Imagine visiting a place for several nights where you don’t know where you’ll be sleeping, the water isn’t safe to drink, and the use of a bathroom and/or shower is an unknown. What would you take?
I just got back from a trip like that, with a few variations. I knew we’d be sleeping indoors, but I didn’t know our hosts. I didn’t know the water would be unsafe (although I should have looked that up before leaving). And I knew we’d have indoor plumbing, but with so many people staying in one place, access to the bathroom would be minimal.
Here’s what I should have brought with me:
- Thin pajamas – We went north on our trip, and even though I checked the forecast and had a full sized sleeping bag with me, I didn’t stop to think that my thick fleece pajama pants might get too warm at night. I’m used to wearing them to sleep in a tent at low temperatures, not in a sleeping bag at room temperature. I should have brought thin PJ pants to wear with a t-shirt at night.
- A shoulder bag – We did a lot of schlepping back and forth, carrying teaching supplies, slippers, our Bibles, etc. The though crossed my mind that I should bring a compact, foldable bag for that purpose, but it slipped my mind when it came time to pack. A folding fabric grocery bag, preferably with a shoulder strap, is something I won’t forget next time. My kids actually found this one (below) at Dollarama, and had it at home. It has a shoulder strap and it’s own carrying bag. On my next trip, I’ll definitely be asking them if I can borrow it.
- A compact sleeping bag – As I mentioned earlier, I took my full weight sleeping bag with me. It got through security as a carry-on piece, but next time, I’d prefer to take a compact sleeping bag that will fit into my pack. Not only will it be easier to carry on the flights, but I’ll be less likely to get overheated while sleeping indoors. In fact, we’re in the market for new sleeping bags for the entire family for our travels this summer, so I ordered the Nature Hike Ultra-Light Sleeping Bag for myself. I’ll post a review of it once I’ve had a chance to try it out. It’s super compact, I can’t wait to try it out!
- Water purification tablets – The community we visited is under a Boil Water Advisory, so we boiled all of our water. However, it made me realize that having water purification tablets with you while you’re traveling to remote locations may not be a bad idea. They’re quite inexpensive, and they’re tiny so they’ll add no weight at all. They’re perfect for a back-up plan. Throwing a box of tablets in your home emergency supply kit would also be a great idea.
- Pictures of my family – My husband cleared my phone before I left so that I’d have lots of space for new photos. But without access to the internet, I was left without photos of the most important people in my life – my family. Next time, I’ll take a wallet-size family picture, or have some up-to-date pics on my phone.
There is one thing I did take that came in very handy: a high quality battery backup for my phone. I was only using my phone for pictures, since we didn’t have wifi access and there was no signal to make calls. But having that battery to recharge my phone meant I didn’t have to use our hosts’ electricity. It also meant I could recharge on the go, keeping my phone plugged into it while we were out and about.
And I’m so glad I used my DIY Packing Cubes! They made life so much easier, especially when I was rooting around in my pack for things when we were on a tight schedule. One of the bags did burst a seam, so for the next trip, I may invest in some actual packing cubes. These ones from MEC are reasonably priced, and like anything from MEC, are probably pretty good quality. But if you’re going on just one trip, using the Dollar Store version is a great idea.
Next up: 5 Things I Wish I HADN’T Taken On My Missions Trip!