Travel gear is a huge topic and a huge industry. A look at the web will bring you literally hundreds of packing lists from hundreds of different world travelers. Many of them say that you have to bring this gadget, bring that many pairs of travel socks, or don’t forget to get this new solar powered gizmo dowoppity.
But let’s face it. If you travel enough what you learn is that there is no single packing list that will work for any two travelers or two destinations. The gear you bring with you on your travels is as personal as the photos you put in your albums. However, one thing is definitely certain – every seasoned traveler has two lists.
1) The things you don’t leave home without
2) The things you wish you could travel with but don’t have yet
This week’s Lonely Planet Blogsherpa Carnival brings you some of the most loved and most desired travel gear from some of the planets most intrepid travelers.
Personally, since I’m starting this off, through the years I’ve been on the road, I’ve realized that the less I can carry, the better off I am. My most essential piece of equipment is my bag. I don’t carry a backpack and I don’t pull a wheelie bag. I have a leather shoulder bag with hardy buckles and a zippered canvas interior. It’s small enough to be a carry on, big enough to carry what I need, and light enough to sling on my back while I sight see in Rome or ride a camel across the Sahara. My bag is custom made and suits me perfectly. Someday, I may get them made and share them with the world. One thing is for sure, everywhere I go women say to me “Wow, great bag” The men say “Looks like that bag has seen some miles” It has and is seeing more all the time. As to what goes in the bag, I usually have my netbook, power cord, two changes of clothes, two extra pairs of socks and underwear, a Sigg waterbottle, a notebook and a couple of pens, whatever I’m reading, toothbrush, razor, toothpaste, documents, and depending on where I’m going a pair of rubber slippers. The other thing I usually have is my stainless steel coffee cup with screw on lid. I found a French press that fits it perfectly (same diameter) and use it to make coffee, tea, drink wine on trains, make soup in, or heat water on a fire.
Three very different essentials come from David at Quillcards Blog. What’s essential to him? Binoculars, Magnifying Glass, and Piece of Rope!
Three Great Pieces Of Gear
From all the things I have taken on my travels, I would say the best of all are mini binoculars, a magnifying glass, and a length of rope.
Seeing just about anything through binoculars – from animals and birds to just plain and simple crowds of people – makes carrying the weight of them definitely worth it.
And what you are looking at doesn’t have to be far away. Something that you may not have thought of is that looking though binoculars at an exotic bird that is just 20 feet away can turn a great experience into a phenomenal one.
Picture a lazy afternoon somewhere on your travels. You spy a piece of crystalline stone on the ground or a recently expired insect on the window sill. That is where a magnifying glass comes into its own and a whole new world opens up.
I have a soft spot for this particular magnifying glass – the one in the photograph above. It is Russian, and I bought it in a street market in Tallin in Estonia shortly after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
That was the time when everything from military-grade night vision binoculars to periscopes were on sale in markets across Eastern Europe.
A piece of rope two or three millimetre thick and long enough to tie down a pack or hang up a pair of jeans. That is something that always goes in my pack.
As you can see, I have bought several lengths over the years…
Meanwhile, after four years on the road, Trans-Americas Journey is still moving and celebrate by sharing some of their favorite gear. Among them is another bag that kicks ass!
Pacsafe MetroPacsafe anti-theft “securse”
Karen’s Pacsafe Metro 200 shoulder bag is a nylon bag reinforced with lockable zippers and an unslashable wire-filled strap. It’s certainly secure (that’s why she calls it her “securse”). It’s also durable, easy to wipe clean and it holds a ton including:
1 bottle of hand sanitizer
our Samsung SAGA smart world phone in a snug sleeve which protects the screen
multiple pens and notebooks
1 Lonely Planet pocket guide to Spanish (yes, we still cheat)
our car alarm keyfob and keys to the truck
2 packs of chewing gum
1 Canon S95 digital camera
1 mini tripod (found along the way)
1 Tide Stain Stick (indispensable)
2 different lip balms
Trans-Americas Journey business cards and stickers (yes, we have stickers)
2 packets of pocket-size tissues
1 dispenser of Visine dry-eye relief drops
1 in-country cell phone
1 tough-as-nails SureFire E1L Outdoorsman mini flashlight
3 packs of matches
1 mini Totes umbrella (also found along the way)
4 individually packed Ya! bug repellent wipes
1 Canary Wireless Digital Hotspot Wi-Fi Finder
1 sewing kit
2 mini emery boards
pocket-size dental floss dispensers (kindly supplied by our friend Dr. Dave Goldberg of Gentle Dental in Massachusetts)
Camden at The Brink of Something Else takes a look at some of the gear he wishes he had in A Budding Photographer’s Wishlist
Right now, my collection of photography equipment totals one item: my Canon Digital point-and-shoot IXUS 95IS, 10 megapixels, 3X zoom. Not exactly the stuff National Geographic prizewinners are made of.
It’s served me well over the years, survived quite a few bumps and scrapes, and will continue to be my first choice for boozy nights out and boat rides (at least until I finally shell out for a decent waterproof for dive trips). But it’s time to start thinking about a DSLR, and all the expensive but oh-so-cool accessories that it demands.
Good sense must be maintained, however, and credit cards not maxed-out; although spending money on substandard equipment that will need replacing in a matter of years isn’t a smart move either. I thus present my budding photographer’s wishlist, a solid start on a budget of US$2,000.
Jennifer at The Turkish Life shares not only the gear that she takes but the gear she has decided to leave behind. I think we all miss having our swiss army knives.
Out quickly went the money belt, the portable locks, the ugly “travel towel,” and, eventually, the dozens of rolls of film. A mini Ziploc bag of assorted meds still makes the cut, as does the flip-open alarm clock that’s been digitally ticking since 1998. (It now stays at home on trips to places where my cell phone will work.) So does my Swiss army knife, though it’s seen most of its travel action slicing bread and cheese for make-shift meals.
Renee King at A View to a Thrill offers an inspiring review of the Amazon Kindle 3 and has made me resolve that I’m going to get one, which surprises me to no end.
As a writer, reading is fundamental. I couldn’t recall the last time that I had read anything with more pages than a magazine. As a traveler, it’s important to have an escape from the real world and there ‘s nothing better at accomplishing that than immersing yourself in a good read. So, I resolved to take a stand; to get back to the basics. I had to do something dramatic, something that would force me to follow through on my goal. My solution was the Amazon Kindle 3! I had been a fan of the Kindle since its first incarnation as a white, much larger and more expensive electronic reader.
Meanwhile, Jason and his family at Alpaca Suitcase offer inspiration in the form of a simple cup.
Living out of backpacks and staying predominantly in inexpensive hostels can be wearying at times. With all your belongings in a single backpack there are times that you crave a quiet, civilized moment. That is when we break out our favorite travel gadget: the immersion heater. It’s basically a metal coil connected by wire to a wall plug, but it has transformative properties. It can transform even the most dreary of situations and cheer them up a bit. Just stick the coil into some water, plug it in and in less than a minute you have a boiling cup of water. Add some tea and sugar and you have civilization.
Finally, on a literal ending note, but hopefully none of ours or yours anytime soon, Natalia at No Beaten Path introduces us to the Road ID, a hightech way to make sure that if the worst happens, those who need to be contacted, will be.
It is, essentially, a wristband on which is a metal disc. On the front you can have whatever you want engraved (though the site suggests the best information) and on the back is a serial number and a PIN. You register your details on a website, and if you are found, the emergency services can either call a phone number (and there are a range of countries that you can list for your phone number) and have very sophisticated voice recognition software read out your details, or they can go on a website to look up who you are, who to contact, and whatever else you add – in my case I put my blood type.
Participants in the Lonely Planet BlogSherpa program host periodic “blog carnivals” on various travel-related themes. The last one, hosted by Orange Polkadot looked at toasting customs around the globe, the next one will be hosted by No Beaten Path