I gasped loudly when I first looked into the mirror, my face as red as a stop sign. How did this happen?! Earlier in the day, my ISP Guatemala group and I had worked for the Reliant Stadium Parking Office in order to fundraise money for our trip. And, for the job, we were required to stand outside in the Houston sun for eight hours. I’d never been sunburned in my life before, and I’d certainly never been sunburned because of anything other than laying out at the beach too long, so this came as a huge shock. And now my rosy red cheeks and nose stung to the touch, and I was slapping myself for not wearing sunscreen.
But then suddenly it dawned on me, an epiphany of sorts that explained this unfortunate occurrence – I thought I was invincible. I thought, for some strange reason, that I was not subject to the sun’s strong rays because I had never experienced harm from them before. I even brought sunscreen with me that I failed to use for that exact same reason. Silently, in my mind, I thought to myself I’m not going to get sunburned, so forget wearing this. And, obviously, I was wrong.
So what? Well, the moral of this story extends to something much more important than a sunburned face, and I thought I’d share it with you all: I failed to come prepared. And in travel, school, work, and life, this small fact can make or break so many things. I came out virtually unscathed this time (although for a few days my face will look like a tomato), but next time I may not be so lucky.
In the world of travel, there are two things that basically everyone would like to do: save money and be safe. Being prepared while traveling can help you accomplish and maintain both of these. It’s important to know what potential elements you could face, which can range from small things like sunburn to bigger things like medical emergencies.
For me, this means thinking through a trip and potential outcomes that could happen – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It means always bringing a first aid kit, or an extra change of clothes, or having some extra cash on hand. It means keeping in the back of my head the tried and true cliché – “better safe than sorry.”
So next time I pack for a trip (and hopefully you too) I’ll remember my first sunburn experience and make sure that I cover all of my bases. And by that, I mean laughing and being embarrassed at the fact that I got sunburned while literally holding a container of sunscreen in my hand.