Dopp kit memoirs
Story & Photography By S. Nathan DePetris
I do it; we all do it. While waiting to catch a flight, I’ll pull out and page through my passport. My standard 24-pager has had a couple of additional page sheets added over the years, and at almost 10 years old it’s ratty and worn and looks completely ready to be thrown out. But, there’s something fulfilling about having all of those colorful and crazy-shaped stamps, with writing I don’t understand, to remind me of all the experiences I’ve had over the years.
I’ve noticed, though, that I don’t seem to be getting the stamps at such a quick pace anymore. My travel schedule is a s full as ever, but still the number of those little lovelies seems to be diminishing. These days, I’m only stamped once when I enter an EU member state, instead of the myriad of stamps that used to fill the pages when spending three weeks traipsing around, and very seldom ever get one when returning home to the USA.
My humble dopp kit, a cloth satchel that contains my toiletries when traveling, seems to be picking up the slack. With the size of carry-on liquids shrinking every day, I find myself buying those travel amenities when I arrive at the destination rather than hauling them along on long flights in plastic bags strewn in my hand luggage. Instead, I head to the local drug store to stock up on what I need to maintain my young and beautiful facade, often getting to see a different side of local life while doing so.
Taking a quick glance through my toiletries kit reveals Egyptian shaving cream, Thai toothpaste and even Brazilian Floss that I purchased while on the go. When recently preparing for a trip, I realized that my dopp kit is becoming my new journal of travel memories, and I’m reliving them in a completely new way.
Sure, I can still see the Leaning Tower of Pisa in my mind’s eye, but now it’s mixed in with my trying to explain to a little old Italian woman at the main piazza Farmacia what tooth whitener is and why I need it. Maybe I shouldn’t mourn the passing of those crazy stamps from the world, but instead appreciate the new experiences that I gain when shopping for those much needed amenities in far off exotic places.
• About the Author:
Nathan DePetris owns Pride Travel, an agency specializing in customized gay vacations. He also represents the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association in the USA as its Ambassador, chairs the southern California Young Professional Society committee and sits on the national YPS committee for the American Society of Travel Agents. Nathan has sailed on over four dozen cruises and traveled to almost 40 countries. He holds several industry certifications, most notably by the Cruise Line Industry Association, the Travel Institute and multiple destination visitors’ bureaus in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe. A collection of his articles can be found at www.gaytravelherald.com
Photo Caption: From Arabic to Japanese, French to Portuguese, a world of languages can be found in the simplest of travel accessories