Chris Blattman

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What to bring to the field

I’ve made some updates to my original list. One of these days I’ll get around to a full rewrite. In the meantime, here are some additions:

1. Portable mini-speakers or a portable tailgate speaker that will plug into your computer or mp3 player.

2. Exercise bands, especially one with a door attachment. I got this one and a smaller figure 8 band.

3. Noise cancelling headphones (and a white noise app for my iPhone).

4. A plastic water bottle. Dehydration is my worst enemy on these 24 hour Africa flights. So I bring a empty bottle through security then fill it at a water fountain. Flight attendants seem to refill big bottles without complaint.

5. High-protein energy bars for the flight. Skip the crappy meal and get to sleep faster.

6. Soluble hydration tablets. After a day of walking or surveying in Liberia and Uganda, I get migraines and feel drained. Same after long runs in the heat. The tablets are magical. I tried and like these ones.

7. Small tissue packs for all those many, many latrines sans TP.

Finally, currently on probation:

8. The yoga paws that some commenters were so excited to see. As one reader cautioned by email, however, the paws seem to wear out ridiculously fast. After two weeks mine already show serious wear.

8 Responses

  1. Great list, Chris. Thanks for posting it. One question: do you bring along a set of dress shoes to go with your suit, or do you make do with some semi-dressy all-purpose shoes?

  2. High-protein energy bars for the flight.

    There’s a huge difference between “granola bars” and “power bars” and high protein (at least 20g). Namely, only the latter will fill you up.

  3. Yoga Paws? I can just picture Patanjali packing his set, along with breathable synthetic stretch pants and organic hemp recycled shirt (by Patagonia, for only $79). How did the study of detachment come to embrace conspicuous consumption?

  4. Two more necessary items –

    1. The itrip for all of those 8 hour car rides in the field.

    2. A jumprope – great exercise and all you need is five square feet.

  5. Something I wouldn’t travel without, but haven’t seen on either list: a silk sleeping sheet. It’s clean bedding, everywhere you go! (Provided that you wash it… otherwise it’s dirty bedding everywhere you go, but at least it’s your dirty bedding) They are very expensive, but are essential for sketchy hotel rooms in the heat and are much lighter and pack much smaller than even the lightest sleeping bags or bedsheets. Also great for friends’ couches.

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