Traveling to a place where creature comforts are as common as snow and ice? Don't let "roughing it" ruin your warm-weather escape this month. If you're destined for a place where it's easier to buy a goat than a bottle of Purell, or where the locals think that "Samsonite" is the name of an American airline, find space next to your swimsuit for these essentials.
I. Bring to stay healthy:
- Bedbug traps, should you run into a small infestation and a host who is unwilling or unable to clear them out of your room, or move you elsewhere. Amazon carries a decent one.
- Vitamins to supplement unfortified foods found abroad.
- Granola bars, protein bars or trail mix. Protein bars are my pick since it can be nearly impossible to get enough protein from safe sources in certain regions.
- Water purification tablets, or a water filter.
- Condoms: these can be nearly impossible to find, depending on the religious and cultural swaying of wherever you're visiting.
II. Bring to stay clean:
- Toilet paper: as much as you have room for. I will never forget finding only bright pink TP in Morocco that practically disintegrated as soon as I touched it.
- Paper towels, in case your hotel or hostel towels (if provided) are dirty.
- A sheet, since the cheaper hotels, and many hostels, do not provide clean bedding.
- Laundry detergent, and a few feet of rope to use as a clothesline (among other things).
- Enough hand sanitizer to sterilize a small village.
- A universal rubber plug, for use in tubs and sinks. Just remember to hide it after use each day or your host could accuse you of trying to flood his or her establishment.
III. Bring to stay comfortable:
- A small, battery-operated fan, both to serve its primary purpose of cooling you where there is no A/C, and to drown out street noise. Don't wait to buy a fan where you're going, since it will almost always come with a cord and you'll already be using what precious few socket(s) you have to charge your devices.
- A sewing kit, if you can actually thread a needle; if you can't, go with a few tubes of Krazy Glue like I do.
IV. Bring for a variety of uses:
- Ziploc and plastic bags for protecting your electronics and documents from the elements
- Swiss Army pocket knife (remember to put it back in your checked bag).
- A waterproof container of matches, or a lighter (also to remain in your checked bag).
- A small roll of duct tape. It's come through for me as both bag repair and medical tape when the next village over sold only plaster and nails.
- A luggage lock and coiling cable (preferably one for each of your bags).
- Keychain flashlight
- World Market crinkle curtain-in-a-pouch: Can be used as a beach blanket, rag, rope, souvenir packaging, modesty or sun scarf, or a privacy curtain in case your hotel window comes naked. And if you lose just about everything on your trip, including your inhibitions, at least you'll have one last thing to wrap yourself in!