Five Things: Don’t travel the world without them

You’re planning some long term travel. You’ll see the world and have fun doing it. But the question remains? What do you pack? If we’d brought nothing but these five things we’d still have had an amazing trip.


1.Gear that Works:

The AirportI know what you’re thinking. I can’t afford the good stuff but if you’re planning a long term trip it’s worth the investment. We traveled with so little but the stuff we didn’t regret bringing along? Our Tilley gear.  And now you’re thinking, “Safari hats and flap jackets” right? (I know. It’s a gift.) Wrong. I got to know them when they provided outfits for Ish and I to wear on our first CityLineappearance and a few take on the road with us. The stuff is tough but stylish and kept us looking less homeless than we were. Take a look at their newest offerings here if you don’t believe me  and then don’t leave on your next trip without the Ponti pants. Seriously. Like yoga pants without the stigma of wearing them to a fancy dinner. (Full disclosure: I don’t work for Tilley but I should. Impressive stuff.)

2. iPhone, Skype:

I’ve written about this before and spoke about it here.  I know there are naysayers but I can’t even imagine what our trip would’ve been like without our iPhone and Skype. We’d left grandparents behind. A phone call is nice, Skype is reassuring. They could hear that we were alive and see our smiles and the kids’ excitement. And the iPhone meant keeping in touch as we go. Unlock it and you can use sim cards  from the cities you’re visiting (literally pop them in and out as you go) for a fraction of your roaming costs. (Full disclosure: I don’t work for Apple. But I should. )

3. The Kids:

boys exploreWe couldn’t have left them at home anyway (without raising child services alarms) but it never even occurred to us that we would want to do this without them. What I didn’t anticipate was how much having them along would make the trip better. Kids bring a viewpoint we adults have long left behind with our judgmental, know-it-all-because-I-watched-something-on-CNN-once ways. They ask the questions we should be asking and in finding answers for them we can learn a lot about who we really are. I feel so privileged to have been able to experience the planet in the way we did, with them.

4. An Open Mind – We brought it with us but we were also willing to expand it as we went. It’s so easy to think you know what you believe when you’re sitting in your house in North America debating whether to open the fridge for food or order in. I would never even suggest that we were at one with the locals, but I am glad we got a chance to be the minority in these countries and had the benefit of locals, who we now count as friends, to show us things from their point of views. We played ping pong at midnight in Cairo, we sat cross-legged on the floor of a family home in Siem Reap, we chatted over duck confit in a Parisian home. And all of it taught us so much about who we thought we were, who the world thinks we are and how easy it could be to bridge that gap with travel.

ethan dumpling

Trying new things in China

5. Nothing Else.

Really. Leave it all behind. The worries and the headaches and the “I told you so” and “I want it my ways.” Just go out there and really look around you and you’ll quickly see, as I did, that everything you need, you likely already have. And then, hope against hope, that you are lucky enough to have enough time left in your life to show the world how much you appreciate it.


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{ 6 comments… add one }

BusyMomofTwins September 29, 2012, 4:18 PM

Such great tips. Very very true. Great suggestions!



jaderyan22 October 10, 2012, 9:39 PM

LOVE IT! We took our two year old for two weeks in Italy – family flipped, friends flipped — but us? We could not have imagined the trip without her. The trip took on whole new meanings from her perspective and having her along enriched the experience for all of us. Not to mention a year later she is still talking about it in detail and asking to go back! We intend to do more traveling as the kids get older, and sites like yours encourage me in my hope to make them BIGGER trips. Thank you so much for sharing.


Heather Greenwood Davis November 15, 2012, 6:39 AM

Sorry I missed this comment before! Yay for two year-olds who travel. One of the things I’m always telling peoples is “start early.” Good for you (and her) for getting out there.


Andrea November 14, 2012, 6:50 PM

Great list! “Bring Kids” and “Open Mind” aren’t what most people think of for an extended trip – it’s a very wise recommendation! For me, however, the more prosaic clothing tip was the most valuable: I travel a lot for my small company as well as to family in Europe, and the biggest challenge seems to be to pack light, have comfortable clothing, but not feel very out of place in a restaurant. I’ll check out the pants you recommend… your description really hit a nerve with me. Thanks for the tip!


Heather November 15, 2012, 6:38 AM

You’re welcome. Let me know what you think of the pants. They come in a closer fit leggings style or a true dress pant. I now own both but it’s the legging style that I’m referring to above.


Gigi Luke June 14, 2013, 12:51 PM

Hi Heather,

I found your site by accident and have loved reading it. We too are a family of four who decided to take a year off and travel the world with two boys (ages 10 and 14). We are in our last month and about to head home on July 1st. I was prompted to write because I noticed the “soupy dumplings” in the picture with your son above! These were one of my boys favorite foods on the trip! They just could not get enough of them. My 10 year old is even trying to figure out how to make them. It has been an amazing adventure and we can’t believe that we are almost at the end. I was wondering if you had any tips for “re-entry?” Was the transition back home easy for you all? Any suggestions?

Thank you!


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