Sunday, December 14, 2008

How To Pack Light and Stay Healthy

I got back from a solo trip to Morocco just over two weeks ago, so I have lots of fresh advice to offer from my experiences.

1) Half the clothes, TRIPLE the money!

You've probably heard of the travel advice: spread out all the stuff you want to take with you, half the clothes and double the money. Well, I'm changing that to half the clothes, triple the money.
I bought so many clothes, I had to buy a new suitcase! (Yes, I was trying to "rough" it and backpack, but I had to cave. So many great deals!)

Clothes can often be part of your souvenir collection from a trip and they're often cheaper in developing countries, making them enticing. For me, I really wanted to fit in with the locals and their clothes were suited to the climate.

Also, when it comes to packing, leave home with a few choice shirts and one pair of pants. NO MORE! Honestly, the clothes I wore the most were the ones I spent the most on - tops and socks I invested in that were easily washable and fast-wicking. They were all made from merino wool - very thin, yet can keep you very warm or very cool, depending on the situation. For a two-week trip I had two pairs of the good socks and two good tops. I brought some cheaper socks and tops with me and left them in places along the way to decrease my load. Next time, I will go with four good tops and maybe two or three pairs of good socks AND THAT'S IT! I found it very easy to get my washing done in sinks and baths. Add to that the local clothes I bought and I had enough clothes to last my trip. I only did two "loads" of laundry.

2) When it comes to medication, always take more than you think you'll need.

Before I left, I thought I might be being a little paranoid. I truly planned for the worst. Here's what I took with me:

-one pack of travel-sized Aspirin
-one small bottle of Dramamine
-about 20 Pepto-Bismol tablets
-4 sachets of Gastrolyte
-one round of Cipro (prescribed by my doctor in case of traveler's diarrhea, UTI or other infection)
-my regular daily vitamins (B100 complex)
-three hypodermic needles
-a small first-aid kit
-sleeping pills
-one Diflucan pill
-my regular daily prescription medications.

I did not actually follow my own advice and travel with a Plan B this time. Out of all that, what did I actually use? The Dramamine, the daily vitamins/prescription and the Gastrolyte. But I'm glad I was prepared.
I did actually catch an intestinal virus while in Morocco, which made me exceptionally happy to have the Gastrolyte, an electrolyte-replacement drink. It comes in a sachet, in powder form, making it very easy to carry around. You just have to add fresh drinking water and drink it. It did not taste great, even though I had the "fruit punch" flavor. However, after having been glued to the toilet bowl and the bed all morning, it definately helped wonders. I was happy I was "paranoid" enough to have brought it. I still felt sick and weak, but because of it, I felt that I would be strong enough to leave the safety of the guesthouse I was at and head out for real food.

What do I now think I should have brought with me that I didn't? Laxatives.
After getting rid of the virus, I was left with the opposite issue :(
You can't win.

I also had to buy more adhesive bandages because I got blisters (all those new shoes I bought!)

Just goes to show, each trip is different and you never know what will happen or what you'll actually need. Because of that, I think you should always prepare for the worst. Besides, medical supplies don't take up very much room. It's always nice to come home and unpack it all, thinking, "gee, I'm so glad I didn't have to use those needles or something worse."