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


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


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!


Family Convos Part 3

30 Day Writing Challenge

My family is slightly eccentric. I have two aid and development workers for parents who epitomize the indie culture. So we never spent money on branded clothes, none of us have surnames, just two names that are unique to us and that cause a lot of paperwork problems. But what makes my family so weird is the bizarre and utterly random conversations we have. I have often thought of making it a series. Maybe I will.

This is an actual conversation that happened when Lex (my brother in law) came to India to meet my parents before the big “I do” As a present (it’s part of our culture to always buy presents for everyone in the family), he had picked up a lonely planet guide to England that my dad quickly immersed himself into. He loves history and geography and just random facts that no one would ever know about – like the number of deaths by shark in a year.

Dad – Oh this is great. Thank you. Is there a map of England in it?

Lex – Yes, it’s right there in the first page.

Dad – Can you show me where you’re from?

Lex – Sure, I’m from Great Yarmouth. It’s over there, in the East Coast.

Dad – East? Is it towards the North or the South?

Lex – Erm, I’m not sure. Look for Norfolk.

Dad – Oh here. I found it.

Lex – Yeah, it’s right on the coast.

Dad – Oh yes, I see. You’re from the Middle East.

Lex – What?

Me – (hysterical but trying to be serious) England only has a North and a South. There’s no middle. It’s too small an island.

Dad – (not understanding why I was laughing) You come here and look at this map. See, this is the north. This is the south. Yarmouth is right in the middle. He’s from the Middle East.

Cue death by laughter.


For those of you who are new to this blog Part One and Part Two are here. And in case you want some sort of background on Lex, read  here.

The Loch Ness Monster

30 Day Writing Challenge


Earlier this year I got to cross off a lot of things from my childhood travel bucket list. My mum being a teacher and my dad being a voracious reader influenced me to pick up books at a very young age and read. It just happened that all the books we had at home were based in England and so it was really a dream come true to visit London and Oxford and Bath and … this list could go on so I’ll stop for now. One of my most cherished dreams though was of befriending Nessie and so this summer, I went in search of her. Here is my story in 5 pictures or less.

Tea at Loch Ness

Trebuchet at the Loch Ness

Loch Ness

Sunset at Inverness