Tom Germond Sig

My biggest fear about traveling is that one morning when I'm half-awake I'll brush my teeth with hemorrhoid ointment.

It used to be fun to pack for a trip. Just the essentials. Now it seems I have to bring my medicine cabinet with me.

Call it aging. Stool softeners, antiseptics, ear wax remover, vitamins pills — you can't leave home without it.

Never used to have to write a list of what I needed to take with me when I travel. Now it's part of my routine, lest I have to make dozens of trips to drug stores at my destination.

Of course, you can buy toothpaste and other such essentials at an airport, but be prepared to enter the "gotcha" zone. You may leave with such a bad taste in your mouth you won't be able to remove it — even with the overpriced toothpaste you bought.

I've become pretty good at traveling light. Whatever can't fit in my camera bag goes into a single suitcase that usually makes its way to the conveyor belt at my destination.

By the way, my luggage ain't pretty. Not sure why people pay hundreds of dollars for suitcases that get crammed in tight spaces or tossed around. For $40 or so, you can buy a suitcase at Goodwill or other thrift stores that will last a lifetime.

As far as I know, you won't be denied a boarding pass for having ugly luggage — unless you try to bring a bag that's bigger than you are on the plane.

I'm of the opinion that if some passengers had their druthers, they'd bring a 24-inch laptop on the plane, even if the monitor jabs the ribs of the passenger sitting next to him or her.

Pets? I really have no problems with people bringing a pet on a plane, as long it's doesn't slither. On a recent flight to Maine, the passengers sitting next to me had a small dog in a carrier at their feet. The dog slept for practically the whole flight.

Didn't leave a gift on my feet, either.

I like to read on my flights, but invariably I nod off until turbulence brings me back to life. Can't recall ever having any nightmares on a flight, such as dreaming about brushing my teeth with hemorrhoid ointment.

Don't expect flight attendants to work miracles; ohhh, the stories they could tell.

I recently read an article written by a flight attendant who witnessed somebody watching porn on the plane.

From what I've read airlines restrict the use of pornography in the cabin, which seems sensible. I'll go out on a wing here and say you won't be allowed to view porn on a 24-inch monitor. If you do, you may be grounded for life.

Although my attempt at organization sometimes fails me, I think I'm pretty good at making sure I have warm clothes in my luggage.

The exception was my first trip to Germany in 1989; the heaviest jacket with me was a corduroy coat. Didn't expect to see snow on May Day.

Yeah, I know — layer, layer, layer. Could have avoided having memories of six weeks of strep throat and doctor bills. And it took six weeks to get food and beer stains off the coat.

Get sick overseas? Hope you have insurance, stay healthy and have prepared a will. My traveling companion had a bad toothache on a ski trip to France in the early 1990s. He was groaning in the evening as we tried to go sleep.

We were advised the next day that my suffering buddy might be able to get an antibiotic over the counter to put him out of his misery. Voila!

The medicine put him out of his misery. That's a good thing, because, by different means, involving a pillow, I was about to put him out of his misery.

Make sure you always bring two pairs of eyeglasses on any trip, especially if you don't trust your vision without the use of glasses. I've found it's easy to misconstrue the labels on small tubes of medicine when I'm not wearing them.

Could be wrong, but I doubt toothpaste will relieve the pain of hemorrhoids.