Comments on: Essential Gear For Long-Term Travel The Smith family of Piedmont, CA, goes round the world. Fri, 05 Apr 2013 02:52:51 +0000 hourly 1 By: Packing and Planning For Long Term Family Travel | The Great Family Escape Thu, 15 Dec 2011 12:12:09 +0000 […] Away Together: Essential Gear For Long Term Travel […]

By: Planning the Big Trip: Questions and Answers from Meet Plan Go 2011 Mon, 24 Oct 2011 01:52:22 +0000 […] Sarah’s Essential Gear for Long-Term Travel […]

By: Michael Sat, 04 Jun 2011 21:53:37 +0000 Bravo on your article and site. We are 5 months into a 7.5 month round the world trip w/same age children and happen to live nearby you in Marin, CA. For us, indispensables that you have not mentioned or fully explained include:
> Art kit – pastel pencils & colored pencils, scissors, glue stick, sharpener, watercolors, etc (like you, in a hard plastic case.) We take it while we are touring – to increase focus when kids start getting bored.
> Frisbee, tennis ball, little inflatable beach ball – fun things that take little space
> Silk sleep sacks
> Laptops for school work
> Power strip w/3 outlets for charging everything when there’s only 1 outlet.
> Extra nylon duffle for gear when we’re on overnight busses or the beach (& it folds up tiny.)
> REI backpacks that fit kids and are adjustable, so they can grow as the kids do.
> High quality flip flops with good foot support and cushion (Chacos, montrails, etc.)
> First aid – thermometer and kid meds have been super helpful.
> A couple of little tuperwares w/lids to use as cereal bowls, and for snack/food storage/transport.
> Sounds crazy, but toothbrush holders that have suction cups to hang our toothbrushes wherever we are.

In contrast to your experience, we love our pack towels for when we may swim or need them in a pinch, as they take minimal space, and the sink stopper has been an important item as well. Also – while we love the kindle for novels, we find its kid book inventory too limited and they stink for travel guides as you can’t quickly flip through to cross reference nor can you see the maps.

One other recommendation is to research and construct a reading list for you children which relate to where you’re traveling – a great complement for the home school regimen.

I think the pack list is partly a function of where you are in the world, and what your travel budget is. The more money, and the more civilized, the more comforts.

By: Natalia Tue, 10 Aug 2010 20:42:19 +0000 Just wanted to come back and say thanks so much for including the mention of the Road ID – on our trip to Switzerland my son wore his every day, and I wore mine most days as well, as if something happened to me my son (who is six) had no real way of explaining how to get in touch with my husband (he is working in a remote area and you can’t just call him direct, it is complicated). Luckily they never needed to be used, but still an awesome idea. And I wouldn’t have known about them unless I had read about it here!

By: Amy Mon, 12 Jul 2010 05:44:00 +0000 This post has been incredibly helpful for my husband and me as we plan a long (6 month) journey in South America! Thank you so much for sharing this valuable information. We’ve ordered the same Osprey Porter backpacks, and as I looked more closely at sizes and the images you’ve share, just want to clarify that it looks like you had the 65 and your daughter the 45 (as opposed to the 90, which we got for my husband, it’s huge!). Thanks again!

By: Things to consider – Road ID | Let's do something different Fri, 02 Jul 2010 11:32:31 +0000 […] I was really glad to read about Road ID on the brilliant Away Together blog. While  Sarah uses the Road ID for its original purpose – as ID for runners and cyclists who […]

By: soultravelers3 Tue, 08 Jun 2010 21:37:39 +0000 Sarah- It makes perfect sense for your family and I know a lot of travelers ( & non-travelers)who adore the iphone. We may eventually give in to a smartphone, ipad, ipod, kindle etc…but remember we’re the family that never used a stroller or crib etc, so love the old fashion, simple, frugal ways even though we live a digital travel lifestyle & see some of the advantages.

Perhaps age comes into this as well & the fact that we are non-geeks, but I think it is more a unplugged thing & not liking the addictive aspect, as we never watched TV nor allowed gameboys, nintendo ds etc. Funny, because I also see the advantages, so straddle a funny line. We’re raising a digital native, but I also want her to be able to change a tire, build a house from scratch & know the simple pleasures of a totally unplugged life with daily time spent in nature.

The laptops help give us a bit of separation from the always connected electronically lifestyle and we have the time to enjoy finding things like laundromats etc from locals or on our own. We do have a hand held gps that has a lot of travel app things on it, but we never use that part, we mostly use it just for driving ( although it can be used for walking).

We might give into a Kindle or Nook for books, but it seems I can have the kindle app on our computers, so not sure of the point. Still thinking about it. Love all the bells & whistles of iphone & ipad, but so far, it feels like they would intrude on our values more than help us. Part of our particular world trip is to leave as much of that consumerism stuff behind, while still trying to take advantage of the many advantages. Tricky in today’s fast changing world. I’ve never used them, so I could be wrong.

Never any one right way to do it and many different ways that work. You’ve had a fantastic journey and this is a great list!


By: Sarah Sat, 05 Jun 2010 17:26:35 +0000 Hi Jeanne, thanks for your input. Just to clarify re the phone — we use Skype for most calls, too. We found the iPhone useful in part for safety, since either Morgan or I often go trail running in remote areas on our own; we’ve gotten lost before and used the GPS to help find our location, and used the phone to call or text back to the family to let them know we’re running late. Also, it’s been useful to have the internet connection in hand for travel research (e.g. just today, driving around in search of a laundromat). I hardly make any phonecalls now, however, except for the occasional skype call to extended family :-).
I agree with you re first aid kit (other than carrying BandAids for blisters and Tylenol for headaches in my day pack during long walks with the kids). thanks again for your comment,

By: soultravelers3 Sat, 05 Jun 2010 13:11:18 +0000 It’s always fun to see what other people pack & I agree 100% that less is MUCH more, especially when doing RTW travel with kids. 😉 I can’t even imagine running for a train or plane with all that you have on in the top pic! Even backpackers tend to be amazed at how little we travel with and that includes all our homeschool supplies too! 😉

We’ve been on an open-ended, non-stop world tour as a family since 2006 & I agree with some of your thoughts but not with others, but then every trip & family is unique. Which is why I suppose it is hard to say what to pack. 😉

We’ve done just fine without an iphone, e-readers ( kindle) or any ipods etc,but we do bring 3 laptops with us and do much book reading online and love our home libraries as we roam.

We purposely want more time in nature and with real people & less time addicted to we minimize those extra things on purpose…to keep us offline as much as possible, especially while moving. We have a top of the line global phone we purchased before leaving in 2006, but found out in the first few weeks that it was much easier just to do free Skype calls everywhere. I agree with you that sim cards are a big pain in the butt when on the move….so we bypass them. Phone is the biggest waste that we purchased before travel.

We have 2 macs & 1 PC laptop & so far in 4 years, have not had a problem with them, but we do back up everything in various ways and have a portable drive.

We travel the world on just 23 dollars a day per person, so we keep it simple and immerse deeply. We love this travel life, bonding, freedom, & educational advantages, so have no plans on returning “home” as the world has become our “home” more than just California. Thus another reason why we might pack different things. We thought we were into simplicity & minimalism before this trip, but have moved even more in that direction from our travels & love that.

We only take one small daypack each with us even when we travel for months at a time in 3 seasons of weather. ( Never used compression thing or most of the things you mention).

This makes traveling so easy, even as a family with a young one ( 5-9) even on cargo ships,trains, buses, cars,planes, RV’s & the many modes we go. We do have extra that we leave in our RV, but it’s only van sized, so not much total, but it allows us to carry more books and a full sized, top of the line digital piano when we go by RV.

We found the travel towels one of our smartest purchases! I agree wholeheartedly with you on the black clothes that are easy to wash and dry quickly & layering even used them for kidlet ..even when we started when she was just 5. I love having only a few choices to wear, makes life so easy. She gets more because hers take so little room. Hubs & I need so little.

We haven’t used a scanner ever, when we need to scan things for her online classes with JHUCTY or our banks or what ever, we just take a picture of it with our camera and send that in an email. Easy peesy. 😉 For almost nothing, we can return to & travel Europe as the RV serves as a home/storage/vehicle for us for now & many years to come.

Love the headlamp, love the swiss army knife ( we regularly take it on planes by accident, never with a problem..not even in USA or UK). Love Brainpop & other fab things online for learning.Kidlet has a pink LL Bean school bag that can roll or be carried & still looks like new despite tons of use in 32 countries & used as a school bag too during our winter rests.

Thanks for taking the time to tell what worked for you as it’s always helpful for those planning. So sorry to see your trip coming to an end, seemed to go by so fast, but the memories will last forever. ….& you will probably go again before you know it.

Funny, but in 4 years we have never used our first aid that was a big waste! Our whole toiletry kit is small & very simple and we ALWAYS just use carryon, so it’s always with us.

By: Lars Lavender Wed, 02 Jun 2010 11:47:17 +0000 Sarah-what an informative narrative; caulked full of practicality. Too, what a great idea toward the end of your sojourn passing on the do and don’t of Smith Family Travels. What’s your due date for returning stateside? I think there will be many folks who will miss the enjoyable blogs that came forth out of this remarkable journey y’ll took. Thanks for sharing all of it. A travel picturebook should be published by you guys once you’ve reaclimated back in Piedmont.

By: Sarah Wed, 02 Jun 2010 03:46:10 +0000 Hi Natalia – thanks for your feedback. Regarding how much did traveling with kids affect what we pack — not much, really. They each had a few favorite toys and personal objects that they carried in their daypacks (for my son, it was a baseball & glove, a large ziplock full of legos, and an iPod touch — his only electronic toy; for my daughter, it was books & laptop). We carried more paperback books for the kids because a lot of books they wanted to read aren’t available on Kindle. We got my son a pair of cheap rubber rainboots that he ended up using a lot and folded down pretty well in the pack; we also got them both swim goggles. And we also got pediatric versions of cough & cold meds and allergy meds. We also bought them warm ski-type hats in Patagonia that they ended up using throughout the trip in cold weather. But that’s about it! My kids are relatively old (now 9 and 12) and I think packing toys and tot gear is a bigger issue for little kids.
Just thought of a couple of other things: we had a jump rope for them for a while (til it got lost) which is a great thing to play with, packs easily and also gets them exercise. Also, we had a nice travel-size backgammon/chess/checkers set we used for a while (also got lost).

By: Natalia Tue, 01 Jun 2010 20:58:44 +0000 Brilliant post, thanks so much! Planning on doing my own post about packing (for a shorter trip!) in a month or so, but this has given me a few more ideas. My big thing for our five week trip over Summer is to make do with what we have,* rather than go nuts buying a lot of new gear – save money for the experience rather than spend it on things for the loft when we get home! But you have tempted me …

One thing I would be interested in hearing from you about – other than the roadschooling, how much did travelling with kids change what you pack, if at all?
*Having previously done some epic backpacking/months long train trips, and being outdoor enthusiasts in general, we already have large amounts of ‘gear’ anyway.

By: Jenn Tue, 01 Jun 2010 20:20:04 +0000 Great list, although it’s funny – we used our sink stopper in a ton of places for laundry plus used it another dozen times to let the kidlet take a bath (her preferred method of getting clean) where there wasn’t already a stopper. We also used our travel towels on the go and at beaches. Often our homestays and guesthouses did not supply them for taking away from the accommodation.

By: Cheryl Tue, 01 Jun 2010 15:33:37 +0000 This is great advice! I totally agree. The lighter you pack the farther you’ll go..and the wearing black tip is one that works for me too. I usually pack a pair of black pants and a pair of dark jeans. Neither show dirt and you can wear them interchangeably for weeks with different shirts. (if it’s a short trip sometimes all I’ll bring is shirts and just wear the black pair of pants)

By: David W. Lavender Tue, 01 Jun 2010 12:50:04 +0000 A fun and informative post…but where are you guys? Just finished an incredible weekend of Mountain Film (a friend got us passes, so we were able to attend all the events). We need to get you out here for it next year!

Here’s hoping Kyle had a fun birthday!

By: Kelly Tue, 01 Jun 2010 08:46:09 +0000 Great advice, as always, Sarah! Okay, since you asked: My favorite travel essential is this tidy little black, nylon currency pouch with five different-colored zippers (middle one is larger and fits a couple of passports). It might not be fancy, but when you’re traveling around multiple countries it is so handy to keep one’s yen/dollar/baht/pound/euros separate. Made by Baggallini, I got it at Bed, Bath & Beyond of all places. I agree with you about the towel, but would suggest a wash cloth if traveling to hot destinations. Everyone in BKK seems to carry one for the inevitable sweat – I’ve learned the hard way. See you soon!

By: E.T. Barton Tue, 01 Jun 2010 07:36:33 +0000 This is a really great article. Thanks for posting it. My family and I are planning on following in your footsteps in the next month, although maybe not to the exact same places. I will definitely be showing this to my husband to make sure he doesn’t over pack, as is his tendency.

Again,thank you.