Wow…. How has it already been 300 and 30 something days since I said goodbye to Phoenix, Arizona?! Also, knowing me, how did I survive to live out of one big pack for an entire year? Obviously, I splurged in mini daypacks along the way, but I am truly impressed with myself. I said goodbye to my walk-in closet and hello to wearing the same pair of sweatpants three days in a row before even considering washing them. Some of my teammates had regrets about bringing some things and so did I, but most of my regrets were bringing the things the World Race told us to bring. Who would have thought? Anyways, here are five things I recommend EVERY racer consider buying before their race launch…
Technology + Converters
This is a big one. I "Appled" out and have my iPhone, Watch, Airpods, IPad, and Laptop. Everyone thought I would lose something or have something stolen, but I honestly had no concerns about it, even when living in the bush of Africa for four months! I started the race with a different headphone and no watch but begged my mom to bring stuff to my Parent Vision Trip. It was an amazing decision. Some said they did the race without a phone but I am going, to be honest, don't listen to them. There were times we were stuck in airports for hours or on 72-hour long bus rides. Be prepared to rush, sit, and wait. I downloaded music, movies, tv shows, and got a SIM card in each country for cheap. For converters, you can get a multi-port converter on Amazon for cheap and it does not take up too much room in your bag. Some people did not bring converters and had to wait on other people to be done charging things. Don't be that guy, come prepared. ALSO, bring a battery pack but do not get a cheap one!! My biggest mistake was bringing small charging sticks I got for cheap and they died on me. These will save your life when you are on a plane/bus and need to charge your phone.
Big Wallet + Daypack
I started the race with a small wallet and one small daypack and within the first week, I upgraded. My wallet has my passport, my money, my coin purse, my debit/credit cards, my SIM cards from each country, money/coins from other countries, pictures of my family, health insurance cards, literally everything. Invest in a big wallet you can bring with you and have all your important documents. Also, bring a small folder or something to carry your papers or knick knacks you collect along the way. For daypacks, get something small but that can stretch. The main problem I have run into is that on travel days, we go to check in our big packs and the weight restrictions are different for each airline overseas. I have had to tear apart my pack on multiple occasions to see what I could throw into my daypack to lessen the weight on my pack.
Eye Masks + Ear Plugs
Back at home, I was the queen of blackout curtains and white noise machines. I obviously could not fit those into my big pack though. I got a cheap little Target eye mask as well as a little container of six ear plus. THEY WERE MY LIFESAVERS. Here's the thing, your time or your time asleep do not matter to anyone. Not to airports, not to hostels, not to anyone. I have had to fall asleep in very loud and bright airports, noisy bed neighbors in hostels, in 72-hour bus rides, etc. I couldn't have survived without my eye mask and earplugs to block out the sun, the noise, and people I did not want to talk to at the moment.
This looks different for everyone. For me, it was Crest whitening strips, my makeup, and curling iron. At first, I left it all at home and in month one, I collected all those items. Sometimes, it feels good to take care of yourself, put a facemask on, and do your hair. You are going to have those days where you just feel gross, tired, and probably sweaty so prepare for that. Self-care is SUPER important to me. For those spending most of their time in Europe, be ready to feel like a homeless person. I bought a hairdryer for cheap out here, started doing my makeup, and shopped at H&M just to blend in. After living in Africa for four months, it was a shock and took a while to adjust. Bring things to pamper yourself and for nights you want to go out for a nice dinner and pictures. You do not have to go full granola.
Harder To Find Medication
I am the Probiotic and Biotin queen. It really depends on what countries you're in, but while you can find pain medication anywhere, it was harder to find Biotin and Probiotics in all my countries. Before I left, I counted the specific amount I needed until my parents came to Ethiopia in Month 9 so I could save room. I also brought One a Day Vitamins and Nauzene (great when you feel car sick or sick in general). Your countries will have a lot more than what training camp prepares you for. Don't bring 3 tubes of toothpaste, a bazillion flosses, and stuff like that. Bring more medication just in case. Also, bed bug spray!!! I had a visit from bed bugs in month 2 and a visit from fleas in month 8 and ended up getting Typhus. It was not fun.