Sometimes it is the little details that can make all the difference!
In my travelling kit I have an item I jokingly refer to as my “bedside table”.
This is a small cloth pouch with a ribbon attached, The pouch holds my glasses when I sleep. The ribbon lets me tie the pouch onto a bedframe or tent pole.
Sewn to the outside are two pockets. The larger holds my travel alarm clock. There is room for the battery, since I take it out when I am not using the clock.
The smaller pocket holds a small plastic container containing a pair of foam ear plugs. Actually, it now contains two pairs since I seem to have acquired another set somewhere during my adventures.
If memory serves correctly, (which I cannot take for granted these days), I brought my first pair in Holland. This is why one of the few Dutch phrases I can recall is “oordoppen” and why the container is labelled “Herrie Stoppers”.
Ear plugs really are the traveller’s friend! They weigh virtually nothing, cost very little but can make all the difference between a great trip and an ordeal.
Someone else in the hostel room snoring? Idiots in the next tent playing loud bland pop music into the night? Screaming baby on the overnight flight? Local dustmen decide the middle of the night is when to collect the bins? All have had me reaching for the container of ear plugs in the pocket of my “bedside table”.
Are ear plugs a “survival item”? Not really, but they can be the difference between being well rested and being tired, irritable and unfocused, which can lead to all sorts of trouble!
I have even been known to use the ear plugs in my own home when a noisy party or the sounds of city life just get too intrusive.
I was watching something on TV recently, and it occurred to me that a protagonist would not have the problems they had if they had a simple set of ear plugs. Always willing to learn from the mistakes of others, I decided to add some ear plugs to my EDC.
I have a small belt pouch I use for money and cards. One compartment holds my Suunto Clipper compass and a small magnifier that I use when the small print on labels proves just too small for my aging eyes. A container of ear plugs would fit easily in the remaining space.
I probably have some more foam ear plugs somewhere around the place. I brought a pack of them for my girlfriend when she was having to make long overnight coach-trips.
For variety, I brought some polymer ear plugs, although admittedly a factor was that these came in a little plastic case well suited to where I intended to carry them.
Actually I got a set of ten pairs for a very reasonable price.
I am sure some time in the future my girlfriend or her son will need some.
A colleague saw me looking at options on ebay, and insisted on bringing me three pairs of foam ear plugs from the ten pairs he had at home. It is not just me that bulk buys on things like this!
There is just room inside the case of the polymer ear plugs to squeeze in a pair of these foam plugs too. Why carry two pairs? The foam may be better than the polymer for some noises. Although the more likely reason is my girlfriend may need a set at the same time that I do.
As with so many things, prices for ear plugs range from very reasonable to incredibly high.
The Matador set are at the higher end of reasonable, and come with a nice container that can be fitted to a keyring. My keys probably have enough gadgets already, however, and I got ten sets of polymer ear plugs for less than half the money!
I know from considerable experience that the low cost ear plugs work fine. Price is so low that there really is no reason not to own some. Often they are sold as multiple pairs, and having some spares is no bad thing.
Military or civilian, traveller or stay-at-home, all would be prudent to have a few ear plugs within easy reach. Even if you don’t carry them in your EDC, they should have a place in your travel kit, handbag, bug-out bag or bedside drawer.