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How to Travel Comfortably in the Developing World
Comfort and Cleanliness on a Shoestring...
Travelling comfortably on a tight budget in the developing world is an art.
Communal toilets, showers, beds and regular experiments with street food can impact your trip in ways ranging from mild discomfort through to debilitating illness. However, with a little preparation, many of the small things which can add up to spoil an otherwise great trip can be avoided.
Pack these items so that your trip is unforgettable for all of the right reasons. Some items are obvious, some less so. All recommendations come out of a personal experience - generally a rather negative or embarrassing one!
If you're really feeling adventurous, purchase or make them yourself when you get where
Could you survive without toilet paper?
- Toilet paper: It's never around when you need it. In the beginning this can often seem like a real necessity, though mastery of the squat toilet (and plentiful supplies of soap!) can render it unnecessary, if packing space or simplicity is a concern.
- Hand Sanitising Gel (alcohol based): Preferably in a small bottle. Useful for everyday hygiene, and doesn't require water to use, so it's especially useful where water is limited or just plain hard to find. As a contact lens wearer this is one of the most useful hygiene items I have!
- Travel Soap: Travel soap is different to conventional soap. Useful as both a soap and a shampoo, travel soaps are generally highly concentrated (so a little goes a long way) and made to lather well in brackish or hard water that you will often find for bathing in the developing world. I include it additional to the sanitising gel above as it is often inconvenient and messy to be fishing around in your pack every time you want to wash your hands.
- Antiseptic Cream: For the inevitable minor cuts and grazes.
- Anti Fungal Cream: Like it or not, travelling on a budget in the developing world means using communal...well, everything! Which isn't a drama as long as you know that at some point strange rashes will appear in even stranger places. Keep yourself dry in all the important places and you will be fine.
- Baby Wipes: Shower in a box! One of the most indispensable items you will ever travel with. Useful either to freshen up generally, or as a substitute to showering if travelling in an area where water is scarce. If you can, get some that come in soft packaging so you can mould them around your own packing. A single pack of 200 wipes will generally last for weeks.
- Talcum Powder: Especially useful in damper, tropical climates to dry out the more "intricate" parts of our anatomy. Great for rashes, plus you get to smell nice.
- A Travelling Hammock: I choose the Hennessy Hammock here because I own one and love it. Hammocks are easily the most comfortable, clean versatile and convenient way to camp or sleep rough. Still one of my most prized possessions. Having the ability to sleep literally anywhere makes travelling to otherwise inaccessible places a reality. The built-in mosquito netting is a godsend when it comes to protecting from malaria.
Bag: To suit your intended destinations climate. Be aware that
desert and mountain locations, no matter how warm they get during the day, can become bitterly cold at night. Better to have a bag that is a little warmer than you think you will need. If you're worried about overheating while you sleep, bring along a...(see below)
Bag Liner: Nothing fancy - just take an old bed sheet, fold it
in half and sew along the side and bottom. Voila! Useful as a sleeping bag in it's own right if you live in a tropical area, though most beneficial for keeping your sleeping bag clean - it is vastly easier to clean a liner than a sleeping bag when you are on the road!
Flops/Sandals: Closed in footwear is great for hiking, but don't fall into the trap of bringing only one pair of shoes on your journey. Your feet will suffer from a hygiene perspective, and you'll quickly tire or lacing up a set of boots in the dark just to run out to the bathroom. Flip flops or sandals make the ideal companion shoe as they let your feet air out, are easy to put on and remove, and provide a
convenient way to keep your feet clean(er) when using communal toilets or bathing. If you're really into recycling, you can make
your own running sandals out of scrap. Easy to make and replace.
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