Now that we’ve been back from our Round the World trip for 10 months, I’ve had some time to think about the most useful travel products we took on our trip. These are the travel products I recommend you don’t leave home without, especially if you’re traveling with kids.
Disclosure: Product links in this article will go to our Amazon affiliate account
In our particular case, we had iPhones, which I came to refer to as the new Swiss army knife, as you can do so many things with it. I used mine to communicate (phone, email, text, Skype), to take photos/videos (real photographers would be aghast, but this was the only camera we had), as a clock/alarm clock, including the world clock feature so we could account for time differences between locations, to blog, to check the weather, news (occasionally), to hail a ride (Uber), to book tickets (Expedia), and research activities (TripAdvisor), as entertainment (music, games, Kindle, YouTube), to check currency conversions, as a translator, a map, a flashlight, etc., etc.
I totally understand leaving your smartphone behind if you’re on a digital detox vacation, however; for long-term travel a smartphone is essential.
2. Quality Luggage and Packing Cubes
Prior to our trip, I had never invested in quality travel gear or had used packing cubes. If we were going to be on the road for 6 months though, I knew this was something I had to do. We researched the options and settled on Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 32 for the adults and the Load Warrior 26 for the kids. Each person had their own set of Eagle Creek packing cubes. I’m so glad I made the investment because the ‘Warriors’ held up really well on the trip, so well, they look like they’ve hardly been used. The packing cubes were super useful for keeping things organized, both in terms of separating clean clothes from dirty, in shortening the packing/unpacking time, and in terms of promoting independence and responsibility in my girls.
3. iPad or other Tablet
We recommend having a tablet (or two) when traveling long-term with kids. Preload books, TV shows, apps and movies before you set out on your travels. This will come in particularly useful for flights under 2 hours where the airline may not have inflight entertainment. We weren’t always on the ball with this and paid the price in terms of meltdowns! We also used the iPad to do some school work. RAZ-Kids is a leveled reading program available online or as an app, which our girls used on the trip. It’s the same program their school uses, so that way the girls could keep up with their Grade level reading.
4. Extra batteries, chargers and plugs
Along with the smartphone and tablet, a must-have item is extra batteries and chargers for keeping your devices powered up. The batteries came in handy on long train trips, or if we were going to be out for the full day. We had 5 devices with us and sometimes they needed charging at the same time, so that’s when the extra chargers came in handy. We also took plugs as the outlets in some countries are configured differently than in others.
5. Laundry and bathroom supplies
I can’t recommend this enough! We took 2 laundry lines, foldable travel hangers, clothespins, and laundry soap pods. Many places don’t have a dryer, so we’d have our laundry lines strung throughout wherever we were staying with clothes hanging up to dry. Laundry supplies aren’t as necessary in SouthEast Asia (India, Thailand, Malaysia), where laundry is sent out to be done, but for anywhere else, I would highly recommend bringing laundry supplies with you.
As for bathroom supplies, always carry toilet paper with you, even if it’s not a whole roll. There will come a time when you forget to check the stall for toilet paper before you use it and will be glad to have the toilet paper with you. We always had hand sanitizer, but started carrying a bar of soap as well, which came in particularly useful on the train rides and in the AirBnBs that didn’t provide hand soap. We also had quick dry hand towels that came with our daypacks, which we used primarily on the overnight trains.
6. Ziploc and reusable bags
Ziploc bags are great for a variety of uses, and I didn’t bring nearly enough of the larger size ones with me. You can use them for snacks, for storing the little toys that come in Kinder Surprises, for wet laundry, to keep papers or phones dry (if you’re going on a speed boat ride into a waterfall!). I had also brought two reusable and foldable bags with me and our daypacks could fold up into small pouches when we didn’t need them. Our reusable bags became the stuffed animal carrier as my younger one bought a stuffed animal in each country we visited.
There you go! These are the items I found most useful on our Round the World trip. If you have anything to add to the list, please put it in the comment box below.