This is part one of a guest post by Thomaida Hudanish, a blog reader and traveler who I met when she came to Palestine as part of the trip she talks about in this post. Stay tuned for part two which will be published in early November. Enjoy. - Genevieve
Type of Trip:
Extended Volunteer/Mission Trip/Pilgrimage a.k.a. Around-the-World-to- Help-Children
Length of Trip:
India, the Middle East, Western Europe
In November 2013, I set off for a trip to volunteer with Orthodox Christian ministries in various places, beginning with an orphanage outside of Kolkata, India and continuing to a school in the West Bank, Palestine. While I packed with the intention of continuing to volunteer after these first two assignments, instead I returned to the United States via a 5-week tour of France, Germany & England, to seize a job opportunity in line with the same goals and mission that inspired me to take this journey.
1. Two Kinds.
Rick Steves says that there are two kinds of travelers: those who packed light and those who wish they had. I agree and I'm still in the second camp. As much as I wish that I could throw everything on my back and jump onto a moving train, that's not the kind of trip I planned and let's face it, that's not the kind of traveler I am. So, yes, PACK AS LIGHT AS YOU CAN. Then read on to learn why I'm still glad I brought more than I wanted to.
2. Tell Your Story.
I packed a letter-size laminated US/World map and an inexpensive, 20-pg photo album with pictures of friends, family members and everyday happenings in my life at home. These are two tools that helped me to share about my life and relate with new friends, in many cases across language barriers. Alternatively, you might consider making a little slide show to flip through on whatever electronic device you bring.
I'm a huge fan of packing sacks, regardless of brand. They help me to stay organized even after I settle into a location. The other thing I did was to create designated Ziploc bags for my office, first aid & medications and electronic accessories. For example, the "Office" bag held pen refills, a permanent marker, binder clips, a highlighter, sticky tack, post-its, and a glue stick. The "First Aid" bag had Bandaids, anti-diarrhea medication, vitamin-C packets, hydrocortizone cream and so on. Another Ziploc held chargers, plug converters, cords, and extra batteries. This way, even on the road, everything had a place. I also packed a few extra Ziplocs in varying sizes.
4. Fashion vs. Function
Knowing that my travel destinations could involve the beach, a formal event or a professional work setting, I had to plan for variety, but focus my packing on the known activities: playing with children and going to church. Long skirts were a must for the conservative cultures and monastic environments that I intended to be a part of, so I brought three. Additional favorites were: a merino wool pullover, a cream-colored long- sleeve shirt with some lace detail to help dress up some outfits, a lightweight henley with adjustable sleeve-length, black leggings, and a pair of comfortable, sturdy mary-jane style Privos. A daily moisturizer with SPF was the MVP of my cosmetics, but I also used a little makeup, sparkly hair accessories and earrings for special occasions.
5. Technology on the Road
I didn't want to lug my laptop around the world--what a hassle! As a writer, however, it's the one tool I used every day. I brought along an extra hard drive for biweekly backups and packed it in a separate bag from the laptop in case of theft. In addition to writing a blog, editing photos and keeping up with my family and friends via Skype, I used the laptop extensively in each volunteer position. I purchased a new camera for the trip because documenting my experiences for readers at home was a priority. My older point & shoot camera came along as backup for excursions involving sand, water or questionable security.
Another gadget I like for journeys big and small is the humble headlamp. It's great for reading in bed after you've crawled under the mosquito net for the night.
Thomaida wrote a series of articles about her 7-month volunteer pilgrimage covering India, Turkey, Israel/Palestine, France, Germany and England at www.honeybeebuzz.org. She lives, writes and dreams up new ways to make the world a better place in Portland, Oregon.