Northern Pakistan is heaven on Earth for those who have had the good fortune to visit. You find the most amazing gems of nature hidden away in far off mountain tops and valleys.
Accessing these places however, is another story.
There are limited options to fly into these places, and even when you do, there are long road trips, sometimes ranging for over 12+ hours at a time, in which you need to sit for extended periods of time in a car/bus, use public restrooms along the way with no guarantee of cleanliness, and usually be subject to dusty roads where you cannot simply switch on the AC and roll up your car window because at times the roads are on an incline and you need to switch the AC off in order to drive up hill.
In all of these challenges what’s an urban girl to do? Dusty dirt roads and public restrooms are usually not the forte of most people living the city life. Here are some products I always carry with me to make sure my road trips are hassle free and as comfortable as possible. So 13 hours or 30, doesn’t really matter!
Many times you will be driving on roads through the night to ensure that you reach your destination by daybreak so you can enjoy the sunlight. It’s always a good idea to use the nighttime travel to catch up on your sleep so you can arrive fresh at your destination. Invest in a sturdy travel pillow that is like a hard cushion for maximum support – not the ones which feel like a bean bag. I use one which I got from centerpoint in Dubai. You can see the product here.
A mini fold-able bagpack
Apart from my full luggage, I always carry a bagpack with me which contains items for easy access (such as sunglasses, meds, snacks etc). In addition to that, I carry a small bagpack. This serves as an on-the-go mini-wallet, sunglasses case and selfie stick holder (for when you decide to step out of your vehicle to photograph a pretty spot you saw on the commute). The bagpack can even hold toilet paper etc for when you need to go to the washroom. My preferred brand is Travel Blue.
Below is a picture of what mine looks like.
Baby Wipes and Tissue Paper
The ONE I thing I probably won’t be able to survive without. Many public washrooms have either no water or the water available there is not fit for use. In such cases baby wipes come as a huge blessing. They can also be used to quickly clean your hands or wipe your face clean when needed.
The best brand you can buy is Johnsons- in particular those ones which say ‘dispenses one at a time’ – it actually works and the benefits are that it wont dispense 3-4 at a time even when pulled out quickly, which leads to less wastage. I estimate that you will need one pack for every 4 days that you are on the road.
I also use only Selpak as a toilet paper because it’s very soft and extremely sturdy. You will need to use less sheets and therefore have less to carry in your bagpack!
I am recommending these names specifically because in the 20+ road trips I have been on, I have used various ones and none have come close to being as good as these two!
Deep Cleansing Facewash
Paying attention to skincare is an essential. Your skin undergoes a lot during long periods of travel ( dehydration, dust, being exposed to the elements) and a nighttime cleansing routine before you go to bed is necessary.
I use a really random brand for skin cleansing. It’s called “Derma Clean” – you are likely to find it in small beauty stores or chemists stores rather than any of the major department stores. It however works better than all other cleansers I have used. Sharing a picture below for reference.
The bottle tends to be a bit large so I always transfer the contents in smaller travel sized bottels which you can easily get from Miniso.
Deep Cleansing Liquid
At times the facewash won’t be enough. You will need to use a deep cleansing liquid or toner to really get the dirt out of your skin. You will need plenty of cotton wool for this as well. My preferred brand is good old clean and clear. Use the red one for more oily skin and the blue one for normal skin.
A laundry bag
Getting your dirty clothes washed and/or dry cleaned isnt always an option while on a road trip. It’s always a good idea to keep a seperate bag your dirty clothes. Probably a good idea to keep 2 bags if you are travelling for more than 10 days so one bag does not bulk up and it’s easier to store.
Anything from a cloth bag to a study polythene bag would do well for this, and while we are on the subject…
Extra plastic bags
Not a fan of unnecessary plastic because of the potential pollution they can cause but keeping these can come in handy. Being at high altitudes means that toiletries can leak out of their bottles, packets can burst and plastic bags come to the rescue.
This one is a no-brainer. But there is a special way that you should use this product. It’s in 2 steps. First, pour some over your hands and rub them lightly so it doesnt absorb and then use some tissue paper to wipe it off, this should get rid of the initial dust, and then you pour some more and use it as per normal. Otherwise you just stand to rub all that dirt and dust into your hands!
Again, something that goes without saying, but I am going to use this space to recommend the one that I always use. It’s the aleo vera sunblock by Banana Boat, and you can get it at any major store.
Mini Air Freshener
This is something you need to keep with you in your portable bagpack at all times. It’s once again a very useful item when using public washrooms. At times it might be unbearable simply because of the smell, but a few sprays for this and it becomes way more comfortable to use. My favorite brand here is Ambi Pur/Febreeze – because it simply does not add to any bad smell but actually neutralizes it.
Rose Water- Glycerin Spray
A must have in your bagpack. It works both ways, to cool down your face when its hot and sweaty after a hike or to moisturize and keep your skin looking fresh during harsh winter months. All you need to do is adjust the level of glycerin accordingly depending on how dry the weather is (the more dry it is the more glycerin you need – just make sure you add only a few drops on every 50 ml of rose water that you use) I get both items from Saeed Ghani
Nowdays most hotels, motels and resorts have easy access to hot running water. But on the occasions that they don’t – washing your hair with freezing cold water and then going out into the cold is probably a bad idea. Use dry shampoo to keep your hair fresh during the days that you wont be able to wash it. The best brand for this is Tony & Guy or Bastille.
So there you go! Make sure you keep all these in your bagpack and those long endless road trips will be a lot easier to manage. Let me know your thoughts/further ideas for products in the comments below.