My Top Items For Long Term Travel
A couple of weeks ago, we crossed the 6 months of traveling marker. Unsurprisingly, it feels like it has been much longer, and much less all at once. I can’t believe we still get to do that long all over again! Even though I was already a pretty experienced traveller, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t learnt some valuable ‘how to not travel like an idiot’ tips along the way. Here’s a small list of some of the best things I have brought with me on this trip. Traveling long term through many different climates is a whole different kettle of fish to other types of travel, in my experience so far. None of this is sponsored, obviously, just my cool opinion. However if any companies want to send me free stuff, go ahead. I’m an #influencer (or is it an effluencer that I am? I forget.)
I have been reading on a Kindle for about 3 years now, and I am a big fan. I love being able to instantly look up words, I love being able to track the characters using the X-Ray tool, I love being able to track my progress - I love it. I know not everyone is a fan of the ebook, and I get it, there are definitely some books that I have tried to read on Kindle, (Woolf Hall, comes to mind) where you need to keep a constant eye on the family tree at the beginning of the book to know what’s going on, that are much better read in their analogue state. But, especially while traveling, I am so glad I have my trusty Kindle. I read a lot. Even when I was gainfully employed I read a fair bit, but since sacking-in having an income, I have ramped that up a whole lot. I have read almost 30 books since starting our trip, and there is no way I could have carried that many, or had the freedom to choose what I read if I was relying on swapping and trading with other travellers.
I got this particular Kindle for Christmas last year, and it’s genuinely one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten. It is the fanciest model of Kindle, but having had the most basic one before - I can assure you that if you read as much as I do, I reckon it’s worth the price tag (I say, not having actually purchased it for myself…). It has a backlight, which is awesome for reading in hostel dorms, planes, and even when you have a sleepy boyfriend who wants the light switched off while you’re in the middle of a thrilling chapter. It also has a touch screen and page turning buttons, which is actually one of the best features. It means that you barely have to move move a muscle to turn the page, and it is just a small thing, but in terms of ease of use and the tangible experience of the device, it is such an improvement on the previous model.
Also - it has 3G access all over the world, so even if you don’t have WiFi, you can purchase new books, and you don’t even have to pay extra for that. This feature is incredible and has saved my butt a number of times… in the sense that I would have felt mortal danger if I didn’t feel like I had something to read… Never mind. (Side note: please send me book recommendations)
Despite having been together for almost 7 years, Neil and I do not share finances. Whether at home, or here on the road, we split all of our shared expenses equally. Neither of us are particularly wild spenders, but we have quite different attitudes to and histories with money. Ultimately Neil is probably more conservative with his finances, and I am a little more frivolous. The last big trip we went on we had a little conflict around who owed who, when we were just keeping track of debts in our heads, so we wanted to find a solution that meant there wasn’t going to be any uncertainty that could spark any resentment or conflict. There were a few options that we put discussed, including contributing to a shared account, but for various reasons, this wasn’t going to work. The solution we came to was committing to entering every shared expense, from coffee and beers, to flights and hostels, into an app called Splitwise. It consolidates our debts to each other, and you can split each trip out into it’s own group, using the local currency. It makes it easy to see who is bearing the financial brunt, and settle up quickly if the balance is off. By making the commitment to put every single expense in there, it also gives us the opportunity to make it clear if we want to treat each other, by saying “This is on me, I’m not putting it in the Splitwise”, we ensure that romance isn’t entirely killed by a finance tracking app.
I also have an aversion to keeping track of money - I’d prefer to just not look, keep swiping until the card doesn’t work, and then figure it out when that happens. Not super mature, I know, so this has been good for helping me overcome my… financial idiosyncrasies. And while we have had arguments about plenty of things while we have been travelling, hardly any of them have been about money, which I think is largely thanks to Splitwise.
Google Pixel 2XL Phone
For those of you who have been following along with my blog, you’ll know that my phone was stolen in Mexico in July. It was a Google Pixel 2XL, and I was devastated. Not only was it my phone, a Christmas gift from my parents, but it was my camera, my maps and what felt like my link back to home. This phone is huge, I joke that it’s A4, and I use it to watch movies, communicate at length with friends and family and play Yahtzee (another thing that I have found to be a great joy on this trip!) After a week of no phone, I was lucky to be lent an old iPhone 4 by a friend we saw in Mexico City… and while I don’t want to sound ungrateful, I would have almost been better off with no phone at all. Yes, the Google Pixel 2XL is just a phone. But more than any other mobile phone I’ve ever used, it does what all phones claim to do - it makes your life easier. It is seamlessly integrated with the Google suite of apps and programs that I use to structure my life. The battery lasts for ages and charges really quickly. But probably best of all: the camera is Un. Be. Leivable. So much so that I don’t feel that I am missing out on capturing memories of this incredible trip by not having a dedicated camera.
Within days of arriving in Chicago, I took myself off to replace my Google Pixel 2XL with the exact same model (annoyingly the Google Pixel 3XL has just come out now, and I wish I could have gotten that one instead, but oh well.) It will take a lot for me to ever switch to another phone, and after my brief dalliance back with an iPhone, I will never be buying one of those ever again.
I packed yoga pants at the very outset of our trip when I was still under the illusion that I would actually be doing exercise while I travelled. What a fool. Yoga pants do not make this list because of how much they have benefited me during all the yoga I have been not doing. In fact, I have embraced the way they expand to hug some of my newfound CuRvEs that I have acquired (on top of existing cUrVeS of course) since getting on the road. At home I’m a pretty strict jeans and t-shirt kind of person, and active wear is strictly reserved for the times when I’m being active. But a whole day on a train, or 18 hours in transit is not comfortable in jeans, especially when the jeans you have fit a little better about 450 beers ago. My one regret? That I didn’t bring more pairs. The pair I have with me are a full length black pair of Running Bare yoga tights that I got for Christmas from my parents a few years ago. Wow - almost everything on this list so far has been a gift from my parents. Thanks guys.
When you’re traveling with a partner, just the two of you, it can get… not boring, I don’t want to give off the idea that I’m bored of talking to Neil. But if I was having this much alone time with any one on the planet, you would benefit from a little time where you aren’t just chatting about the same old stuff. That’s where games come in. We liked playing games before we went away, especially Scrabble. But Neil is really good and really slow at playing Scrabble, so it can be kind of boring for me - I have to sit around and wait a lot to get beaten. We noticed early on in our stays in hostels in South America that all these travellers were playing a game where you have four cards laid out in front of you, all different nationalities at all different hostels, playing the same game. It was at a place in Colombia where we were indoctrinated into the amazing world of Cambio. I am bad enough at explaining Cambio in real life, so I won’t try to do it here, but it’s a fast paced game where the objective is to know when you have the lowest value of cards, while everyone’s cards are all face down. It’s awesome. There’s no limit to how many people can play, and it’s really fast to learn. We taught my parents while we were waiting for a plane in Israel, and they were immediately hooked. Neil and I also have a running score sheet going and each time someone reaches 100 points, they have to buy a round of drinks. Most games end in scores of -2 to 4 points each, so you can imagine how often we’re playing.
So there you have it, a couple of my top items for long term travel. Tune in next time for the items that I think a a complete waste of time. Spoiler alert: I’m taking down Big Australian Banking.