advice

What tips do you have to keep personal, necessary items (like passports) safe when traveling? — Miller Family

Thank you for a great question! Here at WND we like to pride ourselves on taking a minimalist approach to travel. But we still need to carry important things like cash, passports, and camera equipment. While I do like to meet new people when I travel, I prefer not to get to know the local US embassy agents, police, or my insurance agent very well, so I do my best to keep things safe.

For me it all comes down to being organized and consistent. I carry the same bag and place certain items in very specific pockets consistently so that I know exactly where they are. The more important the item is, the deeper in the bag I place it. I also prefer to put them in pockets that zip.

It’s almost a routine for me as I pack my bag for the day. I place my wallet, passport, and other important items in their reserved place. I have also developed a routine as I walk through a new city in which I frequently feel for the items to ensure they are in their designated spot.

Unfortunately theft and forgetfulness can be part of the traveling experience but you can definitely minimize your risk by being smart, organized, and consistent.

— Jeff Hartman

What should we be prepared for as far as bathrooms and cleanliness go when in Kenya? Haiti? Ukraine? Cambodia? — Linda

Short answer? Be prepared for anything! Using toilets abroad is kind of a craps shoot (Get it?).

Although I’ve been surprised at the number of “Western” style toilets I’ve seen around the world, many countries use toilets that require you to squat rather than sit. Although this has actually been shown to be healthier (It’s true! Look it up.), it definitely takes a little bit of practice to get it right. Expect your first couple of times using a “squatty potty” to be a bit awkward.

As far as cleanliness goes, it’s really just important to be prepared when you pack. There are two things you want to make sure you have in your bag when you travel.

First, bring a roll of toilet paper. Many cultures do not use TP at all, so you do not want to find yourself unprepared in an emergency! I often seal the roll in a plastic bag to make sure it stays dry.

Second, be sure to pack a small bottle of hand sanitizer or, even better, a package of hand wipes. Many bathrooms in the developing world do have some sort of water to wash with, but soap is never a guarantee!

Overall, if you remember to be prepared, flexible, and willing to laugh at your mistakes, your international bathroom experiences shouldn’t be too traumatic. And hey. You might even come back with a few stories to tell!

— Barry Rodriguez