Apr 10

Hot Sauce In My First-Aid Kit

by Nikki · 3 comments

The Essentials

Toiletries & Face

My RTW face regimen. Photo Courtesy of Murad

The majority of the toiletries speak for themselves. For my face, I love Murad products and simply couldn’t bare the thought of going a year without them. I tested the Acne Complex Introductory Kit when I was in South America. It’s advertised as a 30-day supply, but if you use it sparingly, it can last MUCH longer. The face wash, exfoliating acne gel, and skin perfecting lotion lasted me three months, with some to spare when I returned. The toner went fast within the first month, but the treatment is still great without it. I brought the left overs from the intro kit and bought the full size kit for after it runs out. In all, I think this will last me about 9 months.

Though I don’t have acne, I opted for the Acne Complex kit  because I’ll be moving around and sweating a lot. How my face will adjust to the different environments I will be exposed to is unpredictable, and I’ve had breakouts in the past when traveling. The acne complex does a great job of exfoliating the skin and combating impurities that cause breakouts. I’ll be a step ahead of pimples if I stick to the regimen as long as I can.


....too much hair to bare without my friends Giovanni & Paul

Since becoming natural, I’ve been known to just rub some coconut oil through my head an call it a day. For this trip, I’m trying to behave myself so I packed my favorites. They are bulky and take up entirely too much space, but I’m ignoring their existence for the time being because I have braids. I don’t want to chop off a whole bunch of hair after this trip, so I’m sacrificing space in exchange for a bigger fro in a years time, and super cute twist outs when I get rid of the braids. That said, the same can be achieved with hair products and natural oils found just about anywhere around the world. I’m just being lazy and sticking to what I know until I have to figure it out.


I opted to make my own first-aid kit instead of buying one. None of the pre-made kits have everything necessary for a trip as long as mine. I also consulted my doctor and looked online for prescriptions to fill in advance of leaving. Cipro and Malarone are the two most important. Cipro will knock out almost any infection in a matter of days and Malarone is always good to have for when you’re in Malarial areas. I’m sure you’re all wondering why Tabasco Sauce is listed in my first aid kit. It’s for homesickness. In my defense, before you chuckle and write me off as a certified country bumpkin, I got the idea from my fellow backpackers from Australia. Australians LOVE vegemite, a food-paste that goes on toast in the morning. In South America, all of the Australians I met on the road had a tube and never left home without it. I tried it, and I think it’s disgusting, but for my Aussie buddies, it’s like taking a piece of home around the world. Oliver Wendell Holmes said that ” Memories, Imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.” But what about taste?The scene of the final tasting in the Pixar Movie Ratatouille comes to mind when thinking of the sensation Tabasco Sauce hitting my lips and starting to tingle a little bit. If I’m feeling down, or heck, if the food somewhere sucks, a quick dab of Tabasco Sauce is all I’ll need to embrace my love of the South , and continue on my way. And yes, this still might be a little bit country of me (ok, a lot).

More Important Stuff

My BFF from Sabre

All of these things are essentials. A couple I’d like to highlight are the pepper spray and Swiss Army Knife. I rarely leave home without them, even when I’m not traveling.  They are both good investments for independent travelers for safety and utility. I haven’t used the pepper spray yet, but I feel safer having it. Just remember that it doesn’t replace good judgment. Mine is pretty, pink, and could pass as lipstick. Little will a mugger know, that its actually my venom-spitting magic wand.

Money, Document, Papers, & Books

Its extremely important to have copies of your passport, passport photos, and all other forms of identity. Lots of hostels and hotels require a copy of your passport for bookings. Rather than giving them my actual passport I give them a color copy to scan. If you’re like me and have a tendency to lose or misplace important stuff ALL the  time, this is the way to go. I have left my passport with more receptionists than I care to admit.

I also decided to get travelers insurance for the trip through World Nomads. I went for the premium Explorer coverage for reasons previously established: I’m crazy, and do insane things like cage dive with Great White Sharks.

Books are heavy as shit and insanely inconvenient, but I love them. The good thing is that most hostels around the world have a book exchange. Guidebooks are tough to come by though. I decided to start with East Africa and India.


The kindle resolves the guidebook issue. I obviously can’t take guide books for every country I visit. The kindle is a great way of taking tons of guidebooks in one. It sucks not to feel real pages and dog-ear must see’s but its way easier and lighter than any other option. At first I considered taking an iPad but ultimately decided against it for a few reasons.

An iPad is not a computer and lacks qualities that are essential to curating an interactive website like NavigatingNikki. The MacBookAir is very light alleviates this issue. iPads are well known worldwide. To others, they can be a sign of wealth and scream “ROB ME PLEASE,” if you’re seen in public with one. This wouldn’t work out well on busses in many countries. Additionally, the lighting of the iPad makes it uncomfortable to read for long periods of time, and it caters to my lack of an attention span with simply too many options, gadgets, and distractions. I definitely wouldn’t re-read The Illiad when I could be playing angry birds and cueing up my instagram.

The Kindle, though still a worldwide product, is cheaper, smaller, and easy to replace at less than $100 a pop. Plus, if I do get robed, all of my books will be replaceable on my Amazon account.  It’s easy to read on and discreet. Though it lacks the features of an iPad, it replaces the undeniable necessity of guidebooks without compromising my safety as much if I were to pull it out on a bus, lost on the middle of a rural village, or in a big city where I could be a target as a foreigner. With the App Store now available on mac computers and computer versions of a lot of the iPad and iPhone apps, the best trio would be to have an iPhone, a small discreet computer, and a Kindle for reading.

To sum it up, overlanding means long commutes. Long commutes mean thick books. Thick books mean heavy loads. Heavy loads mean angry Nikki. A Kindle is a must.

Ok, now why two cameras?

The Nikon D90 is my baby, I’ve had her for years and I love her. But in sometimes, in places where crime is high, its just not worth it to be running around with a camera the size of my head. You’re just asking for an ass whooping and to get your stuff jacked. The Canon G12 is compact, but rivals some DSLR cameras in quality. It also rocks because it has a waterproof case. I first saw it in action underwater in Peru when I was tagging Sea Turtles with ecOceanica. They used it both under and over water to capture phenomenal photos of turtles in the name of research.

I’m also a storage whore, who hates losing pictures. Western Digital’s My Passport external hardrive has more than enough space to store a year’s worth of pictures and backs up any and every other important document I may need.  It also has a shock resistant case that can withstand drops, falls, and other clumsy stuff thats bound to happen, making it great to store in my big bag, while the other electronics  stay put in my day pack. I’ll use the Memory Sticks to store photos as well, but they come in handy more when I want to download pictures from new friends who get sick shots of our adventures. I hate watches and cell phones, but I love music and running so I’m bringing an iPod nano for music and as watch when I absolutely need one. My dad talked me into taking a cell phone, so I bought one for $10 at a bookstore in South Africa, for EMERGENCIES ONLY. Yes, I’m talking to you dad.

What types of goodies do you pack for long trips? Think I’m retarded for bringing so many gadgets? Why? Please share, I want to hear all your thoughts! Now that I’ve shown you the goods, what the hell am I going to put it all in? I’ll explain my packing strategy next! In the meantime…feel free to put in your two cents in on what I’ll be lugging around the world. Peace!

Hiram Garigliano May 9, 2012 at 9:29 am

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NavigatingNikki May 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Thanks Hiram! The site will be getting a makeover in the next week so keep an eye out for more exciting content and even more resources!

Ashia June 2, 2012 at 12:58 am

I see Giovanni is still in the line-up… Nice lol

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