Gender differences in packing for long-haul travel?

Gender differences in packing for long-haul travel?

So, big reveal time: I’m going to India (Goa via Mumbai) on Sunday and will be out there, on my own, for four weeks.

Probably not-a-shocker at all: I’m going to take two suitcases with me.  One will be filled with contributions for the children’s home where I’ll be doing volunteer work for part of my time – primarily craft materials and pens – plus books for myself and a hell of a lot of very high factor sun cream.  The other will contain my clothes and all the other bits and pieces which I think I’ll need for a month away, bearing in mind that I’ve been to India before,  know what I tend to use and also what I can and cannot buy (immediate examples of the “not readily available” variety includes yes, high factor sun cream and books by anyone other than Dan Brown and Danielle Steel).  

Also probably not news to many: I’m preparing for the trip by producing and working from a variety of lists.  I’ve found some (not all,  because I’m not,  heavens forbid, actually,  you know, “back packing”) good ideas and helpful tips in this book, “High Heels and a Head Torch” by Chelsea Duke; and it’s thank to Chelsea that I do now own my very own head torch,  which is a small beam of light attached to a Pixie Lott-esque headband (“Are you going pot-holing while you’re away?” enquired TLS).  

High Heels and a Head Torch

It is apparently useful when walking home alone via unlit tracks or beaches or,  much more likely in my case,  sitting up in bed and reading.  So I have a head torch (and spare batteries for it,  because I’m Type A like that); I’m also now taking 500mg of Vitamin B1 a day in the hope that this will act as an insect deterrent and prevent me from being treated as the Dish of the Day by every mozzie on the Indian west coast. I will be using insect repellent too,  but Chelsea assures me that the B1 does make a difference and hopefully it will be useful in the event that I miss a bit when dowsing myself in Deet.

So,  given all of this reading, thinking, planning and pondering, imagine my chuckles when I received this blog alert on “minimalist travel” from Zen Habits in my in-box over the weekend. And, whilst I genuinely do try to avoid apportioning gender stereotypes, the idea of being away from home for 100 days with only 3 t-shirts to wear/sustain me and also using the same multi-purpose detergent liquid for washing one’s hair, body, clothes and even TEETH (!) can surely only have come from a man.  My eyes almost glazed over at the idea of having to do laundry every two days too,  in order to re-use one’s three t-shirts: how dull would that be?

So, sorry Karol  – but your minimalist approach is not for me in this instance.  I’m sticking with Chelsea,  as at least her packing list features such “frivolities” as makeup,  a bit of jewellery and a pair of sparkly flip-flops.


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