China Travel Necessities: Seven Forget-Me-Nots for China

China Travel Necessities: Seven Forget-Me-Nots for China
Mar 23, 2012 By Thomas Ackerman ,

Traveling around China can be a challenge – there are language problems, hygiene issues and, of course, the squat toilets. And if you though squat toilets were a challenge, wait until you try to use a squat toilet on a swaying train. Even adult travelers can benefit from the Boy Scouts’ motto: be prepared. We’ve already covered 15 Essential Travel Items for China, but realized there were a few more items that could mean the difference between a trip you look back on fondly, and a soggy, nightmare you can’t wait to forget.

Umbrella – In southern China, I take my umbrella with me everywhere from April to October. Most of the south enjoys frequent torrential rains during the gruelingly-long hot season. I've never regretted having mine on hand. I recommend the size just below 'beach umbrella'.

Photo: Patrick Streule

Incense – This might seem trivial, but after hiking or cycling around all day, staying in a small hotel room with half of your dirty wardrobe hanging from the chairs isn't pleasant. You can make it more bearable with a few sticks of incense. Lighting incense can also make a dreadful toilet bearable. Don’t forget matches or a ligher.

Skin Lotion – In any of the drier regions of China, for example near the Gobi Desert, you will want some moisturizer. Unless you're used to very dry weather, your lips and skin will feel the crackling effects within a day or so. Those with sensitive skin may crack and peel like old paint. If you are in an area with an air pollution problem (most of China), you want to wash frequently and lather yourself in skin cream.

Snacks – Once you're on the train you'll wish you had some. Unless you love pink processed sausages and packaged chicken feet. Long-distance buses usually make some stops, but it's nice to start out with a few supplies. China has an enormous assortment of dried snacks, mostly of the healthy variety, so you won't get bored with just one thing. Dried fruits and nuts are some of the best. For the longest of trips, I bring an entire bag full of dried Chinese goodies.

Extra duds – After paying to use the hotel's washing machine and hanging the clothes out to dry, it will be a while before the sun has them ready to wear again. If it's cloudy and humid and there's little wind, it could be two days for the heavy stuff to dry. For this reason pack plenty of extra clothes, especially in the hotter climates where you'll sweat enough to actually soak your backpack.

Notes with names and hotel phone – If your Chinese language skills are limited, even getting to the hotel can be tricky. One way to deal with this is have someone write you a note in Chinese, which you can show to the taxi driver or to someone you may be asking for directions. Don't assume that knowing the name in pinyin is enough, since any tone-deafness on your part will make your words incomprehensible.

If you are coming to China for the first time, the hotel can always scan and e-mail you a copy of their name and address in Chinese characters. Once you are here, you can also ask someone at the hotel to write you one before you go out or even to write a note for the site you are visiting. Having the hotel phone number on hand could be very important if you end up lost. Furthermore, do not assume that taxi drivers have proficient knowledge of the city. They often don't. However, all drivers carry cell phones and can call the hotel if they can't find it. You should keep the number with you at all times.

Locks: A lock holding the zippers of your bags shut probably won't bother a master thief much, but the guy passing along who just wants to slip his hand in and nab something will move along to the next victim. Bring a lock, and don't lose the key.

Related Links
15 Essential Travel Items for China
Money: What to bring?
Getting to China

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What about anti-biotics? Shouldn't that be a standard for any new country you go to?

Mar 25, 2012 22:46 Report Abuse



lots of hand sanitizer and a respiratory mask when walking around the city or in the subways. Hepatitis is as common as the chicken pox in China, everybody gets it at some point!!!

Mar 23, 2012 17:43 Report Abuse



*the mask is for the pollutants in the air, the sanitizer is for the Hepatitis.* Sorry, thought it was obvious!

Mar 24, 2012 18:07 Report Abuse