Since I don't have much for the tourism report, I thought I'd share, for those of you that are curious, how we are faring with our gear and which items (aside from clothes) we have found to be absolutely indispensable after a month of travel.
First, let me say, we are generally VERY happy with the things we brought with us. The clothes are performing well and none of us have died from outfit boredom yet. Some of the boys have a sock or two with holes in them (which is not really a change from our pre-travel days) and a few items have been accidentally left behind here or there, but, for the most part, the clothes are holding up well and serving our needs nicely. Clothes are pretty much just clothes, though, so what I'd really like to share with you are our top ten non-clothing items (in no particular order).
Top Ten Non-Clothing Items
- Cocoon Silk Travel Sheet--These seemed a little like an unnecessary extravagance way back when we bought them--when we lived in a house and had enough bed linens to comfortably outfit a small country. But now that we've been on the road for a month, I would say this item is more necessary than not. We've stayed in a few places with no sheets, almost none with top sheets, and some where we needed all the layers we could get just to stay warm--and we aren't even roughin' it! Each of us have a Cocoon silk sheet, and we are so glad we do.
- Maps Me App--Our car has a built-in GPS, which has absolutely been a godsend. As Clay says, "She knows how to get everywhere!" But sometimes, we are not in the car but still need to get from Point A to Point B, or find a grocery store or a park, and occasionally we want to confirm what the GPS says or just see another view. This offline maps app is wonderful! And, since it's offline, we can access it even when we aren't connected to wifi. The maps do have to be downloaded ahead of time, but this hasn't been a problem.
- One SIM Card--We don't have to buy country specific cards and have had great service in every country in which we've traveled.
- Daypacks--Everyone has a day pack, and we use them almost daily for carrying a wide variety of things like picnic items, water bottles, car accessible entertainment, typical purse items, jackets, cameras, groceries, small souvenirs, and everything else you can think of. We could not get by without them! (When you click on the word "Daypacks," you will see only my daypack. We do not all carry the same one.)
- Audible.com--In our old life, we had DVD players in our vehicles and whenever we took a roadtrip, we popped a movie in for the kids. Our Eurocar has no DVD player, and we wouldn't have any DVDs to play, even if it did. Instead, we've been filling our hours in the car listening to all kinds of wonderful books, many of them set in the countries we are visiting (Dracula and The Iliad, for example), which has enriched our travel experience. Not only does it pass the time and stretch our brains, it also spurs some fantastic conversations (in the car and out), which draws us closer. I wish we had been doing this all along and skipped the DVDs altogether!
- Vapur Water Bottles--Each person has his/her own water bottle, and they go everywhere with us--from the car, to hiking excursions, to restaurants (since there is no such thing as a free refill around here). They can be clipped to belt loops or backpacks or car headrests, or looped over a finger for easy transport. And when they are not in use, they fold up to almost nothing.
- Facetime/Skype--We use both services to stay connected to our family back home, and we love them. We can use them any time we have a decent wifi connection, which we very often do.
- Travel Clothesline--We absolutely could not do without our clotheslines! Many of the places we've stayed have had washers, but only the Eurocamp had a dryer, and that was for pay. We have three travel clotheslines (all different brands), and they see a tremendous amount of action.
- USB Charging Station/International Power Strip--We have a multitude of power hungry devices, which demand to be charged often. These two devices (times two), which make up our charging station, come out of our bags every single night and allow us to charge everything that needs to be charged all in one fell swoop.
- Playing Cards--We brought many games with us, but, by far, the cards have been our favorite, and we have spent many hours together playing games we already loved and learning to play new ones. Like listening to audiobooks, playing games together has drawn us closer as a family.