What’s your travelling talisman?

I’m at the Special Libraries Association (SLA) 2017 conference. It’s fabulous fun and I’ve come away with a plethora of ideas to follow up and people to contact. All in due course – I have another week in the States after this, and shall spend it hiking in the national parks of Utah before heading down to San Diego for a bit of R&R. 

I wanted to share with you a fun little story. Do you have something that you take away with you when you travel, either for practical reasons, comfort and familiarity, or just luck?

Here’s mine . It’s tomato ketchup. 


Allow me to explain. I don’t NEED to eat ketchup wherever I go. I’m not a philistine Brit who won’t eat local food. This happened by accident. 

Last year, I was hiking  with my good friend Betsy in North Yorkshire. We did a beautiful coastal walk, part of the Cleveland Way national trail, from Scarborough to Robin Hood’s Bay (around 12 miles). At the end of it, we got fish and chips. (One has to eat ketchup with fish and chips; it’s the law). At the end of it I tucked the leftover sachets into a tiny little pocket on the waist strap of my big backpack… And completely forgot about them until this year, when I flew to Helsinki. I only realised, days after I arrived, that the ketchup pods had survived the journey intact. I was so tickled that I immediately wrote to Betsy to tell her how durable Heinz tomato ketchup pods are! A little while later, I flew to Phoenix, AZ, via Philadelphia. ‘What the hell’ I mused – ‘leave the pods and see if they make it to Phoenix’. I figured that if they survived two flights plus the Phoenix heat (nearly 50 degrees Celsius) then it’d be a miracle. But I like a challenge. 

The little suckers are still going strong. Let’s see if they can make if for the rest of the trip and home again. I think they must be lucky.* And, they’ll come in mightily useful if I ever do get an inedible meal!

What’s your travelling talisman?

*The paradox, of course, is that if they ever DO burst, it won’t be very lucky…

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