Our family travels at least 6-8 times a year where short distance or overseas, however each travel is certainly different from the previous. We’ve had to streamline certain things to make the battle winnable instead of an outright war. I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d love to share with you. These secret weapons are handy items we take with us on our travels that make life so much easier and less stressful. Here’s how I do it:
Potty training Shower Curtain
Toilet training is hard on the road, hence our knuckle-down here in South America to endeavor to train our little man. While in Costa Rica he loved to remove his diaper every night and when we went to bed we’d find him in a soggy wet bed, ahhh boys!
Here comes our $1 purchase to the rescue. This shower curtain now lives under the kids’ sheet and is an excellent mattress protector. I cannot speak more highly of it. No need for expensive sheets and stuff when traveling with a diaper-stripping toddler, just grab yourself one of these from any supermarket or variety store.
What do you do when you are living in Philippines for months and every channel is in Taglag? A language you have never learned or spoken? We love our Apple TV. A small box no bigger then your hand that plugs into the TV and allows anything in our iTunes account to be played on the television. Not only is it great for non-English speaking countries it also allows us to keep a tight control on what the kids are watching and better control of how long. While we were in the US watching cable TV at our family’s place Alex grilled us on advertising – why was it on, where is the show? Then shortly after my 4 year old started with the “oh I like that, can I have that?” We are back to more controlled viewing now. 🙂 Starting at $69.99
Some hotels and even houses only have wired-only Internet connections. This handy device will create a Wi-Fi signal throughout the room, even house. It also doubles up as a wireless password-protected external hard drive. Nifty little device…$299.99
Got no wire Internet at all? Stick a little 3G SIM card in this thing and Wi-Fi fills the room.
Phone Car Charger
We quickly learnt in Bali that the car charger at home should have been on the list. Eric was using his phone as our GPS when one day the battery went dead. It was a long, interesting journey home. Now we travel everywhere with our car charger in taxis, hire cars and friends cars.
Mophie Battery Case
In line with the car charger, recently we brought an iPhone battery case. This little thing has come in handy more then one occasion and helps the iPhone to last all day (and night) even when under heavy use. You can get one here on amazon http://amzn.to/1GuO9kO
Grip Case USA
iPad, had a not-very-nice ending when we first purchased it in Australia. Along came Grip Case USA to the rescue. Alex has tossed it, dropped it, walked on it and still the iPad is doing grand. The major problem with the iPad, was that Alex could not get a grip on it. He would carry it around and it would slip right through his fingers to the floor. The GripCase not only allows for a handle to be easily carried, but the shock is absorbed by the outer edges and stays completely away from the actual iPad. Nice!
Energizer battery charge
With so many gadgets one cannot be carrying and buying batteries all over the world (especially in Mexico!) So this compact charger allows us to charge batteries for our computer mouse, the kids’ Leap Frogs pens, Alex’s camera – all with no hassles.
Power board & converter
This baby comes everywhere with us, and is generally always fully loaded. Laptop chargers, phone chargers, anything and everything. Forget carrying around several converters, use the one and get yourself a power board from your originating country (or wherever most of your electronics are from).
At times the luggage just doesn’t seem to fit no matter what I do. These little lifesavers are fabulous. Carry jackets, soft toys, food, whatever you need in these things and when the suitcases finally sort themselves out (generally once they are packed properly) the sturdy bags fold neatly and nicely away to be used again another day. They especially came in handy for transferring our kitchen groceries from St Thomas to St John via boat, instead of several plastic bags. http://amzn.to/1GuQDQl
Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done without this piece of plastic. In Alex’s school boat for lunch, when we are on a plane, when we are traveling in cars or trains or boats. This partitioned box means I don’t have to carry several bags of half filled food items. Or I can actually carry fruit and carrot sticks without messy, dripping bags. I use this nearly everyday. Gold!
Need a booster seat in a car? How about a pillow? This little inflatable booster seat is packed neatly and carefully away for any need we may have. In Asia it’s not necessary unless you are concerned about safety, but in the US and other areas where car seats are compulsory this one goes a long way to keeping our little man safe.
Wherever we go we carry a packet of noodles. It’s the perfect food to have when you arrive late in a hotel room with only a kettle. Kids love them. We also try and carry plastic bowls and spoons/forks/knives – especially on road trips. A few other staples coming around the world are our applesauce to go and usually a peanut butter or Nutella. Tip: You can often get quite a collection of knives and forks from takeaway restaurants. We never throw them and have little packets with serviettes ready for when the need comes to spread some toast or eat some cereal.
The more we travel the more we think how much life is made easier with a smart phone and tablet. So Alex has his own iPad Mini stock full of his favorite and what “we allow” apps to keep him entertained and learning while Jet-setting around the world!
And there you have it! My arsenal of secret weapons to make life stress-free on the road. I would love to hear your travel tricks and tips in the comments below or on my Facebook wall. So go on take a second and let us all know what is your great secret travel weapon?