The complete phrase as I’ve said to my children for dozens of years is, “Is it better to have it and not need it, or need it and not have it?” The context for asking them that question centered around times when we would be heading out for the day/afternoon/evening and the weather was really nice. I knew it would turn cool as the sun set, but it was hard to convince them to bring along a light jacket or sweater in the car for when the weather would invariably get cooler.
This sign is slightly different wording as it is set as a statement rather than as a question. But the idea is still the same. One scouting motto sums up the meaning in two simple words: “Be Prepared.” Being prepared for your travels doesn’t just mean to have your airline boarding passes (on paper or in the airline’s app); a copy of your hotel stay; your passport; medical insurance cards, and some currency if you’re going to be in the country for more than a couple days. (See a previous post on Using Local Currency.)
Here are some of the items that fall into the “Is it better to have it and not need it, or need it and not have it?” category for me:
- An extra pair of glasses. I’ve never lost or broken my glasses, but if I did, my reading ability would be severely limited
- A small umbrella. Most cruise lines and finer hotels have large umbrellas you can use; I don’t like them for two reasons. (1)They are typically four feet in length; (2) They typically have the cruise line or hotel name on them. I prefer something a little more discreet
- A small first aid kit that is in my back pack. An assortment of bandages, tape, gauze are fine; anything requiring more than those probably also means you need serious medical attention
- Compact binoculars (small to save space). If you are going on a wildlife safari, you might want larger, more powerful binoculars, but for general use, the smaller ones are fine. You could even use opera glasses if you have them.
- Extra AA and AAA batteries. Many devices have their own power packs or use lithium batteries, but some still use the AAs or AAAs. I’ll be posting a separate travel tip about these batteries
- A small flashlight — I think you know why
- Pocket-size packet of tissues. Even if you don’t need them, someone else might. (We were walking through the Portland Rose Garden, and a woman fell and scraped her knee. She didn’t have anything, so I gave her the pack of tissues from my backpack. She appreciated the gesture.)
The next time you are updating your packing list, consider looking to see which items you would rather have with you even if you might not need them (but someone else might!).
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Happy Travels — Thanks for reading!
Stuart Gustafson, America’s International Travel Expert®