Hello Hygiene – Clean Living on the Road

Basic Health.  Teeth cleanings, haircuts and my fav the $4 massage.  They are all available. 

Pee like a lady.  My sister bought me a She-Wee.  I carried that bulky plastic around for 4 months before ditching it.  Squat and watch out for your feet and the wind direction.

Toilet scenario when there is a toilet.  There are many times where the “toilets” were the worst I could imagine, until I got to the next one.  A few tips, bring your hand sani, a few tissues, and about 20 cents, the worst is when you jump off a bus and some high and mighty bathroom attendant is demanding you pay to use a grimy toilet and you don’t want to run back to the bus.

Sans toilet.  My husband taught me this while hiking: carry a small bottle of water – not your drinking water, find a soft rock (kick it for scorpions), find your sunny spot, dig your hole, do your dirty work, wipe your butt with the rock then rinse it (if you still need the toilet paper, make sure to have two ziplock bags – the dirty one closed inside the bigger one. Don’t be that jerk that ditches their tp). 

Laundry.  If you have a dirty job then yes, please change your clothes daily.  Otherwise, hang them back up.  When you are travelling you don’t want to do laundry that often anyways.  I have gone 5 to 6 sweaty days wearing the same shirt, because I know that the next day I will get just as hot.  Hang it up and air that stank out.  East Africa and India will do hand washing when you send them out.  They will scrub them so clean they’ll return buttonless with rubbed out holes where stains use to be.  If it’s special, best do it yourself. Pack a small linen bag and shoe bag for your dirty and damp clothes and shoes – avoid the plastic bags — they will mildew your clothes and stink up your pack. A sink stopper is also an excellent small lightweight tool that makes hand washing possible wherever there is a basin.

Getting clean.  Cold showers or buckets can be common.  Turn it on, get wet, turn it off, suds up, and then a good quick rinse. I can strongly recommend traveling with a pair of flip flops for the communal showers.

Hold onto your Hankie. I have found, especially when hiking, whether its hot and dry, windy and dusty, or cold and rainy my sniffer would be either clogged or runny. Tissues are fine, but who wants to carry all that trash, rather a classic kerchief that can be rinsed out.

Nail polish.  This is less about adorning your tootsies with your signature color as it is covering up the dirt that may be hidden underneath.  Even in the bush my toes are painted.

Leak week.  Menstruation is looked upon with disdain in some societies.  Girls can miss a full week of school adding up to almost 3 months a year and can be cast out of their homes during this time.  Fortunately, there are some great local organizations that will distribute reusable pads.  In developed areas you will most likely find your fav Pearl Tampax or OBs.  Another option is the diva cup – I found it uncomfortable and a bit messy.  I opted for the easy solution – IUD.  My insurance covered it, my periods became almost non-existent, a plus for long bus rides, and greatly reduces the chances of a sex souvenir showing up 9 months later.

Sex.  Travel love is real – I should know, I married mine.  But before we met, we had a few others.  Ladies and gentlemen WRAP IT UP!!!  Sex education can go as far as “eating beetroot and garlic will prevent HIV,” so it’s best to assume the worst and always use a rubber.

Updated for COVID in Botswana. Every shop, tuck shop, restaurant, lodge, gas station, etc… you walk into has hand sanitizer, temperature readings, a mask mandate, and a log book. If you are running errands you will be hosed down with every type of homemade hand sanitizer- sticky, gooey, runny, watery, bleachy, alcoholic, lemon juice cocktail. To keep your skin and hands staying healthy it’s a good idea to pour a bit of water on them every once in a while for a quick rinse. On the upside you can also ask for more personal space in a queue and say you are social distancing.

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