17 Vaguely Useful Packing Ideas For A Round The World Trip

In preparation for our round the world trip, I have been researching what we need to take with us.

Passport

I know, but let’s 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.

Money

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 currency exchange and transaction fees, so we will search the best offers before we leave by looking here.

I will also hide a small pile of emergency cash, in local currency or US dollars, if we ever get caught for money and can’t find an ATM.

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 free healthcare system. Two companies that specialise in long-term travel insurance are true traveller and world nomads.

I’ve also found this useful guide to travel insurance that is very helpful if you want some more in-depth research.

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.

Vaccinations

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.

Laptop

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.

Camera

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.

Kindle

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.

International Power Adaptor

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 a power adaptor.

Flash Drive

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

Contact Lenses

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.

Silk Sleep Sheet

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.

Travel Towel

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

Hand Sanitiser

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.

Sticking Plasters

I am 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.

Bug Spray / Bite Repellent

I’m expecting to see some bugs…

Sunglasses

I’m expecting to see some sun…

Clothes

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:

  • 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?

Habla Espanol?

Serious travel planning for our round the world family trip is currently on hold, while we finalise the sale of our house.

Therefore, in a minor attempt to plug some of the gaping holes in my global adventurer toolkit, I am instead trying to learn a little Spanish. I opted for Spanish on the basis that I believe it to be one of the most widely spoken languages outside of English. Also, I like Spain, so perhaps a few words will come in handy on future summer holidays when I’d really like to know what I’m ordering for dinner.

Thankfully, as for nearly everything else, there are now plentiful free apps that promise the road to fluency in practically any language you fancy. After several concentrated seconds of research, I opted for an app called “Duolingo”, which I would definitely recommend for beginners.

After around ten hours of lessons, which are helpfully broken up into easily manageable 5-10 minute stages, I am now apparently 10% fluent! I find this hard to believe, but I suspect the next 90% gets harder. At least I may now be able order some drinks at a bar without having to rely purely on pointing, providing the kids are happy with either milk (leche) or orange juice (hugo de naranja) and nobody starts asking me any awkward questions.

Buenos noches.

Dan

 

Homes Under The Hammer

Selling Our House To Fund Family Gap Year

Firstly, I must say that I am disappointed in myself for having not written here for quite a long time.

Largely this is because I haven’t made any tangible progress on our travel plans, because for most of the last couple of months I have instead been absorbed in painting several rooms of our house in various shades of beige so that we can get it ready for sale.

Getting a house ready for sale may make for addictive daytime television, but I figured that you probably didn’t need a full account of colour choices and sand papering techniques within this forum.

Fortunately the decorating is over for now and our house is officially up for sale, which certainly feels like one of the first major steps towards realising our plan of taking a round the world family trip.

“Trip” doesn’t quite feel like the right word to describe a journey that will last a whole year, as I think it conjures up images of popping to the shops to buy some milk. However, I don’t really like using grandiose language (see what I did there) to describe our ‘trip’ before it has even started. Once we are back from our year away then maybe I will feel entitled to re-label this ‘trip’ as a round the world family adventure / extravaganza / odyssey, but only once we can justify such hyperbole.

Anyway, getting vaguely back to the point, I was also reminded today that this time next year we will potentially be preparing for quite a different Christmas than we are used to. Our rough travel itinerary would, at the very least, suggest that we will be spending next Christmas somewhere rather warmer than England…even though we are currently basking in almost summer-like temperatures of 15c.

While we plan for better weather next year, we will miss being able to share this time of year with the rest of our family and with our friends. We spent a lovely afternoon at the park with my sister’s family today, taking the kids for a play  / dogs for a walk. We really don’t do this often enough, partly due to the practicalities of everybody being busy, sprinkled with some laziness on my part, and then probably quite a large dose of complacency on my part that family will always be there…so why rush.

The idea of taking a year away is largely designed so that we can spend more time together as a family of four, but there is obviously a trade-off here in that we will see much less of everybody else. Maybe our next trip needs to be a whole Keating / O’Connell family road trip, but I’m not sure anybody is ready for that just yet!

The Lull Before The Storm

Life feels relatively normal at the moment. On the surface there isn’t much to show that we are slowly approaching a major change.

We are still quietly planning our family gap-year, but our departure date of July 2016 feels an incredibly long way off. I suspect, however, that we will look back in nine months time from the runway of Heathrow airport and wonder where all the time went.

Anja has started to tell her friends at work about our plans, with lots of encouraging reactions and a few  very kind offers to look after our dog while we are away. We haven’t yet finalised any plans for Hugo, but it is encouraging that we at least have some potential homes for him when we go away.

The kids are loving school at the moment, with Alexandra settling really well in her first year and Kiera enjoying the step up to Junior school. It is clearly one of our biggest worries as parents that we are disrupting the kids’ schooling by taking them away from their normal routine. We sincerely believe that the kids will learn more from travelling the world than they would from one year in school, but we also know that it is going to be hard for them to leave everything that they know behind.

I am managing to keep busy as usual, with a combination of work and decorating our house so that it is ready to go on the market before Christmas. Selling our house will feel, to me at least, like the point of no return on this journey.

Despite my insistence on saving money for our trip, we have also squeezed in a few family days out to avoid cabin fever. We had a lovely weekend in Lincoln, visiting my brother and sister in-law, and we have just returned from a day trip to Legoland, Windsor.

We had not been to Lincoln before, but my brother moved up there a few months ago and it was past time that we invaded their peace and quiet with the kids in tow. Lincoln reminded me slightly of my old university city of Exeter, with an imposing central cathedral and castle combination that meant you really could be transported back in time by several hundred years and not lose your bearings.

My brother twisted my arm to join him for a day at the races at Market Rasen, where I just about managed to escape from the bookies at break even, and Kiera particularly enjoyed putting some new found maths skills into practical application by helping me calculate odds. Vegas here we come. (Don’t worry, we only gambled with my money, so no laws were broken).

Legoland was more of a spur of the moment trip as the weather was dry and the kids have just broken up for half-term. We have been once before and the rides are just about perfectly suited for a 7 and 4 year-old duo, albeit with fewer options in the 36 year-old bracket.

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Raising Funds For Our Year Away

I think I may have previously mentioned that taking a year away from work, to travel round the world as a family, is unlikely to be a cheap option. Even quite small looking daily expenses get to some quite scary figures once you multiply them by 365 – a £2.50 cup of coffee every day comes would come in at £912 over a year.

The same is true at home off course, but you don’t often think about how much you spend each year, and it helps when you get a monthly source of fresh funds into your bank account from work.

As an accountant by day, the possible figures for what we might spend on this trip are rarely far from my mind.

The sensible side of me knows that taking a year off work is a ludicrous thing to do from a financial perspective. It is not the case we are sat on a tonne of savings, unless you count the jam jar of spare change that I slowly accumulate each year.

I sometimes wonder whether my 65 year-old self will look back in astonishment at my lack of foresight in pension provision.

My more adventurous side, however, knows that there is more to life than saving coins in a jam jar. It also hopes that my 65 year-old self won’t be too worried about the relative lack of pension, and will instead be grateful that we chose to take a different fork in the road.

In the meantime, we need to raise every penny we can find to help pay for this trip. We also need to shrink the volume of our possessions to avoid needing to hire a warehouse for storage. Fortunately, these two objectives can be harmoniously achieved by one invention – the car boot sale.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a car boot sale, think eBay, but instead of a computer screen and mouse you have a muddy field and the back of your car.

For some unknown reason, car boot sales always begin at 6am on a Sunday morning. I am not sure why they start so early, but the excitement of setting an alarm on the weekend is enough to get the pulse racing…must be a memory of catching early morning flights, or perhaps it’s the memory of going to work with my Dad when I was small enough not to argue about the use of child labour on building sites.

Talking of child labour, I have managed to convince Kiera that she enjoys waking up early on a Sunday to help daddy set-up shop. The only challenge is to make sure that she doesn’t siphon off too many coins from    our sales to top-up her own piggy bank. While we are saving for the trip, Kiera has a more short-termist approach to cash management, mainly involving the purchase of new shoes or soft toys whenever she can.

We have so far managed to clear quite a few old books and kids clothes from the loft, which has saved some space and raised a few quid, albeit still not nearly enough to pay for a cup of coffee each day.

Car boot sales won’t pay for this trip on their own, so I’ve also made the more radical decision to sell my car boot. As a working man I was driving a suitably modern car that fitted in quite nicely in the company car park and had all the available mod-cons. The downside of this is that every time I drove the car recently, all I could think of was the value that I was taking off it with each additional mile.

So the nice car has now been sold and replaced with something cheaper. The new model doesn’t look as nice and sat-nav has been replaced with a map, but it’s good to get back to basics and finally raise enough funds to buy my necessary injection of daily coffee. I might even have enough now to get the kids a babycino and possibly a cup of tea for Anja.

That’s breakfast nearly sorted for a year, so now just need to cover lunch, dinner, somewhere to sleep and a few flights. Unfortunately I don’t have any more cars to sell, so we’re onto the house next.

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