My little sister told me recently that she’s planning to spend next summer working at a medical clinic somewhere far flung.
This calls for another set of life lessons, similar to the advice we gave her when she was 14 and going away from home.
Please bear with me while I get big sistery on you.
- Always carry your purse with your thumb over the zipper, like this…Here’s what it looks like close up:I learned this when my friend Molly and I nearly got pick-pocketed in London. Some woman saved us, yelling “you silly girls, he’s got his hand in your purse!”
- A white button-down is the number one piece of travel clothing. It goes with everything. You can use it up to cover up for impromptu visits at religious sites or if you end up in a country where bare arms are not recommended or if you’re on the beach in the hot sun without an umbrella.
- We’ve talked about this before: always carry an extra set of underwear and a bikini in your carry-on. When you arrive, even if your bags don’t come, you can have a good first day at the beach. Or a good first day wearing clean underpants.
- Always bring comfortable walking shoes. Sorry to break it to you. But the “Jesus sandals” that you hate so much are the best way to squeeze in as much as you can in one day in, say, Paris. Besides, you never want to be the girl who can’t hike up to the waterfall.
- When you travel to places with dirty toilets, toilets that are missing lids and — oh the horror! — toilets that aren’t toilets but just a hole in the ground, you’ll have to squat. It’s easier to squat if you’ve shifted your backpack to your front because you don’t want to be back heavy and tumble backwards. And sometimes, if you’re sick in strange countries, you have to squat for long periods. Take note, the squat isn’t like a gym squat. You’ll be more stable if you do it knock-kneed, by spiraling your toes in and your ankles out.
- Continuing on with the toilet theme, always carry tissues or toilet paper. In some countries, there will be attendants in even the grossest of bathrooms who will charge you for toilet paper. When you are a student with a severe gastrointestinal illness in a foreign country, you do not want to pay for toilet paper by the square. You could go broke.
- Always know where your passport and your credit cards are.
- For the above, when you are rushing through an airport, do not shove your passport into your coat pocket and sprint. Put your passport in your bag first, do up the zipper and then sprint. Because if you drop your passport, it does not matter if you make it to the gate on time. They will not let you fly home. It’s a terrible feeling. In this case, it’s the destination, not the journey that matters.
- When you’re debating between the cheap option and the safe option, safety wins every time. I will lend you money if you need it.
- Watch your drink at all times. AT ALL TIMES. And your best friend Navi’s drink, too.
- And have fun. I’m very proud of you. xo