Packing for a long-term trip requires careful planning. The inclination is always to take much more than you really need. But here are the items, in no particular order, we found invaluable on our travels last year.
Although Jamie is pregnant, this is her little baby. She treats it with love and affection. It's superb for anything creative, has bags of memory and starts quickly. Being slim and sleek in design makes it easier to carry than most large laptops, too. It's also more sturdily built. Macbook Pros aren't cheap, but they are worth it. We use ours not just for writing blogs, researching online and managing our travels, but also to stay in touch via Skype, Facebook and email.
The ultimate travel jacket, especially when going through airports. There are dozens of pockets (22, in fact) of various sizes. I can carry his camera, books, money, passport, items of clothing, snacks etc comfortably. For those who have phones and ipods or even ipads, you could easily add these as well. The sleeves detach for warm weather and is good to wear in light showers. Going through airport security, I just remove the jacket instead of having to place all his items into trays. It's comfortable and cool enough to wear on the plane as well, meaning you have easy access to all your gadgets.
I have had these for several years. I bought them in the US. For the last year I wore them almost every day and everywhere. I've hiked and run in them, gone through salt water seas and oceans, and yet they are nearly as good today as they were when purchased. The Keens don't smell either like same sandals tend to with prolonged use.
If you love to exercise or just want to stay in shape, there are plenty of ways to do so, even when travelling. I carry my resistance bands on every trip (easy to pack) and use them almost daily. Mine were made by fitmag (the pro+ range costing around £20), but there are plenty of brands on the market. The point is, if you are used to weights and need an alternative, these chords or bands are the answer. They offer a multitude of different exercises and travel well (a bag is supplied). My only gripe is that one of the bands snapped when using it. But I've still managed fine with the others.
As we have two laptops, this is an essential gadget for sending copy from one machine to another, especially if you are in a location where you can't get an internet connection. Sticks with a greater memory are invaluable also for saving and backing up photos.
Although we have mixed feelings about the Travel Berkey water filter system we purchased, the Sport Berkey bottle (price around $28 US) has been an excellent purchase. We take it everywhere with us and, because you can fill it with water from any running water source, the savings on buying water has been considerable. The bottle is a constant travel companion, although it does need regular cleaning and the filter requires changing after a while.
This was a birthday gift for Zenchai several years ago. Made in Australia and from nylon and lycra, it protects him from the sun and was bought specifically for that reason. This means you don't have to plaster him in sunscreen all over. The top is comfortable and durable, too.
Garmin Sat Nav
We purchased a Garmin Nuvi 1490 GPS system last (British) summer, shortly before leaving for Europe by road on our way to Croatia. I wasn't sold on the idea at first. I'm an avid map-reader, but at the end of the trip I admitted it was a God-send. In some countries road signs are impossible to read. The Garmin eliminated a lot of stress. We updated to include US maps for when we went to Florida last September and October and I used it extensively. Our model gave the speed, notified us of speed limits and speed cameras etc. The only hiccup we had was when driving to London from Croatia and going through Italy, where the Garmin seemed to lose track of where it was. In some locations, especially when driving up or down mountains, the Garmin can't find a signal. Overall, it was invaluable.
We bought this item to save us carrying around the world a child's car seat. We put it on Zenchai and buckle him in to the car seat belts. It provides good comfort and is easily transportable. In countries where using seat belts isn't considered essential (like Morocco and South America), the travel vest is really handy. There are down sides: it can get hot to wear in humid climates and can be a pain to buckle and unbuckle when on short and frequent-stop journeys; sometimes Zenchai, when restless, would mess with the buckles (which is a worry) and, without the elevation of a car seat, he'd struggle to see out of the windows clearly. But for the sake of your child's safety, those are inconveniences worth tolerating.
A cheap buy in Kukljica, Croatia (about £2), but very useful. Some more expensive types are difficult to get on. Ours are easily inflated in seconds and slip on. They kept Zenchai afloat in pools and rough seas.
Norelco Philips electric razor
The cheapest shaving option is probably disposable wet blades that can be bought from chemists or supermarkets. But my face is sensitive to these. He uses the Norelco, which we got for around £40. It gives a close shave, is easy to clean (can be washed under a hot tap) and charges quickly, so can be used without the chord plugged in. It's durable also. Mine has survived several drops and fallen to pieces. But it worked perfectly when reassembled.
We bought this all-season jacket in New York for Jamie a few years ago prior to a trip to Costa Rica. It's proved useful ever since for wherever we have travelled. It's lightweight, easy to pack, waterproof, breathable and comfortable.
You can't go on a long journey like this without a camera. Although our silver Olympus is a seven-year-old digital point-and-shoot purchased on ebay, it's withstood knocks and drops and still taken some impressive photos. We're looking for a new model, because the Olympus, perhaps with old age, isn't performing quite as well with indoor pictures as it used to. But for durability it's stood the test of time and it's a nice size for carrying around and remaining discreet. We've had it on beaches, by rivers, up mountains and in hot, cold and humid climates without a thing going wrong.
These can either be vacuum-sealed or done manually, by pressing all the air out with hands and knees. What then happens is that all the air is sucked out, leaving the compression bag half as large as it was originally. It's helped us to fit all our clothes and (beach) towels into our cases, leaving space for all our other items. They are easy to pack and unpack and you'll be astonished how much space it can save.