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Five Essential Items For Family World Travel

Posted on | June 1, 2011 | 17 Comments



For our year-long trip, we didn’t pack much specialized travel equipment. The criteria we used was that anything we packed could be lost or stolen and should be easily replaceable.

It turns out that the things we’ve found the most useful, the most essential during our nine months (so far) on the road, relate to practicalities – like laundry and normal, we’d-go-mad-if-we-didn’t-do-this stuff like reading.

Our Top 5 things we’re glad we brought are:
1. Petzl headlamps rock for reading on buses or in shared hostel dorms late at night, for finding the bathroom in a campsite or a hostel and for general usefulness as a compact flashlight.
2. Amazon Kindles provide us with a constant supply of reading material for the kids.
3. A flexible clothesline, because if you hand-wash clothes in a hostel sink, you have to have somewhere to hang them to dry!
4. Silk sleep sacks pack up a small as a pair of socks but provide huge peace of mind when the sheets in your budget accommodation are a little less than clean.
5. MSR travel towels are not cheap but are worth every penny. Many hostels and budget hotels either don’t provide towels or will rent towels for a small fee. The MSR towel is super-light and even though I bought extra-large sized towels, when rolled up, they’re not much bigger than one of my husband’s shirts.

The one thing I can’t believe I forgot to pack was a universal sink stopper (http://www.magellans.com/store/Clothing_CareTL469). We picked one up at a market in Santiago.

For similar lists from a great set of other families who are doing or have just done some form of extended travel, check the links below:

AroundTheWorldInEasyWays: Five Essential + Useless Items to Pack.
LivinOnTheRoad: 5 Essential and 5 Useless Items We Carry.
WanderingEducators: Packing Essentials.
SnapsAndBlabs: Useless and Useful Items to Pack.
TrippingMom: The Essential Items on a 4-year-old’s Packing List.
GotPassport: Top Five Most and Least Essential Mindsets for Family Travel.

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17 Responses to “Five Essential Items For Family World Travel”

  1. The essential items on a 4-year old packing list
    June 1st, 2011 @ 6:07 am

    [...] Five Essential Items For Family World Travel, by Wandermom [...]

  2. Shawna
    June 1st, 2011 @ 7:31 am

    It is always the little things that make a big difference when traveling. eReaders are fantastic for long trips! Although, I used to enjoy searching for English bookstores and perusing the used paperbacks for something new to read.

  3. wandering educators
    June 1st, 2011 @ 7:47 am

    VERY smart. i never would have thought of the headlamps!!

  4. Marilia
    June 1st, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    I see how those items can make you more relaxed on the trip, I´m all for the travel towel that i don´t have yet.

  5. Top Five Most and Least Essential Mindsets for Family Travel « Got Passport
    June 1st, 2011 @ 8:04 am

    [...] Wandermom [...]

  6. Amy @LivinOnTheRoad
    June 1st, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

    Those kindles have been such a blessing. We couldn’t be without them!

    June 1st, 2011 @ 5:26 pm
  8. lisa Shusterman
    June 1st, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

    The clothesline almost made my list too. Even when we had a washing machine, we never had a dryer. Our ball of twine picked up somewhere in Europe lasted us a year and was awesome.

  9. Sonja
    June 1st, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    I was looking for travel towels – thanks for the recommendation!

  10. AInlay Dixon
    June 1st, 2011 @ 10:20 pm

    Wow, I am packing up for a RTW trip with 4 kids and every blog I’ve read has said not to bother with the sink stopper or towels! Totally agree with you on the other stuff and have already thrown them in the packs but now might have to reconsider towels/stopper….

  11. wandermom
    June 4th, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    re: sink stopper, line + towels: I think it depends on how you plan to travel especially where you plan to stay.
    If you’re going to be in hotels all the time then you probably don’t need towels but if you plan on hosteling or camping, you will need to have your own – even thought some hostels offer towels for rent.

    The sink stopper is great for nightly washes of undies + socks. I’ve found that we can all get away we wearing the same t-shirts +/or pants for 2-3 days – on a trek for example – but daily clean undies are non-negotiable for me :)

  12. wandermom
    June 4th, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    @Amy + @Shawna: e-readers rock. I can’t imagine trying to keep my kids in reading material without them.

  13. Christy
    June 9th, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    What do you wash your clothes with, bar soap? And what about the big stuff, laundromat? (I’m taking advantage of your tips, thank you!)

  14. wandermom
    June 10th, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

    @Christy, we usually have a resealable bag of liquid soap – picked up in a local grocery store. If I run out I use bar soap or shampoo.
    Many hostels have either a coin-operated washing machine on site or provide a laundry service where you drop off a bag + for a fee-per-kilo you get back clean laundry a day later. The cost per kilo varies wildly but usually not more than $5/kilo (I think that was the most we paid – in China).

  15. 5 Essential and 5 Useless Items We Carry | Living On The Road
    November 28th, 2011 @ 3:56 am

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