Items every long-term female traveler should pack
In this blog I want to share with you a few items that I believe every female long term traveller should carry in their luggage.
Long term travel and short term travel require two completely different approaches to packing. During short trips you have the freedom to bring a few more luxurious and non essential items — whilst on a long term trip you are restricted by what you are comfortable or capable of carrying; only bringing the necessities with little to no luxuries.
As a female this task can seem a little impossible, and you may find that even after you’ve packed the bare minimum you are discarding items along the way or trying to source emergency materials that you could have more easily purchased at home.
I want to share with you a few items that I have found very beneficial to my travels & I would never leave home without them. These items are especially helpful if you are only traveling with carry on.
When traveling long term you may not have a fully completed itinerary, leaving many of your adventures open ended. You could easily go from a bustling metropolis to a last minute jungle trekking tour. If you are an outdoors type of person or accident prone I would highly recommend packing a comprehensive first aid kit with the additional items below. If you are traveling only with carry on, be aware you will not be able to take the tiny scissors most first aid kits are equipped with onto the plane.
This liquid; which comes in a clear container of about 10-20 ml comes in very handy. If you are trekking through the jungle & cut yourself you can use it to wash your wounds if you are not near medical attention. This can save you from infection. It can also be used to flush foreign objects out of eyes.
Keep yourself or others warm in dire situations. Space blankets are incredibly useful not only for their heat containing qualities but also come in handy to carry things in if need be.
Activated charcoal comes in super handy when traveling. Over the course of your trip you may find yourself at the mercy of travellers sickness. Activated charcoal can be taken to reduce your symptoms. It also comes in handy for food poisoning. To read more about this debilitating illness and how to avoid and reduce your symptoms read more here.
First and foremost always consult your GP before taking medication . The reason I am recommending antihistamine for your first aid kit is because it has a wide range of uses. It can be used to firstly, stop hay fever. It also reduces the symptoms of motion sickness. If you have a prescription for drowsy antihistamine is has a slight sedation effect that can be useful for flights. Antihistamine can also be used to cure fish poisoning (you can read more about my fish poisoning incident here) and it can also be used to settle nausea brought on by food poisoning or general stomach bugs.
Having a tourniquet can be the difference between life and death. A deadly snake bite can be contained to a single limb & the flow of poison can be slowed. Similarly hemorrhaging can be slowed if a major artery is slashed during a snowboarding or car accident.
BROAD SPECTRUM ANTIBIOTIC CREAM
Having an accident away from immediate medical attention can result in bad infections if the conditions are not ideal. Obtaining a prescription for a broad spectrum antibiotic from your local GP is a good addition to your first aid kit. Use the cream on bad wounds and burns; but use it sparingly as there are claims that some bacteria become resistant (superbugs) to the medicine & can cause damage for the general population.
To clean your hands, objects or wounds.
WATER PURIFYING TABLETS AND ELECTROLYTES
Depending on what part of the world you are travelling to and what kind of adventures you have planned, taking some water purifying tablets with you would be wise. On top of this you should also bring some dissolvable or powdered electrolytes. These two things could help you overcome a bad case of travellers sickness. To read more about steps to avoid travellers sickness click here.
In a life or death situation administering CPR is always at the forefront of first aid protocol. What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can put yourself at risk giving CPR. Depending on the situation; the person you are administering CPR to could be covered in blood, bodily fluid or toxins. In order to keep yourself safe, having a CPR mask on you can significantly reduce the risks. Especially if you have to do it multiple times on different people.
MULTIPLE PAIRS OF GLOVES
You can never have enough latex (or hypoallergenic) gloves in your first aid kit.
As you go from country to country you may find that the availability of sanitary items differs greatly. For example, Japan & Korea have a very small selection of tampons whilst in Malaysia & Thailand they are almost non existent. Depending on what you prefer, a new level of stress can be added to your already unwelcome monthly friend. To overcome this issue and many more that I will delve into shortly, I want to say that I am a huge advocate for the menstrual cup.
WHAT IS A MENSTRUAL CUP?
To put it simply, it is a medical grade silicone dome that is flexible yet sturdy enough to sit inside the vaginal walls below the opening of the cervix. It collects menstrual fluid that is then able to be emptied into the toilet or sink. You then wash it & reinsert the cup. You can use the cup for up to 12 hours with no risk of toxic shock syndrome (you must wash your hands thoroughly to insert & take out the cup) as there is no absorption only collection. This 12 hour time frame comes in very useful if you are on a long haul flight, bus ride or simply cannot find a bathroom during the day (Hong Kong realness). In addition to this, it takes up no room in your luggage. Forget the bulky pads & tampon boxes!
The menstrual cup has a lifespan of 10+ years if it is looked after and cleaned properly. Although the cost of the cup may be a little high for some; but taking into account its long life span in relation to buying menstrual products month to month for almost half your life the cost is considerably less. Did someone say Pink Tax?
When buying a menstrual cup you will need to do a test on yourself to determine where your cervix sits. This is an indicator of whether you need a longer or shorter cup. Also having children born vaginally is a factor you must consider when buying a cup. There are many companies that make menstrual cups that include but are not limited to lena cup, moon cup and diva cup. Do some research on your own to determine whether the menstrual cup is right for you and which brand fits your needs.
Traveling long term with only carry on can produce some issues, especially with liquids and aerosols. Deodorant comes in many forms but I have found my favourite to be a deodorant stick made of crystal salt. Now this may make me sound like a hippy far from the point of redemption but hear me out.
Bad BO is actually caused by bacteria. Most deodorants try to cover the smell however, a mineral crystal deodorant stick aim’s to eliminate the bacteria from forming in the first place. The deodorant stick is made out of a solid salt crystal that you wet before using on your underarms. They come in 2 sizes, large and small and can last up to 12 months. For someone who wants to reduce their waste and stop BO in its tracks, this is an ideal item to have. I have been using a crystal deodorant stick for almost 3 years stink free.
Anti chafe cream was seriously the best purchase I ever made. I don’t think I would have survived this long in South East Asia without this miracle cream. Grab it in balm form if you are only traveling with carry on.
Having a reusable water bottle is a must. In some countries you can only drink the bottled water & as an environmentally conscious person this really starts to weigh on your mind. In many countries in South East Asia they have filtered water stations where, for only a few cents you can fill up your water bottle. You can also take advantage of the table water given by restaurants & cafe’s . Fill her up!
Through my travels I have realised that the detrimental impact of plastic has not reached certain countries. I deney plastic bags at convenience stores & retailers like there is no tomorrow. Usually I get an odd look & more rarely a nod of understanding. If you’re at the local street market or just doing a bit of retail therapy remember to bring a backpack or a tote bag.
Depending on where you are staying, hanging your clothes out to dry can be a real issue. Taking a pegless washing line with you can come in handy. It comes with hooked ends or suction ends; making stringing it up from one end of your hostel room to the other super easy.
Got a half used bottle of shampoo that you fear will explode in your bag? Put it in a ziplock bag! Need to keep your phone or paper money dry in rainy season — zip lock bag! USB sticks and memory cards galore? Snacks for the plane? The problem solving possibilities are endless with zip lock bags.
There’s nothing worse than mixing your dirty clothes and clean clothes inside your luggage. Separate them with laundry bags labeled clean & dirty. It also makes taking your items to the laundry easier. In addition to this, packing a bra bag is also a good idea. There’s nothing worse than your bra becoming snagged on the inside of the washing machine or dryer, especially if you can’t buy your bra size overseas ( holla to my busty ladies! I feel your pain!).
These shackles come in handy. You can use them to attach your reusable water bottle or your stinky/went shoes to the outside of your bag. The possibilities are endless!
Always make sure you obtain a doctors certificate for all the medication you plan on bringing for your trip. A doctors certificate can help you avoid delays at customs and will confirm without a doubt that you need the medication. Be aware that some medications are illegal in other countries and you may even need to get specific permission from the government before you arrive. An example of this is the Japanese Yakkan Shoumei. Never put your medication in one box to save space. Keep its original packaging, even if you flatten it around the blister pack.