Home (Bitter)Sweet Home

Wow, it seems like forever since blogging on this site!  I went offline for over a week as my family traveled on mission overseas.  I had great aspirations of blogging while there (sigh)…

I cannot wait to post some of the pictures from the beautiful city of Kiev, Ukraine.  As pretty as it was, the people are what truly make it special.  We went to Kenya last year on mission and had no idea what to expect this year in Eastern Europe.  A different team of people, a different part of the world, a different set of goals – just entirely different.

As much as I don’t want to admit it, my body doesn’t handle jet lag very well.  I am still getting up in the middle of the night and can’t sleep during the day.  It will be fine, but until my inner clock resets, I am tired.  However, I couldn’t wait one more day to get back online.  So today’s post are some travel pointers I’ve learned over the years in hopes they may benefit you as well.

All-time necessary travel item (besides a passport):  Water.  Airports, planes, buses, hotels, and constant lugging of luggage really dehydrates the body.  I keep water with me at all times.  I will guzzle a bottle down before having to ditch it at security, then buy another as soon as I am able.

Favorite travel accessory:  Eye mask. I can pull this handy dandy item out anywhere, anytime, and instantly seclude myself from the outside world.  It is very helpful to sleep with, but I must confess I wear it sometimes just to give the illusion I’m asleep so I can grab a minute of peace and quiet.  (Shh, this is a secret!)

Favorite luxury item:  Noise reducer headphones.  A teammate on this trip had a pair, and as soon as our first flight landed, I bought some (albeit overpriced) in the airport before making our connection.  I compromised on a pair that was less than $100.  They are noise reducing, but also have a jack to plug into an iPod and give great sound.  So to accomplish almost no noise, I also used a pair of foam earplugs.  I must admit, as long as the Lord continues to let us travel on mission, I may get a part-time job to earn the money for the Bose 100% noise eliminators.  Those, coupled with the eye mask, would be one awesome ride!

Something to schlep stuff in: Eddie Bauer “Daypack.”  It’s smaller than a backpack, but is made to handle the tough stuff and didn’t count as a carry-on (it was in the laptop, purse category so I could still have a carry-on).  It has all of the same cool compartments of a regular-sized backpack, but it’s much more easy to manage.  I’ve tried packs that look like purses and the straps broke from either too much weight or overuse.  I’ve tried traditional backpacks and they are too big and my small stuff sinks to the bottom.  I’ve always said the perfect job for me would be a quality control tester for purses, etc.  NONE have withstood my use.  This EB daypack is the only thing that hasn’t surrendered to my wear and tear.  It has nicely padded straps to wear when you need to be hands-free.  I bought mine at an outlet store on sale.  Okay, I’ll confess.  It was originally a gift for my husband, but now the whole family wants to use it. 🙂

Pack reasonably.  Really think about where you are going and what toiletries and cosmetics you will need.  Creature comforts are great to have on hand, but not at the expense of so many things it’s a scavenger hunt every morning just getting ready.  And, if on mission or active travel, probably half of what we usually use isn’t needed because it’s all going to sweat off anyway.

Use the bathroom!  If one is available – use it whether you think you need to or not.  There is a good chance there may not be another one for a while and that is a miserable situation to be in.

On that note, the Go Girl is a nifty product.  Guys, you may want to skip this part.  Girls, it’s a porta potty – basically a silicon funnel with biodegradable baggie.  My family laughs, but when it’s the only thing available for miles around, and not even ol’ fashioned nature is an option, this is worth gold.  Then who’s laughing?

Journal the journey.  Whether in the notes section of your smart phone, via photographs, or notebook and pen, capture not just the experience but your reaction to it.  Just a few words or sentences or photos.  Enough to be able to go back and fill in the blanks later.  But, assuming you’ll remember every moment is simply unrealistic and unnecessary pressure on oneself.  Personally, I journal through photos.  I’ll snap a picture of something that I connect with or want to expand on later be it a person, place, food, activity, brochure, anything.  It jogs my memory once I’m home.

Avoid ice.  Just a personal tip from someone who learned the hard way.  We made it all the way through Kenya without any digestive issues at all.  Then, on the ride home, both my husband and I had ice in our drinks on the plane.  BIG MISTAKE!  We thought we were going to die we were so sick by the time we got home.  Not worth it.  Unless you are in a familiar place that you know you can tolerate remember this – if you won’t drink the water, don’t eat the ice!

Pack snacks.  Whether traveling with kids, special dietary needs, or just yourself, packing snacks if a real lifesaver.  We pack things that can travel well (peanuts, dried fruit, freeze-fried fruit, protein bars, trail mix, etc.).  More than once these have wound up being a meal when caught in unforeseen circumstances such as harvesting corn in Kenya or tied up in a layover, flat tire, etc.  Most airports have food, but some make you pay dearly for it.  We were charged $5/person for a bottled water or soda on this last trip. Pfft! :O

Travel pharmacy.  It’s very important to take your usual meds as they may not be available where you are going.  However, we go a step further and bring a sampling of popular OTC meds – especially for digestive systems.  Foreign food, little sleep, and hard work can tear up a body and weaken the immune system.  We pack items such as Airborne tablets, Cold Eeze lozenges, Immodium, laxatives, Tums, cold meds, Afrin (for the plane if you have a stuffy nose), pain relievers, vitamins, and a first aid kit.  We filled 2 gallon-sized bags going to Ukraine, granted we are a party of five.  Always bring a thermometer, too, and if traveling really far or foreign, perhaps a round of antibiotics just in case.  We saw strep throat in our team in Ukraine.  It happens!  Keep reasonably necessary meds with you en route (plane, bus, etc. – anywhere you cannot get to your luggage).  Better to curb a migraine at the onset than have to wait hours before your luggage is in your hands again.

Shower shoes.  Buy a cheap pair of flip flops for the shower.  They can cost as little as dollar, and that is far less expensive than paying for treating foot fungus that is very easily contagious.  Every doctor I know travels with them – and so do we!  Like they say, an ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure.

Records.  Depending on where you are traveling, make copies of your health insurance card, immunization record, birth certificate, passport and driver’s licence and securely store them.  The last thing anyone wants is to be far from home and legal documents get stolen or go missing and there is no way to prove who you are.

Well, I will stop here.  I hope some of these are helpful to you.  Can’t wait to blog more of the heart of our journey.  So much to share!  Have a great day, Kristi

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