When the going gets tough, the tough… buy water purification tablets?

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They don’t call it retail therapy for nothing. There’s nothing more calming than a little bit of shopping when the world spins out of control. Except when you’re going travelling of course. Then you can’t buy anything, because it’s not going to fit in your backpack.

So perhaps it’s unsurprising that my shopping tastes have become a little more, shall we say.. specialist (that sounds dodgier than it should)? It turns out there’s a whole niche market of ‘gap year impulse buys’ out there for the likes of me. I’m trying so hard not to be a sucker for them, and still the credit card is feeling a little singed.

Last night we bought some luggage. To be fair, we needed that. We only had a slight row about how big it should be (size isn’t everything, right?). And my goodness, backpacks have come on since my teenage days. It’ll be a miracle if I can even work the straps, given how much I used to struggle with the rain cover on the children’s buggies. I also bought some dinky travel detergent, a plug, and any amount of handgel. In other sins, I’ll confess to some microfibre towels (a bit like magic, pack down very small, the kids will probably hate them), some sleeping bag liners in brightly coloured silk, and a ‘miracle laundry device’ bizarrely known as the Scrubba. No jokes please.

But I did leave the water purification tablets. Much as I’d like to present us as intrepid explorers going far off the beaten track, as Paul so often points out, we’re never that likely to be far from a chemist. Or a decent bottled water seller.

Can’t wait for that backpack to arrive. The whole process of getting ready for this trip has felt a little like making a very complicated consommé. We keep boiling down, reducing and clarifying everything we’ve got, until eventually all we need for the year is in four small(ish) bags that we can take with us everywhere. As a family of hoarders, that will be a huge achievement. I feel lighter just thinking about it. Must. Stop. Shopping.

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