When most of us think about travel, it comes with visions of seeing new parts of the world, and experiencing a different way of living. We might just be going a few hours away, but it can feel like a world of difference compared to our day to day lives. While this is often exciting, there are some challenges that can come with traveling, specifically when you miss the comforts of your own home.
Last year my husband and I took a big trip and spent about six weeks in Southeast Asia. It was absolutely amazing, and something we can’t wait to repeat in another part of the world, but there were some moments that got a little harried for us. We tend to be fairly flexible people, so most things didn’t bother us too much, but we definitely had opportunities to see how others would not have been able to enjoy the same trip because of a few small inconveniences.
Whether you travel for work or for pleasure, if you think you won’t be able to truly enjoy because you are distracted by the difference in the environment, it’s worth packing a few comforts of home to help you and your family feel more comfortable in your surroundings.
When we went to Asia, we packed for six weeks in our backpacks. We knew that we would be taking planes, trains, tuk-tuks, cabs, and boats around the area, so we knew we needed to pack lightly. In hindsight, there was one item that I really wish I would have taken, and that was my shower sponge. What we found as we traveled around Asia was that washcloths are not as readily available as they are here in the US. In fact, only a couple places we stayed provided them for us. This meant that after a long day of touring in hot and humid weather, we didn’t have a way to scrub the sweat and dirt off of us.
While we survived just fine, I often found myself wishing that I had my shower sponge so I could give my legs and feet a good scrubbing. There were many days that we were walking around in shorts and sandals, and I felt like I was carrying a country’s worth of grime on my lower extremities. My little shower sponge smushed in a baggie would have taken up very little room, but would have provided me the ability to feel like I was really accomplishing something in the shower. Lesson learned: Always take the shower sponge.
The next item on the list isn’t nearly as compact as a shower sponge, so you need to really evaluate if it’s worth it for you to take it with you. It’s your pillow. I’m one of those people who can sleep with almost any pillow, but I know people who are especially particular about the fluff and rise of their pillow. If you know that you won’t get a good night’s sleep without the right pillow, it may just be worth it to find a pillow that works for you and pack it on all your trips.
If you’re traveling by car, this is obviously much easier because you probably have more room to throw a pillow into your trunk. If you’re traveling by plane, focus only on travel sized pillows. These smaller pillows come in a variety of sizes and firmness, so no matter how you sleep you can likely find one that can work for the duration of your trip. Keep in mind that the ideal pillow will be small enough to fit in your carryon so you can use it during transit as well as at night. This means that you’re going to have to find a very small pillow, learn how to pack your carryon more efficiently, or both. It’s doable, and totally worth it to keep your neck and back feeling great during your expeditions.