"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Song of the Open Road,"
Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892) U.S. poet.
First Aid Kit Check list :
__ Homeopathic remedies for malaria, diarrhea, headache, injuries, colds and flu, etc. Extremely lightweight and effective. (see list above)
__ Tiger balm for insect bites, sprains, etc. Tea tree oil for warding off head lice or under the nose for disguising bad smells .
__ Natural insect repellent and sun screen, lip balm for dry areas. Goldenseal herb or homeopathic cream for minor abrasions.
__ A vial containing 2-3
tablespoons of really strong cayenne pepper (or cayenne extract) to add to warm water and
drink immediately if someone is suspected to be having a heart
attack or stroke. This has saved many lives. It also
stops bleeding by covering the wound with a generous amount of
MMS is effective with Malaria,
take as directed. Take the drops immediately if you suspect
malaria. Take out of the dropper bottles the MMS is sold
in and put in spill proof 2 oz. glass dropper bottles,
wrapped in bubble wrap. Test that it is leak proof - the
__ Sick and not improving?
Combine 1/2 to one bottle of Dr Schulz Echinacea Plus with 1/2 to
one bottle of Super Tonic (amount depends on how sick you are) added
to 1 liter of water. Sip over 24 hours. A real boost to
your immune system.
By now you have figured out that we don't believe in running to the doctor for every little thing, especially since it is estimated that 50% of all diagnosis or medications given are incorrect. Try to listen to your body, self diagnose, and use alternative remedies before resorting to chemicals. Give your body what it needs to heal itself. In the long run you build a stronger body.
__ Doxycyclin can also be taken with Artemesinade (above) if stricken with Malaria in a remote area. Always go to the doctor for a confirmation blood test - he/she knows what works for the strain in his area. Remember to list where you have been in past weeks as you may have contracted it earlier in your travels. The artemesia derived drugs have no side effects, are effective and in demand worldwide. MMS is effective also.
__ Cipro or other strong full spectrum antibiotic to take only in emergency situations.
__ Specific antibiotics for ear or tooth infection - or bladder, if that is a recurring problem. MMS works great for toothaches until you can get to a dentist you trust.
__ Sterile antibiotic eye drops for an eye infection.
__ Necessary prescription medications with either a legible replacement prescription or the generic name (not brand) marked clearly.
__ Pain pills in case of injury. Use only if necessary.
__ Most travelers will experience diarrhea at some point, usually brought on by bad water, something you ate or over indulgence of food or alcohol. If you get the runs choke down 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract in water as a first move. Followed by a couple of charcoal tablets then, every 2 hours or after a bowel movement, for a day. Unless it is more serious this combination often works. Add a couple rounds of homeopathic remedy. MMS does the trick on this one also. Dysentery: one drop every hour until gone. Drink plenty of water.
If the above methods don't work
or you are really sick you may have food poisoning, giardia or
__ Loperamide or similar diarrhea blocker if you have to take a long bus ride. Continue treating properly at the same time or symptoms will return.
__ Sterile hypodermic needle - if needed in an emergency outlying area. Most hospitals have disposable sterile equipment now, but we have seen rubber gloves hanging out to be used again.
__ A couple of pure antihistamine
tablets (such as "Benydryl") for severe reactions to bug bites or
other allergies. Cream for rashes or bites.
__ A dozen bandages and a few wound dressings/ butterfly closures. Elastic bandage if you get a sprain while hiking.
Clothes, ponchos, rain jackets,
camping gear. Mack brand foam
earplugs - blue - (#CX8H6) available at
Discount Clothes, jackets, shoes www.sierratradingpost.com
Clothes, shoes, Nalgene travel bottles www.rei.com
Check out our page entitled 'Thoughts on Health' (click here) first to understand what our research has taught us. If you are healthy and fit you will enjoy your trip to the fullest, instead of skipping all the good stuff because you can't make it up the hill or......??
PREVENTION is the key. When traveling you can't always avoid contact with various germs, bugs, etc. If you maintain a strong immune system your body will heal itself or at least you will end up with a lighter case of the ailment.
Put everything in spill proof Nalgene bottles or tightly sealed glass dropper bottles wrapped in bubble wrap and sealed in Ziplocs to avoid spilling in your bag.
Herbal Prevention Kit:
Available at Vitamin Life are:
__ Artemesia/wormwood herb extract - preventive for Malaria. Take 6-10 drops daily when in the zone. (www.vitaminlife.com). Malaria is the world's # 1 killer. If traveling in malaria zones it is important to avoid contact with mosquitoes by covering up at dusk. There are good natural insect repellents that work in addition. Choose rooms with screens on the windows and fans if possible and a net to sleep under is mandatory. We eat 3-4 cloves of chopped, fresh garlic on our salad daily, take 6 drops of wormwood/artemesia daily with our 'green drink', and once a week take "Malaria Off" homeopathic remedy (Monday) and on Thursday take an Ayurvedic remedy (Sudarshan Ghanvati). We also take 3 drops morning and evening of MMS. We are in malaria zones for years and want to keep strong. Besides these herbs and the garlic help build a stronger immune system and rid the body of parasites.
__Some type of vegan all purpose Organic green powder to boost your immune system daily. Multi vitamins pills or capsules end up out the other end. Your body recognizes green powder w/ spirulina as whole food and digests it immediately. Put a spoonful in the bottom of a small pill bottle with water, shake and drink. Try Dr Schulz "Superfood"www.herbdoc.com or www.ariseandshine.com for a more concentrated, excellent version. "All One" greens only and "Probiotic Berrygreen" available at Vitamin Life.
__ Carry Intestinal Formula #1 (from www.herbdoc.com) for herbal answer to constipation on the road due to changes in diet, etc.
__ Emergen-C packets 'lite' formula only. Adds vitamins, minerals, electrolytes to boost your body. Women use some cranberry flavor weekly to ward off bladder infections. Use 1/2 or 1 packet daily, 2 hours between this and MMS.
__ Acidophilus : Use vegan capsules enclosed in bubble packs and good without refrigeration. (Jarrow brand)
__ Organic, strong cayenne powder: add a dash to the green powder drink for better assimilation.
__Organic Grapefruit seed extract: excellent for discouraging bacteria in your water bottle and your digestive tract. Add a couple of drops to your morning green drink daily. If you get the runs choke down 10 drops in water as a first move.
__ Followed by a couple of charcoal tablets then, every 2 hours or after a bowel movement, for a day. Unless it is more serious this combination often works. Also good anti- fungal. See MMS for other options, possibly more effective.
___ Specific immune system builders such as extracts of Echinacea, astragalus, colloidal silver, etc. Never take tablets. Powder or drops absorb more readily. (I actually carry a small colloidal silver maker (3x5 inches) as health food stores are non-existent overseas or only sell cheap imitations - never organic). We try to get everything we need from our food or what is available in the local markets. Whole fresh foods are always the best source for nutrients to the body. Always have fresh garlic with your raw salad daily (minimum 3 cloves for malaria and parasites), fresh ginger with your fruit for the immune & digestive systems, and sea salt. Buying from poor venders means good business for them and no pesticides.
__ Organic aloe vera gel:
"Lily of the Desert" brand; best used daily for moisturizing to
avoid wrinkles from the sun or
This is not the time to act
self righteous. You life is at stake! Rules and laws are
to be questioned. I know for a fact that everyone reading this
is a law breaker! In Rwanda plastic bags are illegal.
You are guilty no doubt, in possession of plastic!! On
a more serious side vaccinations should be a personal choice.
We carry homeopathic remedies for all tropical diseases such as
typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, etc. Our well known
friend in Dar es Salaam states 100% cure rate for typhoid for
Homeoprophylaxis for Overseas Travelers
- then back arrow).
___ A sturdy 18" bag with
wheels or front zip backpack
First Aid Kit:
Believe it or not - this all fits in a small day pack and an 18" suitcase! Simplify your life and Fly!!
Disclaimer: These ideas represent our accumulated experience of non-stop travel for over 7 years and lifetimes of travel to over 100 countries. We will not be held responsible for any of the information contained herein. Check with your doctor, lawyer, luggage salesman or Aunt Thelma before taking these recommendations. This is a free website - you get what you pay for!
Travel lightly over the earth, looking for the good in everyone. Think of your impact on the people you meet and your impact on our planet's fragile environment. Be a conscious traveler. Respect cultural traditions. Your visit to a country or village may be short but you will leave an impression that will last a lifetime. Make it a good one. At the request of several fellow travelers, especially a few dreaming of an extended trip in the near future, we are finally putting together a few ideas to help you plan your next adventure.
journey of a thousand miles must begin
(Laozi (570? BC - 490? BC) Chinese philosopher)
Be an ambassador in the true sense, from the heart. An excerpt from our time in the Philippines, in remote Kalinga villages of former headhunters (last case 12 years ago):
"Everyone hinted for matches to light the heavy cigar stumps they were chewing on. Villagers were excited when we instead promised to send pictures of themselves and their family via the weekly mail delivery. That makes 5 photo promises to mail off at this time. Knowing that they have never owned a photo, we are more than happy to send them a thrilling memento.
approaching a remote village or back street neighborhood, smile and ask directions. Take it slow.
Buy some fruit from a local stand and stop to eat it. Curious
people will come to you.
Sit, visit, relax, show photos of family and your home, dazzle them
how far away you live on your little world map, take a few
pictures and show your new friends their digital image. They
are often amazed and delighted. Blow up a balloon for
the kids and play a circle game. Join in with them doing
chores, like pounding rice. Do a little song and dance for
them then encourage them to sing you a song or show you some new
traditional dance steps. A smile and a joke go a long
way. Lighten up as you become the focus of their often nervous
giggles or comments. Let's face it we are weird and different in
their eyes. They are as curious about us as we are about
them, but often intimidated by our presence. It is our job as
a good traveler to be the first to smile and say a cheerful,
"Hello!" in their native tongue. Maybe shake their hand or
give them a high 5 or teach them a complicated series of different
handshakes and slaps. Joseph has a great Hawaiian-style combination that brings a smile every time. This breaks the ice and is
ALWAYS returned with a smile and greeting. We feel we are
there on their turf, to be a source of entertainment. They
are observing us as we are observing them. Always be genuine,
kind and mindful. Like children, villagers can spot insincerity right away. Have fun and watch as they open up like a flower
unfolding. Match the warmth of their hearts."
"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Be careful what gifts, if any you give. NEVER give money, cigarettes (kill and sets a bad example), liquor (domestic fights and violence are on the increase), candy (for already rotting teeth). Allow people to be gracious hosts, don't buy your way in. If you shower gifts, then the next poor travelers that show up are expected to do the same and so on. You are ruining it for the future. We will sometimes bring food items to a village or share fruit. We once opened a pomegranate with a dozen road workers in remote China and shared a taste with each one as they beamed, savoring the rare delicacy seed by seed. Or share slices of an opened orange or a handful of peanuts in the shell. All great as you all sit around cracking, eating and spitting together. Check out what handmade treats or snacks are in the markets and bring a bag of them. We always are carrying balloons and stickers for the kids. But again don't just pass stuff around to big groups, instead play a game with a group of kids and give stickers to individuals on buses or to small families when walking through villages. A shiny sticker with a banana or orange to a street kid surely brings a smile. Maybe buy a small bag of rice for a street family who you see everyday outside your hotel. Food is always best. Invite a helpful street urchin to lunch. Giving money promotes begging. There are signs in many countries imploring you to NOT encourage begging. Instead research carefully and donate towards education or an organization helping the poor in that country (who you know delivers the money directly to the people who need it; not ending up for administration or in someone's pocket as is the norm). We all must come to terms with our place in the scheme of things on this planet. Why so many unfortunate, hurting people? Possibly last time we visited this world the tables were turned and someone was giving us some rice. Who knows? Help those around you. Do what you can but think of the consequences before you do. One thing for sure, you will be changed forever; for the better.
"A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it."
John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)
Social situations can get tricky at times, but remember they know you are a foreigner and "not the sharpest tool in the shed" when it comes to local customs. Locals are often far more patient with us than we logical, self righteous foreigners are with them. Some people are just genuinely warm and welcoming, others want some money at the end of it all. Staying at people's houses it is good to always bring a gift of food or figure out a fair fee for accommodation up front. Sometimes locals will take over your life, wanting your attention all the time. This can become tiring after a day or two. Unless in a remote village in the forest without accommodation, we prefer to stay in the small guesthouse near by and hike to surrounding villages, retreating to our 'own space' when needed. A good activity is cooking together. Everyone likes to eat and preparing a delicious vegetable dish ranks highly on the 'culturally acceptable' list. Just dropping in a hut along the trail? Socially you can always thank your host for their offer of stir fried mountain rat, and say, "Thank you, we just ate, but we would love a cup of tea or boiled water or a piece of fruit if you have it". Pantomiming or pointing to items in the kitchen is the way to communicate if necessary. Once we went for over a month in China without meeting anyone who spoke English. We communicated just fine. It is the time spent together that is important. Done in a genuine way, no one is ever offended. We have both had our share over the years of sampling snake, yak stew, giant eel, even bugs or other local specialties. Being courteous, neither of us really cares anymore what people think of us and don't bow to social pressure. We always have a great time around the dinner table - even if it is just enjoying a small bowl of coveted rice from the family pot.
Now our health is of utmost importance. For this same reason we ask people to please stop smoking around us. Once again, if done correctly, there are never any hard feelings, and the women always give their thanks for a break in the deadly 2nd hand smoke. Smokers have the right to smoke - just do it somewhere else. Click here to see the May, 2006 webpage on China for our funny tales of "The Extinguisher", a necessary chore during extended travel.
Leave your problems and fears of the unknown at home, otherwise you are always living in dread of what might happen. Fighting paper tigers! Enjoy what's happening right NOW! Remember that after over 7 years of continuous travel we feel that everywhere you go there are 95% good people and 5% 'having problems'. Each person finds what they look for as they travel, and the odds are stacked for a great time.
"The longest part of the journey is said to be the passing of the gate."
Marcus Terentius Varro (116 - 27 BC) Roman scholar.
Always bargain. Start low and soon you will figure out what the going rate is. Better rates are given for 2- 4 days or a week or longer. Travel off season to resort areas and enjoy lower prices with that feeling of having the beach to yourself. Often it only rains for maybe an hour in the afternoon and the rest of the time it is sunny as usual. Plenty of time to catch some rays.
Joseph looks for quiet, clean rooms, with windows and screens or mosquito net if necessary; with a bathroom. Check down an alley or along a quiet park or river, not next to the local disco or music shop. Ask if there are any discos nearby or you may have a rude awakening about 9pm when the cement walls of your peaceful little room start vibrating with excruciating ear shattering tinny noise. If you asked you have grounds to move. Walking up to the upper floors often allows for a newer room and less street noise. Avoid the top floor only if it is really hot, otherwise it is usually the best in the place, plus good exercise. A piece of mosquito net (2.5 x2.5 ft) with a couple of clips works for fresh air in emergency situations- a substitute for carrying a full net. Joseph makes proper netting a priority in our hotels, a necessity for a good night's sleep in malarial zones.
We prefer fan rooms, as it is easier to acclimate to the heat without coming out of an icebox air conditioned room and never getting used to the heat. Most of our rooms listed are fan and in fact Joseph will pick out the best available room in the place and ask to have a large floor fan brought in instead of the provided a/c. Less expensive, fresh air, and less sneezing from the stale air. Corner rooms, in the quiet back away from the road, noisy stairs or elevator, with two windows for cross breeze, are the best. We get the owners to write the agreed to price on our check-in form and get a copy. We seldom pay ahead in case the room turns out to have a serious problem. Once the bath water was covered in an oily slime, once at 7 am we were greeted to 6 men with sledgehammers pounding the walls down on the floor above, once there were scores of fighting roosters under our window, etc. Let your imagination flow - it could happen you have just checked in to the "room from Hell" and if you pay ahead you can never leave!!!
When you are checking in is the 'golden hour'. They want your business and money and will be accommodating. Sometimes service stops after you pay or move in. Joseph scours the area for the best room available, as we stay longer stretches in places (never less than 2 nights) and he takes this job seriously. He finds some great rooms. He has security in mind, as you don't want someone "shopping" in your room. When checking in I check the mattress, making sure the sheets are clean and that we have a top sheet to avoid sleeping next to the blanket provided (often there is only a bottom sheet). We politely ask for 2-3 clean glasses and 2 clean towels. We sometimes borrow a cleaner waste basket or a small table and chair from the hall or neighboring rooms for use with our computers. We are always careful to leave the room in good shape and to live lightly by avoiding excess use of electricity or water. We are polite and have fun with our new neighbors, but we make sure people uphold their end of the deal too. We aren't shy about asking neighbors to keep the noise down after 10p.m. Usually they are accommodating unless they are drinking. Always get receipts and be prepared to move if need be.
No hotel in town? Chances are good in remote areas that you will be invited home, like lost puppies. Always stop by the local market and buy fruits and vegetables as a gift (see above). Often they will kick someone out of their bed and present you with your place to sleep for the night. Less than clean? Just lay your rain poncho over the mattress, a 'silk' or pareo over the pillows, using your other ponchos and silks to cover up. Good night! If staying overnight on the floor in a hut, cover yourself with socks, long pants and sleeves, spraying yourself with organic insect repellant. Keep your pareo handy to cover your head from pesky mosquitoes. Light a mosquito coil for a few minutes to clear the room. We carry safer herbal coils when possible.
Remember to use your umbrella and/or cloth as an
impromptu latrine if necessary. A cut off water bottle for a
'pee bucket' has
saved the day many times when a toilet or tree isn't available.
Practice makes perfect.
Necessity makes one creative. Lighten up and realize that
everyone has to go to the bathroom. In the city and need a toilet?
Just walk into big hotels, restaurants or churches. McDonalds
have better toilets than food. In Madagascar many sign clearly
"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip
John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968) U.S. novelist.
"Not all who wander are lost"
To travel is to change. Some try to 'do' a country commando style surrounding themselves with like minded westerners, not interacting with the locals or cultures; never joining the 'flow' of a country or trying to learn what makes makes it tick. Complaints abound. No matter how one travels, we all return home a different person, eyes opened wider, some of our preconceived fears and ignorance shattered. Building bridges for mankind, one friendship at a time The true traveler is a seeker of truth. Forced into the NOW we learn to live in the moment, realizing after futile attempts to control our surroundings, that the Universe has us in a boot camp for better living. Plan, do what you can, then just give up all expectations and go with that flow. Observe, allow, live in the moment! Better than a dozen self help books or workshops. All of a sudden you realize you are starting to look more and more like the locals - curious, happy & Smiling!!
"Happy he who like Ulysses has made a glorious journey."
Joachim du Bellay (1522? - 1560) French poet. Les Regrets, Sonnet 31
*Making Your Dream a Reality:
world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page."
"Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process a new factor enters and takes over...it has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself, no two are alike."
John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968) U.S. novelist. Travels with Charley: In Search of America
*What to Pack:
Lightweight is the key piece to this puzzle. Search out the perfect items to match your trip plan and individual needs. Some new high tech travel gear is the best, but more expensive. For instance our rain ponchos weigh 6 oz, while the next brand was 1.4 pounds. Big difference when you add it all up. Remember some small airlines only allow 15kg or about 35 pounds total check on weight. International is usually more (50 lbs). For the one bag only rule - put everything in a box and open it up at the airport on arrival.
Pack a full week ahead of time. Take that heavy load for a walk up a steep hill. Go home and take out 1/3 to 1/2 of what you think you need. Traveling light makes the difference between fun and torture.
Enjoy reading about the upcoming countries and cultures you are about to visit. Learn a few phrases. Plan ahead, do what you can to prepare, then just relax and KNOW THAT EVERYTHING WILL WORK OUT! It always does. Get into the flow of the country and like 'Mr or Mrs Magoo' open up to whatever passes your way. Keep open to the opportunities in front of you and be flexible enough to change plans mid stream. It will be a great ride!
*Ideas for travel gear to take :
Known to be stubborn at times,
Joseph finally encouraged me to switch to
a smaller, durable 18" wheeled suitcase overseas ($20 - a good reason to
do some shopping abroad). Important to have large '4x4' wheels
and heavy, DURABLE zippers that can be locked with small combo locks. I found
this suitcase easier to use
without the need to repack every stop. Just unzip and it is
like opening and closing a drawer. Use the bottom level to
store bulk items to refill smaller daily used containers. I bought 3 pretty silk zip bags to
put in the upper mesh pocket, to sort small necessary items. I
use 2 small size plastic compression bags that squeeze excess air out
of jackets, etc that you don't use everyday. Frees up extra
needed space. Add a permanent name tag, several TSS approved
combo locks (to discourage 'shopping' in your bag), and a colorful
web strap to keep the bag in tact while calling out to you in the
baggage rack. Carry at least one "Pac-safe" wire mesh to
enclose your bags and lock them with a brass combo lock to a secure
object. The combo lock can be used to double lock your room if
necessary. Having a small bag requires more planning but
replacing a large bag for a smaller one will be one of the best
things you ever do to improve the ease and enjoyment of your trip.
* A small day pack and/or 'buddha bag' to carry necessary items with you on the bus, plane, boat, day hikes. Small enough so you don't jam it full and end up with 2 big bags. Don't carry valuables in it as it would be the first thing to be snatched. Don't forget a good lightweight aluminum travel umbrella for sun, rain or sneaking off to the bathroom along a busy road. A good pair of Polaroid sunglasses in a hard case. An mp3 player to listen to books on tapes or music while traveling. A small ziploc with papers, notebook, pen. Travel guide -UP TO DATE Lonely Planet. (We rip out sections when done - blasphemy unless you have ever carried their India book!) A one liter lightweight stainless steel (not aluminum) refillable water bottle. Carry in your bag or attach a shoulder strap to a neoprene 1.5 liter water carrier. A small refillable spray bottle of herbal mosquito repellent. Small camera with LARGE 3x3 display screen to show recent photo to the person just digitized. A 'silk' or pareo - a piece of strong, lightweight, colorful cloth to sit on, cover up with, spread over a table or bed to provide a clean surface, a wrap to cover legs or head when entering a temple, emergency bandage, cover up for swim suit or after shower, etc. Just wash out and it is ready for it's next assignment. Ziploc of laminated photos of family, home, your travels and a map of the world to show that you are a long way from home. Small ziploc of balloons and stickers for good little boys and girls. One Chinese metal soup spoon for eating coconuts or when silver wear looks dodgy. A cotton face mask for dust storms or pollution, when following a truck belching black smoke, etc. Waterproof rain covers for your bags. Small LED flashlight, essential for power failures or middle of the night journeys to answer nature's call. Strong, light, foldable carry bag for shopping in the market - to avoid plastic bags. We reuse plastic bags over and over. Necessary for travel. Small travel alarm as a back up for your cell phone alarm. Airplanes don't wait for you. Small zip bag with travel items: good earplugs, small eye mask, homeopathic jet lag-travel tablets, small bottle of tea tree oil (rub a small amount under your nose if presented with an awful smell or on a crowded bus dab some behind each ear to keep ukus or head lice away) blow up neck pillow, a head band to keep long hair out of your eyes from open bus windows, a supply of anti-diarrhea herbs and a strong stopper (Loperamide, etc.) in case you get diarrhea on a long bus ride. Your herb kit may be out of reach in your suitcase until you reach your destination. A good book (or MP3 player) for those inevitable delays.
*Money belt. Don't wimp out on this one or you will be asking for trouble. Daypacks are a target - as are purses or shoulder bags. The Pac-safe brand belts with a wire cable are sturdy yet comfortable. Arrange to have a good ATM card, with low 'per withdrawal' fees and fair foreign exchange fees. Use it often so you are carrying less cash. Have a small stash of traveler checks (not readily accepted anymore) and US cash as a back up in emergencies. Sometimes exchanging $100 will give you literally 1/2 pound of local currency. Go to a bank and get a few of the largest bills available, cashing them into smaller denominations as you go.
*Not liking a heavy money belt in warm climates I designed travel pants and skirts with hidden pockets. Easily done overseas for $1-2 if you can guide them through the process. (cut the bottom of your pocket open and continue the pocket another 12-14 inches. It should hang down behind the cargo pocket outside. Where joined put in a zipper. At the top of the pocket add another zipper.) Find 2 waterproof pouches or cut the strap off an Eagle Creek neck pouch. Hide these pouches (1 on each side) carrying your money, passport, credit cards, traveler's checks, tickets, vaccination waiver certificate (see below) photocopies of all above listed items, etc in the 'secret' pockets, accessible by a zipper in the bottom of your pant's existing pockets. Make sure the hidden pockets are long enough so that the pouches hang down comfortably along your thighs. You can even sleep in them. All of our pockets have zippers sewn in them. It helps stop pick pockets and prevents lose items from falling down on the bus floor. Carrying some cash in the upper pocket, that is all a robber would get. The rest requires that a pickpocket would have to unzip 2 zippers and put his arm in your pants pockets up to his elbow. Try it! Worth the effort it takes to change contents when doing laundry. Going to the shower, just roll your pants up and pop them in your bag to haul along. Hiding it under your mattress is the first place someone looks. We have met so many young people who have been ripped off by dangling their money belts like carrots or leaving this uncomfortable belt 'hidden' in their room.
*Footwear: One pair of Tevas Traveler waterproof leather sandals ("pretty rugged for women") or Men's waterproof leather all purpose sandals. They have good arch support and we have literally swam across rivers, climbed mountains and been knee deep in mud. We even wore them (with socks to stop sliding around if you get wet) on our unplanned 11 hr tracking of mountain gorillas in Central Africa. Like us, just give them a good washing and they are as good as new. (They even look good with a skirt.) My previous pair lasted 2 years/20,000 miles. One pair is all you need. Just add cotton socks if it gets chilly or our latest invention: black 'gortex' socks. Even in the pouring, cold rain in the mountains of Lower Tibet, our feet stayed toasty and dry with these waterproof, breathable socks. Saves hauling around bulky hiking shoes if you are mainly in warmer climates.
*Layering is the key. A cotton shirt, topped with a long sleeve lightweight nylon, breathable shirt. Followed by a #1 light polar tec fleece sweater, covered with a breathable 'gortex' rain jacket. This combination kept us warm even in snow storms. Add mini gloves and a hat purchased locally, to top the cake. Wear both your pairs of cargo pants at once - or add a pair of black tights under it all for real warmth. We follow the seasons and try to avoid really cold or rainy weather. After all we are from Hawaii!
Instead of hauling a full wardrobe just change your location and wear the same clothes. Buy local items to accent what you have. If the clothes hanging in the used clothing stalls of the markets look better than those in your suitcase, it's time to splurge on a couple new tops. Remember imitation rain jackets, for instance, look great, are cheaper but aren't waterproof. Try to blend in a bit with your surroundings. Skip the archetypal pith helmet and Banana Republic vest. Don't give off the impression of a big fat wallet walking around, which just makes you a target. If you want more memorable experiences with the locals just blend and 'smooze'.
*Pants: 2 pair lightweight but strong cotton cargo pants, khaki or olive color to hide stains. Buy them longer (takes 2 inches off the length to do this) and have zippers sewn in 3/4 capri length - so they can be zipped off in warmer weather. Also have zippers sewn into each pocket and the hidden 'money belt' deep pockets added. Make sure they are comfortable for long bus rides. The nylon ones available to buy are too hot for tropical weather. We have had custom pants made, (from an old pair) in Tanzania and Vietnam. (about $12-15 and they fit perfect). Add one pair of lightweight nylon shorts to lounge in - but not for use out in public in many countries.
*Skirts: One sporty tan knee length skirt for beach wear. Have pockets added. May be used to go out to eat in the evening along the beach. One classy, lightweight silk skirt and top for going out to dinner.
*Comfortable nightwear and a one piece swimsuit - be culturally aware No skimpy bikinis. You will get a lot of unwanted attention from the men and will offend many people - even on the beach. What works at home doesn't often work abroad. No low cleavage tops, short shorts or skirts, and some places you must cover even more ie, shoulders, knees.
*Socks: 2 pair black cotton knee highs that protect your legs from mosquitoes, a must in the tropics. 1 pair short cotton socks for layering. Five pairs lightweight cotton or breathable underwear. Avoid non breathable types for the tropical heat. Two or three comfortable bras. As long as you have 2 of something you can do a quick wash.
*Tops: One long sleeve,
lightweight cotton for mosquitoes on a warm night. One long sleeve
lightweight nylon 'tech' for warmth. One short sleeve shirt.
3 or 4 light but durable sleeveless tops. I favor colorful but darker hues,
knowing that white belongs at home and black lasts forever.
Skip heavy cotton items. At home I liked to use organic cotton
tops if possible but traveling I find lightweight rayon or techie
dry wicking tops work well.
*Jewelry: Avoid expensive jewelry but instead collect unique beads and necklaces from every tribe or country you visit and enjoy them as wearable souvenirs. Pack in a jewelry roll with many zipped pockets so you can stop things from tangling - clear in the front so you can see what's what. Don't wear fancy wedding rings. If you aren't married and if you want to avoid hassles buy a cheap band, to ward off unwanted attention from local guys wanting to marry you.
*Cosmetic/toiletry tote: get a small,
lightweight nylon one with many zippered pockets and a hook to hang it up
in a shower room. Buy "Nalgene" guaranteed leak proof 1/2 oz,
1 oz, 2 oz bottles. Refill organic shampoo, conditioner, liquid soap,
lotion, etc from larger bottles (also 'Nalgene") stored in the bottom
of your suitcase, wrapped in plastic ziplocs. To save weight I carry a toothbrush and
shaver with replaceable heads. Don't forget good quality
earplugs (a lifesaver) a small mirror - magnifying if necessary,
tweezers, small scissors, clippers, small sewing kit (with heavy
thread and needles for repairs), aloe vera gel (organic) for moisturizing
your face, sanitary items (tampax may not be available in remote
areas) and prescriptions for necessary drugs or glasses, etc.
We use our laptops in cyber cafes to
send emails, upload our webpage, download information and websites
to read offline, for doing business over the net, and calling family
via Skype for only 2 cents a minute. Technology helps us
travel, plus everything is getting better, more compact and less
expensive each year.
*Mobile phones: We bought our first cell phone in Kenya for
$14. The basic Nokia is a great sturdy little model. For
$1 you buy a Sim card to insert. Ask which company has the
best coverage and the lowest prices to call. Then you buy time
to load onto your phone. When it expires you buy more.
No costly contracts. Consider this option when in Asia and
Africa. The phone doesn't work in the USA. Don't know
*Food/cooking supplies: After much research and using ourselves as guinea pigs we follow a vegan lifestyle. It's not a fussy diet, but rather very simple and easy. Joseph buys fruit at the market the night before and makes a big fruit salad every morning. No rushed breakfasts of bad coffee and greasy snacks. For these relaxed breakfasts in our room and lunches on the go I carry 2 quality but lightweight 'melmac' plates, 2 spoons, 1 fork, one small folding and one 4" serrated knives, and a peeler. A small Nalgene spill proof bottle carries coconut or olive oil for cooking, another possibly soya sauce. We carry salt, white pepper, cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, fresh limes, garlic, ginger. Spices for cooking: Italian spice mixture, Indian masala curry, Thai curry paste, and any local spices we can find to add zip to our meals. Two small cut off heavy quality plastic, inverted bottles are for making our sprouts. One small lightweight handkerchief for wiping up spills and hands. When facing a long bus ride we stop by the market the night before, buying bananas and oranges or nuts for snacks. Along with the sprouts it is amazing what a great lunch you can whip up with 2 carrots, 1 ripe but firm avocado, a lime, a shallot, 1 cucumber, 2 tomatoes, 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic each, etc. A fresh chopped beet is fun to add. When everyone is sitting around the bus stops eating greasy meat and noodles, we are off to the side enjoying our crunchy, colorful, healthy salad. We usually attract a crowd during preparations and many good talks about health follow. Everyone is interested in health but most of us are too lazy to follow a healthier lifestyle because we don't see the need. If we aren't healthy we can't travel - bottom line. Works for us.
*One small (4 pack size) zipped thermal case
with drying desiccant packets to preserve health items in the
tropics. Click here
to check out our 'Thoughts on Health' page for ideas on what items to carry for
keeping your immune system strong (or see below).