If you take a backpack (or any other type of bag) with you when you leave the house for the day, I recommend adding a deck of cards to your Every Day Carry. The deck won’t take up much room in your pack, weighs virtually nothing, and can provide you with many hours of entertainment for a couple of dollars.
Why cards instead of a book? A book can only entertain one person at a time, cards can comfortably entertain a group of four if you’re playing Twenty-One, Poker, or Euchre. If you’re stuck in a situation where you have time-to-kill (such as waiting for the “all clear” to proceed after a flood or bushfire), cards are an excellent way to do this. But make sure you don’t allow any gambling to take place, because this can lead to trouble if someone is a poor loser of feels they’ve been cheated. Bad blood and confined spaces are a bad combination.
Conversely; if you’re on your own or just don’t want to interact with the people around you, playing Patience or building a house of cards is an excellent way to pass the time.
I started carrying cards when I was in high school. I wasn’t much of a card player back then, and not much has changed. School rules prohibited playing card games, but most teachers turned a blind-eye when they saw we weren’t gambling (mostly because we were being quiet and weren’t causing trouble). One or two teachers took exception to our games, but the headmaster knew we weren’t gambling, so quickly dismissed their complaints.
You don’t have to buy fancy or expensive playing, cheap cards from a supermarket are ideal. Also, if you’re desperate for tinder, you have fifty-two pieces of cardboard in a small box in your backpack.
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Whether you stay at home or get as far away from your regular routine as possible, holidays are a great opportunity to forget about your troubles for a week or two. But don’t get too relaxed, you’re only on holiday from your job, not everyday life. Have you ever given much thought to what would happen if disaster struck during your vacation? Of course you haven’t; I doubt many people have.
If you’re holidaying at home when disaster strikes; no problem. You grab your Bug Out Bag (or BOB) and go. If you’re enjoying a camping trip when disaster strikes, then you’re way ahead of everyone else. You’ve already got all the gear, food, and supplies you need, and you’re miles away from any major population centre. But what do you do if disaster strikes while you’re stuck in a strange city or country?
Obviously, you can’t travel with your BOB if you’re not driving to your holiday destination. In fact, the security team at the airport may be less than impressed if you try to bring your BOB onto the plane (especially if you have included a hunting knife or other similar items in your kit).
If the resort/suburb/city your staying is ordered to evacuate due to an impending disaster, you’ll have to do so very quickly. You won't have time to pack your suitcases before you leave; remember how long it took you to pack them in the first place? And you sure as hell aren’t going to be able to lug them very far – especially if you are stuck with hundreds, or thousands, of panicky tourists. So; what is the solution?
A fold-up backpack.
“A what?” I hear you ask.
A fold-up backpack is a lightweight nylon sack with thin shoulder straps that can be rolled or folded down to the size of a pencil case. They are inexpensive, don’t take up much room, and can be used as an emergency BOB.
What goes into the bag? Essentials only. A change of underwear, a couple of pairs of socks, your medicines, hygiene supplies, sunscreen, bug repellent, your phone’s charging cable and plug, a roll of toilet paper, and as many bottles of water as you can find. Don’t forget a jumper or jacket. If it is hot, tie the arms around your waist (this will save room in your emergency BOB).
Leave your laptop, expensive camera, and souvenirs in your hotel room. This stuff will only slow you down (and you will probably abandon it anyway). You can go back and claim your gear when the danger is gone.
Don’t forget; every person in your party needs their own fold-up backpack. Due to their size they can’t hold much gear, so each person needs their own bag. The good news is the price; they only cost $5 - $10 each, and they’re available at just about every chain department store.
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It’s not that I’m technophobic, but it worries me when people leave home for the day with nothing more than a smartphone and an EFTPOS card. These are only two of your everyday carry items. In addition to these items, you should never leave home without a watch, a small amount of cash, and a pen.
Always wear a watch. “My phone just died; does anybody know the time”? I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard this question over the years. Smartphones perform a lot of functions and as a result they quickly chew through their batteries. Unfortunately, many people fail to charge their phone before leaving home for the day. Although smart watches have their place, they suffer the same battery issues. A good quality analogue watch is a smart addition to your wardrobe and should last many years, if not a lifetime (unlike smartphones). Obviously, you can tell the time with your watch (and maybe the date and/or day), but did you know you can also use your analogue watch as a compass?
Always carry cash. A little while ago I enjoyed a quiet Sunday lunch in a usually busy café. This wasn’t due to lack of customers, it was due to the chalkboard sign outside the front door “EFTPOS DOWN. CASH ONLY”. While I ate I watched at least twenty people arrive at the shopfront, read the sign, then walk away. It was disturbing how few people carry cash with them anymore (not even $20). During a natural disaster (bushfire/flood/cyclone – all are common in Australia), EFTPOS infrastructure may fail so petrol stations and other retailers may implement a temporary CASH ONLY policy (especially if they are profiteering). Do you carry a small amount of cash with you when you leave the house? If not, how would you cope if you were out for the day and EFTPOS was suddenly unavailable? You don’t need to carry enough cash with you to do your weekly grocery shopping, but $20 should be enough to catch a taxi ride away from trouble.
Always carry a pen. “Hang on, I’ve just got to turn my phone on to take notes”. That’s ok if you aren’t in a hurry; but if it is an emergency, you don’t have time. If you’ve witnessed an incident that requires details to be noted, a pen in your pocket is instantly accessible. “What could be so damned important that it can’t wait for two seconds while I get my phone”? Good question. If you witness something like a hit & run, the perpetrator will be long gone before you can snap your first photo. You need to start writing details immediately, before your brain starts merging or forgetting them. No paper? No problem! The skin on your forearms and legs make great notepads.
And there you have it; three everyday items that will save you lot of grief during your day-to-day activities. If the information in tonight’s blog was helpful, please share it with your friends and family on social media.