Two of the challenges of travel are making sure you get there with everything you need and making sure you get home without any unwanted souvenirs like bug bites or associated health problems. Here's some advice to help with both.
Like many travelers, I love exploring new places but I dislike packing. Finding the right luggage for the right trip goes a long way toward making the task easier for me, especially when I go on active, outdoor vacations that require layers of clothing but come with strict limits on baggage weight. Two Eagle Creek products, the new Cargo Hauler Duffels and the company’s Compression Cubes are great finds.
These days, it’s not just travelers going on safari in Africa that need effective insect repellent. Beach lovers headed to the Caribbean; sun seekers in Central America; Olympic-bound travelers to Brazil as well as those visiting other South American countries need to take precautions against mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Luggage and Packing
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffels
Forget about the denier (the unit measuring fabric weight) to check the strength of soft-sided luggage. Eagle Creek’s new Outdoor Gear line uses a non-petroleum-based fabric coating that enables the company to use fabrics that are both tough and light. Constructed of storm-proof Bi-Tech Armor Lite material, a Cargo Hauler 45L with a 2,745-cubic-inch capacity, measuring 22.75 x 8.75 x 12.5 inches, weighs only 1 pound, 8 ounces. That gives you plenty of space and pounds for packing.
The duffels also feature self-repairing main zippers, side handles for easy grabbing, and removable backpack straps. The Cargo Hauler 60L has a 3,665-cubic-inch capacity; the Cargo Hauler 90L has a 5,495-cubic-inch capacity and the Cargo Hauler 120L has a 7,325-cubic-inch, but weighs only 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Prices start at $89.
I’ve always found Eagle Creek’s Pack-It sets great for keeping me organized when traveling. Their ultra-light organizers are essential companions for any trip when you want to minimize weight but maximize the amount of stuff you tote.
The easy-to-use Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes decrease the volume of your items often by one-third or more. Although the weight remains the same, the shrinking volume means you can stuff more into your luggage. You unlock the top zipper, stuff your items into the cube, zip the top zipper, and then close the outer zipper, the one that squeezes your items into a compact bundle. Use this system for items that won’t wrinkle—T-shirts, sweatshirts, shorts, etc. A two-pack set consisting of a half-cube and a full cube sells for $39.95.
So when you get to where you’re going, how do you make sure you’re protected against bug bites from mosquitos or other disease vectors?
Relied upon since the 1950’s, DEET (N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), is effective but may have side effects for some people that could include skin infections or more serious consequences. Some studies show that repellents that contain 30% or less DEET are less likely to cause side effects.
“Products with a 15% or more deet do work, though concentrations above 30% are no better….And deet, especially in high concentrations, can cause rashes, disorientation and seizures,” according to a May 2015 Consumer Reports article.
Insect Repellent Alternatives
Testers stuck their arms in cages with 200 disease-free mosquitoes. The testers who were sprayed with repellents containing 20% picaridin or those with 30% lemon eucalyptus proved the most effective according to Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports’ top-performing brands are: Sawyer Picaridin, with a 96% rating; Repel Lemon Eucalyptus, 87% rating; and Repel Scented Family, with an 82% rating. Repel contains 15% DEET.