The Traveler’s Ditch Bag

Sailors know of the ditch bag.  It’s a bag filled with essential items should the worst case scenario play out and you have to abandon ship.  Food, water, medicine, communication, maybe some fishing line and other assorted things that hopefully keep you alive long enough to be rescued.  All these things assembled at the ready – to be grabbed as you reluctantly jump into a life raft.

I’m a land-based creature at the moment, but a traveler nonetheless.  I have a ditch bag of my own, usually kept in my work bag, but sometimes relocated to my duffel bag or suitcase, depending on the nature of travel.  But it’s always there at the ready, even now.  I came across it today as I was looking for the charger for my noise-cancelling headphones, and smiled at the ditch bag that silently waits for our next adventure.  I’m ready my friend, even if the world isn’t quite ready for us.  Flexible traveling requires keeping things to a minimum, but there are some things that must always be with you.

My traveler’s ditch bag is filled with the important items that must be with you – charging cords and plug adapters for various countries, a mini power strip, an extra watch band, a second wallet with a couple of just-in-case credit cards that I rarely use, a headlamp, a couple of pens and a small notebook, earplugs, a couple of protein bars and some Motrin and Tums.  All that is typical.  Where I might go off the path a bit is in the other things I bring with me: A sky chart that glows in the dark for both northern and southern hemisphere, media adapters for plugging a laptop into a monitor or television, a bullet journal to keep tasks on track, those invaluable noise-cancelling headphones, reading glasses and a paperback book to read just in case the iPhone with Kindle app fails me.  The iPhone has helped immeasurably in minimizing stuff jammed into the travel ditch bag.  I used to bring 3-4 books to read, now I have everything on the kindle with that one physical book.  I also have an assortment of required apps at the ready: Duolingo, Google Translate, Pocket Universe, iTunes, Aurora, Ring, TripIt, Uber, Waze and of course, WordPress.

Toiletry kit, laptop, passport and assorted work-related items go elsewhere.  Wear an outfit that would be appropriate attire should your bag get lost.  Always carry a water bottle, sunglasses and a baseball hat too.  Good walking shoes, sunscreen and a reversible belt and you can pull off just about anything.  And that’s my travel kit, packed and ready to go, waiting indefinitely…  like the rest of us.

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