So, what should we try to cram into our bags for a year away?
Start with the basics.
We still need to renew some of our passports before we go, so this is going at the top of the list.
Let’s get this one out of the way too, as I’m not planning to take the family round the world for free.
We will take a credit card and a debit or prepaid card, but I am conscious that our regular UK cards will incur high transaction fees, so we need to research the best offers before we leave by looking here.
A small pile of emergency cash may also come in handy.
Other Important Documents
Travel Insurance – perhaps not one for the risk seekers amongst you, but seems reasonable to get some insurance before embarking on a year away from the UK’s national health service. Two companies that specialise in long-term travel insurance are true traveller and world nomads.
International driving permit – this is a requirement in certain countries that we are planning to visit and I would like the option of being able to hire a car.
The permit is only valid for twelve months, so we need to do this just before we leave.
I’m counting vaccinations on the basis that we do physically need to take them with us, even if they won’t take up any space in our luggage.
To cover us for India and South East Asia we should be ok to go with: Hep A; Hep B; Diphtheria; Tetanus; Typhoid; Polio.
Rabies – Doesn’t feel essential for us, because we are not likely to be in such remote areas that we couldn’t reach a hospital within 24 hours should the worst happen and we get an animal bite in an infected area. But if you are travelling into very remote locations then you may want to investigate further.
Yellow Fever – If you are planning to spend time in certain parts of South America or Africa, which we are not on this occasion, then you may also need to get inoculated for Yellow Fever and take certification with you as proof.
I’m planning to keep writing while we travel, so a laptop is essential from my perspective. I will also need to book flights and accommodation while we travel.
I need something light and compact, but with reasonable ability to store documents, photos and create blog posts.
A Macbook Air seems like the obvious choices, but I am also toying with the idea of the Microsoft Surface Pro, which is a 2-in-1 laptop / tablet that seems like it could be a good option for using on the move.
Improving my photography is one hoped for side effect of taking a year away to go travelling, so I have chosen to invest in a digital camera rather than relying on my phone.
I won’t be able to leave the country without having sufficient reading material to keep me going while the kids build sand castles, and a Kindle feels a better option than carrying multiple books.
Now I just need to decide how much money I want to spend, and whether it’s worth the extra to splash out on a new Kindle Oasis rather than the Kindle Voyage that I had planned to buy.
It would be great if somebody could influence the world to all use the same shape power plugs, but in the meantime we need to take one of these.
Given that this will weigh nothing and should let me back-up photographs and files while we travel, then I can’t see any reason not to take one.
I wear daily disposable lenses, so planning to take 3-6 months’ worth to begin with and then get re-supplied from home when we’re staying in one place for a couple of weeks.
For comfort and hygiene if we arrive somewhere to find that the bedding isn’t quite up to scratch.
We are not going camping, so we don’t need to carry the weight of a sleeping bag, but a silk sleeping bag liner should mean we can cosy up in our bedding whenever needed.
Great for spontaneous trips to the beach as these will fold up small enough to take in a day bag, but also helpful if we arrive somewhere that doesn’t provide bath towels…just don’t tell the rest of my family that this is even a possibility
I like to take hand sanitiser wherever I go with the kids. Partly this is because I don’t like getting germs, but largely it’s because kids are dirty and don’t see the issue with eating an ice-cream with one hand while simultaneously petting farm animals with the other hand.
I also suspect that there will be genuine occasions when it is not possible to properly wash our hands before eating, so I would rather have my food taste slightly anti-septic than spend an evening being ill.
I’m not American, but for some reason “sticking plasters” feels slightly antiquated compared to “band aids”. But whatever you call them, taking something to stick over cuts and grazes feels sensible to me.
Bug Spray / Bite Repellent
I’m expecting to see some bugs…
I’m definitely expecting to see some sun…
Ah yes, we will need something to wear, but this is where things may get interesting. We are not hardened backpackers, but I know that our usual tendency to over pack clothes needs to be seriously fixed.
The ambition is to pack as though we were only going away for one week, rather than trying to pack for every possible eventuality across 52 weeks. This means that we should only need to take:
- 10 sets of underwear
- 5 tops
- 2 pairs of trousers
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 2 swimsuits / swimming shorts
- 1 fleece pull-over / base layer
- 1 lightweight raincoat
- 1 pair of trainers / walking shoes
- 1 pair of sandals
- …maybe a dress for the girls
Free Bonus Item
It may not be essential, but I also want to take a travel journal and pen so that I can write things down when it’s not practical to load up the laptop. This should also be useful for keeping track of important information in case we were to lose any of our modern technology.
We have also said that the kids will be able to take one cuddly toy each because they still both like to sleep with their favourite soft animal. I have suggested that we don’t take their absolute favourites, cuddled practically since birth, because we don’t want to spend a whole year panicking that we might lose one of them.
What Are Your Essential Travel Items?
I would really appreciate your feedback on this list to correct any rookie mistakes:
- What would you drop from this list?
- Are there any other essential items that you would take on a long trip?
- Do you make room for any luxury items that you can’t be without?