What I Can’t Travel Without – Story of Phoenicia
I have a reputation for being a mess to travel with. I have a tendency to be scatterbrained and am prone to forget something essential. I love spontaneity, but often overlook important details. At this point, I’ve learned to incorporate those inevitable misadventures as a part of the experience.
Living in China as an English teacher,
I get the chance to travel around Northern and Southeast Asia pretty often. Over the past few years, I have collected an arsenal of APPs to rescue me out of said mishaps when traipsing abroad. Translate tools that allow you to translate voice or pictures of text are a lifesaver, especially here in China. Map APPs are especially helpful if you are a not-so-wonderful navigator, like me. There are countless other APPs I rely on while traveling, whether it be for accommodation, transportation, photography, or making new friends.
My phone is by far my most essential travel accessory.
I would be so lost – literally and figuratively – without it. Since I use it so much, however, it is constantly running on low battery, which just adds another opportunity for possible mishap.
I spent this past summer on a small island in Thailand. Toward the end of my trip, I started planning how I would get back to Inner Mongolia. It would end up being 36 hours of back-to-back travel via motorbike, boat, car, plane and train. This meant little sleep and limited access to power outlets.
It started off with a thirty-minute motorbike ride to the port, then a ferry ride back to the mainland, followed by another hour by bus to the airport, where I would get picked up and taken to a hostel for the night. I figured I would be able to charge my phone overnight at the hostel, so I wasn’t too concerned with conserving battery.
Turns out, I should have been a little more careful. Once at the airport, I was on less than ten percent battery and my ride never showed up. After a short moment of panic and some helpful strangers, thankfully I got that sorted out without too much hassle.
Once at the hostel, I assumed I would be able to charge my phone the rest of the night. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Only two chargers for the ten of us in the room? I even asked the receptionist, but to no avail. After a while, someone was kind enough to share their outlet, unfortunately, it was positioned to where I would have had to leave my phone out of sight to charge. Afraid to leave my phone too long, and especially overnight, I only let it charge for fifteen minutes and hoped for the best.
There were no more outlets from then to Beijing, where I would need to call a car to take me to the train station since it was the middle of the night. Right before my car arrived, my phone died. Thankfully, I had my portable battery, which made it possible to find the car and get to the train station. Rushing around to pick up my tickets and get in line – hoping my phone would last long enough to use the pickup voucher – I finally made it on the train. Several hours later, I made it to my next city, where I had to get to another train station on the other side of the city. At this point, even my battery pack was almost out and I was riding on backup. I made it just in time for my last train and was finally on the last leg of my journey.
For me, getting lost is a guarantee. Getting myself into awkward situations is inevitable. Finding myself in a panic over the 2% remaining battery when I’m an hour away from home is way too likely. There’s no greater fear than being stranded with a dead phone alone in an unfamiliar country. It may seem silly, but I love my portable battery. It has saved me and given me a peace of mind on more than one occasion. Also, the fact that they are so inexpensive makes is possible to have multiple and travel comfortably with them without being too afraid of them ‘disappearing’ or losing them. That’s one less thing I have to worry about as I wander aimlessly about.
I love to travel.
I love solo adventures, as much as traveling with friends. I enjoy the thrill of being somewhere completely unknown with little language skills. I have no need for tour guides or travel groups. I have learned to be self-sufficient and independent, so that I’m not held back by anything- except for maybe a dying phone – but with my portable charger, that’s no longer an issue either and I can be free to explore and get lost and talk to strangers to my heart’s content.
Phoenicia Dove – is a freelance writer/editor and English teacher. She currently lives in China with her cat, Puppy. When she isn’t writing or wrangling three year-olds, she can be found language learning in her favorite coffee shop, exploring the city on her motorbike, or at home attempting yet another copycat recipe. Instagram: @nicia_dove. You can read more about her adventures on https://missadventuresmisadventures.com