I've been travelling before- 2 months in Thailand with my bestie when I was 19 and 7 months around Asia 10 years ago. Other backpacking holidays too but nothing of this proportion and certainly not with children. So at the risk of appearing a total amateur, I am going to show you the bits of kit I'm most excited about.
You never wanted to see my socks and pants anyway, did you?!
I'm a total kit geek and could always spend hours looking at camping equipment and rucksacks. As a child i spent my pocket money on pen knives and torches- this time, it's on a much bigger scale with an actual budget to buy what we need/ want/ have always salivated over. It's just like Christmas!! (But without all the chocolate- sad face)
We both bought Osprey Sojourn 80 litre rucksacks that also have wheels. The backpack straps zip away when not needed and are really comfortable to wear when the ground isn't firm enough to wheel it along. The thinking behind this is so that we get the best of both worlds- and we won't be laughed at when we land on a beach, dragging luggage through the sand... Or lugging heavy bags around massive airports because we can't (be bothered to) find a trolley. Another perk of the Osprey series are the daypacks- Daylite 20 litre which clip onto the big backpack. Useful when we are in transit and we can have both hands free for keeping hold of the children. This gives a total of 100 litres which sounds loads- but there are 4 of us for a 1-2 year trip so I'd like to have the choice about whether we buy souvenirs.
The boys have daypacks too- for carrying their toys, books, toiletries and change of clothes. This frees up a bit of space in the main bags . Also we are trying to get them to take responsibility for thinking ahead and packing for themselves. This also means if *gasp* our big bags get lost we will be ok for an overnight stay or 2 till we get them back... It has happened to me in the past, and now I always make sure my hand luggage has contingency supplies.
We have made the choice to buy the World Nomad travel insurance which is the gold standard. We have the budget to do this and have prioritised health above all else. I may reconsider these priorities when sleeping in a roach infested hut.
We have all had our basic vaccinations updated as well as a few more such as Hepatitis A&B, Typhoid, Diphtheria, and Rabies. We are taking Malarone tablets for Malarial zones.
Nomad travel clinic were really useful and totally didn't try to up sell us. They also gave us access to their pharmacy too so we could get prescription meds in children's doses too.
The kit includes steri kit and loads of stuff- check out the picture! Everything you could possibly need and more. We added a digital thermometer too as well as kids calpol and antihistamines (did someone say nit comb and threadworm tablets?! I can't bear the kids having parasites. I need that stuff with me).
The medical kit, perversely is the most fun bit- taking everything out and then neatly packing it all away again. I always find something I hadn't seen before! Love my grown up doctors set DEEP JOY in adult sizes packaged up with childish glee.
On the subject of health, we have concerns about Dengue fever (not even thinking about Zika...!) combined with 15% discount we blagged from Cotswold Outdoors, we've got a healthy supply of mosquito repellent!! Dont ask me how we're going to carry it all- that's down to Mike, though I get bitten to buggery whenever there are mozzies around. The carcinogenic properties of DEET bother me in terms of the children so we'll use herbal stuff as much as we can. I guess that's a choice we have to weigh up in the face of jungle fevers. No-one said parenting would be easy.
Locks, multi purpose wash, string, alcohol gel and adaptors... which lead me on to my favourite gadget of all!!
The Powermonkey Extreme is a bad boy of epic proportions. Chargeable by solar (or mains) and is waterproof, it holds enough charge for 6 iPads. It has Velcro straps to attach it to your day pack when you're out and about and come with loads of adaptors! It can literally do anything. This is reflected in the price and we shopped around and got it for £80 as opposed to £120 in Cotswold Outdoor.
Mike and I are each taking our phones as they are our cameras and music too.. Mike bought a Lifeproof case so his can even be used under water but I couldn't get on with mine so sent it back. See- I DO have my own mind. A mind that refuses to have a tinny conversation as it gives me flashbacks to my days at 'Talking Pages' call centre when I was 16-19... Can monotony give you PTSD...? I hate talking on phones and anything that makes that more difficult has to go, I'm afraid. I'm settling for a non waterproof case and a bit of common sense (*hilarious*).
Music features heavily in our lives so we have bought a Bose mini Soundlink with a silicone case to make it durable. We are also using an Aux cable so it uses less battery and we are keeping up our subscription to Napster. I am dubious as to whether this will actually work for us and then all our downloads will be deleted and I will want to throw the computer out the window. I always do when technology fails me (which is frequently) but still, that's a chance we'll have to take as now is not the time to re buy our entire music collection, virtually or otherwise.
We are also taking all the usual stuff: torches, mosquito nets, silk sleeping bag liners (lightweight and they dry fast), travel towels, generic multi- function toiletries, my beloved kindle and packing cubes.
I plan to set the bar high in term of organisational skills. We all know by week 2 I'll just ram everything we own into the bags in a rush to board the 6am ferry.
We agreed early on in the boys lives that they wouldn't be getting any devices until they were 10. We were sure about this until the full horror of a 17 hour flight took hold of me. The boys sold all their toys and saved their birthday money to buy the iPads and I will be grateful for Minecraft when we are in the air- and they will feel like they've won the lottery once the full splendour of unlimited access unfolds. We will also all be happy that we can't hear the sound effects- the noise limiting headphones complete the package. They will also be useful when we accidentally hire a beach hut next door to the party bar- it's inevitable and this is why we have downloaded audio books for when that time comes. iBooks is good for the rest of the time and that way we won't be weighed down with 'Beast Quests'. Win.
It could be that I am having a mega- mum moment but I have 1 child who eats sushi, seaweed and curry. The other believes pizza to be the only true means of sustainment. I remain optimistic that opening their eyes to cultures renders their old eating habits redundant, but the small voice of Realism is screaming at me from a small corner of my psyche.
Maybe we'll just want to make up a lovely fresh baguette in Vietnam, or maybe we'll just need a spork instead of eating with our grubby hands from the street vendors in India? Everything is possible but I'm packing my camping plates and Sporks.
Flicking through our books of dates, flights and bookings is pure joy. I love having a hard copy of addresses too so we can send postcards and letters home (good for the boys learning!) also it helps with my mistrust of technology. funny really considering how much tech we're taking!
Clothes: whatever we have space for.
I'm also taking a sewing kit and my generic 6mm crochet hook and a small ball of chunky wool, in case the need to Yarnbomb takes me. I'm looking forward to wool shopping around the world so won't need much.
I'm pretty sure we will rethink a lot of things in our packs and leave things behind/ miss things we didn't bring. On the whole we should be able to survive: anything else we need can easily be fashioned out of gaffer tape and cable ties. I'd never be so stupid to go anywhere without those beauties ❤️