I did a lot of research when trying to decide what to bring before hitting the road. Time well spent. I had a smooth trip and everything I needed. Here’s what I brought.
1 Backpack & 1 Convertible Rolling Suitcase/Backpack consisting of the following:
Backpack– $99 SwissGear by Wenger Ibex 17″ Laptop Backpack #12358
Awesome backpack. Highly recommended. Here’s why I choose it.
-Lots of padding- for my iPad in dedicated compartment.
-Lots of compartments-3 other main zipper compartments with tons of other zippered compartments inside so all the items I took had an easy to find dedicated spot. Never a hassle finding things quickly and easily.
-Lockable- Has dual zippers to easily lock main compartments individually with small travel lock. Has a metal cable reinforced carrying handle that I used with a small retractable cable lock to secure to objects when needed.
-Stands upright- on it’s own for more iPad protection and easy access to contents.
-Rugged- strong fabric and leather type bottom for durability. Although after 6 months of almost daily use 2 locations ripped by the zippers. $8 Thailand fix.
-water holders- 2 outside water holders for easy access to water bottles or travel umbrella.
Stuff in my backpack
-iPad. Lightweight, great battery life, small, used for photo backup to Flicker Pro Account (unlimited space $19/year). Also had a cheap lightweight fake leather foldable case.
-iPad memory card reader. Allows you to download photos from memory card. Once on iPad used the FlickStackr app ($5) to upload to Flickr in batch when we had wifi.
-iPad charger and cable.
-iPhone charger and cable.
-GPS. Very small and cheap ($40) handheld directional GPS with trail logging ability. Used only once but could have been cool to record tracks from our every step around cities or anywhere we went and post online as we progressed.
-Adapter. Small universal style electrical plug adapter.
-3 way electrical outlet splitter. Allowed me to plug 3 electrical devices in 1 outlet.
-Camera battery charger and 3 total batteries.
-Headphones. Ear buds in case.
-Flashlight- Small lightweight easy to grab indoor use kind. Used a lot in hostels.
-Hand held travel bag scale. Just used a few times for piece of mind that we wouldn’t go over bag weight limits and even to double check clothes wash places.
-Travel alarm clock. Small & lightweight (seeing a theme here yet?)
-Travel locks. Small luggage combo type for every outside zipper.
-Cable lock. Defcon brand retractable for locking bags together in storage closets and on beds when no lockers were available. Kept people from just grabbing our bags and walking away with them when we were out or waiting to check in. Mine was a little too high tech. It had motion sensing audible alarm and cut cable audible alarm. We turned the alarm function off after finding it going off when we returned to our private room in Morocco hotel. We assumed it was malfunctioning but maybe not. Lots of piece of mind in these locks when you have to leave your bag somewhere alone.
-Bag cover. Small water proof, just in case.
-Umbrella. Small light extendable.
-Travel pillow. Blow up kind with soft outside cover.
-Book. Bought iBooks also but sometimes you don’t want to whip out iPad in certain situations. Weight is a major bummer so limit to one at a time and donate as you go.
-Zippered case. Small enough for passport, backup currency, emergency credit cards, emergency numbers, extra visa photos, and all small important folded docs or notes.
-Windbreaker. Hooded, very lightweight, water proof or resistant, packable in its own pocket pouch. Key item! Easy to carry and used a lot as primary jacket.
-Journal. Small & light for recording daily expenses or keeping daily notes.
-Wet Wipes. Great for cleaning face on night trains, busses, or airplanes.
-Motion sickness pills. In small travel pouch. Makes us tired so it doubled as sleeping pills on long boring journeys.
-Tylenol. Additional pills in travel tube so that I didn’t have to search for it in day sling bag.
-Swiss Army Knife. Must remember to stick in luggage on flights. Used bottle opener, wine opener, and knife most often. Also a little protection piece of mind if we were ever in a bad situation which never happened. Be careful though because I think some countries don’t allow Army knifes.
-Visine. For reviving dry eyes on long journeys.
-Ear plugs. In small plastic tube. Some hostels and bus rides it was necessary.
-Contact lens case, travel size solution, 2 backup disposable lens, and zip up pouch. (kept one year supply in luggage)
-Prescription glasses & hard case.
-Allergy meds. Bought as needed in location with problem.
-Bling. Cheap ass necklace and bracelet watch.
Sling backpack– $39 Victorinox Altmont Kander small mono sling
Perfect day touring bag. Fits easily inside main compartment of Wenger backpack. We’d usually get to a hostel, lock our bags, grab the prefilled sling and hit the pavement with minimal effort.
-Unisex- We filled it with both our stuff and the design made it great for carrying by either one of us.
-Lockable- We bought a small travel lock with 2 inch cable and all zippers locked. Important for tight markets.
-Small- Lightweight and low profile on your back in hot weather. Small enough to keep you from cramming in non essential and heavy things but has enough space for taking anything you might need while touring a city. Or you can even get one DSLR with a fairly good size lens (18-200mm) and a wallet.
-Water holder- Great outside mesh pocket for water bottle or travel umbrella.
-Secure- Since the sling goes around your back and arms it’s less of a target for ride by street purse snatchers. Purse snatching is a problem in many cities because it’s easy for a motorcyclist or scooter to ride up next to a person on the sidewalk, grab a bag that someone is holding on their street side arm, and speed off.
Stuff in our Sling Day Bag
-Sunglasses. With soft case.
-Travel size suntan lotion. Refill with full size lotion in other bag. Lightweight is key.
-Lip balm with SPF 15
-Pedometer. The kind you can just leave in a bag. Not necessary but has the time when we don’t bring our iPhone and is amazing to see that at the end of a long day exploring you actually walked 10+ miles.
-Camera. Sony DSC-HX9V GPS compact digital with an extra battery and memory card. Has 16x optical zoom, automatic stitch panoramic, and built in HDR mode (High Dynamic Range). Picture quality and color was slightly above average but not fantastic but HDR, Pano, and auto tag GPS made up for it. Slow startup and zoom though.
-Wallet- PacSafe brand with small zip close and coin zip pouch fits onto key ring holder of bag for more security. Bring the minimum of cards in case it’s lost or stolen also because it’s lighter.
-Maps- Stuff we pick up at the hostel, airport, or information center.
-IPhone- or other small smartphone with WIFI. We didn’t have a cell phone plan but it was perfect for checking e-mails, calling others via Skype, using the Internet, or maps application at the many free wifi places around a city. All Mc Donald’s and Starbucks usually have.
-Tylenol. In small travel tube. Refill from regular bottle in backpack.
-Visine. For dry eyes on planes, trains, or busses.
Convertible Rolling Suitcase/Backpack– $199 Timberland
Glad I choose it over a traditional backpacker style backpack for several reasons
-Stands on its own and rolls. Huge plus. You’ll wait in lines a lot and having the load off your shoulders is priceless. Unless you plan on doing overnight treks in the mountains, 99% of my travels were on paved surfaces. With the day backpack on my back already, the rolling suitcase was very natural.
-Converts to backpack. For the other 1% of my travels that were easier on my back (ferry unloading, gravel, long stairs) the back of the suitcase unzips and straps pop out. Takes literally 2 seconds to pull out straps and pop on back.
-Easy access. Unlike a traditional backpack with tons of pockets and a large main hidden compartment, the suitcase opens up to allow access to everything at once.
-Different. You look more like a regular traveler and not a backpacker. In certain situations such as going into nice hotels to use the bathroom this was a plus.
Stuff in my convertible suitcase
-Toiletries. One small toiletry tri-fold with hook filled with full size bar soap and travel case, travel size or slightly larger shampoo, face moisturizer, face wash, travel size Q-tips, nail clippers, small hair trim scissor, regular size toothpaste, foldable travel toothbrush or regular toothbrush with travel cap, thin flat style small rechargeable razor with side burns trim (make sure to get one with 100-220volt range), floss, body deodorant spray (doubles as air fresher in stinky hostel rooms).
-Contacts. Bag with one year supply of disposable contact lenses.
-Suntan lotion. Full size in ziplock bag, to refill the travel size one in day sling pack.
-Laundry bag. Light mesh laundry bag.
-Velcro ties. Buy a small roll at a hardware store, cut to custom sizes and use around stuff to keep small (rolled pants, rolled jackets, travel pillow, laundry bag, etc)
-Flip flops with zip close shoe bag. Lightweight basic flip flops with quick drying material around toes. You’ll use in the shower every day and need something to dry quickly when you pack it. The zip shoe bag is essential for when you’ve got slightly wet flip flops and to protect your clothes from dirt on the soles.
-Camera battery charger in small bag. It was bulkier and didn’t fit in the bag with my other electronics.
-Travel umbrella. Kept in suitcase when no probability of rain.
-Travel towel. Small thin light packable full size towel that rolls into a small mesh bag.
-Silk SleepSac. Queen-size sleep sack for questionable bunk sheets in small bag.
-Walking shoes. Get a breathable lightweight pair with ample cushion. Most running shoes are a perfect fit. You’ll be in them every day and get athletes foot if it’s not breathable and achey feet if you don’t get ample cushion.
Clothes I brought
-16 pairs of ankle socks in travel quarter size tube. Bring the low cut ankle kind to save space and pack more.
-14 pairs of underwear in travel cube.
-14 shirts (8 t-shirts, 2 lightweight collared, 3 lightweight sport tank tops, 1 lightweight long sleeve)
-5 pants (3 lightweight zip off cargo, 1 heavier zip off cargo, 1 casual sweatpants)
-5 shorts (3 cargo, 1 lightweight exercise, 1 sleeping type)
-2 bathing suit shorts
-1 lightweight Jacket
-1 fleece button up long sleeve
-1 lightweight hooded weatherproof jacket. Self packable in its pocket.
-2 hats. 1 lightweight running style, 1 foldable euro style (Heads up. Caps peg you as an American for what it’s worth)
iPad useful apps for traveling
-FlickStackr $5 allows me to batch upload to my unlimited storage Flicker account. Works well on fast connections but my 16 megapixel camera produced too big files to upload fast enough. I decided to use my camera at 10 megapixel and the upload rate was noticeably better.
-Skype. We keep $10 in the account to call any phone in the world for cheap. Amazingly simple and it’s basically just like carrying a phone without the costs. Used all the time.
-FaceTime. There is something very cool about walking around a place with wifi (most hotels and hostels, restaurants on the beach etc) on the other side of the world and showing someone around like they were their with you.
-Currency. Offline currency exchange rates.
-Dropbox. Allows for 2.5G of free online storage space and can be accessed from any computer. I used it to easily have access to or transfer big files (travel e-books) to my iPad when I needed it rather than have it using up space on my iPad.
-Speedtest X. Tests your upload and download speed Internet connection.
-Wordpress. Easy way to post to website and edit stuff. It’s what I used for this site.
-Travelpod. My wife updates her travelpod website easily with this app.
-Map Draw. Allows you to draw your travel progress on a map and tracks your distance traveled.
-SmartTraveler. US Dept of State information on every country including entry requirements, travel warnings, and embassy locations. Requires Internet.
-Gas Buddy. GPS enabled ability to find cheapest gas nearby.
-Frommers Travel Tools. Offline conversions, flashlight, tip calculator.
-Around me. Online GPS enabled app that tells you what’s nearby (restaurants, sights, hotels, ATM’s, Gas, cafes, hospitals, pharmacies, etc)
-Trip Advisor. Online GPS enabled info on what’s around with reviews.
-Travel booking apps such as Kayak, Hostelworld, Skyscanner, and Travelocity
-Instapad. Trick out your pictures and post updates easily to twitter, Facebook, your account, or anywhere.
-Mail. Duhh. Had easy access to our 5 email accounts including our new travel email we used while on the road.
-Maps. Great for directions, public transportation options, and calculating distance.
-Videos. Downloaded cheap videos to watch on long journeys or free nightly news video podcasts to keep up with things at home through iTunes.
-iBooks- Download and read ebooks or PDFs and save the weight of physical books.
-Language translators such as itranslate, and free translator. I never used.
-Google. Easy access to google docs and other apps.
-Pandora. Internet radio because you’ll get sick of your music fast.
-Essentials such as Photos, Music, Facebook, Calendar, Alarm.