buddy by Little B (covered with pashmina) and the other is protecting our iPad. In fact its better as a screen cleaner for the latter than as a towel. Avoid!
5. Stainless steel bottles – at home we love them, but so far those have been gathering sock dust on our trip. Tap water is not drinkable in most places, so buying plastic bottles than emptying them in the metal ones just doesnt fit our lazy lifestyle, nor does it make any sense.
1. Laptop – with wi-fi available widely, this gadget is indispensable for our research, bookings and communications. Internet clubs are available as well, but I prefer to use the free connection offered in most accommodations as well as the comfort of my own room, rather than the fluorescent delight in theirs. Will not travel without one, unless…I want to.
2. Mosquito repellent – before we left, I searched high and low for an effective mosquito deterrent that would not mean having to cover ourselves with poisons, read Deet. Turns out that lemon eucalyptus is the one proven by research and facts, not only by the wishful thinking of nature loving groups of people. Turns out it works! Smells like a whole eucalyptus forest had fallen into a lemon lake and stewed a bit under the sun before it was put in the bottle, but who cares. Mozzies hate it, so we love it.
3. A few thin tops and pashminas/sarongs – in Asia is hot and sweaty and having enough tops to change them every day, without having to wash every other day, is essential to feeling fresh. Pashminas or sarongs are one of those multipurpose items that just come in handy everywhere – used as blankets, towels, shade-makers, bunched up for a pillow, mosquito cover, temple modesty cover, as well as the usual skirts and beach attire. Mine is falling apart, but I will remedy that as soon as possible.
4. Comfortable backpack with zip off day pack – we spent a lot of time choosing our backpacks and then forked out a big load of cash for them. It has been money well spent. As well as my bag, I carry a two year old, so having a good fit that makes that easier has made my life so much better. Side opening, like a suitcase, its easy to get to things without having to mess up the order, and the zip off day-pack is with us everyday, carrying water, lenses and whatever we want to throw in it.
5. Scissors – it is one of the first things that comes out of the bags as we arrive places. Not even sure what we are using them for, but “where are the scissors?” is a question that chimes around here constantly – cutting up drawings, making paper dolls, opening up bags, cutting up hair are only the few things I can think of. Based on that I can recommend having at least one good pair in the bag.
*Item I want: long and strong string to make clothes line as needed.
I have found it quite hard to find drying space for my hand-washed laundry and have been dreaming about a solution for awhile. I know there are special gadget that achieve this, but a simple versatile string will do me quite nicely, plus I can use it for other things. (update: I bought a super cheap string that has indeed come in handy many times as a drying line)
Check the lists prepared by other traveling families: