What to Pack (pt. 2): Sun Protection

A sunset in Naxos, Greece

The hot sun sets after a hard day's work in Naxos, Greece.

The sun has not always been kind to me.

Last week was a clear example. We went to a friend’s cottage in Muskoka and had a fantastic time. The only problem was that the entire day Saturday was spent in and out of the water. The morning started with Sara and I swimming across the lake, later in the afternoon we amassed a huge floatilla of inflatable rafts, pool noodles, and a paddle boat. I’m pretty sure we hung out in the middle of the lake for a good 2+ hours on that thing.

And yes, I put on sunscreen. Yes and no, I suppose.

I put some on my back and then went swimming and hung out in the water without reapplying. In hindsight, twas quite foolish.

That night, the entire top of my back was bright red and sore to the touch. Sore probably is not the correct word to describe how it felt.  The phrase I used at the time contained language I’d prefer not to include here.

As an added bonus, I banged my foot on the side of my bed before crawling inside, nicely balancing out the pain from top to bottom.

Over the years, my skin colour has been described by others as white, pasty, lacking of melanin, on the verge of albinism. While I strongly disagree with the latter, it is true that I am a touch on the pale side. And I burn. Put me outside on a bright, sunny day and I’ll be medium rare to well done in a half hour – in the winter.

As far as sunburns have gone in my life, this one was a doozy. With both shoulders burnt, sleep was not kind – especially when you roll over on either side, and I tend to roll a lot. Still, one week later, both shoulders remained red, blistered and peeling, it really was quite gross.

Anywho, my red shoulders and back were the inspiration behind today’s post. Travelling to Southeast Asia I must admit I’m pretty scared of the Southeast Asian sun. As such, light pants (that convert into shorts) along with light long sleeve shirts are going to earn a prominent position in my suitcase beside my hat.

And sunscreen.

They say you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry because you end up buying way more food then you need as stomach overrides brain in the decision making. Perhaps the same can be said about buying sunscreen when your shoulders are throbbing.

We stopped at a pharmacy and I noticed sunscreen was on sale for 25% off. Also, in the back of the store I found a coupon for an additional $5 off. I came home with three large bottles of sunscreen. Surely, this will be enough.

But what if I run out? What if I can’t find more? How much will the panicked white man be charged to shield himself from the sun?

Maybe I should go back and get one more…

What to Pack (part 1)

Backpacking in Girona, Spain

My wife Sara walks through Girona, Spain on the way to our hotel.

Such has been the discussion in our house for the past several months. What do you actually bring with you on a four-month trip?

First of all, I want to pack light. This means one backpack, daypack (which attaches to said backpack), and my camera bag.

So by establishinng the bags, one then knows how much physical space is available for the packing.

Clothes-wise it should be fairly simple. Enough for one week with the assumption that I’ll find somewhere for laundry. If not, well, I’ll figure something out.

But what additional items come along? The knicknacks that could be handy in a jam or could just take up space. That’s where things get interesting. There are so many random travel gizmos clogging the travel store shelves. Ingenious devices many are, but a waste of space at the same time for the majority.

Sitting in my living room are some random items I’ve acquired. We have a small flashlight, swiss army knife, compass, some rope, combo lock, a waterproof drybag that covers my camera, and I’m not sure what else is around here.

I would be curious about any suggestions people have for packing. What did you bring travelling with you that was indispensable? What did you bring that just took up space in your bag?

I’ll list suggestions in a future post.

Oh, and I’m writing this post with my new tiny Acer netbook, but let’s discuss electronics in another post, shall we?