Well, here at LFM we are moving full force into trip planning for July. We are busily setting itineraries and planning events for the people coming with us to Myanmar this summer. With the new addition of land in the Mon state and pilot projects needing to get up and running, there are going to be very different elements to this trip than any we have taken before! In light of that fact, and knowing that for some of our team members this will be their first adventure into a developing country…. I thought this week I would talk about my top ten travel must haves for such a trip.
1: A pack with a zipper.
You’ll want something that you can carry around a few things in, maybe more than a few things depending on the day’s activity. Here function is much more important than fashion. Don’t walk around with open pockets. Make sure everything zips closed. Things can fall out or little hands may reach in and take everything. Having something that is rain resistant or proofed is helpful too since you will be in Myanmar during the monsoon season. Consider a daypack from a place like REI outlet. *I am not telling you you HAVE to go buy an expensive hiker pack. Don’t tell your parents that! 😉
Rookie Mistake: Never put anything of importance on the outmost pockets. It is to easy for a pick pocket to cut open those pockets and if your passport is in there……
2: Baby Powder.
Go ahead and invest in a travel size baby powder. It’s going to be hot. You are going to sweat. You may not always be able to take the three showers a day you will want to take. This is why baby powder is so helpful! If you cant take a shower, a light dusting with the stuff will help you feel cleaner. If you have oily hair (like me) a little on your scalp will help a wash last longer. Most importantly, a little dusting in our delicate places will help keep rashes and chaffing away. This is particularly important for women. Prickly heat (yes, it’s a thing) is very uncomfortable and you don’t want it!
Rookie Mistake: Using too much. A little goes a long way! If you use too much it gets kind of cakey and you’ll wonder why I suggested you take it at all!
3: Toilet paper.
Put some in a little zip lock baggy. ALWAYS have a little toilet paper. Most places you visit won’t have it.
Rookie Mistake: Don’t take a whole roll, it’s bulky and will get squished and torn and possible wet and then it will be no good to you.
4: Antibacterial hand sanitizer.
You will want this after using a toilet on a bus ride or in remote place. Even if there is running water there is almost never soap. This will help keep the germs away. Use it often.
Rookie Mistake: Don’t take a big one with you, it will explode and get all over everything. Take a small one; pack two if you think you will need them. That way they fit easily into your bag.
You may be able to get away with wearing a pair of jeans for two or three days but you need a new pair of underwear for everyday you are there. Take extra. Don’t wear underwear? Now’s a good time to make an exception.
Rookie Mistake: Men: thinking a woman can’t possible know and assuming you can in fact wear your boxers more than once. I promise you will be so sweaty at the end of the day even you will cringe at the thought of re-wearing! Women: Assuming this does not apply to bras. I recommend taking sports bras, they fit a little easier in your bag. Although you may prefer a real bra and that is a-ok too. Pack fewer to save space and just wash them.
6: Baby Wipes.
These are just all around Godsends. Get a little travel pack you can take in your bag daily but make sure you have two or three. Can’t cool off? A wipe on your face and neck will help. They are great for taking off makeup, washing faces….and other things….and for cleaning a table before you eat should you feel like it needs a good wipe down.
Rookie Mistake: Taking the giant 1000 wipe case in your bag. It’s heavy and you won’t need that many unless you are the official wipe keeper for the whole team!
7: Bottle of water.
This one seems obvious, but unfortunately it is not. You HAVE to drink so much more water than you are used to drinking. Make yourself. One bottle, two , three bottles a day are not enough. Being well hydrated will help you feel better the whole time you are there and in an attempt to trick you mother nature will make sure you will just ooze water out of your pores the duration of the trip. Drink A LOT! Two liters at least.
Rookie Mistake: foregoing water because you don’t want to pee. If you have all the other things on this list, peeing won’t be so bad. Just suck it up. I promise peeing in a squatty potty is no where near as bad as a dehydration headache.
8: Headache meds with caffeine in it.
My favorite is the one for tension headaches. Caffeine will help a headache even if its not the reason you have a headache. For those of you that drink 15 dr. peppers a day you will thank me.
Rookie Mistake: Taking this late in the day. You won’t sleep well because of the caffeine. Save the regular stuff for nighttime. If you know you have trouble sleeping anyway, take a little travel size Tylenol PM.
9: Daytime allergy meds.
You may never ever have allergies…here. During the monsoon season stuff gets kicked up in the air and everyone gets sick. There are molds and mildews in the walls because they do not have regulated central heating and cooling. You may never need these, but it’s good to be over prepared.
Rookie Mistake: Make sure you have a ‘day time’ one. You don’t want to be in a Benadryl haze for this trip. You want a very clear head so you can soak in all of the awesome going on around you!
Invest in a good stick that will last a long time on your lips. Lip smackers may smell nice but it just doesn’t cut it. My favorite is burts bees. You only need one, they last a long time. Take two if people are prone to ask you to share. DON’T share your chapstick. It’s yours only.
Rookie Mistake: Taking potted chapstick. This is ok for the US but you don’t want to be sticking grubby fingers into your chapstick and then putting it on your lips in Myanmar! Ohhhh the germs….
OK! There is my top ten travel must haves for going to Myanmar. (I have to add a sneaky ’11th’ for the ladies – a light cotton scarf is a must. you can wrap it old hollywood style to protect you from the sun and drape it over your face on airplanes and busses to sleep more soundly. My favorite is my cotton Indian Dupata) Here at LFM we are so excited that you are about to come on this journey with us! You are going to have a life changing experience and we can’t wait to be a part of it!