GeoVisions Blog

3 Things Not To Pack When Volunteering Abroad

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jun 06, 2011

Months ago, I wrote a Blog post about the 5 things you should never put in a host family letter.  That post has received 4000 views so far and it is still the number 1 post on the GeoVisions Blog.  I went back to that post and what I wrote still rings true today, so I haven't changed it.

Recently we learned about some of our volunteers and teachers packing the oddest stuff.  We all have our personal lists of items to take with us on a trip, but some of these have set the bar to a new level.

Here are three items you don't want to pack, when traveling abroad.  Never.  Ever.

Pantene
Pantene is so good, I need bags of it, since the rest of the world probably won't have it.

Pantene productsThe United States is known for God, Mother, Apple Pie, The Boston Red Sox and Pantene.  Yes, you can buy Pantene at Walgreens, CVS, your local supermarket and even Walmart.  And I am very well aware that Pantene shampoo will make your hair look healthy, the conditioner will give your hair body, and the styling products will make you look sexy.

But do this for me:

When you click on the link above for Pantene (and I hope you will) look in the far right corner of their website.  Up where it says COUNTRY/LANGUAGE please press on that, will ya?  'Nough said.  You don't need to take an entire bag of Pantene products with you on your trip.  Take a little extra money and BUY IT THERE.

One of our tutors ended up paying extra baggage fees only to discover Pantene is available anywhere items are sold, anywhere there is a store in 51 countries.  I know.  It's hard to imagine.

I admit I'm biased on this Pantene thing.  I'm bald.

iPhone Screen ShotMusic Sharing Software On Your Laptop
I thought we were all done with illegal music sharing.  I have Apple TV and we share our tunes all over the house.  We don't necessarily like each other's music in my household, but we can share it legally.  All of us have iPods, iPads, iPhones and Macs and we just share the music in our little home network.  But I guess you can still do this illegally as well.  Apple has done a great job of keeping me in my little, safe bubble I think.

If you are going to take your laptop or tablet, DON'T SHARE MUSIC IN OTHER COUNTRIES.  We have a case pending now in Europe with one of our volunteers who used a piece of music sharing software downloaded in the U.S.  She took that software on her laptop to Europe and started downloading and sharing music.  SHE GOT CAUGHT.  She may have to pay a €900 fine with lots of other penalties.

When in Rome, do as the Romans.  Don't illegally share music and be careful of the websites you browse.  The U.S. Embassy cannot help you, and that also means GeoVisions can't help you either.

In my case, no one likes my music.  I'm safe no matter where I travel.  I can't pay people to listen to my music...never mind sharing it.  But you?  If there is a little black rain cloud, look up.  99% of the time it is hovering over you.

Bathroom Scales
Bathroom ScalesLast but certainly not least, we actually had a volunteer pack bathroom scales in her bag.  I couldn't and I wouldn't make that up.

If this photo is you, don't travel abroad.  Go straight to the Biggest Loser Ranch or your therapist.  If you have to travel abroad with bathroom scales, you have issues.  And I can assure you that we're not going to be able to help you solve those issues on any volunteer project we have available.

You're going to gain weight on your trip.  Whole milk.  Cheese.  Bread, bread, bread.  SUGAR in the form of deserts and ice cream.  Enjoy the food, the culture based around it.  Embrace the food.

A few months ago I returned from a week in the Middle East.  Someone here at the office asked why all of my photos were of food.  Well, food in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon is really good and it's pretty.  It makes for great photos.  But it is based all around the culture.  You can't have one without the other.  And if you're traveling with your bathroom scales to make sure you don't gain weight, you're missing out on a lot of culture.  The more calories, the more culture.  I know, it doesn't make sense but trust me on this.  I'm right.

So what are the oddest things you've packed or seen people pack?  Can you share them here?  You could probably help us come up with the definitive list to share.  Legally, of course.

Tags: The Well Prepared Traveler, Volunteering Abroad