Overlanders Tips: Top 5 Girly Essentials
Despite what many may think, overland travel is not a holiday.
It gets tough when you have to wake up and exit your roof tent to an audience, eat local food without offending your hosts (or your stomach), and travel with the same companion day in, day out. Don’t get me wrong, life on the road is great, but it’s definitely not a break. When you have to wash your clothes by hand, and source your food every day or so from who-knows-where, it’s very, very time-consuming and tiring, even without the language barriers. But travelling isn’t an excuse to let yourself go and sprucing yourself up is no mean feat when all you have is a muddy wing mirror for assistance! So here are some of the things I have with me that have made being a lady on the road a little easier…
1 – Toilet Kit: Whether it’s –15°C outside or there’s a friendly but curious local waiting for you to emerge from your tent, peeing in the wilderness can be tricky. Unless you prefer an audience or like a frost/mosquito-bitten bum, I strongly recommend a peeing aid such as the She-Wee. I was a little unsure as first, it being a gift from a friend, and it takes a few attempts to get used to the idea. But I have now mastered the technique and with the addition of a bottle (a leak proof one such as Nalgene) I am relieved in every way first thing in the morning! I have it tucked neatly away in a small pouch with tissues and a hand-gel, which can be whipped out at border crossings too. It’s definitely my top travel essential.
2 – Silk Scarf: When my dry shampoo ran out (itself an ingenious idea for the long gaps between showers) I had to find something else to do with my hair. Even if you can wash your hair in the sticks, what do you do with the ensuing frizz? Cue the versatile silk scarf! When you do eventually have fabulous hair (I’m sure I will at some point) it can be used for a headscarf in religious centres, plus it provides cover from sun and mosquitoes. It can also jazz up an outfit as a belt, neck-scarf or wrap, and stuffs small into a bag or pocket. I bought a long thin one rather than a square to make it easier to tie around my hair, but that’s just my preference as my hair is thick.
3 – Merino underwear: Warm when it’s cold out, and keeps you feeling fresh when it’s hot, my Icebreaker vest and pants have been worn almost continuously on our long trip. They wash and dry easily, and can be worn for days without smelling (if needs be!).
4 – Exfoliating mitt/loofah: In hot dry climates, water is scarce and showers are few and far between. On top of that dust sticks to sweat like sugar on a greasy doughnut. Initially you look like you have a lovely golden tan that people pay good money for back home, but after a few days the layer is so thick that it could almost work as a sunblock. When you finally find a shower that’s working, soap and water will be sufficient to create a dirty brown snake heading for the plughole, but barely scratch the surface of the grime. Using a mitt to scrub away the layers is much more effective and invigorating, so you start to feel human again! Bring a pair of mitts so one can be used with gentle soap for a weekly facial instead of facial scrubs, and it also helps get rid of any peeling bits.
5 – Intensive moisturiser: For face or body, this is a must. Dry flaky noses and lips are particularly unpleasant, not to mention unattractive. Lip-balms with SPF are best and double up as a nose wind/sun protection in emergencies. Creams like Nivea or Dove are great for really dry bits and soothe burnt skin too. We needed as much cream in the freezing conditions of Scandinavia as in the scorching heat of Mongolia.
This list is far from exhaustive but these items will really make a difference to your travels. Do yourself a favour though and leave that 12v hairdryer at home; the blowers in the car are way more effective!