Don’t Panic: Five Things You Should Always Have With You*

Packing for a camping trip is stressful, especially when you’ve only been camping three times, and when each of those times, you’ve had experienced campers making packing suggestions for you. Oh yeah: and leaving less than a week between when you decide to go camping and when you actually go camping makes things even more stressful. So while I was packing for a camping trip, for which I would end up being sort of pretty much prepared, I caught myself packing a book. Why the hell are you packing a book for a camping trip? I thought to myself. From the paranoid part of my mind came the response: 1) Rain, 2) Car rides, 3) reading in the open air is fun, 4) what if you can’t sleep (you won’t be able to anyway, but what if staring at the tent becomes painfully boring?) … need I go on? So the “we have too much stuff” part of my brain shut up and let the rest of me pack***. But it got me thinking: there are some things that I try to always carry with me, and it would be cool to make a list. So here they are:

  1. Swiss Army Knife – My Swiss Army Knife is always in my pocket, unless I’m going through airport security, and even then it’s in my checked luggage, and will be returned to its home when I leave the airport at my destination. You never know when you’ll need one of these. Well, actually, you do: ALL the FREAKING TIME.
  2. Pen – In our world, we always need to write things, and it’s useful to have a writing implement. Whether you’re writing notes for a class, jotting down a brilliant idea, or penning your phone number on a scrap of paper for a particularly attractive stranger, having a pen will improve your life. Unless that stranger actually turns out to be a serial killer, but the chances of that are pretty slim. I think.
  3. Wallet – Seriously: If you don’t have your wallet with you, then what are you doing? Wallets have money, ID, and all sorts of useful things that can get you where you want to go. Besides, you can put all those gift cards you’ve forgotten to use for the past three years in a prominent place in your wallet so that the next time you’re in <some store x> you’ll remember to use your gift card! Brilliant!
  4. Book – To all the reasons listed above, add waiting rooms (or waiting for things in general;) car, bus, and metro rides; and the fact that you’ll read more that way.
  5. Camera – You never know when you’re going to want to take a picture of something awesome. Some people will scoff at this one, saying it’s a new “trend” that only exists because of cell phones with cameras in them, but I can honestly say that I’ve always run into things I’ve wanted to take pictures of, and only with the advent of camera phones have I been able to actually take those pictures. Yup: I remember the days before cell phones, kids.

It doesn’t matter if you carry these items in your pockets, your backpack, your purse, your manpurse, or dispersed throughout one or more of these carrying cases, as long as you have the items with you. Because trust me, you’re going to need them.  I know, right now you’re saying “When am I ever going to need a Swiss Army Knife? I don’t ever do anything that would require me to have a small knife, a little nail file, tiny tweezers, or a beige plastic toothpick,” but one day – maybe this week, probably this month, certainly this year – you’re going to run into a situation where you need one, and you’ll think “Damn! He was right!”

Yes. Yes, I am right. because I’m the person giving you free advice over the Internet. And people giving you free advice over the Internet are always right****.

*No, don’t carry a towel with you: any task that would ordinarily require a towel can be accomplished, in an emergency, with a creatively employed shirt.**

**Yes, I stole this blogging style from Wil Wheaton, because it is brilliant.

***Come to think of it, I stole parts of this style from Wil Wheaton too, but I stole them from his book. Well, his blog posts which were in his book Just a Geek. Great book, especially if you’re a geek.

****Ok, maybe not so much. But I’m right. This time. I’m pretty sure. I think.


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