Anyone that has established a routine, a love for a certain brand, or even a dependency on one particular product or medication is going to have some difficulty acclimating to hopping from country to country – and yes that even includes countries that share a language.
Familiar name brands remain a near constant as we travel, and a reminder of globalization and the effects of television and bloated advertising budgets. I have seen the same overly fruity smelling (and absolutely chemically) laundry detergent on shelves across the globe. The same goes for over the counter brands of medications such as cough syrups and pain relievers. However, upon closer inspection, in many cases it is only the label that remains the same (although I have yet to come across a chemically scented detergent that I liked in any country).
As I cross borders, in order to maintain the same basic chemical composition of products, I’ve been forced to go “off label.” An over the counter allergy medication that I trusted in the United States was only available as a sleep aid in the UK. The usual brand of allergy pills were on the shelf – but only the label remained the same. The product itself was an entirely different type of medication. Then there was birth control – I had to switch to a different brand that claimed to be equivalent to my old one. Life was never the same again – unless splitting migraines are normal.
Thankfully, the worst I have to deal with is family planning and the occasional allergy, but I wonder about people that are so settled and dependent on the EXACT products, and yet they are hoping to explore the world. Do they really think that it will all be exactly the same, as if we can live in completely insulated and steady bubbles regardless of the countries we live in? Not even the water tastes the same. Why would the products be identical?
I was listening to someone the other day go on and on about the perfect medical marijuana strain that he had, and how he needed to go across the globe to grow it on a tropical beach because his current government was corrupt and he needed the substance on a daily basis. My eyes nearly rolled into the back of my head, and it’s not because I’d somehow managed decades on this planet without ever seeing a joint rolled (Is that even possible?). First off, government by its very nature is corrupt. You can’t amass that much power in one place and expect absolutely no one to take advantage of it. That would be insanity.
But, that’s beside the point. I was thinking about his exact strain that he needed every day, He wanted to grow and consume it, on a beach, and in a different country, and if he didn’t he said he would end up in the hospital.
1. First, what is he going to do in the time in his new country before his harvest (or, in the case of those of us that choose other cures, in the time while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or seeking out local remedies)? Is he just going to spend a lot of time feeling ill in the local hospital?
2. Secondly, how is he going to get a usable amount of his exact strain into the country for long enough to cover his grow time (or, for the rest of us, the time required to try 5 different medications or local remedies until we find one that works as well as the one we are accustomed to)? – Last time I checked, there were customs limits on the amount of medications and other products that could be brought into many countries. Some countries even limit things like perfume. As for marijuana, I don’t know of an airline or customs officer that allows it.
This actually reminds me of my eternal search for a lotion that is natural and that actually absorbs into my skin instead of leaving it feeling oddly dry and greasy at the same time. As soon as I find one, usually in some tiny niche market in some equally tiny bit of the globe that refuses to export, they tend to either go out of business or start adding chemicals and other junk (that overly obnoxious perfume) to stay in the competition. I just recently ordered a bottle of lotion for the road from my latest favorite niche company. What arrived was smaller, overly geranium scented, and a whole lot more drying than their regular product that I had grown to love. I spend a lot of time with dry skin.
3. This is all assuming that our grower buddy can even get his seedlings for his exact strain into the country to grow in the first place. I’m not sure that ending up in jail for breaking international shipping law is really going to help his medical condition. The same goes for my over the counter jar of allergy medication. To me, it’s just something to make my nose stop running, but do you think I really want to have that conversation while in a holding cell? In at least one country, it’s illegal in large amounts, so I have to make due with a packet or two until I find a local alternative. In Japan, it’s not allowed in the dosage that it comes standard in everywhere else. In Zambia, my innocent over the counter pills are illegal in any amount, so if I ever go there you’ll find me sniffling, when I should just be out and enjoying the sun.
Travel is one of those wonderful things that allow us to get away from all of the things that irritate us and find a completely new world of things that irritate us. The thing is, if you’re prone to having negative side effects from even the smallest changes in a product, like my skin is by the simplest addition of one ingredient to an entire bottle of lotion, then consider just how much further irritation you can take and if it’s worth it. Because that product bubble you are in – travel will burst it. Take it from someone that currently owns over $100 in lotions that don’t work.
Coincidentally, if you ever run across me and happen to need something for dry skin, I have about half a dozen bottles to spare.