Without these things I’d be a little scruffier, a little crankier and a little more unsure of my place in the World when I leave home.
As I wrote this list I realised that it’s pretty much the same for if I’m going backpacking, going on a weekend break, living it up in the lap of luxury or settling in a brand new country. Everything else you might want or need can be bought elsewhere if you’re moving, or shipped over later. If you’re backpacking anything more would weigh you down and even if you’re travelling in style everything else would probably be provided!
With this latest move we decided to travel super light…20kg of check-in luggage each and 5 kg of hand luggage. That ain’t much, my friends, to start a new life with and as hard as it might have been to detach myself from my stuff, there was no blinkin’ way I was leaving without these 10 Superheroes of the Suitcase.
This is my ‘Go-To Kit’, my ‘Survival Staples’, my stress busting, problem-solving, happy-making, art-enabling (yup, even when travelling it’s so important to me) List of Utter Essentials!
Leave home without them at your peril…
10 Superheros of the Suitcase!
1. Honey. The Bear.
Dearest Friend. Closest Companion since age 3. Constant Bedfellow. Tireless traveller and amazing listener (I can tell him anything!). Comes everywhere with me…unless there is a chance he might get his fur wet, so he skipped South East Asia last year and went straight back to Ireland from Australia. Once went for a spin in the washing machine in Brisbane because the DB (read: Dopey Boy) forgot he was in the bed when he stripped the sheets.
It’s good for the soul to have something from home with you, something reassuring and constant…
2. Lavender Essential Oil
The Queen of Essential oils as far as I’m concerned. Sweet smelling, gentle enough to be used neat but so powerful and protecting. This is a backpackers MUST! Lavender oil, among other things, is great for insect bites, burns, spots, headaches, swollen feet or legs, and insomnia. It’s anti-bacterial and a few drops sprinkled on a hostel bed will not just make it smell good but also deter bedbugs and other nasty biters. I pretty much trust it with anything and even its scent now is like a reassuring hug.
I’d also say bring Tea Tree (more powerful that some antibiotics, kills germs stone dead, great for cold sores and disinfecting bites, cuts, etc), Lemon (will purify water if you can’t get bottled…so will Tea Tree but doesn’t taste so good…, helps with concentration and alertness) and Geranium (lifts bad moods, great for PMS or general crankiness as it’s a hormone balancer, smells amazing when mixed with Lavender and Lemon = yum!) but if all you have, or can find, is Lavender you’re in business!
**Please make sure you purchase 100% pure essential oil, do a patch test first if you’ve never used them before and consult the many great sites or books that will show you have to use them effectively and safely. My favourite book is ‘The Fragrant Pharmacy’ by Valerie Ann Worwood…an encyclopedia of useful, practical information!**
3. Almond Oil
Use it as a moisturiser, cleanser, make-up remover, hair conditioner or styler (just a tiny drop rubbed into the ends makes your hair shine). Use it as a carrier for the essential oils you’ve brough with you that you don’t want to use neat. Heck, you can even cook with it!
**Again please make sure you buy 100% pure, best quality oil you can afford. If in doubt ask around, google it or consult an aromatherapist.**
4. A Journal
Even if you don’t have a good book to read, you can always write one…or read back over your adventures in awe and wonderment…or sketch where you are…or play hangman with a fellow traveller…or write letters home…or write a letter to yourself…
5. Your Prayer book
Or Bible or Quran or book of affirmations, poems, letters from your family, photos, whatever! Whatever your ‘chicken soup’ of choice is. Whatever your bedrock is, your foundation, through which you find your strength and joy. Bring it and use it liberally.
6. A hat
It’s an obvious one but I always forget somehow. If it’s cold it will keep you warmer. If it’s hot, and it has a brim, it will save you from heat stroke and sunburn. You can hide your bad hair day. You can cover your eyes and sleep anywhere. They’re just plain handy.
7. A shawl
Same as above = HANDY! Use it for modesty in conservative countries, warmth, protection from the sun, a blanket, a towel, a sling, a pillow, a yoga mat, a picnic blanket…endlessly useful.
8. A camera
I always think of these lyrics, written by my friend singer-songwriter Nathan Ball, when I travel…
‘Take nothing put pictures Kill nothing but time Leave nothing but footprints And She’ll be fine…’ ‘Footprints’ – Nathan Ball
9. A telephone number
Make it your business to leave home with one number, email address or contact in the place you are moving to, even if it’s only a friend of a friend or the info for a great hang out spot where lots of people meet and chat. It makes things easier if you panic about not knowing anyone once you arrive.
Faith in the benevolence of the Universe. I have never travelled anywhere in the world and had an experience that hasn’t worked out just fine in the end. Just got to have a little Faith…
Some naughty extras…
…and if I have the space here are a few luxury items I like to throw in! These are pure indulgence…
♥ The extra essential oils listed above, and maybe a few extra very special treat ones like Ylang-Ylang or Rose or Neroli.
♥ Teabags from home! Specifically Barry’s Gold Blend…heavenly!
♥ Some knitting or some other portable craft for long flights or waits or to just chill and let my brain switch off while my hands are busy. (Check out ‘Crafting & the Art of Travel’ from last summer for some ideas!)
♥ Music. Yeah I consider music while travelling a luxury item. I like to be tuned into the sounds of my experiences, as well as the sights, so I don’t really want to be plugged into an iPod the whole time. Also it pushes me to go out and find local, live music wherever I am, and if nothing else I can always sing to myself and that is fun!
♥ Snacks! So you can eat something you know for sure you will like…almonds, dates and those sugar-coated jelly Squirms that I am currently addicted to. Still looking for them in Canada :/
♥ Nail Polish. A completely useless thing in and of itself but it is so nice to have if you’re feeling a bit rough and need a touch of glam while schlepping through Cambodia.
» Do you have any recommendations for travel essentials? Anything you’d never hit the road without?
» What luxuries do you like love to have when you’re far from home? I’d love to hear…