Packing Essentials – Things You Should Never Leave Home Without

I am a great advocate of packing light and making do with bare necessities because let’s face it, if you wanted to travel to another country to experience all the things you love at home (re: McDonalds), then you might as well stay home. To be fair, I make it a point to try the local KFC meal just because. This is what it looks like in Bangkok.

KFC Thailand
(Expert’s note: When they say spicy, they really, really, really MEAN IT!)

Jokes aside (but seriously, the word ‘Spicy’ in a meal is a warning, not a description!), there are somethings that you should carry with you no matter how large or small your luggage space is. It has helped turn travels into journeys into unforgettable adventures and the best part of it all is that they are ABSOLUTELY FREE!

In no particular order, I give you my packing essential list.

Packing Essential #1 – An Open Mind

Bucket Cocktails

Shady Bars

Right alongside your handy travel adapter (even though being phoneless can have great perks!), bring an open mind. There will be times when you are called on to drink cocktails from shady bars in buckets, there will be times you will have to drive on the other side of the road, times when out of sheer hunger you will say yes to the man selling roasted scorpions. These make great icebreakers when you’re on your next adventure but mostly you will remember having the time of your life!

Packing Essential #2 – Patience

Zanzibar

If you don’t have an annoying sibling, find an annoying friend or go stand in the queue at Nilgiris (a supermarket that just can’t bill your products without also making you wait for 500 hours) in India. It will help you develop this great thing called Patience which is also free but you won’t believe the things it will help teach you. That delayed sky-train ride, those long hours being lost in translation, those cancelled flights, those times a terminal becomes your second home – these are things that help you live a realistic day-to-day life in a foreign country. It could lead you to holidays you never planned for – like an island trip to Zanzibar or breath-taking views because walking through dangerous hills was your only chance out. When you aren’t trying to follow in Bill Murray’s footsteps, life happens to you.

Packing Essential #3 – Greetings 101

I have always been the kind who doesn’t read much about the place or its culture till I am actually smack in the middle of living it. It is not always a good idea. There’s always a chance that somebody speaks English and will help you out, but it could just as easily go the other way. If you are like me, just observe the words that are being said in greetings. Saying hello is a big deal in all cultures and even if you speak no more than the word for ‘whats up?’, you will find your journey that much more easy because of it. It gives off the impression that you are trying (which, of course you are) and it helps you make friends with the locals which can lead to even more moments you won’t soon forget. Find a way to bond and if you can get them to smile (or laugh) back at you, you are set!

Packing Essential #4 – Manners

Tanzanian Kids

While not all rituals seem logical to you, when in a foreign country, it is good to practice your manners. They do things different two streets down from where my parents stay and yet, when I’m in their neighbourhood, I respect their way. As a guest, it is your duty to be mindful of what goes and what doesn’t. Keep your eyes open and read body language where you can. Take your shoes off where you need to, cover up where it is expected, and stand up for the anthem even if it is in the cinema. At the end of the day, good manners will take you where your money won’t go.

Packing Essential #5 – Curiosity

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This great characteristic to develop is deadly to cats, or so I hear, but great for us humans. Wanting to know what that particular shrine is, or what is down that colourful street is a great way to discover things that aren’t on a Lonely Planet Guide or on Trip Advisor. Yes, you can see and do and all touristy things that your heart desire, but there is something appealing about finding a canal and pointing and ordering the greatest dish you have ever tasted. Forget the taxi and get on that rickety boat. You never know what treasure you will find on the other side!

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Flat G Tackles The 3D World!

I got called in, the other day, for a not so secret but very, VERY important mission by an Englishman in Italy. Agent Pecora Nera (Black Sheep) had received instructions that a young girl from Washington wanted to see the far reaches of the world. Being an extremely important person to whom everyone went to in time of need, Genevieve used all her powers and made a flat version of herself. Having thus been cloned, Flat G set of on an adventure of epic proportions. After seeing parts of Paris, Italy and the UK, she made a pit-stop in India.

What happened next – we’ll let the pictures do the talking!

Flat G played a game of scrabble and annihilated the competition!
Flat G played a game of scrabble and annihilated the competition!
Flat G added enjoyed the last view of an Indian Christmas tree before she helped pack it up for next time.
Flat G added enjoyed the last view of an Indian Christmas tree before she helped pack it up for next time.
Flat G decided to participate in an episode of Cribs!
Flat G decided to participate in an episode of Cribs in the life sized installation of Bethlehem at Bangalore!
Flat G hung out with Santa Claus
Flat G hung out with Santa Claus
Flat G admired the rooftop view of a busy Bangalore road while sipping Masala Chai!
Flat G admired the rooftop view of a busy Bangalore road while sipping Masala Chai!
Flat G and Baby Rouge became best friends!
Flat G and Baby Rouge became best friends!
Flat G hung out with my Flat Colleagues!
Flat G hung out with my Flat Colleagues!
She looked out the window and took in the views!
She looked out the window and took in the views!
Flat G decided to inspire me to get to work!
Flat G decided to inspire me to get to work!

Because of Flat G, Bangalore winter and the back to work grind became a joy-filled task. I hope she visits again, this time with all her dimensions intact!  

Flat G is part of a school project that I’m helping out with.