Check you out, free spirit! Wanderlusting all over the damn place. Taking the world by storm with nothing but the clothes on your back and the wind in your hair. I see you too, long-distance relationship girl. I see you there, at the plane terminal, weary of naked cell phone pictures and cuddling on Skype. You probably over- or under-packed, but that’s okay, because you’re in love.
Maybe neither of these is you at all. Maybe you’re following Tegan and Sara on the road. Maybe you just hate where you live. Perhaps you’re on the run from homophobic family members (seriously, still a tragically common occurrence). Maybe you just feel like your time and money are best spent being, well, somewhere else.
I think, probably, that I have been each of these people at least once, and am probably some combination of two or three of these people right now. And no matter who you may be in this grand scheme of runagays and wanderlust dreams, the world is your oyster, and everyone knows that oysters are symbols for vaginas, so let’s get to exploring, shall we?
You’ll need a backpack, of course, but we already went through how to find one of those over here. Below are some supplements and essentials to keep your time on the road light on your back and easy on your mind.
Now I ain’t fuckin’ around when I say that bandanas are the simplest, most diverse tool in your runaway homo arsenal. They’re kind of like handkerchiefs, but way trendier, and less yucky. There are plenty of things I recommend that you do with a bandana, but make no mistake, blowing your nose is not one of them.
However, are you that crying girl at the bus terminal? It’s cool, we’ve got a bandana for that. Are you a cowboy riding through the Wild West lassoing bank robbers and keeping the dust out of your eyes? We’ve got a bandana for that. Use a bandana to keep your hair out of your face so that you can get a good look at that open road ahead of you. Clean up spills. Mend a sore wrist. Make gay sex jokes about being a lesbian with a sore wrist repairing herself with a bandana. Wash yr face. Tie someone to the bed. Use two or three of them when you get out of the shower ’cause, duh, your hostel doesn’t provide towels, and you just do. not. have. room. for that kind of shit in your pack.
And maybe best of all, signal to people in a brand new city that you’re a big ol’ homo — and a practical one at that! I know that this is a strange diversity of uses, and that it seems like you couldn’t possibly (sanitarily) use just one bandana for all these purposes. And you’re right, you can’t. That would be gross. Lucky for you, bandanas are mad crazy hella cheap, and frequently come in variety packs, much like this:
Headphones are an interesting thing for me because I haven’t had an iPod or any sort of portable music player for almost two years now. This is not because I don’t care about music or because I am particularly self-righteous about our dependence on technology and its overbearing presence in our everyday lives. No, this is because I am constantly buying plane/train/bus tickets and spending money having meals and getting drunk in cities other than my own and cannot afford an iPod, which makes for some REALLY FUCKING BORING bus rides.
So why headphones? So motherfuckers don’t try to be talking to you all the damn time. Of course part of the point of traveling – especially traveling alone – is to have new experiences and meet lots of people, but for the love of god, if I have to spend seven hours in a closed space sharing a seat with some man who keeps asking me what part of Japan I’m from or why I don’t have a boyfriend or if I can spare some change or a cigarette, then I’m never leaving the house without a nun costume again. And I don’t even really know where to get a nun costume, but I do know where to get headphones. I don’t really have a preference on headphones because I don’t actually plug them in to anything, but when I did, these Panasonic RP-HTX7s were my absolute favorite. What do all those letters stand for? I have no idea! But I do know that they’re comfortable, stylish, noise-blocking, and of great quality.
And hey, maybe you’re even one of the lucky ones that has something to connect them to. Also, if anyone wants to sell me their walkman, I am in no position to say no.
The hoodie is a beautiful thing. Never – I say never – in the history of anything has one item been both so useful and so fashion casual as the hoodie. It’s always smart to travel in layers, as buses/trains/planes always tend to be a little on the cold side, so as to keep you as rigidly uncomfortable as possible for as long as possible (just my speculation). However! A hoodie is more than just another jacket. Because you’re so clever over here, Miss MacGyver, your hoodie is also your pillow and your blanket (this also applies if the place you’re crashing has neither pillow nor blanket for you as well). Not only is the hoodie a travel triple threat, but because you wear it, it also cuts down on shit you have to pack. Also, in the absence of headphones, you can put your hood up and pretend to be asleep. I prefer the classic American Apparel hoodie, but since the CEO of AA is a total fucking creep, and the hoodies are kind of expensive, both H&M and Old Navy provide cheaper alternatives that are still totally cute and shit.
4. Moleskine notebook
In our Little Girl, Big City kit, Riese recommended purchasing a notebook, which I will recommend too, because you’re going to need somewhere to store all your little big feelings and new experiences while you’re on the road. I strongly support you owning a Moleskine graph paper notebook, which is like, basically the most useful notebook ever because on top of feelings-recording, the graph paper is great for drawing maps and directions, and the handy inside cover pocket is seriously the safest and most convenient place to stash boarding passes and your emergency $10. And, of course, when you’re done with your tickets, you can glue them all into your notebook to keep tabs on all the places you’ve been.
5. Kick-ass boots
Because you are a Gay for All Seasons, you’re not afraid of the cold! Or the ice! Or the rain. Or the heat, I suppose, as long as you drink a lot of water (which I’m about to get to as well). What you’re going to need is a pair of totally kick-ass boots to help you trek through all sorts of weather conditions. My current pair are these Doc Martens, which are actually the most perfect lesbian shoe in the world. They’re durable, comfortable, waterproof, provide a TON of traction, and are totally silent (which is unnecessary but cool). And on top of that, they’re totally fly.
6. Re-usable water bottle
Once, my friend dropped her Nalgene bottle off of an 80-foot cliff, and – I kid you not – the thing survived the fall with little more than a scratch. What more endorsement do you need? If you’re traveling around a lot, you’re bound to fuck your belongings up at least a little, and water is obviously something you’re always going to need, so why not keep it on you at all times in a nearly indestructible, vibrantly colored piece of plastic? Also a very cool thing is the Vapur flexible water bottle, which holds 0.5L of water and ROLLS UP neatly when you’re done. Whatever your choice, make sure to keep it clean regularly, because there’s nothing quite so bad as being thirsty and drinking stank water out of a dirty container.
It’s small, it’s simple, and no one knows what the fuck it’s called. A carabiner is something you’re probably already wearing on your beltloop to hold your keys, ya big homo. A carabiner may also hold the key to your hostel or the key to your friend’s place where you’re crashing. Loop it onto your backpack, and you have the ability to clip something extra on to your bag, like a water bottle, a pair of boots tied together by the laces, or even another bag. Like the bandana, the carabiner is cheap, small, and totally replaceable, which are three good reasons to invest.
8. A Good Fucking Book
Something to keep you company on the long, lonely road. Even if you’ve got friends when you get to where you’re going to, it’s always nice to have a few extra people in your life, even if those people are fictional characters. Here are a few good road companions:
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)
This book isn’t actually entirely about running away. It’s about a million things, like being intersex, being a third-generation midwesterner in the 1960s and 70s, exploring your confused sexuality, and Greek mythology. But a lot of the time it is about the inexplicable feeling of isolation, and there is a runaway scene at some point. Also, the last time I traveled somewhere with this book, almost everyone I met was all like “Omgggg Middlesex that book is amazing!” So maybe you’ve already read it. Maybe you should re-read it or carry it around as a prop.
A Home at the End of the World, Micheal Cunningham (1990)
Also not actually about running away, but definitely about a search for home, love, and family and the different ways that each of those things can be interpreted. Romantic, twisted, heartbreaking, and gay, A Home at the End of the World is a beautifully narrated story about growing the fuck up.
Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami (2002)
Although Murakami is potentially best known for his 1994 novel, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, for a young person on the run, Kafka on the Shore is highly relevant to your interests. Existentialism, magical realism, more Greek mythology, and the intangible but unavoidable intertwining of lives pushed into 650 epic pages to keep you good and busy during long journeys. Also, this quote: “Time weighs down on you like an old, ambiguous dream. You keep on moving, trying to sleep through it. But even if you go to the ends of the earth, you won’t be able to escape it. Still, you have to go there- to the edge of the world. There’s something you can’t do unless you get there.”
And if that doesn’t make you want to travel, well then I just don’t know.
All right kids, that’s it for now. Go on, get out of here, you’re gonna miss your bus!