7 Things You’ll Lose While Traveling (and Their Solutions)
It’s inevitable, there are some things you’re absolutely bound to lose while you’re abroad. It can be frustrating for a number of reasons, but here are some simple solutions or strategies to avoid the situation!
This one really goes without saying. I have a firm belief that all the world’s problems would be solved if socks were sold in packs of three so it won’t matter when one of them inevitably disappears after the first week. No matter how many pairs of socks you pack, you’ll be wearing odd ones two weeks in.
If you can’t be bothered doing that trick mums know where you roll your socks together, so instead, buy a safety pin for each pair you own, and pin them together whenever you throw them into your backpack.
Now, this one may just be me, but I lost three toothbrushes in six months. It seems strange that you’d lose a toothbrush, since you use it at least once a day, but it happens. It’s not so much that you lose them, it’s more that you can’t ever find them. They’re long and thin, so they easily slide into the depths of your backpack when you haphazardly chuck them in to avoid missing check-out time. They’re also very easy to leave on sinks and bathroom shelves, especially while CouchSurfing.
Save a little area or pocket of your bag for things you pack last and use every day, and make sure your toothbrush is always put in there (wrapped in an elastic band with your toothpaste). If you’re anything like me, it’ll make your morning ritual so much less frustrating.
3. Phone Chargers:
Traveling in the 21st century, phones are about as useful as passports. They’re likely to get you out of a jam, you can find things to do on the go, you can check train routes, and you can meet up with friends you haven’t seen since you met on that walking tour three countries ago. They’re the ideal travel companion, except for one thing… Chargers. Until they invent magical wireless chargers or self-charging phone batteries, we’ll have to deal with the charger. The easiest way to lose a charger is to put it near other chargers. These days, plugs basically look the same, divided into roughly two groups: Android and Apple. If somebody’s in a hurry, they’re likely to pack away your charger thinking its theirs. Hell, there’s a chance you’ve even done the same thing.
If you don’t have access to a socket directly on the wall beside your bed, you’ll probably have to use a power board shared by the rest of the room. This is where it’ll most likely go missing, so all you have to do is remember to unplug your charger whenever it’s not in use. Otherwise, if you already have lost your charger, a lot of hostels will have spare ones laying around from people who have left theirs behind. Just go to the desk and ask if you can borrow or buy one, and you’ll probably be in luck.
4. WiFi when you need it most:
This one sort of ties in with the last. You’ll be trying to find your way from the bus station to the hostel, and you’ll realise you’ve got no idea where you are. You’ve had WiFi the entire eight hour bus trip, but you never bothered to save the details. So you go to check your phone for WiFi, and find out there are three available networks, and all of them have passwords. The general rule of WiFi is that it’s always there when you don’t need it, and it’s never there when you do. .
Some people might say the solution is to get your own portable 3G connection. I’m not going to say that. I think situations like these are the perfect opportunity to test yourself. People were traveling the world long before the Internet was even thought up. You don’t need it. Talk to friendly looking locals: ask them where the city center is, or the nearest train station to wherever you need to be, or just where to get some good local food. Take the time to be really independent in a new city; put the phone away and make your own map. If that fails, another handy tip is that you can pre-load Google Maps and drop pins on important places so you can find them later without WiFi
5. Nail Clippers:
These little buggers are the Where’s Wally (or Waldo, if you’re American) of personal grooming accessories. You wouldn’t think a shiny metal thing would be able to hide in your backpack, but trust me, once you drop them in, you’re not seeing them until you next unpack. I once bought a pair of nail clippers for 5 Dirham in the Marrakesh medina, and I haven’t seen them since. The worst thing about them is that you very rarely need them, so you never bother to keep track of them, but then one day you look down at your nails and they’ve grown a good half-centimeter since you last cut them.
If you find one, let me know.
Money’s the last thing you want to lose, but after a couple of months, you’re going to have half a dozen different currencies in your travel wallet. You can’t remember if it’s 20 Czech Republic Koruna or 200, or whether a Norwegian Krone or a Swedish Krona is worth more. It’s very easy to lose track of them all. Not so much physically lose track, but you will overspend, a lot. No matter how savvy you are, you will at some point spend much more than you should’ve. This is especially likely in countries where bartering is common practice. You won’t always be able to convert currencies, or quickly make the best value decisions, and you’ll at some point buy a phone charger or pair of shoes and find the exact same item for half the price around the corner.
You should always be cautious, and learn as much as you can before you buy anything in a currency or market you’re not used to, but you already knew this, didn’t you? If you’re unfamiliar with pricing or scams in any new city, ask somebody trustworthy. Whether it’s somebody who’s been in the city for a week or more and seems cluey, or somebody working at the hostel, seek reliable advice. The biggest thing I can say here though is don’t sweat it. I’m not saying you should just hand cash out to anybody who asks, but don’t live by dollar values. You went traveling to get away from all that. Be prepared to lose a little money for a lot of adventure. Just relax. You’re not going to remember that $10 you wasted in ten years, but you might remember that killer sushi you ate at that Japanese restaurant that time.
This one might be the hardest. You’re going to meet people every new place you go; some you’ll click with, some you won’t… but the ones you do become friends with, you won’t want to see go. My girlfriend often says, “the hardest part about traveling is saying goodbye every day,” and it’s totally true. There’s no other time in your life when you’ll have to say goodbye so often. You can be drinking Leffe after Leffe with somebody and be best friends by 2am, and then at 10am the next day they check out and you never see them again. Depending on how easily you get attached, it can really get you down sometimes.
Facebook. Facebook. Facebook. No matter how weird it might seem at first, ask everybody you befriend for their Facebook account. Chances are, it’ll be totally cool with them, and you’ll be able to keep in contact with people who’ll become lifelong friends. While Couchsurfing in Prague, I made one friend who introduced me to his friend who I then added on Facebook. I met up with him in his hometown of Lisbon for a tour and a beer three months later and still chat to him regularly. Facebook is the ultimate resource for keeping in contact with people you’d otherwise never hear from again, so use it as often as you can. It’s also a great way to get inspired to keep on traveling when your new traveler friends are posting pictures from exotic places you’d never even heard of!