Friday, February 11, 2011

Packing for the Third World

     One question that my friends and followers always ask when they are about to launch their third world travel experience is what they need to bring with them. There are two things to keep in mind when contemplating the answer to this question. The first one is that the people one is likely to encounter in New Guinea or West Africa, Nicaragua or Cambodia are likely to have far fewer possessions than we do. In some places folks own only the clothes they have on their backs- no substitutes, no closets, no fashion consultants, etc. It is hard to underdress for places where that is the case. The second point is that the movement from one place to another can be on a little plane or a small dugout canoe or a rickety bus in certain locales. One does not get luggage picked up at the door and transported to the next town. There may not even be anyone to help with the lifting of your packages. Unless you are on a luxury group trip to Timbuktoo (ha! ha!) you need to be aware of this issue.

     We almost never avail ourselves of laundry services even if they are offered at the places we stay. My wife and I carry three sets of under clothing and socks which we rotate. We wash each evening which gives us a change for each day and an emergency pair of everything. That takes little space in our luggage and does the trick for cleanliness and comfort. We then add in a pair of shorts or two, a pair of long pants, a sweater or jacket (depending on the weather), a couple of short or long sleeve shirts as needed, comfortable shoes and flip-flops for the shower or occasional beach visit. If you have special requirements or interests, you should have plenty of room.

     Our single piece of baggage leaves for the trip almost empty except for the items listed above. We augment the luggage with a small toilet article bag and my camera equipment. Since there is frequently an absence of available medicines in some of the towns we stay in, we take bandaids, aspirin, a general antibiotic and an antibiotic cream, an anti-itch cream, cold pills and lozenges, insect repellant, sunscreen and wipees (clean water is not always available) and tissues. We add on any medicines we take regularly. Make sure to carry these with you if you send any luggage through on a plane.

     What do we do when we need to dress up? We almost never face that problem. We have found that hotels and restaurants will take our mastercard no matter how we dress, we look at least as good as the people we are visiting, and we don't expect to see the people we meet ever again so making an impression is not a goal. Keep it simple, light and convenient. One additional tip is to leave enough space when you depart for picking up some of the wonderful artifacts you will encounter. On the way home, we send our remaining belongings (the stuff we don't throw out) home in a bag and carry the things we purchase in our luggage safely packed for our enjoyment upon arrival. Happy travels.

Tibetan Woman Spinning Wool

1 comment:

David said...

Your blog is well written and very fascinating.