A few things we have learned along the way…
Disclaimer…..we may change these as we learn more!
- Copies of your passports. We have been asked for passport numbers in a variety of places and haven’t had the actual passport, but copies have worked every time. We have color copies of each passport AND I have pictures on my phone in two different places. Additionally, when we are traveling through airports and changing locations, one person carries the physical passports and the other adult has copies of the passport and back-up passport cards.
- Extension cord. We have a simple extension cord and have used it at nearly every place. Some apartments have the ONLY plug behind a piece of heavy furniture or completely across the room.
- USB multi-port charger. Again, we have used this every place. We can charge phone batteries, phones, NOOKs, etc in one place. It minimizes looking for cords and adapters as we move at least weekly.
- Toiletries. We collected shampoo/conditioner/lotions/soaps/small toothpaste from various hotels over the year prior to travel. We are able to use the smaller bottles instead of sharing one large bottle or container. One small bottle (shampoo, lotion, shower gel) seems to last several days. We have a few hotel stays (although most are rental apartments) so we have been able to replenish our stock as we travel.
- Medications. As a physician, I brought quite a few medications for a variety of conditions. I am pretty proud of my first aid pack! So far we have used anti-nausea medications, cold medications (sudafed/afrin), and albuterol. By far, the cold medications have been the most used. The cold medications could be purchased over-the-counter in South America, but it is nice having them already.
- Kitchen Supplies. As a family, we are cooking about 50% of the time. We have discovered that knives and measuring spoons are not necessarily well equipped in the rental apartments. Luckily, I brought a few core spices (salt, pepper, garlic salt, paprika, etc) with me in a “camping spice canister”. We purchased a couple of knives and recently added a measuring cup that we pack in our checked baggage. About half of the houses/apartments have come equipped with dishwashing soap/sponge/paper towels, but those are easy to purchase at grocery stores when needed.
- Headlamps. Originally, I packed them for our safari but we have used them for cooking (poor lighting) and reading at night (again poor lighting). We brought 4 (one for each person), three are battery-powered (and I have spare batteries) and one is USB powered.
- Compression sacks- The best way to get 4 winter coats into luggage. We have 2 compression sacks; one for larger coats and the second for our lightweight rain coats and sweatshirts. Those sacks are small miracles! We have packed a lot of our clothes in sacks (some compression). E and I prefer to pack in the sacks since it makes unpacking/packing super quick. Once I am unpacked, I feel at home! E has one color of packs and I have a different color (we share a suitcase).
- French press in a mug- Only one place (rental) hasn’t had a coffee maker, and this mug allowed me to enjoy coffee for that week!
- Backpacks/shopping bags Bring a couple! We have used the shopping bags every couple of days for quick trips to supermercados and even taken them as an extra carry on. A couple lightweight backpacks are great for carrying water and snacks. The backpacks are especially useful when the morning is chilly but the afternoon is warm and the kids start shedding layers. When we are city-touring, Stephen and I usually have a backpack each. I purchased a couple from REI with internal pockets for money/keys. The backpacks are easy to pack away in the luggage and easy to clean up if needed.
I am certain our list will change over the next months and we will update accordingly. We are currently at stop #6 and about 6 weeks into our journey (nearly seasoned travelers?).