Travel Tips.....


"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose."

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 powder.

__  Our new discovery, MMS, is an amazing, inexpensive product.  Don't leave home without it - especially to places filled with tricky parasites, malaria, etc.  See our health page for directions under MMS.  Small doses throughout the day are preferable to larger doses. 

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 liquids stain.

__  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.

__  Artemesinade or other medication derived from the herb artemesia, plus Doxycyclin for Malaria.

Chemical drugs:
You can obtain most items overseas now.  A prescription of Cipro (full spectrum antibiotic) will cost $100 in the US - overseas at a reputable pharmacy will cost $3 for the exact same drug.  Your first aid kit should be a tiny zippered cooler type bag to keep the herbs dry and fresh in the heat.  Drugs should be in bubble packages only, to maintain freshness.  Put a large desiccant pouch in the bottom to absorb moisture (and one in your camera, etc).  The key is lightweight and for emergency, remote situations only.  Most other items can be purchased as you go, only when the need arises.   It is easy to buy small containers or doses overseas.  Make a list and plan to fill your kit overseas, watching the expiration dates.

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 amoebic dysentery. 
__  Tinidazole or Metronidazole work wonders. Always have a couple of doses on hand!  Try to self diagnose with the help of the "Lonely Planet" guidebook and treat accordingly or see the doctor.  Drink lots of water, add a packet of
__  Rehydration salts if there is too much output, don't eat for 24 hours and it will flush out.  If necessary have a bite of banana or plain rice before the tablets to avoid upsetting your stomach.

__  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.

__ Polysporin or Neosporin full spectrum antibiotic cream for more serious cuts.  Put on every 3 hours in the first couple of days to ward off staff, coral cuts, etc - especially in tropical areas.  Care in the beginning will avoid serious infections in the end - needing the too often used oral antibiotics.  

We have recently used MMS successfully in healing a nasty wound full of mud & pus.  Clean it out, soaking in hot water is the best method, then apply locally a small one drop mixture every two hours, drinking the excess.  Allow to dry.  Repeat for 2 days minimum, setting your alarm if necessary.   This keeps the wound dry, an alternative to the ointment above.

__  A dozen bandages and a few wound dressings/ butterfly closures. Elastic bandage if you get a sprain while hiking.

Favorite travel supply outlets (check out their sale items and discount sections):

Clothes, ponchos, rain jackets, camping gear.  Mack brand foam earplugs - blue - (#CX8H6) available at

Discount Clothes, jackets, shoes

Clothes, shoes, Nalgene travel bottles

Health items:

30% to 70% off health food store prices.  $5 shipping anywhere in US.

Dr Schulze for above mentioned items.  A wild and crazy guy who knows his Organic herbs.


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:
Herbs will have to be bought at your local health food store or ordered (try for up to 50% discount on name brand items and a flat $5 shipping fee).  They can be shipped to you via a friend or family back home for pick up at Poste Restante at most Main Post Offices in large cities overseas. 

Available at Vitamin Life are:

__  Artemesia/wormwood herb extract - preventive for Malaria.  Take 6-10 drops daily when in the zone.  (  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"  or for a more concentrated, excellent version.  "All One" greens only and "Probiotic Berrygreen" available at Vitamin Life. 

__ Carry Intestinal Formula #1 (from  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 for on bites.


One word: NEVER!  Think of this scenario:  Upon entering a town in your home country you are stopped by authorities and told that you are not allowed to continue unless you drink this mixture or take this shot.  You have heard rumors of this happening and know that some people it kills immediately, others have serious side effects years later, some lucky ones are immune from side effects.  You go ballistic.  No one, including corrupt government officials, has the right to dictate what is put into YOUR body, especially poison.  You would not allow it.  This describes the nightmare of dangerous mandatory vaccinations.  Read this section on our 'Thoughts on Health' page (click here - Dangers of Vaccinations ), do further research, stop by a doctor in an overseas country and have him/her write an official letter (no date) stating that you have taken all the necessary immunizations against yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis, etc.  List them all.  Don't give any extra information.  Don't explain you disagree with vaccinations.  Don't say you used homeopathic remedies instead.  Tell him/her that you took necessary precautions back home but need to replace your papers.   Pay your fee and leave.  Make photocopies.  Use at border crossings.  Or have a vaccination waiver form prepared by a naturopath at home.  List all vaccinations and the fact that precautions were taken.  Short and sweet.  We have only been asked for documentation once in 7 years.

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 homeopathic doctor friend in Dar es Salaam states 100% cure rate for typhoid for instance.  (Click here - Homeoprophylaxis for Overseas Travelers - then back arrow).    

Make the effort to find the smallest, lightest, most compact items to suit your need.  Weight adds up quickly.



___ A sturdy 18" bag with wheels or front zip backpack 
___2 small size plastic compression bags 
___Several light mesh cubes or bags to organize small items
___permanent name tag with phone # & email address
___several TSS approved combo locks  
___colorful web strap
___waterproof nylon covers for bag & daypack
___small sewing kit & safety pins, rubber bands
___small bottle concentrated laundry soap
___aloe vera gel (organic)
___Medium Bottles of organic shampoo, conditioner,
    liquid soap, lotion, (also 'Nalgene") stored in the
    bottom of your suitcase, wrapped in plastic ziplocs to 
    refill smaller toiletry containers.  Depends on the
    length of your trip  Same with food & health items.  
___sanitary items
___prescriptions for drugs or glasses, etc. 
___good sense of humor
___ Men: rechargeable razor
___2.5 x 2.5 piece of mosquito netting/clips 
___herbal mosquito coil
___"Pac-safe" wire mesh &sturdy brass combo lock

___Small Day Pack and/or 'buddha bag' with: 
     ___lightweight aluminum travel umbrella 
     ___Polaroid sunglasses in a hard case. 
     ___mp3 player
     ___Light, small laptop in light but hard case.  Don't
        forget the cord (which already contains a
        converter/surge protector) & multi adaptor cube
     ___small ziploc with papers, notebook, pen. 
     ___Travel guide - UP TO DATE  Lonely Planet 
     ___one liter lightweight stainless steel
        (not aluminum) water bottle.
     ___tolerance of others 
     ___small refillable spray bottle of herbal mosquito
     ___Small camera with LARGE display screen  
     ___'silk cloth' or pareo 
     ___Ziploc of laminated photos of family, home,
         your travels
    ___small 8x11 colored laminated map of the world    
    ___Small ziploc of balloons and stickers  
    ___Chinese metal soup spoon
    ___ cotton face mask for dust 
    ___Waterproof rain covers for your bags. 
    ___Small LED flashlight
    ___ Strong, light, foldable carry bag for shopping
    ___ Small travel alarm
    ___A good book (or MP3 player) 
___Small Zip Bag with travel items in daypack:
     ___good foam earplugs
     ___small eye mask
     ___homeopathic jet lag-travel tablets,
     ___small bottle of tea tree oil
     ___blow up neck pillow
     ___ a head band
     ___ supply of anti-diarrhea herbs 
     ___a strong stopper (Loperamide, etc.)
     ___toilet paper

___ Money belt  OR
     ___travel pants, skirts w/hidden pockets
     ___2  5x7 waterproof pouches containing:
     ___ATM debit card
     ___ a few traveler checks
     ___US cash
     ___credit cards       
     ___vaccination waiver form
     ___photocopies of all above listed items

___1 pair of Tevas Traveler leather sandals
___2 pair black cotton knee highs
___ 1 pair cotton socks
___ black 'gortex' socks (big enough to fit socks under) 

___Pants: 2 pair lightweight but strong cotton cargo pants
    have zippers sewn into each pocket and the hidden
    money belt deep pockets added      
___ 1 sporty tan knee length skirt for beach wear. 
___ 1 classy, very lightweight silk skirt and top
___ 1 pair of lightweight nylon shorts
___ comfortable lightweight, breathable nightwear
___a one piece swimsuit
___5-7 pairs cotton or breathable underwear
___Two or three comfortable bras 
___Tops: One long sleeve, lightweight cotton for
___One long sleeve lightweight nylon 'tech' for warmth. 
___One short sleeve shirt 
___3 or 4 sleeveless tops 
___good attitude

___One #1 lightweight 'polar tec' fleece
___ 1 authentic waterproof, lightweight 'gortex' rain   
    jacket with hood
___One long, lightweight nylon rain poncho with hood. 
___1 lightweight dark colored nylon windbreaker that zips into
    its own bag
___one lightweight long silk scarf
___A nylon baseball cap
___Jewelry: Avoid expensive jewelry
___ jewelry roll with many zipped  clear pockets

___Nylon Cosmetic/ Toiletry Tote:
    ___"Nalgene" guaranteed leak proof 1/2 oz, 1 oz, 2 oz bottles
    ___ toothbrush (Fuchs) and shaver with replaceable heads.   
    ___foam earplugs (a lifesaver) 
    ___a small mirror
    ___small scissors (remember to put in your checked   
       luggage before flying - along with any larger bottles of
       liquids or gels)
    ___ nail clippers

Eating/Cooking Supplies:
    ___ 2 quality but lightweight oval slightly deep
       'melmac' plates
    ___2 spoons
    ___1 fork
    ___one small folding and one 4 " serrated knives
    ___a light plastic peeler. 
    ___ small 'Nalgene' spill proof bottle
    ___ 1 small lightweight handkerchief

First Aid Kit:
___1 small zipped thermal case (5x7), with desiccant


___ Artemesia herb capsules or extract
___green vitamin whole food powder 
___Emergen-C packets 'lite' formula
___Acidophilus vegan capsules
___Organic, strong cayenne powder
___Grapefruit seed extract
___immune system builders such as extracts of Echinacea,
    astragalus, colloidal silver  
___Homeopathic remedies for malaria, diarrhea,
    headache, injuries, colds and flu, etc
___tiny Tiger balm
___Natural insect repellent
___sun screen,
___lip balm for dry areas. 
___Goldenseal herb cream
___ Smiles
___vial containing 2-3 tablespoons of really strong
    cayenne pepper
___Dr. Schulzes intestinal formula #1
___Artemesinade or other medication derived from the 
    herb Artemesia, plus Doxycyclin

Chemical drugs:

___Cipro or other strong full spectrum antibiotic
___Specific antibiotics for ear or tooth infection - or
___Sterile antibiotic eye drops
___charcoal tablets
___Tinidazole or Metronidazole
___rehydration salts - single small pack
___Loperamide - 'stopper upper' for diarrhea
___ 1 Sterile hypodermic needle 
___ several "Benydryl" tablets 
____Cream for rashes or bites.
___Polysporin or Neosporin antibiotic cream
___12 Bandages & a few wound dressings/ butterfly
___Elastic bandage for sprains


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. 



"A journey of a thousand miles must begin
with a single step."

(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.


When 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

Guides always ruin these golden opportunities.  It becomes a staged village visit.  They encourage big unnecessary or inappropriate gifts, wanting a piece of the action on the side, after you've left.  There is usually someone who speaks enough to communicate the basics, or just enjoy the moment as it is.   Communication happens in many forms.



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.

When first landing at your destination you are tired, confused and everything is new and strange.  BEFORE stepping out of the airport ask questions, check tickets or confirm any concerns with Immigration.  This may be your last chance for a while.  Go to the ATM and get enough local currency to last until the next big city.  Get some larger bills broken for correct change to give transport guys taking you to your hotel.  Often you are met with a hoard of touts, taxi drivers, or 'hanger- oners' wanting to find you transportation or a hotel, etc.  Always carry your own bags and at confusing times like this zip up those pockets.  Keep count of your bags.   Travel with only what you can easily manage yourself.  Too many bags make tourists choose the first and often most expensive taxi or hotel room.  Sometimes touts can be helpful if they represent a hotel in your price range.  They often will get a small fee (only 50 cents) from the hotel for bringing you in.  Selecting a couple of hotels in your guidebook gets you to the right part of town - then look around from there.  Unfortunately often when a guesthouse makes it into the Lonely Planet, the price goes up and the service goes down.  Don't get caught up in the backpacker ghetto mode - where socialization is more important than service or quality.  They really screw young people, making them stay in windowless shared rooms, when 3 doors down is a newer place where splitting a twin room with a friend ends up more comfortable, quieter and cheaper.  You can always socialize or eat with other travelers then sleep in peace.

NEVER book ahead.  If you do you will pay up to double the price.  Beautiful Kashmiri houseboats rent for $4 a night; $20 if you reserve ahead for a shabby one, next to the noisy cousin's family.  Our current bungalow goes for $8/night.  Their fancy brochure and website states 23 Euro.  In person is better as you can choose one of the best rooms in the hotel.  Always look at many rooms in each hotel - they vary like night and day.  Some are dark with tiny windows and the one on the other side is bright with big windows overlooking a garden, all for the same price.  There are always rooms available.  Once you put money down for a reservation you are stuck with what you have.  Refunds are like extracting teeth.  Always check out 3-4 hotels in the same area.  Again for the same price some are great and some are dumps.   I sit with the bags while Joseph scouts around - or ask the front desk clerk at the first place to watch your bag until to return, usually not a problem.

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 state:
Mi Pi Pi - 50a (4 cents)   Mi Ka Ka - 100a
Self explanatory.  It was hilarious at one dark outhouse type toilet at the Fiana bus station.  The woman attendant stayed outside my door to listen to the proceedings so she could charge accordingly.  Times like these make some pretty funny tales to tell.  Remind me to tell you the one about the swimming rat and the toilet drain sometime................


"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip
takes us."

John Steinbeck (1902 - 1968)  U.S. novelist.

Never drink tap water or order ice of fresh juice.  If you can't peel it or cook it, don't eat it.  One bout of bad dysentery, usually from a water source, will cement that idea in your head real quick.  Check seals on bottled water for signs of refilling.  Water can be expensive, but it is necessary.  We buy a 20 liter bottle of drinking water whenever possible.  Borrow a pitcher and refill your bottles.  Do your part to help the rapidly deteriorating environment.  Next option is to buy 6 liter bottles, lastly individual 2 liter bottles.  Some hotels offer free refills in their lobby or small conscious cafes may offer refills for a small fee.  There are several purifying systems available for traveling but we each drink close to 3 liters of water a day so it is impractical for us.  When stuck we have boiled water while cooking, and cooled it off before refilling our bottles.  Drink at least 2-3 liters of purified water daily to flush out germs and keep you hydrated.  Many diseases are caused simply by not drinking enough water.

*Transport : 
These guys can be sweet and helpful or the biggest petty crooks you will encounter, trying to cheat you for some extra money.  ALWAYS get the price agreed to before you get in - and don't let them charge extra for baggage.  Everyone here has tons of baggage and they don't pay extra.  Use a meter in taxi's unless you know the price and can bargain for a lower fare.  Ask, Ask Ask.  Locals in the street or fellow passengers know the local fares and will give you a ball park figure.  Work from there.  Sometimes they will even negotiate for you before you get in.  Posted fares are helpful but we have even encountered higher figures posted for the sake of tourists.  Be smart and good luck! 

*Air Tickets:
Check into getting free tickets by earning miles with credit card purchases.  (Do a Google search for more info)  Only sign up for cards with airlines that offer 20,000 free miles or more.  Use the card once, pay off the bill, cut it up.  Cancel in 6 months.  Repeat in a year and you have a ticket worth $500 -$1000 for only the annual fee charged($50).  Only do this if you have the will power to only use it once or pay it off monthly as interest is higher with these cards! Good offers are getting harder to find.

Check the internet for the best deals available.
For Asia buy a discount ticket to Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, then fly for cheap on dependable  From these hubs they fly to China ($25 ow), Australia ($65 ow), London ($120) etc.  They even give away a million free seats a year.  Sign up to get their newsletter.  Check them out on the web.
People procrastinate or get lazy when looking for air tickets.  When the tickets cost twice the necessary price they whine that traveling costs too much.  Good decisions, more freedom. 


"Not all who wander are lost"

*Self Responsibility:
Take responsibility for your own life.  Everyone wants their government to keep them safe, their doctor to make them well again, their priest or minister to be in charge of their spiritual life.   Give up the blame game or being the victim.  Such a waste of energy.  Do what you need to do to turn your life into the life you always wanted.  Easy?  No.  Rewarding?  Yes.

"Laughter has no foreign accent."

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:
One of the most common comments is, "You sure are lucky!"  Luck has little to do with it.  We try to tell the facts of travel.  The people are friendly, the cultures fascinating and you can live overseas in many countries for a FRACTION of what it costs at home.  In most countries you can rent a beautiful, almost luxury home, possibly on the beach for $400-$500.  Try that at home.  Of course, a basic place can be enjoyed for $300 and under per month.  Tasty exotic food that costs $20 at home is $1.00.  A 6 hour bus ride costs under $5.00.  So it goes.  Do the math.  If you really want to travel extensively or live overseas YOU CAN!  Make a plan, research your options (ie visa requirements, living costs, etc).  Work hard and DON'T SPEND WHAT YOU MAKE.  Most people nowadays spend more than they earn, getting caught in the never ending credit trap.  At some point you will have saved enough for the long trip of your dreams.  Or to move overseas you are able to liquidate your house, cars, "stuff" (keeping only a FEW boxes) and combined with your savings, put your money in a low risk, decent yield investment.  You can easily live for $10,000 a year in many countries.  That hammock under the palm tree on the beautiful beach is calling out to you.  It's possible.  Stop focusing on excuses, like all the naysayers.  It's up to you!


"The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page."

Attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430)
Numidian Christian theologian.


Visas can be tricky.  We always investigate over the internet but rules change often, depending on politics.  Often visas are available upon arrival, which is easy. We try going to a travel agency in an adjoining country, asking for the longest visa available.  Then we shop around until we find 'someone who knows someone in the right places' and we pay for what we want.  It is always cheaper to obtain a 6 month visa than coming and going on monthly 'Visa runs'.  Once in a country you can always ask for an extension.  Sometimes the rules and penalties for overstaying are big, other times it is just a matter of finding the right people to have it done.  They know the ropes.  Let them put up with the illogical rules, delays and unavoidable mix ups.  It always pays to shell out the extra $5 and have someone in the know wait in lines and get everything correctly stamped - avoids the hints of payola from official officers wanting a new bathroom.  Locals know how to play the corruption game better than you. 

We haven't had health insurance for over 7 years.  Prevention is our plan.  If facing a medical emergency we would fly to the best and closest hospital available.  Bangkok has many quality hospitals, with excellent doctors at reasonable prices.  Fear holds people back from doing what they really want to do.  Que Sera, Sera.


"Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process a new factor enters and takes 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: 
Don't forget to pack an open mind, a happy heart, mountains of patience and a big, genuine smile.  All else is optional.

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 :  
* A sturdy bag.  First I used the Eagle Creek convertible backpack ( 'Carry On' size 21") with heavy zippers, wheels, converting to a backpack if you need it (over $200).  Mine has seen some unbelievable wear and tear in the last 8 years and it looks almost brand new.  I only used the backpack option twice, depends on the type of trip you are taking.  We have also traveled with heavy full-on camping gear for backpacking in the past.  Too heavy for long term travel.  We feel that we have to be able to ride on a motorcycle with our gear, as that is the only option for transport in many remote places (large bag in front of the driver and the remaining gear is on our back or over our shoulder).  We have left our bigger bags behind 'Pac-safed' in the storage of our last hotel and hiked or traveled up to 3 weeks with only our day packs.  Now that's Freedom!     

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.

*Jackets/headwear: One #1 lightweight polar tec fleece for instant warmth.  Makes a great pillow too.  One authentic waterproof, lightweight 'gortex' rain jacket with hood.  It is water proof and breathes, letting moisture escape when sweating from exertion.  One long, lightweight nylon rain poncho with hood.  1 lightweight dark colored windbreaker that zips into it's own pouch.  Great to throw on when it gets chilly.  Fits in your daypack, along with one lightweight but colorful long silk scarf that adds warmth or can be used for windy rides or to cover your head at a temple.  A nylon baseball cap (with vents) is good for the sun. 

*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 nylon 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. 

Men should carry a dependable rechargeable razor and if a big guy, remember that in some countries the people are of smaller stature so clothes and shoes in large enough sizes may not be available.

Bottom of the suitcase store a 2.5 x2.5 piece of mosquito netting and a few pins and clips - allows you to have the window open but mosquitoes out.  Choose rooms with screens on the windows and fans if possible and a net to sleep under is mandatory.  Light an herbal mosquito coil for a few minutes.  The chemical ones are deadly if used for extended periods in a closed room. 

*Laptop Computers:
We like to keep our brains active, do research, read, write and share what we discover with others via our website.  Laptops help do that.  Joseph carries a 17 inch laptop (our entertainment center!) and 2 1 tb back up hard drives loaded with over 80,000 books to last a lifetime or two and hundreds of documentaries.  With DVD's containing over 50 movies each (for $2 each) we have thousands of good quality movies from China.  With 380 gb of music we can transform any room we are staying into a retreat center or a dance hall at the click of a key.  Watching movies, Star Treks or Seinfeld, reading or having the computer read to us, writing or enjoying our favorite tunes, adds dimension to our already colorful life.  But then remember we have been at this for over 7 years and we live overseas.  This is our life - we don't go back to a comfortable house where all these things are just the norm.  We make each hotel room our home.  Joseph hauls everything in a padded Samsonite computer back pack and I carry my small 12" Sony Vaio in my "Buddha Bag", an idea learned from the monks in Lhasa, Tibet.  These sturdy bags with thick cloth shoulder straps can carry heavy loads easily from the market and don't look like they carry anything too valuable (avoid flashy, expensive looking gear).  I chose my computer for durability (carried carefully in a hard zippered case - total weight 2.2 lbs) and the remarkable 9 hour battery.  After 3 years it still has 4 hours on the battery, for areas lacking proper electricity.  Plan carefully to have the correct combination of wires and plugs.  We use a small box containing different plug combinations for wall outlets of each country and a power strip extension cord taking our U S plugs.  In 7 years we have relied on the surge protection & voltage converter of the computer's black box with no problem. 

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.

*Email:  Try downloading and using a Pop email on a flash drive.  You can go into the internet cafe and download your emails - then work on them off line.  The deluxe model is Outlook 7 but you must connect your laptop.  Drop us a line sometime!  We love hearing from our readers.


*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 about Europe.

*Skype:  Devised in someone's basement we first signed up in Lhasa Tibet and were amazed at calling to the US for 2 cents a minute!  Computer to computer is Free!  And that there were 2 million users on line.  Today there will be 20 million users when you log on!  Sign up for an account and get the automatically renew option.  You can't renew from some countries overseas.   Their new feature of 'call forwarding' makes up for the sometimes bad overseas connection.  Register your new cell phone number with Skype (which changes with each new provider or country) then send that number to all your friends and family.  They can reach you directly at your hotel room for about 10 -18 cents a minute.  Help them figure out the time change so you don't end up with calls during the night.  We turn our phone on daily to check for text messages or have it on Sat and Sun (until 10pm our time).  It a great way to keep in touch.  The highlight is seeing our new granddaughter, Kayla's, smiling face computer to computer.

*Mail Service:
You can plan to have packages/letters sent to you along the way, to travel lighter.  Have them sent C/O yourself "Poste Restante" in larger towns or cities.  Make sure everything sent or received is REGISTERED.  Wrap the packages tight to prevent tampering.  Customs: Used personal items.  Value $10-$20 maximum or you pay import tax.  Marked: HOLD FOR PICK-UP (they usually return packages after 30 days).  We have only lost 1 package in 7 years. 

*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 (5x7), 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).



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