Suffice it to say I am not, nor have I ever been, nor did I ever want to become, an outdoorsy person. My life has been happily and comfortably spent mostly in the confines of my house, the school building, the office building, and shopping malls. Colleagues and friends would tease me for never being up for activities like whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, canyoneering, and whatever else.
I’m not sure if this was caused by a lack of interest or a lack of skill—you see, I never learned how to swim nor skate nor ride a bike, and the last time I went on a treadmill I actually fainted and saw stars (for real). So it kinda made good sense to avoid all sorts of ‘adventures’ that could potentially put my sheltered little life at risk.
And then this year happened, and for some reason the planets aligned and brought forth lots of opportunities to explore new activities. A feng shui master I spoke with told me this is the year to do everything I’ve wanted or wondered about. So my 2016 philosophy is to live in full color, to say yes to stepping out of my comfort zone.
Er… even if that happened to involve camping in the wilderness with no running water, no toilet, no electricity, no signal. All we had was a beautiful beach, a clear starry sky, and a full moon.
So here’s my list of survival tips and must-haves for the hopelessly kikay girl. Hope it inspires you to go on more adventures!
- Sunblock. You need sunblock. You cannot live outdoors without it. Get an SPF 70 and up (Banana Boat or VMV Armada have one) for your body and SPF 100 (Neutrogena) for the face, whatever it takes to protect you from those harsh UV rays and dangerously ugly tan lines from shorts or rash guards. Put it on generously on your shoulders and back, don’t forget to include weird places like your ears and feet, and reapply every hour or immediately after taking a dip. Zinka nosecoat is great too for protecting a prominent nose from getting burned.
- Rashguard and aquasocks. Yes, you may want to recreate a Sports Illustrated shoot in your favorite bikini, but we’re talking hardcore outdoors now. There are rocks, corals, jellyfish, sea urchins, and God knows what else out there. So make sure you wear a rashguard (plus points if it has UV protection too), and aquasocks to protect yourself. The rash guards by Roxy or Ripcurl may be a bit more pricey, but they are more durable so I’d advise you to get from here.
- Insect repellent. It’s you against all the bugs in the universe at this point, so the more insect repellent lotion you slather on, the better. In fact, go the extra mile and bring a citronella candle, wear an insect repellent patch, take garlic capsules, and all that jazz. And should you still find bites all over your body the next day, resist all urges to scratch and apply ice, cold cream (put it in the cooler) and calamine lotion instead. If the bites happened to be from red fire ants, you are in deep trouble because the spots will appear all over your body like chicken pox marks only after a week and you will need hydrocortisone cream, serious steroid tablets, and possibly even a sleeping pill to survive several nights. And the marks will be there for about 2 months. I should know, I learned this the hard way.
- Hydration. Bring a jug of drinking water and make sure you take periodic drinks throughout the day. If you can, bring Gatorade, bananas and B-complex tablets too. The unfortunate thing that happened to me was a combination of heatstroke and a really bad hangover (due to chugging various mixures of scotch, wine, and vodka instead of water throughout the day), and I ended up becoming a beached whale washed ashore from 5 pm onwards. I only recovered by 3 am and felt like Tom Hanks in the movie ‘Castaway’. It wasn’t pretty.
- First aid kit. Pack antiseptic (Betadine), gauze, band aids, and medicines for all sorts of maladies such as painkillers, antihistamine, paracetamol, antacids, anti-nausea LBM meds, etc. Bring enough for your friends as well because nothing spoils a trip faster than someone getting sick. Include a flashlight (there are hand crank ones that don’t need batteries), a whistle, a lighter/matches, a swiss knife, and a cellphone power bank too. You just never know, right?
- Extra non-spoil food. So on our way back, the gale winds blew forth from the north and our little banca was tossed around the sea like a toy. I was terrified, seasick, and…well, terrified. And I was thinking…if it so happened we needed to turn back and stay in the island for another day, what would we eat? We had demolished all the food, not to mention all the drinking water. So always carry extra provisions just in case which won’t spoil easily, like granola bars, a few more canned goods, etc. And don’t ever finish all the water!
- Travel size toiletries. Since based on #1 to #6 you are already bringing your entire house on the trip, it isn’t worth the effort to carry heavy toiletries around too. Buy small travel sizes or little containers that you can neatly pack in a water repellent kit. And also, carry a bunch of Ziploc plastic bags with you to store all your wet stuff in so they wont bleed into the rest of your clothes.
- Towel. This you can’t compromise on. Do you know how many warts you can get from just sharing a towel with people? Do you want to find out? If you can’t deal with bringing a thick terrycloth towel with you, buy an Aquazorb—it’s really light and easy to pack.
- Rosary. In the midst of my vertigo nightmare hangover from hell, my red fire ant attack, and the Noah’s ark experience in the banca heading back to the main land, I was clutching my rosary and am 100% convinced I could not have made it out alive without it. Enough said.
- Your dermatologist and family doctor on speed dial. The moment you get signal, call them!
So that about sums up my list of outdoor essentials. Was it a big production? Pretty much. Was it a hassle? A little bit. Was it worth it? One look at that beautiful sunset or the glorious full moon reflecting on the sea, and I would say most definitely. Would I do it again? Oh yes!
Tag me (#kikaycebu) in your fashion and fun pursuits! Cheers to living #lifeincolor.
*Special thanks go out to my friends who were with me in this adventure– including trying to drag my ass into the tent after I passed out on the beach, taking the most horrible photos, chattering about senseless matters on the boat so we wouldn’t think we were about to capsize and drown, and making me the butt of their jokes for the last month. Wootwoot!