I thought I’d start off with some practical advice whilst I flounder when trying to think of other topics and because let’s face it: there’s not enough of it on the internet. If there was I could have been spared some frustration – though I’ll admit I would have been deprived of a few incidents during which I was laughing so hard I cried.
Last year I went on an overseas volunteer project and spent some time building and teaching in a local community. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I’m the first to recommend it to anyone. Before you go though, I have some advice.
Take a real towel: I had the genius idea that I would conserve on space in my suitcase and use one of those micro-towels.
It was both useless and so sadly pitiful. That is to say, after dumping a bucket of cold water over your head a micro-towel is not the comforting hug you wanted. The micro-towel may dry you but you won’t feel any better about your life. On the plus side, they dry out faster than real towels so in humid temperatures it won’t smell funny. If you’re going to stick with the ‘real towel’ option, take two. Trust me on this one.
Even if pants are more practical for working and running around – TAKE A SKIRT!! After four weeks without a shower you are going to want to feel feminine. I’m not sure if the guys will find this advice helpful, but you’re welcome.
Wet wipes or baby-wipes. They are like gold. Carry them everywhere and give them up for nothing and no one. I can’t exactly remember the point I thought taking ONE packet was a good idea, but I think almost cried when I realised what I’d done.
Camera. Do not forget this, because how else will you capture these wonderful moments?
Mattresses. Those little camping ones of inflatable foam aren’t the most comfortable thing ever. I had a serious problem of what to do with my arms…I think I ended up sleeping like Dracula with them folded across my chest, but at least I didn’t overinflate my bed and end up on the floor.
Hilarious things we should not do when travelling abroad aside, it was one of the most rewarding and challenging things I’ve ever done.
Though, sometimes, I do still wonder about the decision to stick eggs to a pineapple.