What do you take with you when you are planning to travel the world for two years continuously?? This is obviously a question I asked myself and below you’ll find what I took initially on The Happy Nomad Tour and any relevant updates.
LED Headlamp – This would have been handy when I lived in the country side of Yoloaiquin, El Salvador or Chichica, Panama. But when I think of the numerous times I’ve used my cell phone as a really bad flashlight, even spending a half an hour looking for light switches in Managua, Nicaragua in a house I’d never been to before, this would have been extremely handy to have.
Teva Waterproof Shoes – The rainy season has not been kind to me. I have hit rain each place I hit and often had to alternate between my shoes and sandals each day to allow time for each pair to dry. They often never fully dried. A pair of comfortable walking shoes that are also waterproof would have made a world of difference.
TSA-Approved Lock – I never lock my backpack when traveling, though this lock allows me to do so. Instead, this lock has a nice curved lock and uses a combination to open (not needing keys is a big plus). I could have used this on lockers in Tayrona National Park and in the hostel I stayed at in David, Panama.
Health Insurance – I didn’t just get this insurance. I had it from the beginning of my trip, but I forgot to include it here. It’s not something physical I am taking, but it’s obviously a very important thing to have.
REI 65 Liter Backpack – This backpack is meant for teenagers, but it’s the perfect size for me. I didn’t want a backpack bigger than this and 65 liters was a perfect fit. The price, size, and support was right. I’m not a fan of the color, but that’s not very important to me.
Sea to Summit Pack Cover – My backpack is not waterproof. This will keep the water out and my electronics safe. It’s lightweight and shrinks into an incredibly small carrying bag. If it seems like I am paranoid about water damage, I am! I was in Iceland in February and the backpack I had got completely soaked. Nothing got damaged, but the potential was there for sure. I, literally, can’t afford for that to happen on this trip.
Teva Omnium Sandals – These sandals will keep me light on my feet, comfortable in all the hot places I’ll visit, and mobile. I have been using them at home already and they are very comfortable and easy to get around in. They are also easy to take on and off, which will be convenient when I get to Asia.
Ultra-Light Super Absorbent Towel – At 19″x19″ or 48cm x 48cm, this towel is tiny! Yet I can easily use it to completely dry off my body after a shower with room to spare. It’s amazing. It weighs almost nothing and is very thin. Truly amazing!
ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go Boxers – Two pairs of these is all I need for the trip. They are anti-bacterial, dry quickly, lightweight, and are ideal for the hot weather I’ll be facing in the near future.
Sea to Summit Travel Liner – This is like a very thin sleeping bag that’ll allow me to sleep pretty much anywhere comfortably. If the cleanliness isn’t up to par, or I fear bedbugs, this thing should keep pests away from me. It’s designed for hot and humid weather.
Timbuk2 Lightbright Swig Backpack – This will be my normal backpack. When I’m settled in a location, I’ll need a smaller backpack to carry my cameras around in, plus whatever else I need. This one was much more expensive than I wanted to pay, but it’s surprisingly hard to find waterproof laptop backpacks.
HP Pavilion dm1z – I got this laptop because I wanted a netbook-type computer, but I did not want a 10-inch screen. This was the compromise. It is very lightweight and the screen is 11.6 inches.
Steripen Handheld UV Water Purifier – I’ll be going to a lot of places that may not have the cleanest water. I’m sure my body doesn’t have the immunity built up to stave off Montezuma in all his various forms. So I can use this pen to kill bacteria and most viruses.
Spanish-English Dictionary/Translator – Unfortunately, I didn’t focus on learning Spanish during my time in Madrid. Big mistake! So I’m taking this dictionary/translator with me so I can easily look up words I don’t know. Becoming fluent in Spanish is a major goal of mine and this will help me work toward that goal while I’m out and about. And I can give it to someone learning English when I leave Latin America and head to Asia!
Apple Ipod Shuffle – I’ve had the first generation Ipod Shuffle since I lived in Spain two years ago. I use it for podcasts only and it’s the primary way I follow the news and topics that interest me. The battery still lasts forever and I expect that this little silver box will continue to inform me what is going on in the world.
Amazon Kindle – I got a Kindle last year and it changed everything. All of a sudden I could live anywhere and buy books in English at normal prices. When I lived in the Middle East, I would buy books online and have them shipped to my parents. Then my parents would ship them for $80-$100 in postage. Now I can buy pretty much any book and start reading it immediately. The classics out of copyright are free. But most importantly, I’ll have one small device where I can store thousands of books. Without this, I would probably be limited to just one book at a time due to space and weight constraints.
Verbaitim 500GB USB3.0 External Hard Drive – I got this small external hard drive so I could backup all the pictures, video, and writing I do. You can never be too careful with data, so this will give me some peace of mind.
Belkin Mini Surge Protector/USB Charger – I have a lot of devices and this is a practical and cheap way of keeping them safe. This thing is only rated to 115V, but I read in customer reviews that it works with 220V as well. We’ll see, but I won’t be in a place that uses 220V for a while.
Sony Cybershot DSC-WX300 – I need megapixels and zoom since I like taking random pictures of stuff. I feel like my camera often tells a better story than I can, or at the least we are a team. So far I have been very pleased with the great quality out of such a tiny camera.
Sony HDR-XR160 Handycam Camcorder – This camcorder is small, lightweight, and has a built-in 160GB hard drive. You can transfer video directly to an external hard drive if you want, though I doubt I’ll do that. There is a built-in USB cable in the hand strap for convenience. I hope I can shoot good video for the site using this camera!
Audio-Technica Lavalier Microphone – I will use this microphone with the video camera. I hope to interview inspirational people and share their stories. This microphone should enhance the audio I’m trying to capture (voices!).
Manfrotto Video/Photo Tripod – This tripod folds to a length of 18.7in/47cm. It’ll fit easily in my bag. The head has a setting for video, which only moves up/down and left/right, and for photo, which gives the camera a full range of motion. It has the right combination of compactness, weight, and features.
Nikon Lens Cleaning System – This pen allows you to brush dust and other debris off camera lenses from one end, and allows you to clean fingerprints and smudges from the other end. Gotta keep those lenses clean!
Ohio State Garden Gnome – I am a Buckeye through and through. Despite the space this guy takes up in my bag, he will represent where I’ve come from. Life is a journey and each day we add experience and history to our lives. All that history and all those experiences make you who you are. I only have a 65-liter bag, as you saw above, so this little guy will represent my past and what makes me me. He’ll be a constant reminder of why I’m doing this and what I am trying to accomplish. And when I’m lonely, maybe he’ll be my Wilson from the movie Cast Away!
First Aid Kit – Pretty self explanatory. You never know what can happen on the road. This has the basics: a cold compress, gauze, tape, etc. Better to be safe than sorry in a pinch, and maybe I’ll end up helping a fellow traveler in an emergency.
Business Cards – Lastly, I ordered business cards I can share with people on the road and a t-shirt I can wear while traveling from Vistaprint.com. I know, very corporate tool of me, but old habits die hard sometimes!
If you ever plan a round-the-world adventure, career break, or normal vacation, I hope some of these things will help you! It has certainly been an eye-opening experience in figuring out exactly what I need. And I’m sure I’ll be updating this in the not so distant future with other things I needed or things I brought that I didn’t need.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below, especially if I forgot something!