Travel Tip: Get Inventive

What to bring and how to pack—it’s always a hot topic. But no matter how well you prepare—no matter how many water purification tablets and rehydration pills you stuff into your waterproof, weather-resistant backpack—you can’t anticipate every twist and turn you’ll encounter on the road.

At some point, you’ll need to get inventive.

Let’s say you do something as innocent and seemingly unadventurous as going on a day hike. Now, some people tromp off with walking sticks, CamelBaks, and a fanny pack full of First Aid supplies. But those’re also the same folks that wear their jungle-proof hiking boots in the middle of the city. (In your preparedness, you must also consider fashion.)

Let’s say it’s a hot day at one of your top 3 travel secret spots. Let’s say that Bass Lake is sparkling cool, and filled with the intertubes and joyous clamor of hikers. You paddle out with a friend and see carefree bodies flying through the air, limbs ecstatically free for one airborne moment before splashing ceremoniously into the murky dark.

Let’s say you forget that both you and your friend are total effing city kids and have never once been on a rope swing. Let’s say that you don’t stop to consider the physics of the situation, the centrifugal force and the fact that some technique might be involved. Let’s say that all that’s going through your mind is—“Fuck yeah, rope swing!”

And let’s say that both you and your friend completely gnarl your hands and are left treading water with a mess of twisted and bloodied fingers.

It’s time to get creative.

First off, remember your First Aid training: reduce swelling (and bleeding) by raising the effected body part(s) above heart-level. This means treading water hands-up for 500+ feet back to shore. You can also call on your long-forgotten lifeguard training.

Next, you’ll want to get a second opinion. You’ll probably try to tell yourself that your wound “isn’t that bad, right?” You’ll attempt to move the effected body part in a perkily healthful manner to convince everyone—but mostly yourself—that no serious injury has occurred. At this stage, it helps to have friends with a firm grasp on reality.

When it’s determined that you are indeed effed up, you’ll need to provide some sort of make-shift care for yourself. You won’t always have gauze and splints and medical tape handy. You’ll have to make do with what you have right in front of you. Dig through your purse and discover that a Bic pen is about the length of your finger. Now how could you secure it to your effected digits to both provide support and restrict swelling? You think, look around…

Using your traveler ingenuity, you’ll end up with a perfectly workable—and dare I say, fashionable—solution: Bic-pen/shoelace splints:

Stop hiking? No way! You’re totally good to go.

Bonus tip: Don’t waste money on needless medical care. If you happen to be American, you’re already well-practiced in the delicate art of determining when medical attention is and is not absolutely necessary. Unless your shit is sideways and needs to be reset, a doctor isn’t going to do much for a broken finger. So save the pennies in your travel jar, go to Walgreens, and buy a splint and some medical tape. Total cost: $7.

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3 Responses to “Travel Tip: Get Inventive”


  1. 1 Ekua August 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    This post had me laughing out loud. Especially this: “But those’re also the same folks that wear their jungle-proof hiking boots in the middle of the city.”

    I saw some insanely hi-tech sportswear clad people with two walking sticks each when I was on my road trip last week. Thought they might be doing some serious hike, but they were doing the same relatively easy 3.5 mile or so walk I was doing.

    I still think it’s crazy that you and your friend had the same injury. By the way, people, I have seen the Walgreens splint and can vouch for the professionalism of it 😉

    • 2 laurenquinn August 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      Splint is off! I can almost bend my finger all the way. Though I think it’s permanently a little twisted. Hand model career is OVER…

      And not the same injury: Sam broke 3 fingers. I squeaked by with just the one.

      Bummed neither one of us made it out tonight—let’s hang soon!

  2. 3 pam August 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    As a child, I remember my mom fashioning a belt for me out of some string and safety pins while saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” I had to ask her what that meant, but once she explained, I never forgot. You see? The apple don’t fall far from the tree.


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Lauren Quinn is a writer and traveler currently living in Hanoi. Lonely Girl Travels was a blog of her sola travels and expat living from 2009 to 2012. She resides elsewhere on the internet now.

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