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10 Travel Gear Recommendations: Camping, Trekking, and Road-tripping

Packing for a year-long journey is no easy task.  The thoughtful traveler strives to have that perfect balance between bringing all of one’s necessities, without being overburdened by bags full of gear.  I made a list of 10 items that are extremely useful, yet sometimes overlooked while planning to pack for an adventure:

GPS Unit
Our GPS system, the Garmin GPSmap 76CSx, is not a typical street unit such as TomTom.  This hand-held navigator does not have detailed maps of city streets and markers, but does provide tracking on a general level.  Getting lost is inevitable while rambling, and this unit has saved us time, gas expenses, and possible navigation mishaps at night.
TIP: Detailed GPS maps for Central and South America are virtually non-existent, but it is possible to find general maps for fair prices on E-bay.  Nick found our maps (Garmin’s World Basemap), which we use in conjunction with detailed paper maps, for only $5.

A Pelican Laptop Case
When Nick first purchased his Pelican Case, I have to admit that I made fun of him.  It is a tad bulky, and looks similar to what a mobster would carry money in.  But a Pelican Case ensures that your laptop will last a road-trip.  It is waterproof, and has a pressure valve that equalizes the inside compartment as it changes altitude.  Since it is lined with foam and the outside shell is virtually indestructible, your case can take a beating during your travels while your laptop cannot.
Price varies with case features and laptop model

Walkie Talkie
The Cobra Microtalk are the best walkie talkies that I have used.  It is affordable (Nick got ours on ebay for about $40USD), easy to use, and has a range that reaches up to 22 miles (if you have line of sight).  Since we are traveling from country to country so quickly, Nick and I decided not to buy a cell phone on the trip.  The walkie talkies are a great way to stay in touch if we need to separate.  In fact, while I was bed-ridden due to food poisoning, I was able to chat with Nick from across town in San Juanico.
Price: $89.95 Retail (will vary on ebay)

A Dry Bag
A dry bag is a rubber waterproof bag that folds and fastens at the top.  Nick and I have one each, and all of our clothes are kept in these bags.  If we are short of room inside the truck, we fasten the bags to the roof rack and without a worry about their state when it is raining.  Dry bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with various straps for using as a backpack or to sling over your shoulder.  They are not cheap, but you can’t put a price on dry clothes when everything your wearing is soaked.

Sirius Satellite Radio

Since our time in the car has already equaled to hundreds of hours, I can safely say that satellite radio was one of our best pieces of equipment (while is was functioning – see NOTE below).  The system costs about $60, and the monthly fee is about $13.  This small amount of money is definitely worth the hours of entertainment we have received.  Nick and I could get our NPR fix for hours at a time, switch to the alternative station when we were ready for music, and I could even slip in some country (when Nick wasn’t paying attention).  NOTE: My only complaint about satellite radio is that it does not work consistently south of Guatemala, and it stopped working all together south of Nicaragua, so we have been without satellite radio for 2 months now.

Pepper Spray
When traveling in areas in which you are unfamiliar, I recommend each person carry pepper spray in their pocket.  We purchased our spray, Kimber Life Act Guardian Angel, at a gun shop in Texas, after receiving advice from a friend of Nick’s that is retired special forces.  This pepper spray not only is painful, but shoots at 90 miles an hour, which means it will penetrate an attacker’s eyes regardless of whether they are wearing glasses, and will permeate the tissue behind their eyeballs.  The spray only allows you with two shots. This particular spray is fires with a charge (like a pistol) so it can’t loose pressure over time like those little bottles of spray you put on your keyshain.  I carry it as if I am carrying a gun, and I will hopefully never need to use it.

Silk Long Underwear
My silk long underwear are probably my favorite piece of travel gear.  They pack down to virtually nothing, are soft, and are extremely warm.  While traveling in New York, I could wear my long underwear under my clothes and be ready to face the cold outside, yet be comfortable indoors due to silk’s amazing qualities.
NOTE: I purchased my silk long underwear from Eddie Bauer, which I am assuming only offers these items during the winter.  Price: $34.50 for the pants and $34.50 for the top

A versatile, well-made raincoat
Nothing is worse than being soaked by an unexpected rainstorm (which happens frequently in Central America).  Invest in a raincoat that is fully waterproof, that fits well, and that has a large visor on the hood.  My raincoat, the Mavia Parka made by Mountain Hardwear, consists of a shell with pockets and zippered slits for ventilation.  This is perfect for rainy and humid weather so I can stay cool even if I need protection from the rain.  In colder climates, I wear a down coat under the shell for insulation.

Eagle Creek All Terrain Money Belt

While it appears to be an average belt, the All Terrain Money Belt contains an inside zipper pocket for a secret cash stash.  Money belts that fit around the belly or neck are not only uncomfortable, but fairly obvious for a potential mugger who has his wits about him.
Price: $14.95

REI Travel Mug
It may sound ridiculous to list a travel mug as one of my travel essentials, but this is an item that you will use everyday.  This mug will bounce around your car on rocky roads, bang against your gear, and will probably have to survive countless days of never being washed.  I love this mug because it has a leak-proof lid, it has a insulated metal base, and the handle is also a caribeener, which means I can hook it to my backpack when I’m on the run.

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One Comment

  1. very good info ,thanks!

    1. mario.D on August 23rd, 2010 at 3:03 am

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