In this edition, where should you hang your silky boxers?  And preventing blindness can be a pain in the retina.

What Works

1.  Fucidin Cream

My cute little cat scratched my face so severely once I had to visit the doctor.  He literally gasped upon seeing my disfigured face.  When I mentioned using Polysporin on the injury, he set me straight.  “Polysporin?  Does nothing.  Use this.”  Only available by prescription in Canada, Fucidin kicks Polysporin out of the stadium.  It’s nuclear antibiotic cream that I’ve used time and again.  Unlike Polysporin, I don’t need to apply much, so the tube lasts forever, healing cuts or scratches lightening fast.  Keep in mind – even a small scratch can get infected.  Beg your doctor for it before leaving or borrow my cat if you need.

Cat got your tongue?

2.  Sleeping Bag

I love, love my sleeping bag.  Some people think packing a sleeping bag is pointless, but it depends on the bag.  Mine is solely for tropical countries, good at +15/22 °C, fits into a tiny sack, and feels like a bag of air.  When you need some warmth and distance between you and that questionable hostel mattress, a lightweight bag is useful.  Stay toasty with layering and a decent sleeping bag liner.  Cost: $35 CDN.  www.mec.ca.

3.  Buying Clothes at Value Village

I admit my skepticism at this idea, but gave it a go.  Did I mention my skepticism meter is broken?  This worked way beyond my expectations.  My Kodak pants and Roots rain jacket are constant characters in my India wardrobe.  For items I’ll toss or re-gift to my favorite hostel buddy, I never worry about preserving overpriced North Face fabric.  In fact, I just spilled some bleach on the pants and could care less.  That’s called liberation, baby.  Pants: $7.95 CDN.  Jacket: $13.99 CDN.  One tip: you’ll have to sort through racks of clothes until you hit the jackpot, but once you do it’s worth it.  www.valuevillage.com.

Where my unmentionables go

4.  Clothesline

An essential piece of gear if you want to save on laundry costs.  Mine can be attached with suction cups or hooks and I don’t require clothes pins!  The cords twist and clothes can be slipped through to secure them.  Easily transportable and useful to dry wet clothes from a monsoon dunk, not just clean laundry. www.austinhouse.com.

What Doesn’t

1.  Malarone

Travelers tend to be worried about rapid-fire viruses or diseases that melt skin, for instance.  I was a tad concerned about malaria, so my doctor recommended Malarone (atovaquone and proguanil hydrochloride) for the 6 months of my India leg.  What I didn’t anticipate were the powerful side effects.  My body went from normal adult female to a pimple erupting, diarrhea exiting, exhausted shell. If I were you, research all potential options for malaria medication before getting on that plane.  Wikipedia guide on antimalarial medications.

2.  Clear Care

The golden handcuffs of contact lens care, Clear Care is a hydrogen peroxide based solution that coats lenses with protein and kills bacteria and germs that cause eye infections.  This all sounds terrific, until you get wind of the fussy case that leaks if tipped in any bloody direction.  Bloody impractical when your living space is a bunk bed with no bedside table. I’m bloody stuck with the case because the metal inside it neutralizes the peroxide.  Stick with saline solution if you can.  www.clearcaresolution.com.

The lens case that practicality forgot

3.  Long Hair

Washing my hair has become an event, not just a boring task.  Bucket baths are ample enough for dogs, but not long tresses.  I recommend a pixie cut or sleek bob before embarking on a lengthy trip.  Your hair is up in a ponytail ninety percent of the time anyway.

Hair Loserdom

4.  B12 and Garlic

This combo came by recommendation from a naturopath.  Supposedly B12 and garlic scramble your pheromones so mosquitoes think your blood tastes like sewer water instead of wine.  The only compound that seems to stop bites is 1000 proof DEET.  Always on the quest to annihilate those buggers, I have to throw this option in the “discard” bin.

Share your misfires and wins in the comments, I enjoy reading what others are experiencing.  Until next time!