3 things you MUST bring with you when you travel

Besides the obvious passport, visa, hard currency, camera, and curiosity and patience…

  1. A large shawl

I don’t care if you’re a guy or a gal, you need one of these! My large pashmina a Pakistani friend gave me has saved me on several occasions. The weather can turn without much announcement in many parts of the world. This large shawl can keep you from getting completely soaked, keep your ears and neck warm or even work instead of a jacket sometimes. On top of this, it can double up as a blanket on bus or airplane trips or as a towel if need be. You can turn it into a picnic blanket and a head/shoulder covering when entering churches, mosques or other religious places.

  1. An unlocked phone

This might seem obvious, but make sure you have an unlocked phone on hand when you go to travel. Save all the important numbers on the phone, not the sim card and make sure you have numbers of hostels/couch surfers, embassies and whatnot saved. This phone can be as shabby as anything, as long as it can call and sms you’ll be fine. Getting local sim cards is cheap and easy.

Most of the world is starting to have wifi-hotspots, so I would also recommend taking your smartphone with you so you can keep in contact with your loved ones at home via whatsapp, skype and your blog.

  1. Flip flops

Make sure you travel light and bring as little clothing as possible, but don’t forget these babies. In the summer heat of some places these can keep your feet nice and airy and are a good alternative to your sneakers or hiking boots every now and again. They will also save you from attempting to get rid of fungus on your feet that you might catch from showers in hostels. They are also a comfortable alternative to walking barefoot into springs, fountains, lakes or rivers.

EXTRA!

Personally, I always take a diary with me when I travel. Bus journeys are always a good time to reflect on thoughts, feelings and experiences that have occurred in the last couple of hours or days. I have so many pages filled with messy, squiggly writing and sketches. Even if I don’t look back into the journals regularly writing things down by hand is my way of working through things. I get my thoughts and feelings in order like that. It’s very different to writing on the computer…which I do a lot for this blog now too.

What’s your travel style?

Recently I read the following on a travel forum:

trees are made with roots, people with legs.
we are meant to wander!
and wonder, with both senses of the word!

Immediately, I was inspired to write a post about this coupled with the daily prompt from a couple of days ago: The happy wanderer.

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

 

This is strange to write about, because I feel like my style is always changing…I seem to have two different kinds of travel.

  1. Work and travel

What I have done all my summers since 10th grade is work and travel. I would pick a country/region I wanted to see and then figure out what I was going to do there. It was important for my mum, and for me, that I didn’t just do ‘nothing’, that I was gaining work experience. I made sure to do jobs that I enjoyed (I am very proud to say that I have never had a job that I have not enjoyed doing!) Since this time I knew I wanted to help countries develop, and I thought that education would be the best way to do this. So I made sure to find programmes that would get me into this field of work.

So far, I’ve done the following:

  • I lived in a rural Romanian village for two months planning and running a summer school for the children. I was able to do this through the Austrian Embassy in Bucharest who run several programmes in this village.
  • Some kids and I worked together to create a play (pretty much from scratch) within the SOS-Childrens Village of Bucharest, Romania
  • I worked in a public school and a learning centre in Rural Nepal
  • I went to Oslo, Norway as part of the Summer University to take a course in Development and Globalization
  • I worked in an orphanage in a small town in Moldova for two months the summer after I graduated high school and was able to travel to areas of the Ukraine I hadn’t seen before either.
  • As part of my research for University, I was able to come back to Romania to get to know Bucharest from a very different angle.

What I have to say about the work I have done is that I was very, very lucky to have the opportunities I had. Many of them were due to the contacts my parents had with the embassy and certain people in high positions in certain companies…but also, I didn’t earn any money for any of these jobs. Mostly I was paid in smiles, food and lodging, and work experience.

Something I would never do is pay those $2000 prices to work in an NGO in Nepal for 2 weeks. There really is no need to pay that much. Life in Nepal is incredibly cheap. When I was looking for a place to work in Nepal that was EXACTLY what I wanted to avoid. I had been looking at places to work at for years in Nepal. Only when I found FACE Nepal did I feel like the price I paid was appropriate for what I was getting. And it really was. Nobody’s really making a profit there, except the people who benefit from the NGO. The programmes are incredibly volunteer driven, and I would recommend it to anyone.

  1. Going back to the same places

Some people might not understand why I like to do this, but I tend to go back to the places I have visited (several times). From what I have experienced, it is different every single time. The place changes, but I also change a lot. Over the last couple of years I have changed so much; my world views, my education, my political standpoint, my clothing style and the number of piercings I have. All of these things shape me as the person I am becoming. And I hope I will never stop changing. It is incredibly interesting to go back to the same place for different reasons. You get to know so many different faces of the same place; you get to see new things that you didn’t know existed. Because of this, I am very glad I went back to Romania for my research. The week before I left I had quite a negative episode, because I felt so silly for going back to Romania. My university colleagues were going off to India or Ghana, places they’d never been to before, and I went back to Bucharest…bleh. But boy am I happy I did. I got to know this place in SUCH a different light. It was truly an enriching experience. And it is not an experience I could have had in a place I had not seen from the point of view of someone who knows the beautiful side of the place. Had I gone to a city I had never been to, to do my research I would probably have a very different image of the place than I have of Bucharest.

  1. Long haul bus journeys-local style

It is only recently that I started visiting places without a real purpose other than seeing the place. I used to always have a purpose in the places I visited. A reason to be there other than the city itself. Yes, I would go sight-seeing, but the purpose of my visit would be a sports tournament, my job, visiting friends, etc.

I am still not sure how much I like going to places simply for the sake of going to them. It’s what I have ahead of me now though. 4 weeks of travel, for the purpose of travel. I hope I meet lots of interesting people, and that I get to live somewhat like a local. It’s what I love about the type of travelling I have done so far…living with locals, being able to truly feel what the culture felt like. I don’t know how much I’ll like jetting (in slow buses…) across city and country borders to see as much as I can in as little time as possible. Who knows, maybe I’ll find a place I like and I’ll stay there for 3 weeks working with an NGO or something. Probably not, but we’ll see what the next month brings for me.

I love to hear about the way different people travel. What’s your style?