In a previous post, I told you the 12 OTC medicines you need to pack on your next trip, but there are other necessities you MUST bring with you in order to stay healthy and germ free when traveling to a foreign country.
- Toilet Paper- Even the standard hotels will not have a large supply of toilet paper, or perhaps will have none available at all. In India, water is used to “clean up afterwards”, so if you are accustomed to good ol’ TP, you are going to have to bring it with you. I found the easiest way to pack it was to cut the cardboard out from inside of the roll and smash the roll of paper as flat as possible, then shove it in a ziplock bag full of the other necessary bathroom items.
- Bar of Soap– Again, this is not something that you will find readily available. The custom of spraying with water and using only the left hand for unsanitary “jobs” makes for unhealthy hands. Make sure you pack a sample size bar of soap or two so that you can not be touching your face with germ infested hands. Keep it in a smaller ziplock bag with the toilet paper so the paper stays dry, but the soap is always available when you are in a bathroom.
- Baby Wipes– After much experience, I would not travel anywhere without baby wipes. These are helpful in so many ways. India (really, anywhere with a lot of people and animals) is not a clean place and you would not want to spend the entire day touring a village or city without have someway to wash your hands before you grab a bite to eat. They are also perfect for those times when it has been a few days since you’ve seen a shower, bathtub , or in India, a bucket and spout. What about washing that fruit that you just purchased from the little stand? You wouldn’t want to spend the rest of the trip trying to find holes in the floor(toilets). Westerners are not used to the water in India and can get sick from eating fruit, raw vegetables, and even using glasses and straws- *Yes, they reuse straws, so always ask for one in the wrapper, so you are the first to have your mouth on it and it hasn’t been rinsed with water that will make you sick. **If ordering a soda or water bottle, it is best to ask them to give you the whole bottle or can, and not have them pour it in a glass. ***Also- Do not eat salads if you want to stay healthy. It is very tempting when you are served curry for every meal, but that lettuce can be filled with lots of diarrhea causing bacteria from the water that is used to wash it! Stay Safe and forego it!
- Sheet Sleeping Bag Bed Liner- Ok, lets talk about bedbugs and lice. They are nasty little critters that can be anywhere especially in locations where washing bedding may not be a top priority. This was something we still talk about as being one of the best things we brought with us. It is much easier to sleep at night knowing that you have a barrier between yourself and bedding that maybe dozens or hundreds have slept on since the last washing.
5. Steri-Pen UV Water Purifier– You will need this for those times when a bottle of water is not available. It could be for drinking or even tooth brushing. The nice thing about this is that it is small AND destroys over 99.9% of bacteria Viruses and protozoa, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. One important thing to note- put the batteries in BEFORE you leave your home country. Do not travel with a full brand new pack of batteries bought at the last minute and shoved in your bag. Eventually during one of the many bag checks on your trip, someone will decide that this item could make them some money and decide to not allow you to keep it. However, batteries in separate baggies or in the items will typically be fine.
Keep yourself comfortable and healthy and you can have the trip of a lifetime! Forget a true necessity and you could be spending your entire vacation from the inside of a bathroom! Pack Well and Happy Traveling!