Packing: we all know the usual suspects – the sun cream, hand sanitizer, baby wipes and first aid kits – that are essential to a successful trip and a recent survey by Columbus Direct found that Brits cannot leave home without their smartphone, book or ebook reader, or sunglasses. But when we asked you what one thing you always pack in your bag when travelling, we got some pretty unusual responses, from pickled onion crisps to an inflatable globe. So, bury that boring bite cream somewhere near the bottom, and make sure you’ve got a few of these to hand on your next trip.
This is certainly one of the more bizarre answers we had. Community member Sooz doesn’t advise to take Marmite to spread on your toast though; she says you should eat a spoonful a day to “keep the mozzies at bay". Apparently it’s all that vitamin B that mosquitoes hate. So, whether you love it or you hate it, it might be worth indulging if you’re a mosquito magnet.
These can be anything – from pens and pencils, to sweets and chocolate – just as long as you don’t mind parting with them when the local kids get wind that you’re dishing out treasure. Rough Guides Community member Karla Cachola told us she takes sweets, and “it’s worth every smile”.
Perhaps this is more of a British packing habit, but there is nothing worse than waking up the morning after that treacherous ten-hour bus ride, looking forward to a cuppa – just the way you like it – and then being presented with a drink that tastes, as Amanda Letch put it so eloquently, "like something that a gnat might excrete". Bringing your own teabags (unless you’re in India or China, the homes of top tea) will help avoid that disappointment and keep you energized for the day ahead.
In this digital age we are able to snap as many photos as we want, see them instantly and then discard or keep them without having to print a single thing. Admittedly, this is a fantastic way to remember your trip, but it can make us obsessive and we might end up seeing the whole adventure through a lens. Instead, Community member Matt takes a Polaroid camera: “I love being able to capture a moment and see the actual physical outcome of a Polaroid. It makes me really take my time and decide what to take a picture of because of the limited film".
Pickled onion crisps
Food is not often on the top of anyone’s list to make room for in their suitcase, but according to Carroll Marsh, pickled onion flavoured Monster Munch are a great ice-breaker. “No matter what country you’re in, people always want to try them. And guess what? They are always a big hit!”
We think this is an ingenious idea. Whether you’re beach bumming in the Bahamas or backpacking in Southeast Asia, you’re bound to come across a smelly toilet and these little sticks of sweet scent will go a long way to make nature’s calling all the more bearable. Jacqui Tatnall also uses them to bring her peace and tranquility after a hard day’s travelling.
Deck of cards
Another great tool for bonding with fellow travellers and locals alike is a deck of playing cards. Community member stugreen always packs his “for when the bus that was supposed to turn up at midday arrives at 4pm… the next day!”
A musical instrument
Even if you don’t play one, any kind of musical instrument is great for bonding, jamming or learning with the locals. Whether you can teach them your favourite song or want to learn a local tune yourself, they’re bound to make some memorable moments. Angie Main takes a charango (a Bolivian string instrument), Ethnotek backpack winner, andmiller89, takes his harmonica, and Izziearth carries her ukulele “because everyone wants to stop and chat to a gal with a uke”.
An inflatable globe
Who said learning couldn’t be fun?! This little number doubles up: firstly, it’s great for showing the locals where you’re from and how far you’ve travelled across the world to meet them, and secondly, Les Gibbons says it’s then good for a game of catch with the kids.