I never saw a gadget I didn’t like. And I like to plan for every eventuality.
So now that I’m in the “go-go” years of travel – as compared to the later “slow-go” and eventual “no-go” years – I have a confession to make: I spend more time planning the no-fail packing list than reading about the history of the places I’m about to visit.
This would probably explain why, before a recent trip to Morocco, I visited Amazon more for travel gadgets than for books about the history of Berber tribes or the French occupation.
“I will learn about all that on the trip,” I reasoned, “but first things first: I need to know what to pack.”
On that point, Amazon, once heralded as the go-to book site, was a ready co-conspirator.
So was the tour company, which I noticed, shortly before departure, had months earlier sent volumes of information, including a section called “Is this adventure right for you?”
Inside were several unsettling admonitions related to tent-camping on the Sahara desert (it could be cold, with no electricity), long bus rides over rough, hilly terrain (no bathrooms on the bus), and the need to pack light (expect narrow stairs, no elevators).
All that – along with a reminder that we couldn’t drink tap water and should pack an antibiotic and possibly a prescription painkiller – sent me over the edge.
I would be lying if I said my answer to “Is this adventure right for you?” was an unqualified “yes.” But the lure of riding a camel across the Sahara was just too strong, and I hated to admit to fellow travelers that I was only now reading the brochure.
The only solution seemed to be to-do and packing lists that would stave off every possible what-if. With Amazon’s eager assistance, I had a package on my front porch nearly every day.
What if there’s no bottled water available? Or I get a bottle and detect that the cap was tampered with? Voila! Water-purification tablets!
What if there are no laundry facilities available over the whole 16 days? Enter travel detergent packets, laundry hooks and collapsible coat hangers.
What if northern Africa, like Europe, has no washcloths? The hanging microfiber washcloth with its own little carrying case is a must.
Once in the Amazon travel morass, I discovered even more helpful friends: the 100% polyester laundry bag that zips into its own tiny case and has the words laundry bag scrolled across the front; the “sweat-cooled” T-shirt; the sun-resistant, water-repellent fishing shirts with roll-up sleeves that don’t wrinkle and double as light jackets.
To my credit, I ordered and returned the online-recommended Sahara hoodie that turned out to be the same as my regular hoodie, except with a pocket for a phone.
Also to my credit, I kept the collapsible hangers, which turned out to be great for drying out those sweat-cooled T-shirts every night.
Finally, I did learn about the Berber tribes and French occupation, chatted with nomadic tribe members, dodged motorcycles in narrow medinas, snapped some great photos that I can now bore my friends with, and – yes – rode a camel over sand dunes.
Did I stave off all those disasters?
Well, all the advertised ones. I was not warned about securing the handheld shower head in its mount far above my head – so that on the edge of the Sahara, I broke my toe.
Of course, I’d brought along that painkiller prescription, right? Nope. In these days of opioid abuse, I didn’t have the nerve to ask for one.
Some things you just can’t prepare for.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.