A flood story
Yesterday morning a few tourists got a shock when the Waimea river near Nelson city (in New Zealand) decided it wanted their camper-vans. The 4 tourists had parked their 2 camper-vans under a bridge next to the river to avoid heavy rain and in the morning the river bust it’s banks and took the vans with it. All 4 tourists escaped but only one couple managed to retrieve all their belongings from the van. The others only managed to leave with a guitar and a backpack and getting that almost killed one of them as he fought with the moving van!
A fire story
This morning I meandered down to Nelson city library to get some work done. Just as I set up, finished checking my important emails and was about to get to work shrill beeps started coming form hidden speakers followed with a robotic voice demanding that we evacuate Impulse reaction meant that I immediately unplugged my phone and laptop, put all the cords back into the correct places, slipped my laptop into it’s wetsuit and orderly left the library. A fire had broken out in a storage room between the library and a cafe next door and it was pandemonium for a good 15minutes as the police put everything to order and the fire engines turned up. Luckily everyone was removed from the library safely. I spoke to a librarian and she told me she had to scream at some people to leave!
A revolution story
All these events got me thinking about my time in the 2011 Egyptian uprisings. A few days into the protests the government decided it would be a grand idea to turn off the internet and cell phone signals. Not having cable TV we were left with government propaganda on our TV so left to go to a friends house for the day. That evening a curfew was installed, things got even more crazy and even our suburb, 8 miles from Tahrir Square, started to experience some serious issues. So, the next day, feeling very cut off we went to another friends house, much because they had cable so we could watch Al Jazeera and CNN and keep up on events. That evening things got worse and we ended up staying at their home. The next day with Cairo in huge disarray and a mass evacuation of the city happening (people walking for miles with most of their belongings out of the city) we found a taxi to take a 15mile round trip to our apartment. Our area had been wrecked and supposed bandits were blindfolded and tied to posts by vigilantes (alive but beaten). There had been a rumored prison break near our home but the police (in plain clothes) were actually implicated in most of the violence and destruction that was going on. With a tank parked at the back of our apartment block we still didn’t feel safe so we asked the taxi driver to wait and loaded up our backpacks with belongings we would need for an unspecified amount of time crashing on our friends floor. We packed pretty much all important things in about 30 minutes.
So about stuff…
I travel pretty light these days. My permanent status as a nomad means that my entire life fits into a 100 litre rucksack and a normal backpack. Today, in the library, I had with me my laptop, phone and a folder containing important documents. If the fire had been back at the hostel then clothing would have been my biggest loss, not the end of the world! Keeping important items all together in one place is a great way to be ready for quick escapes which can and do pop up for many travellers. It could be a natural disaster or a spot of danger. If we keep all the less-important stuff in our main pack or suitcase then we can have a “leave behind” item and a “quick grab” item in an emergency situation. Of course that does not mean the main pack shouldn’t be kept organised and ready to grab if the time allows. I’ve definitely settled into places enough that all my items are strewn everywhere and I am less inclined to do so going forward. As long as clothes are folded and items are tucked in pockets I should be ready to leave in 10-20 minutes. I can keep organised, neat and ready! Of course there are potential downsides of having all your important stuff with you all the time, or in one place! If your bag gets stolen or you get drunk and lose it then that’s a big issue. However to counter that what if you important stuff is stolen from your room whilst you are out enjoying the pleasantries your destination offers? So, now it’s over to you….
- Have you ever had to leave somewhere very quickly and for what reason?
- Do you pack in a way that you can easily grab your stuff and leave?
- Do you have any other advice, tips or thoughts to share?
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