Bits-and-Pieces Bag

You just stepped off a fourteen hour train from Old Delhi Station to Gorakhpur and buying food from the guy who smelled like a locker room probably was not your best decision of the day. Unfortunately you did not steal that last roll of TP from the hotel. Good thing you were smart enough to throw an emergency pack of wet wipes in your Bits-and-Pieces Bag. Or did you?

The Bits-and-Pieces Bag is a keep-all for  the essentially non-essential items while in transit. Every item in this bag has a job, but you probably will not need each item every day. Rather than cramming Sticky Notes and paracord into random small pockets throughout your pack, a small Ripstop bag can keep all of these essentials in one place. That way they will not be mucking about in your pack and spilling everywhere whenever you tear through looking for those wet wipes. This is a place to keep backups like additional pens and ChapStick. The Bits-and-Pieces Bag is also a great place to keep small gifts for friends you will make along the way like Chicago flag patches or small local currency.

  1. Pens
    1. Reliable. Reliable. Reliable. Find a pen you like, buy 5-6 in the States and do not lend them to anyone if you want to keep them.
    2. I really like to have a Sharpie Pen in my bag. After writing with a ballpoint pen for an extended time these feel great, but if the bits-and-pieces bag is getting full these are out.
  2. Glue
    1. A stick of glue, the kind you that you ate as a kid, will become handy the first time someone gives you a business card, small advertisement, or memento of any kind.
    2. Pull out the glue stick, adhere whatever the fuck you’ve been given and stick that shit to your Moleskine. Scribble some notes and come back to that later. I promise that the pocket in the rear of a Moleskine is a oneway dumping ground and by the time you fish out what you put in there the memory will have slipped.
  3. Sticky Notes
    1. Great for small reminders or if you ever need to leave your number with someone.
    2. They are small and will get used. A lot of people may need your number after a few beers.
  4. ChapStick
    1. I have found that descent lip moisturizers can be scarce or expensive overseas.
    2. I also forget that I need it until I am desperate which could be a fatal flaw.
  5. Sunblock
    1. Find the smallest travel bottle with a high SPF.
    2. This is for emergencies only.
    3. Remember that after a year the SPF protection starts decreasing.
    4. Put this in a sealed bag or fear the consequences.
  6. New Skin
    1. Getting cuts cleaned and closed on fingers and toes is tough and although super glue works, having one more small bottle in your bag will not tip the scales.
    2. I wear my sandals a lot. The ground is dirty because that is where dirt lives. Cuts hate dirt and products like new skin help to close cuts in places where bandages easily come undone.
  7. Toothbrush and Toothpaste Set
    1. Get one during your next hotel stay.
    2. These are sealed so their shelf life is long and if your sunblock explodes you are in luck.
    3. Waterless toothbrushes are great, but they are only good once.
  8. Basic Manicure Set
    1. Find a kit in a small pouch with a zipper. You would not want these getting out. They will get lost.
    2. The world is a dirty ass place and it will end up under your nails. These kits are a nice substitute for your teeth when it comes time to clean yourself.
    3. Remember to put this in your checked luggage before getting to the airport.
  9. Emergency Wet Wipes Pack
    1. Unfortunately an emergency roll of TP takes up too much room.
    2. These can also be used for a quick bird bath if you are away from a shower for too long.
  10. Compacted roll of Gorilla Tape or Duct Tape
    1. Unroll the tape around the chop-stick or straw
    2. Take enough to cover the back and front of a long tear on a backpack or tent
    3. Be reasonable. If you need the whole roll you may be in more trouble than the tape can actually fix.
  11. Paracord
    1. Please don’t wear it as a bracelet unless you’ve previously saved a life with the cord before. You’ll look like a wiener.
    2. I have air-dyed  my hand-washed clothes between trees in Pisa and across a four star hotel in Paris.
    3. Paracord can be cut down for shoelaces, so scratch those from our packing list, and can be used to keep a broken backpack strap together.
    4. If you get home and have not used the paracord consider your adventure either boring or an astounding success.
  12. Emergency Blanket
    1. The cheapest way to keep you warm in a bind.
    2. They weight almost nothing and can save a life.
    3. These can be had on eBay for a nickel, but finding one on the road can be tough.
    4. You can really shoot for the moon and get bivys from companies like SOL, but this is for emergencies.
    5. If you have to use the emergency blanket your next stop should probably be an embassy or a hospital.
  13. Compass
    1. Unless you are in transit by way of trekking this little gem should be stowed away safely.
    2. Add “quality compass” to the list of items that are hard to find on short notice while traveling.
  14. Travel Wifi Router
    1. If you have enough room in your bits-and-pieces bag this would be the first non-essential item I would stow away.  Follow the link in the title for great reviews on Amazon.
    2. If you carry smart phone or tablet chances are high that you need wifi to connect to the internet and many budget hotels offer terrible wifi or a hardline connection in your room.
    3. A travel wifi router plugs directly into the wall and turns a stay at a fleabag hotel into a chance to plan for tomorrow.

This list is always evolving and is definitely up for friendly debate. If you have any suggestions, thoughts or questions please feel free to leave a message. Thank you for taking a look and I hope you enjoyed the list.

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3 responses to “Bits-and-Pieces Bag

  1. Pingback: My Extended Escape Packing Essentials | Four Stars Two Bars Abroad·

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