I can’t speak for any other family out there with regards to 21st century living, but as a family we all became somewhat hooked on the devices and technology that we believed we needed in our lives. To some extent, its the world and communities we live in back home that expects us to have 24 hr access to broadband internet, email and social media. The kids both have electronic tablets which lets them play games and watch Minecraft videos on YouTube (thanks Stampy). So what would we do for 9 months or so….well, to some extent, we brought a little bit with us, we’re not hippies after all.
1) A Laptop
This is our biggest expense but has been well worth the cost ever since we brought it along. Its provided us with all the tool we’ve needed to stay in touch with friends and family via Facetime or Skype and book and research all our accommodations and transport. We’re able to do our banking and we even use it for our weekly film night. Its brilliant.
2) Smart Phone (maps and Camera in 1)
In order to use your smart phone from home it will need to be unlocked. If it isn’t already you may also need to buy yourself out of the remaining time on your phone contract. Not cheap. Think of all the night accommodation you could be in somewhere really nice for the cost. 😦 This leads onto you being able to walk into any mobile phone shop in any country and buy a Pay As You Go sim card. Our NZ one was from 2Degrees and was perfect for our needs. Get one with lots of data allowance for using with maps. In Australia we used Vodaphone and in Thailand we are using DTAC. Which leads onto my next bit.
Our phone has gotten us out of so many places because of its x2 best features a) a map b) search engine. Just trying to find our where the nearest train station is, or closest park, or even the closest toilet. We’ve used the map on our phone more than anything else. I should say that we use the phones camera for 99% of our photos. Almost all our pictures on our blog are iPhone pictures.
There are some incredible smart phones out there with bigger screens and better camera now. I even saw a Sony one in submerged in water in the shop in the MBK in Bangkok. I think I’ll get one of them when we get back to UK. Perfect for travelling as you can just take it in the sea and film the kids snorkelling.
3) 7″ electronic tablets for the kids
Travelling is great because you spend a lot of time exploring and walking about, swimming, playing and meeting people. But, there are also times when you are in transit. There are times when you need to be in a particular place early to wait for a train, plane or boat. These time are when the kids reach for their Amazon Kindles and play a game, watch a film or search for a wifi code and look up YouTube.
They have really saved the day a lot and definitely have their place in our luggage. Usually at the end of a long day the kids can chill out on there bed and have some “screen time”. We’ve loaded them full of films and games, but also, being a Kindle they also hold books. Rosie will now use hers to read the bedtime story. Ruben has downloaded a number of taster books and found some new authors he want to try out.
4) eReader (if you like to read a lot)
For those times at airports etc when you’ve got a few hours to kill, or even just want your quite time on the beach, we recommend getting an eReader, like Amazons Paperwhite. April uses hers daily and gets through books incredibly fast. She can sit on the beach in the middle of the day and happily read her book. The battery lasts for ages (like a month or something) and is permanently in her bag.
If you like to read, get an eReader. Super light and you don’t have to donate a book to the youth hostel when you’ve finished it.
5) Waterproof camera
In my experience, a ‘Waterproof’ camera never really is that good. Don’t know why, but they’ve never really worked for me. So, I brought along my GoPro. The camera is really small, its super tough and I don’t really need to worry about it getting sandy on the beach or knocked in the pool. We’ve used it for video as well as photos and burst shots for jumping and diving. It has its moments as its fixed focal length, but we’ve picked up some great shots when messing about in the sea.
6) The secret with Travel plugs….shhhh
We have x2 plugs with us. They’re both slightly different so should most almost anywhere. If one got lost or broken, we have a backup. However, with chargers for so many devices we didn’t want to have to buy and then bring x5 different chargers. So instead I’ve brought along a UK multipli-plug cable. Now I plug that into my travel plug and then all the UK devices go into the UK multi-plug.
a) Get a 2 into 1 headphone jack so x2 sets of headphones can plug into one device. Great for laptop movie nights of sharing a Kindle to watch a youtube video. I picked one up in Melbourne for about £5. You can normally find them in any audio or electrical shop or even sometimes in suitcase shops, or where you’d but a travel plug!!
b) Spare phone charging cable – You phone is so useful for maps etc so the last thing you need when you arrive somewhere is to not have your phone charged. Even worse, you can’t find the charging cable because you left it in the wall when you left the last Hostel you stayed in. Get a spare and keep it separate to everything else. Tuck it in your bag somewhere zipped.
* TIP – Most hotel TVs etc will have a USB sock in the back of them or even the digi box. USB ports are everywhere!! Plug your phone in whenever you can when in transit. We’ve had the laptop plugged into socket on a pillar in Christchurch departure lounge (that the cleaners use) as we needed to see our ticket info. Get creative.
c) Online Banking Card Reader – Most banks now require you to use a special little thing that looks like a calculator to securely log in online. They are very good. Don’t leave your behind when you go away. Also, as a quick note, tell you’ve bank you will be abroad or they’ll think someone is accessing your account and may stop you paying for that nice lunch or buy that essential last ticket out of the hell hole you want to forget out.
d) Torch – Its not really tech as such, but you will find it useful more than you think. If you’re smartphone has a torch function, then use that too.
e) Headphones – As much as we can appreciate the success that Stampylonghead (and Squid – not forgetting you) has had on the hearts of kids around the world and inspired so many to spend hours making Minecraft wonders and astound parents with the creations. As much as we think you are awesome Stampy, us parents just don’t need to listen too. Keep up the good work, but when the kids have their headphones on. 🙂
If I find something useful on our travels, I’ll update the page. So far so good.