#1: A travel journalThis is the place where you will host your brain for the duration of the trip. On last year's missions trip, I scrawled, scribbled, and sketched every spare minute. Some might say my devotion to this leather-bound volume was a little extreme, but the one night I gave up writing every little thing down, I couldn't sleep. The brain of a writer was not mean to see and not save. Your mind will be far too active while you are trying to sleep if you do not give it a paper outlet.
#2: Four good pens (at least)I swear by Pilot G2 pens, an expensive habit formed in me by an acquaintance with Wyatt Fairlead. There should be a slogan: "Friends don't let friends use G2 pens," because they are addictive. A pack of four pens at Walmart is over $5.00, but I consider it worthwhile. Is there anything more frustrating than a scratchy, balking pen? I wonder if Paul's thorn in his flesh was an empty, scratchy prison-pen which was the only thing he had with which to compose his letters to the churches. MURDER, I say.
#3: One Beloved BookContrary to the claims of many readers/writers, you will not be in the mood to read while traveling by plane. (I am assuming that you will be traveling by plane. If you are on a long road-trip, this point will likely be different.) I have traveled much in the past several years and every time I have brought a new book, I never read it. Excitement, distraction, and weariness are the key reasons why you will not form a close friendship with a strange novel while traveling. Rather, pack a book you know backward and forward. You want the kind of book that you can enjoy and understand while halfway asleep on ten-hour flight with turbulence. The old familiarity of such a book will help soothe those very components that would keep you from enjoying a new title. Believe me on this: I have tried bringing a shiny new book I've been longing to read and have formed grudges against said book by virtue of having been distracted, excited, or bone-tired while making the attempt. Better stick with Winnie-The-Pooh. (I think I am bringing The Wind in The Willows to Romania, since Abigail has The Grand Sophy.)
The stand-by comfort food of the editing/rewriting stage, chocolate is a must while traveling. I have a Chocolate War Path, actually. I brought a medium-dark chocolate sea-salt bar for the flight over. (Ten hours; I'll need sustenance.) Next, I have a 72% dark chocolate bar that will last me the first week, as this more bitter, darker bar is harder to gobble. Third, I have an 86% cocoa bar that is like coffee-grounds, it's so dark. I happen to like chocolate this dark, but it is the kind you nibble bit by bit. This bar should last me the second week and the days traveling homeward. Sound like a strategy. I find it amusing how my stratagem skills are limited to chocolate-supply.
#5: Reading Lamp
Let us say you don't feel like having the airplane light scalding down on you from a giddy height while reading on the plane. Or maybe you're in the middle of your trip and can't sleep but don't wish to wake your companions by flipping on the big old light. (There's no knowing how many watts these foreign lights will zap at you.) Having a little, secretive clip-on reading lamp is like having a super-power. Plus, it'll make a good flashlight if you're out creeping around in a dark space at any point in time.
#6: Washi tape & one Sharpie
You never know when there will be a physical something you want to tape into your travel journal like tickets, a feather, a coin, etc. I came home with some pressed flowers, some gold off a convent-chapel's door handle, and the like for which I had no paste or tape. Washi tape is perfect for this sort of thing and comes in itty bitty compact rolls for perfect traveling size. (Unfortunately, it does not come in clear. Sometimes Scotch-tape is the best after all) Washi tape weighs almost nothing and is easy to stick on and take off on a whim. You'll love it.
As for the Sharpie, must I explain? Everyone who does not bring a Sharpie always ends up wanting one at some point in the adventure. I smuggled in a Sharpie last year against such an occasion and sure enough, by day two, one of the team members was looking for a Sharpie. Plus, it's nice for doodling on un-doodle-able things such as fingers, arms of airplanes, paper, and water-bottles. (which item does not belong?)
There it is: The Short-List for Travelling Writers. Bon voyage, darlings!