As the time draws near for us to head back to the United States, I've started compiling this list of things I may never purchase again. As we've moved along, some things I used to consider so important have provided little, if any, functional use in my life. Sometimes, they even got in the way! Some of these things I'll never buy again, some I'll buy different versions of, and some I'll just use more efficiently! It's important to do this with the items in your life even if you're not traveling; step back and see where there's waste, and maybe where products aren't actually doing what you think they are!
1. Makeup Remover Wipes: In a time of desperation, I needed makeup remover on the road. In order to keep up with my new active lifestyle, I had been wearing waterproof mascara and eyeliner. Any lady knows, those are the worst to remove. I bought some baby oil on a whim, hoping it would work and it was amazing! A little kleenex or toilet paper, a little baby oil and your makeup just melts off. Not only are the wipes more expensive, they're wasteful. Unless you're using them briefly for travel, grab your washcloth!
2. "Fancy" Toothbrushes: After my good toothbrush came in contact with stuff you don't want in your mouth, I had to toss it. I went to a convenience store here and there were two toothbrush options. I usually pick a medium-strength bristle, and always feel like my dentist will scold me if I don't spend some money on a good brush. It was actually stressful having too few options! This soft bristle toothbrush has my mouth feeling better than it ever has. Go for the cheap brush, flossing is way more important anyways!
3. Snacks that aren't healthy: Now, I know this is a long shot to say never again, but it will be something I strive for. Southeast Asia does not have a great selection of "healthy" snacks and when getting ready for long trips, it was hard to find something that could hold us over that wouldn't make us feel crappy. Focusing on a budget for so long, I've also realized how expensive snacks are for what you actually get. A bag of chips might be the biggest rip off ever. Buy some Tupperware, buy snacks in bulk, and avoid the junk. It makes you feel gross!
4. Cheap Outdoor Gear: Brandon sent his first bags home with his sister in hopes of finding a large pack instead of two small ones. When he bought a large pack on Koh Phi Phi, we found out quickly it was a knockoff and has given him issues (like rips and discomfort). This has happened repeatedly with bags, shoes, hats, etc. Always think of friction and weight (and how much you think the item will be able to handle of both) when purchasing stuff you need for the long haul.
5. A Cell Phone Data Plan: Again, this is a lofty goal. Being free of 24/7 internet availability has been kind of great in some situations. In others, not so much (but there was usually more to the issue than just lack of internet). When you consider how many places in your everyday life that provide wifi, it starts to seem quite silly that we spend $50-100/month for it. It really comes down to preparation; just plan ahead for info you may need while you are out.
6. Body Wash: Bar soap is much cheaper and makes you smell better than chemical-filled washes. Besides, body wash has microbeads and they're terrible for the water supply.
7. More than 15 pairs of socks: Even in the pits of winter, I should never need more than 15 pairs of socks. More than 15 pairs indicates that you don't do enough laundry. This philosophy goes for clothing too, as I've lived off of a dozen or so outfits for 4 months. That being said, I am very into personal style and will allow myself to keep what I have at home, but will be toning down acquiring more excess in that department after seeing how many options are possible (even with just a few pieces to choose from). There's a balance with clothing and accessories; I will be fighting to find it when I return home.
8. Hand Sanitizer: I think I've used it once this entire time away from home. Yea, you heard me. I've been in a foreign country and I have not used hand sanitizer. It's easy; you just do this thing called 'washing your hands'. Also, anti-bacterial products are furthering the weakening of antibiotics we need to fight off infections! Just use soap!
9. Crappy Souvenirs: I promise not to bring home anything that won't have a functional use in someone's life. No one really cares to hang a picture of something that reminds them of YOUR vacation. If you want to give gifts, give something that people can use and won't just sit on a shelf!
10. A Watch: Even in the digital age of 2015, I love me a good watch. But I think, even if I buy one for fashion purposes, I may not keep the right time. Maybe I'll keep it on Thai time. The most precious thing I've learned here is not to think too much about the passing hour; it's going to end whether you watch it happen or not :)