Essential Oils, Candles, Food, Travel Tummy, Carabiners, Sitting and Pick Pockets


“Pack a small bottle each of lavender and tea tree essential oils. It’s like carrying a miniature first-aid kit. Both can be used directly on the skin without diluting. Lavender oil relieves burns, sunburns and insect/fish bites. Sprinkle 3 to 5 drops directly on bedding to repel bed bugs and ensure a restful sleep (lavender oil has sedative properties). Tea tree oil has more uses: a powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. Use for cuts and abrasions, mouth ulcers and sores (a couple of drops in half a glass of water will suffice), athlete’s foot, dandruff, ringworm and minor skin infections. Add a few drops to shampoo to repel lice. Lavender and tea tree oil can be used on pulse points to repel insects. Happy travels!”


“Heat by fire can be a lifesaver. A tiny lightweight candle is essential to success when conditions are cold or wet—common where I live, in the East Kootenays of BC. I always carry a tiny, virtually weightless bottle cap filled with wax in which a braided string has been curled along the inside of the cap to make a wick. Over time the string will fuzz and ignite with ease when you need it most. Just burn another candle and drip the hot fluid into the cap and over the string, and you will have a survival item. I put a couple in my pack and always in a pocket with some matches and a lighter. Lightweight, they take up no space and are excellent to keep a small flame burning while you add small tinder to build your fire. I got this idea from a trailwise wrangler years ago, in the Stikine region of BC.”


“Finding affordable food on the road is the problem. We save time and money with the following: 1. Packing dehydrated backpacker’s meals can be a real bonus in a pinch. Just add boiling water. The meals are surprisingly tasty and nutritious. 2. Pack lightweight spoons and knives, or save plastic ones from fast food restaurants. Great for yogurt, instant soups or peanut butter. Those individual-sized packets of mustard, salsa and ketchup are also great in impromptu meals. 3. Supermarket savings: bagels, yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit and small packages of carrots. 4. Many chain hotels provide complimentary breakfasts. If you don’t care for their highly-sweetened cereals and pastries, carry your own bags of cereal and take advantage of the free milk and juice!”


“Nothing wrecks a trip like poor health. Sunburn and travel-tummy are two known hazards, but just as common in the tropics and less known are fungal infections. They range from itchy scalp to athlete’s foot. It can manifest itself as pale blotches on your suntan. Simply pack dandruff shampoo as your travel shampoo. When showering, wash all over with it. It will keep down or prevent fungal problems. As for travel-tummy, prevent the upset from sudden changes in diet by going to restaurants serving local food before you go. Head to a local bean joint before Central America, eat curries before India, etc. Keep your stomach in a permanent state of readiness. Also: in 30 years of international cuts and scrapes I found Fucidin cream (generic name fucidic acid 2%) to be the best topical antibiotic ointment. And to prevent ear infections, always wash your ears with fresh water after swimming in the sea or pool, and dry thoroughly.”


“No matter where you’re going, pack carabiners of all sizes. They’re great for clipping dirty flip-flops or coffee mugs to the outside of your pack, or jimmy-rigging the zippers closed if your pack happens to break down. Use them for hanging laundry to walls or clothelines hanging in your hostel. You can also use them to attach water bottles to the outside of your pack for easy access, or make your outside zippers a little harder to sneak into.”


“When it is time to hit the road to your next destination, consider including a sitting pad. You can also buy a knee pad, then use it as a sitting pad. The pad perfectly fits into your day pack. On a boat trip or a long train ride, the sitting pad can add extra cushioning on your seat and help absorb any bounciness when the road is rough. You’ll be amazed at how handy it becomes when hiking and doing other outdoor activities.”


“You’ve got your real valuables (passport, big bills, etc.) hidden underneath your clothes somewhere, and hopefully your day-wallet—what you use for purchases during the day—is a trimmed-down version of what you carry at home. An easy way to protect that wallet against pickpockets: most pants have slanted front pockets, to make it easy to slide your hand in from the side. Let’s make that a little harder. From the inside, use a safety pin to pinch off part of the pocket on the downhill side. Leave most of the safety-pin inside against the skin, and just a little bit of the moving part visible outside. Adjust it so that you can barely get your wrist (or only a couple of fingers) inside the pocket, going down, not sideways. It’s a little more difficult for you, but almost impossible for someone else to get in there. It keeps your wallet from falling out if you slouch with your feet up. If you’re really paranoid, carry a wad of Canadian Tire bills. If you find yourself in a threatening situation, throw them in the air and run!”

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