The last week has been a maddening blur!

Goodbyes, packing, writing, photo shoots, more goodbyes…

Amidst all the madness and seemingly non-stop errand running, I did manage to finally do one of my favorite pre-travel activities:

Buying supplies.

I made my once-yearly appearance at a Wal-Mart here (a frightening prospect when you see the people that roam the aisles at 4 a.m!) and managed to spend over a hundred dollars on supplies for this upcoming trip.

Although an $800 ticket is sitting nestled in my inbox, the fact that I am leaving the country for six months doesn’t really hit home until I do my supply run. Just filling the basket with things that I am going to need for the coming months seems to drive home the fact that YES – I am getting on a plane soon.

As much as I enjoy pre-trip shopping, I am an advocate of buying whatever you can locally at your first destination.  Not only are you helping an economy/family that needs it (more so than the Wal-mart CEO anyway) chances are that the stuff you buy will be cheaper.

Things I DO buy at home rather than abroad:

  • Sunscreen: If the locals are brown where you are going, it will probably be ancient and expensive to buy.
  • Deodorant: Also very expensive. Axe, the only brand you can find in Thailand, doesn’t work anyway.
  • Drink mix: After six months of drinking 4 – 6 liters of water a day to replace sweat, you would want some flavor too!
  • Shaving supplies: Asian men don’t have to worry about looking like ZZ Top after one week of not shaving.
  • Misc items: Some things such as vitamins, face wipes, dental floss, a nice journal, and batteries you just can’t easily find when abroad.
  • 100% DEET spray: Yes, it will melt your skin, but it does a hell of a job on the nasty things you encounter in Southeast Asia.

Throw in purchases such as fuel stabilizer for long-term parking my truck, snacks, Lithium batteries for the camera, etc, and suddenly I just spent five days worth of living expenses.

My tab went over $100 because I finally broke down and replaced some travel paraphernalia that wouldn’t possibly survive another trip. I’ve had quite a few field losses while traveling the last four years and so decided to invest in my gear for a change.  Some new items for this trip:

  • Small travel umbrella: Because the monsoon season is drowning most of SE Asia.
  • Waterproof bags: Same reason as above.
  • Compass: I go through one cheapie a year and am lost without one. Literally.
  • 8 GB SD Card: To use for backing up laptop files

Some things that you will NEVER catch me buying at home before a trip:

  • Travel-sized bottles: What a rip-off. Buy the regular size and fill some small travel bottles yourself.
  • Sunglasses, T-shirts, flip-flops, or anything else that can be bought dirt-cheap at markets in Southeast Asia.
  • Pre-packed first aid kits: Half the stuff in these things is useless. Besides, its fun to pack your own.
  • Survival toys in the camping aisle: 90 percent of the Coleman stuff I own either never gets carried or never gets used anyway.
  • Stuff in the “travel” aisle: The small locks in the hardware section are far cheaper than the colorful ones made for “travelers.”

Here’s a peek at my usual backpacking packing list.

Three days until Orlando…then Bangkok…woohoo!