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  • Total days on the road: 586
  • Currently in: USA
  • Miles Driven: 36821
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Gear we Can’t Leave Home Without

Written by Jessica on March 21, 2011

If you’ve read our Things you Think you Need to Pack but Don’t article, you probably wonder if we pack anything aside from underwear. Well, here are a few things that we can’t live without. We’ve all spent countless hours, trying to convince each other to get rid of this extra crap. And we’ve failed.

Travel towels: You know, those super quick dry, extra expensive, but always there for you towels. They pack about the size of a baseball, but yet save the day so many times.

GPS Garmin 60csx - Gear we can't travel withoutGPS (for car trips): Electronic device to tell you what road to take = $200. Not having to rely on that map printed in 1950 or your spouse’s non-existent sense of direction = priceless.

Coffee Pot: Used to be a small Turkish coffee pot, recently upgraded to Handpresso portable espresso maker. Nothing makes a day better like a fresh shot of espresso.

Pocket Knife: Never underestimate the need for a knife. Even if you don’t plan to cook. I can think of 500 ways I’ve used my pocket knife in the last 15 years. Most of them critical to maintaining a positive travel experience.

Corkscrew/bottle opener: Nothing sucks more than buying a $5 bottle of wine and then not being able to open it. Been there. It wasn’t funny.

Headphones that we can't travel withoutHeadphones or earplugs: Can you really put a price on silence? My husband can’t.

Camera equipment: Although I’ve packed in various degrees of ridiculousness... most of the time it’s at least 25 pounds of very expensive fragile stuff. Was it a pain in the butt to haul around? Yes. Was it worth every second of the hassle? Yes.

Mosquito Repellent: Good ol’ fashion DEET. If there’s a mosquito within 2 countries of my destination, I’m packing some super-duper repellent. Why? An estimated 2 million people die every year from diseases carried by mosquitoes. Also, the itching is annoying.

Sandals: I’ve tried to live without them. I just can’t do it. Something about a hot sunny day, a sandy beach, an afternoon picnic, or possibly, a nasty shower and a dirty hotel floor, that just screams for a nice pair of sandals.

Pot scraper for camping First Aid Kit: Sometimes my first aid kit consists of a bottle of Aspirin and a few band-aids. Other times it has all these things in it. I’ve loaned things to others far more often then I’ve used them myself. Either way it was worth bringing along.

Plastic Pot Scraper: It’s a 50 cent piece of really hard plastic about half the size of a credit card. Amazingly effective at cleaning anything. If camping, it’s remarkable.

What can’t you travel without? Let’s hear it in the comments?


#3 Agmois 2012-12-15 09:25
I third on headlamps. It is like having a third arm. They are great. My Petzl Tikka + 3 AAA Eneloops are good for months of travel.

Smart phone with a local sim - Google saved my ass when I was looking for that visa registration establishment in Moscow. Skype rocks too. I can call U.S. from middle of Siberia. Amazing, and cheap too.

Book? Only if it is a NetBook. Or a ultralight laptop made from Air (hint hint). While you minimalists might get by with just a smartphone (for posting to flikr or blogspot) but if you are camera junkie like me, laptop is invaluable.

Do you like washing your clothes because they start to stink in a day or two? I don't, but I don't want to stink either so I don't wear synthetics next to my body. Silk and wool are my best friends on the road.

I hate mosquito buzzing keeping me awake, and then itching from bites in the morning.

For mosquito free sleep I have used one of those plug in evaporators with poison, mosquito net, or a tent.

Plug in poison works (I used it in India), but it needs AC power, and your are breathing insecticide all night. Maybe OK for couple nights, but I would not bet my health for a prolonged use.

Mosquito net is good for a permanent installation. I had one in India, and it worked ok, but sometimes mosquitoes got inside through gaps underneath.

Tent is the best, but it is heavier and bulkier to carry and might not be convenient to set up, or might not be possible at all. However, an inside mesh part of 2 walled tent could be used without poles by just tensioning it with a parachute cord and does provide a bug free zone if done correctly.

Best of luck and happy travels.
#2 Diane 2012-12-02 19:34
Yup, can see adding headlamp to the list. Think hotel. Think the middle of the night and a fire alarm alarming. If the power's out, much easier to lead the way and have two hands free if they are needed.
#1 Taylor 2012-10-31 14:25
Headlamp with extra batteries. Obviously unnecessary if you're staying 5 days at Beaches in Cabo... but if you're doing anything else, a headlamp is crucial. Hands free lighting is amazing, and if trekking or climbing it can save the day. Though I assume all trekkers and climbers know this. So, I'll go ahead and pass the word along to the less experienced, "pssst, bring your headlamp". A good, light, water resistant Petzl or Black Diamond will never do you wrong.

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