The traveller’s well-organised medicine bag

My mother is the most organised traveller I know. Everything I learned about packing techniques, what to take, what to leave behind, I learned from her.

The most impressive part of her packing, and the one where I still meticulously follow her lessons, was the family medicine bag. Not only was it full of all the standard toiletries but with two illness-riddled children  (both with severe asthma, one with life-threatening nut allergies) our family trips included antihistamine tablets and ventolin puffers in every bag, as well as a monstrously heavy, buzzing nebuliser for every day emergencies such as a wheezing 5 year old.

When I go overseas, my medicine bag is impressive and designed to ward off any illnesses I may get short of broken bones. And even then, I have bandages for a temporary splint.

This is my guide to a well-organised medicine bag.

Medication

If you are travelling from Australia to anywhere in the world that isn’t New Zealand, Western Europe, the United States or Canada, check out the recommended vaccinations and make sure you are up-to-date. Basic good-sense.

However, you are more likely to come down with a fever, infection or good old belly problems before hepatitis. If you have an obliging doctor, they may be happy to write you out scripts for potential illnesses, which you can have made up before you depart. This can get expensive, but depending on where you are going and for how long it can really be worth it. Some basics to cover are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fevers
  • Stomach problems
  • Severe colds
  • Any infections or problems you might be prone to.

Your standard meds, if you take any, such as:

  • Contraceptives
  • Asthma medication
  • Antihistamines if you have allergies
  • EPI pen

Now for my biggest medicine bag trick.

The best way to transport your meds is to open and cut-up the box. Cut out the side of the box that tells you what the med is and how to take it. Put this rectangle of cardboard over the popping side of the medication packets and wrap it all up in clingwrap. Voila! Securely wrapped and taking up a fraction of the space of the box.

A toiletries check-list:

  • a bar of soap – more useful than bodywash. Get a holder for it.
  • toothbrush and toothpaste, with toothbrush head protectors
  • tampons and pads
  • soft-pack tissues
  • shampoo and conditioner (small bottles, they can easily be replaced)
  • face wipes to make you feel fresh
  • anti bacterial hand gel (keep it in your handbag)
  • band-aids
  • safety pins
  • small scissors
  • antiseptic gel or cream such as Betadine
  • deodorant
  • dry shampoo
  • moisturiser
  • sunscreen
  • perfume
  • make-up – unless you have a reason, be sparing. You will never bother to use as much as you think it will.

People have different ways of packing. You can have one huge bag or separates. I have one for emergency medications, one for everyday toiletries and one for my make up and jewellery. It seems like so much, but if I put it all in one bag it would be impossible to find anything!

S&G quick travel guide to: Cambodia

My new husband and I spent our honeymoon in Cambodia.

I want to say that this off-kilter honeymoon choice was intentional, but in fact we’d booked our trip to Cambodia before we decided to get married, so it was entirely by accident that we found ourselves at the Air Asia check-in counter sneakily asking for upgrades ‘because it’s our honeymoon’.

I’ve written posts about all the places we travelled, so if you’re looking to see something of this beautiful country I would recommend checking them out.

Otherwise, here is my general guide for travelling in Cambodia:

  • Cambodia outside its two main cities; Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; is worth seeing. It is grubbier, there isn’t always a lot to do, there is poverty and near-death experiences on the roads. But if you only stick to the touristy areas, you’re only going to see the tourist side of the country.
  • Pay extra to travel comfortably. It’s worth it.
  • There is an electrolyte drink for sale in Cambodia called Royal D and it will be your new best friend. It cures hangovers, dehydration, stomach problems, anything. Buy it!
  • Never accept a first offer of price from tuk-tuk drivers in particular, but don’t argue too long over a dollar.
  • Cambodia is a country with a troubled recent history and as a nation they still face huge economic and social development problems. Do your bit as a tourist and buy from registered charities, support legitimate development groups and give back to the delightful Cambodians you meet. Every little bit helps and for less than a cup of coffee, you can help incite change.
  • If you are interested in helping out locally, why not volunteer for a day or a week at a wildlife reserve or to help build in local villages. Your guidebook would be a good place to start looking for somewhere reputable. We volunteered at the Elephant Valley Project.
  • If you love cycling and a challenge, you can cycle around the country. Buy a good bike with excellent suspension.
  • The airports in Cambodia are surprisingly good, if you can afford to fly.
  • Siem Reap is the most touristy city in Cambodia. You may love that or loathe it but either way it is good place to re-charge, get your washing done, enjoy good food and drink and meet fellow travellers.
  • The Temples of Angkor Wat are amazing and if you have the time, buy a three-day pass. Take camera, good shoes and patience to deal with the busloads of tourists.
  • Phnom Penh is a city with a lot more charm than you might think, particularly if you take advantage of the river life.

Promise me pie-crust

I am a little funny about my pies. I love a good pie. Sweet, savoury, chicken and leek, apple or cherry. I love them all. That isn’t odd. What is odd is that I like the pie crust as much as, if not more than, the pie filling. While I see some people scrape the chicken out of the pie, I will leave the largest and best pieces of crust until last, with a taste of filling for flavour balance.

That is my odd thing about pies. I am happiest when I work towards the crust of a pie (or tart) and I see a tasty line of biscuit, shortcrust, flaky or filo waiting for me. I know I am not alone in this.

I rail against new-fangled ‘pies’ that are a sloop of filling with a piece of baked filo pastry on top. It’s not a pie!

The pie has a noble culinary heritage and like the sandwich, it’s traditional construction is born out of function and practicality. Everyone knows that good design follows function, and this principal is true even when talking about a simple pie.

A pie was way for a worker to get a solid, generally meaty meal when away from home – working on a farm or in a field for instance. A pie kept all the meat and gravy together in a nice neat package. No mess and easy to eat with your hands.

The nouveau ‘pie’ or the artfully placed filo square is the antithesis of this, and so prevalent, that pie-lovers such as myself can’t order pie outside the home unless you can see it in a window in all its crusty glory.

The quality of a crust can do so much for a pie. A pie (or tart) isn’t just about the filling, it’s a whole package meal, and should be enjoyed as such. I don’t like promises to be like pie-crust but I do like a pie-crust that promises much.

Which are you – aisle or window?

Just as the world is divided into folders and scrunchers, biters and suckers, so we can also divide ourselves into ‘aisle’ or ‘window’. Whichever you prefer, chances are you’re pretty determined on what you like.

Strangely enough, it isn’t a question of seasoned vs. first-time travellers. I imagine first-time travellers want the window seat more than people who are on planes every month, but each option has its benefits and drawbacks that make you fall into one or other category.

View from a window seat

View from a window seat

And let’s be honest: there are only two seat preferences on a plane. No one chooses the middle seat. Middle seats are for people who lost the allocation lucky dip; they are for the sacrificing half of a couple who gave up the window or aisle to a loved one or for the small child seated between their parents in order to prevent them from running amok all over the plane (thank you to those parents).

I am a long-term fan of the aisle seat. It is a preference passed down to me from my parents and I stick by it. The advantages are numerous. You can get up and stretch your legs anytime you want and are never trapped by large or asleep strangers. You can peer up the aisles to see what’s going on or catch a peak at someone else’s meal to see what looks edible. Historically, it was also the place to get the best view of the one television up the front showing the in-flight entertainment. That shows how long I’ve been flying for.

Lately though, I am coming to appreciate the benefits of the window seat. On long-haul flights the benefits seem greater, I admit. Being able to lean your pillow against the window and those few extra precious inches can be wonderful. The view of course, becomes a real selling point, particularly when flying over central Asia.

Kirst is a window seater from way back – mainly because of the view. As a child she flew over the North Pole and after seeing it from the sky there was no going back. She loves the feeling of extra space and the teeny bit more privacy it offers, plus – no banged elbows or people constantly brushing past.

Interestingly, my Husband has recently informed me that he is converting from a window to aisle preferences, persuaded by my arguments in favour of the latter. This should make picking seats for our next overseas holiday interesting.

Where do you sit? Aisle or Window?

Odd things that Queenslanders love

When you’re in a mixed-country couple, you are bound to have cultural differences, some significant, some minor. Being with English boys, we don’t come across too many big, startling cultural differences but dozens of little, every-day ones that can flummox you just as much.

References to pop culture can be rife with misunderstanding and exclamations of “What do you mean you’ve never watched/heard of  this show/person/expression?” or puzzlement when your partner performs a task that is natural to them but you just stare at them and think “What on earth are you doing?”

Inevitably, you become used to all of this and start to adopt the other person’s cultural idiosyncrasies. I am seeing it in my relationship and in my Husband who is becoming more ‘Queenslander’ with every passing month. He hasn’t taken to wearing maroon just yet, but there are a few things I notice him doing that make me feel ‘that is so Queenslander of you’. So I got thinking, what are the strange things that Queenslanders love?

Avocado on toast

We are a tropical climate and we love our tropical fruits. Avocado has reached the point of state-obsession. Avocado on toast with some combination of salt/lemon/cheese can be found on every cafe in Brisbane, probably the whole of Queensland.

Our summer afternoon thunderstorms Continue reading

The Weekly G&T

Long weekend time! Even though we had a lovely long weekend in Mooloolaba last weekend, we already need another rest. One of us is heading to Maleny, the other is chilling Brisbane-side but we both plan to relax and enjoy four days off.

NEWSFLASH: S&G will be going through a little upgrade and change of scenery over Easter. It might look a little messy for while but we’re really excited about it!

 

Reading Challenge 2015 – before Easter

I am off to Maleny for Easter, which will pretty much three days of eating and reading. So I’m doing a quick update on my reading challenge. We’re a third of the way through the year but I am Not a third of the way through the list!

A book set somewhere you’ve always want to visit – 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (Edinburgh)

This book is a little different. 44 Scotland Street started out as a serial in The Scotsman, similar to a lot of Dicken’s works.  It is therefore a novel of perfect one-chapter stories held together by the intriguing line up of characters who inhabit number 44 Scotland Street. Easy to read, digestible, with a real mix of characters and mishaps, this was my first Alexander McCall Smith novel and it won’t be my last.

Side note: I have wanted to visit Scotland for a very long time and finally in 2015 I am doing it! As part of a trip to Europe later this year I am spending four days in Edinburgh. Hurrah!

A book with more than 500 pags – A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Continue reading