Have Water, Will Travel

Posted on July 19, 2011


What’s the first thing you pack when taking a trip?

My wife and kids leave on a trip to the US tomorrow.  My seven-year-old, The Fonz, asked if his mom would help him pack a bag, although he specified, “but no clothes.”  His mom asked him what he planned to pack if not clothes and asked him to make a list of what he thought he needed to take.  He wrote:

1. books

2. water

3. video games


I’m proud he selected books as his first choice, although I’m pretty sure when he says books he means his Garfield collections.  Or maybe he means his collection of comic books he wrote himself and hopes to sell to relatives.

My favorite necessity is #2, water.  You can laugh at him for wanting to make sure he brings water–just in case America doesn’t have any–but we’ve told him that water is the thing you can’t go without and should seek first if you ever find yourself in the desert or on an island.  You can only go a short time without water, so it’s probably a good idea to get in the habit of checking if water is available at the place you’re visiting, whether it’s an entire country or just a friend’s house for an evening: “A Lady Gaga costume party?  Sounds great!  Um…will you be providing water or should I make other arrangements?”

We’ve all played the game in which we’re asked what one item we would bring if we were lost on a deserted island.  Nobody ever says water, but this seems like a reasonable selection.  I think a satellite phone would be a close second.

When a family member came to visit us in Shanghai after we had lived here for a year she asked, “Should we bring water?”  I wondered what she thought we had been drinking all that time, and I replied, “Yes, and bring some water for us, too.  We’re really thirsty!”

Is this a common question you might ask a travel agent when traveling internationally?  “Will France have water?”  “Will China have water?”  “Do the humans there subsist on another basic liquid?”

I reviewed the list with my son and asked him if he thought he might need anything else.  He added to the list, “Money, pizza, computer”.  I was trying to get him to say “clothing”, but his mind just doesn’t think of clothing as a necessity.  I assume for children, packing clothes must fall into the same category as receiving clothing for Christmas or a birthday.  I was about to ask what he would do if he arrived in America and had no clothing to wear, but I remembered he’s started each day of summer in his underwear and a cape and had to be asked multiple times to put on clothes.  As long as he had one pair of underwear, and some water to drink, he would probably feel completely comfortable.  And who knows, maybe underwear, a cape, and a bottle of water are what they’re wearing in America now.

Posted in: Family