Our family traveled extensively over the last eight months or so, spending two months in Europe (France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway) and another two in Australia. Check out the links if you want to see what a wonderful time we had :-)
Here's what ended up being essential equipment for us. I'll skip all the "you really don't need as many clothes as you'd think" advice. You can read that countless other places. (Though it's true, you really don't!).
External Wifi Card
This one's easy. I've already blogged about it. At $40 this gear helped us get online all over the place and was worth every penny.
12VDC Power Inverter
If you're planning to spend a lot of time driving during your vacation, one of these converters comes in really handy. You can charge laptops, iPads, iPods, camera batteries, DVD players, etc. They cost around $30.
Plug Converters and Power Strips
Traveling all over the place, you'll obviously need some converters. Can't say we've found any that we're crazy about but we took three of these with us and they held up pretty well. Bulky though. Bring a couple power strips with you too, you'll need them if you have anywhere near the level of gadgets we have. Why a couple? We've had at least one strip that couldn't take the 220VAC in Europe and consistently blew a fuse.
About Credit Cards
Call your credit card company before you leave and tell them
- When you're leaving
- When you're returning
- What countries you'll be visiting
- And that they better NOT decline your card when they see transactions from those countries
If you keep your credit card receipts (you should!), bring a few envelopes with you. Put each country's or each location's receipts in a separate envelope. It'll make confirming that mystery purchase so much easier.
Teva Dozer Sandals
Love these sandals. Took them on a 7 week trip to Australia and wore them almost exclusively: beach, rain forest, desert, rocks, driving, and city. They performed admirably: lightweight, good grip, easy to slip on/off, stayed cool, and were still comfortable at the end of the day. FYI it took about a day for my feet to get used to them.
Toshiba Canvio 1TB Drives
These made great lightweight drives, run off USB, and aren't much larger than a pack of cards. My wife and I each had one to backup our Macbook Pros and provide additional storage. They're about $100 each.
A tip for safe data travel: swap drives while on the move. My wife and I backup regularly during our trips and when we travel she carries my drive, I carry hers. A loss of either of our backpacks doesn't lose all our data. Yes, I care about my laptop, but I care a lot more about the information that's on it.
GoPro HD Camera
Yes, that geek is me, diving off the Great Barrier Reef, with a GoPro on my head. If you're in to adventure sports, or just want a handy high quality wide angle HD camera, you'll be happy with the GoPro. For underwater use, get this housing.
I love my iPad and it proved itself a great travel companion. Here are a few apps we liked:
- GPS MotionX HD: A great GPS program, we used it a ton. Make sure you download maps well ahead of time because that external wifi card won't help your iPad get online :-)
- AllSubway HD: If you're visiting a number of large cities, it's useful having these maps in one place
- Wi-fi Finder: Can't say I've really used this yet, but it's on my iPad just the same. Internet connectivity is right up there with air, food, and water :-) Download the offline database before your trip starts
- Living Earth: Wish I'd had this with me. It's a beautiful world map and weather app
- Star Walk: Not a travel app but a wonderful way to admire new stars and make new friends (seeing the app in action attracts people like moths to a flame)
- If multiple people will be using the iPad, install a few browsers and assign one to each person. That way your facebook, twitter, gmail cookies won't get mixed up