Monday, August 13, 2012

Travel must-haves that can also be used during disasters

The recent flooding in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces in the Philippines has made me realize that there are a number of travel must-haves that can also be used in times of disasters. As a journalist, these are very useful especially when I am assigned to a disaster-hit area that requires me to quickly grab my backpack and bring whatever necessities that I can. And as a traveler, bringing these things can save me from unexpected expenses.

You may say, "these can only eat up luggage space." My answer: not really. If you're not yet convinced that you need these things, always say: YOU'LL NEVER KNOW so better be prepared.

Here are some of my travel paraphernalia that have been proven useful during the recent flooding:

1. A resealable, heavy-duty, transluscent (or transparent) plastic bag for mobile phones and other small items that shouldn't get wet such as cameras, wallets, etc. (Sorry, I don't know what they call this, tee-hee) I've already learned the value of this must-have when I went to Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, Mountain Province in the Northern part of the Philippines in 2010. As someone who always checks on his phones almost every minute, putting my mobile phones inside my knapsack was a bad idea (much more if I put it inside the pockets of my shorts) since it would be difficult to check on them all the time. My bag was also not water-proof, and so I was running the risk of having my phones wet given the fact that there are portions of the cave where we have to swim to be able to cross point A to B. This must-have is highly recommended for beach lovers who can't let go of their phones (like myself), mountaineers (especially when it rains unexpectedly), and of course travelers in general. With this must-have, you can check and send messages without the risk of your phone being dropped on the water (pools, beaches, and floods) and get wet by the rains. This item costs less than P200 (about US$4.50) in department stores and sports shops.

Resealable bag. Good for electronic gadgets and anything that can't get wet, especially in times of floods.
Alternative: wrap your phone in an extra-strength, flavorless condom (of course you don't want your phone smelling of strawberry or chocolate). It's cheaper, but admittedly, this looks kinda weird. But then again, in times of disasters such as floods, this proves to be really useful.

2. Flash light. YOU'LL NEVER KNOW when you have to grope in the dark. Flash lights such as the one pictured here are light weight and earth-friendly as you don't have to put batteries to make them work. Just squeeze it and the magnetic mechanisms inside will store energy enough to light up an LED-powered flash light. This is also cheap as this costs as low as P50 (a little over US$1) in flea markets in Manila.
Magnet-powered flashlight.
Alternative: lighters. Very cheap and also light weight, but can't be taken with your hand-carried luggages.

3. Whistle. It's the same case in emergencies while traveling and in times of disaster. When you need to call someone's attention (especially if you're on your rooftop crying for help while floodwaters are rising, or say, when you're robbed at the subway), having a whistle is handy. It costs about $1 in sports shops.
A whistle.
4. Universal adaptors. Most of the time it's difficult to guess the kind of sockets being used in a country so it's better to have universal adaptors. Some appliances in the Philippines also need adaptors, so it's better to be prepared. I got my travel adaptor in Singapore for about S$6.

Universal adaptors.
5. Swiss knives. Or pocket tools. YOU'LL NEVER KNOW when you have to use these. They're light weight, anyway, and doesn't consume much luggage space. But when traveling by air, I don't think the common Swiss knives will pass unnoticed by the security guys. But based from experience, my Swiss card knife (yes, that thin, card-like gadget that fits a small scissor, screw drivers, and other small trinkets) made it inside the plane. Price of a Swiss knife: a little over P1,000 (about US$25)

Pocket tools or Swiss knives of sorts.
6. Band aid. And alcohol. YOU'LL NEVER KNOW when you'll get wounded. Band aid or plasters are perfect for those who always get blisters on their feet. Alcohol can also be used as hand sanitizers before eating. Airport security personnel can let you take a bottle of rubbing inside the plane as long as it is 100 ml or less and is put inside a resealable plastic.

Band aid and plasters for wounds.
7. Lastly, always prepare a "grab pack", that is, a small knapsack that has the abovementioned items plus toiletries in small bottles, underwear, extra shirt, a small towel, cash, and other necessities that you may think of. This is very handy for those who are always on the go (e.g., journalists like me who are always sent to God-knows-where) and those who are always sent out of town or out of the country for meetings and stuff. Those who are always dragged by friends to travel to far off places should also have something like this.


P.S.: After reading this post, you should have already realised that things are dirt cheap in the Philippines ;-)