Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fish Out Of Water Rule # 4 Don't Leave Home Without It!

A wonderful display of perfume in Paris 

There’s a general rule when traveling in Western Europe, you can find almost everything we have in America. So why bother to load yourself down with a bunch of crap? But I’d rather live by the old adage, “Better safe than sorry.” Especially if you are like me and have a host of allergies making life a bit more complicated.

Case in point, my recent trip to France. Although I’ve traveled quite a bit, this was my first trip to that part of the world. I didn’t really believe my friends when they told me I could buy what ever I need in France. The French are famous for their perfumes and fragrances are at the top of my allergy list. Walking into a Department store near the cosmetic counter or cruising down the detergent aisle in the grocery store, I have to hold my breath.

Whenever I travel abroad I always take fragrance free soap and lotions with me. Since I hate to loose valuable luggage space to a bunch of bottles, for my trip to France I decided to believe my friends and bring just a few travel size bottles and a small bar of soap. I needed the luggage space for cold weather clothes, as I would be staying through mid October.  

In Paris I had no problem finding fragrance free products although they certainly weren’t cheap but when I got to the south of France the pickings became non-existent. And wouldn’t you know it, my products began to run out. I hadn’t taken a bath or washed my hair in three days and thought my secret was safe.

Then my friend Joan pulled me aside. “Anne, is your shower broken?”

I looked at her puzzled. “No, why?”

Joan grabbed my arm and moved me away from our friends. “Because you kind of smell.” 

My face burned hot. How humiliating! 

I explained that I had allergies and had run out of my unscented soap. Joan assured me that the soap she had was virtually fragrance free. Not wanting another embarrassing confrontation, I gave the soap the sniff test. But as anyone with allergies can tell you, the sniff test isn’t always the best policy. In desperation I broke down and used the soap. I lathered up my right arm and waited for a reaction. Nothing. Left arm count to ten….you get the picture.  I finished and thought; yeah I’ve been saved from the stink!  My celebration didn’t last long. The next morning I was starving so I rushed to get breakfast. 

While stuffing my face with cereal when Joan asked, “Are you all right?”

I thought maybe she was commenting on my bed-head hairdo.  “Yeah, why?”

“Because your face is swollen and you have red streaks all over your neck. You look like you're ready for Halloween.” 

Moral of the story; trust your instincts and follow Fish Out of Water Rule #4, Don’t Leave Home Without It! Your complexion will thank you.  


  1. This is an easy rule for me to follow. I never leave home without it. At home I'm a hoarder...all closets, fridge, freezers full to bursting and my handbag is the same. Got meds, beauty stuff, snacks, and credit cards and even somme small change. I'm not the world traveler you are, but even I pack a suitcase once in a while. Ample supplies of skin cream, vitamins, favorite soap and shampoo take the place of sweaters and socks! Now them I can buy anywhere and tote home in a new carry on.

    But I sympathize with you running out!!! My biggest fear! Gotta go out and buy some more. If disaster strikes come to my house. I can feed three families for three months. And have scent free soap on hand.

    Had to laugh at your unbathed predicament!!!


  2. You're right, Anne. If you have allergies or special needs, you need to pack enough of what you need to last the entire trip. But I have found most 'normal' toiletry items are readily available -- at least in Western Europe.

    Ihla Crowley
    a.k.a. Drifter Sister