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Travel With Bender

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Travel Tips

My 13 Secret Weapons for Stress-Free Travel

Travelling full time is certainly different from the occasional holiday. We’ve had to streamline certain things to make the battle winnable instead of an outright war. I’ve learnt 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. Jumping from country to country with young children and running a web-based business and a totally awesome blog at the same time sounds like a juggle, but it can be done and enjoyed. Here’s how we do it:

Potty training shower curtain

Toilet training is hard on the road, hence our knuckle-down here in Guatemala to endeavor to train our little man. While in Penang he loved to remove his nappy every night and when we went to bed we’d find him in a soggy wet bed.

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 travelling with a nappy-stripping toddler, just grab yourself one of these from any supermarket or variety store.

Apple TV

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What do you do when you are living in Guatemala for a month and every channel is in Spanish? 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 both of my children 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. :)

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Apple Time Capsule

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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!

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Netcom MyZone

Got no wire Internet at all? Stick a little 3G SIM card in this thing and Wi-Fi fills the room.

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Phone Car Charger

We quickly learnt in Bali that the car charger at home should have been on the list. Josh 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.

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Mophie Battery Case

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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.

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Grip Case USA

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iPad, or rather our iSitter, had a not-very-nice ending when we first purchased it in Australia. Along came Grip Case USA to the rescue. Our kids have tossed it, dropped it, walked on it and still the iPad is doing grand. The major problem with the iPad was the kids could not get a grip on it. Mia would carry it around and it would slip right through her 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! 

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Energizer battery charger

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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 mice, the kids’ Leap Frogs pens, Mia’s camera - all with no hassles.

Powerboard & 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 powerboard from your originating country (or wherever most of your electronics are from).

Calico/Reusable Bags

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 Belize to Guatemala via bus/boat, instead of several plastic bags.

Lunchbox

Honestly I don’t know what we would have done without this piece of plastic. When the kids go to preschool, when we are on a plane, when we are travelling 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! 

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BubbleBum

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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 Miss safe. 

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Food staples

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 vegemite 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.

iPhone/iPad apps

The more we travel the more we think how much life is made easier with a smart phone and tablet.

Read our comprehensive list of favourite apps for iOS and Android.

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 our Facebook wall. So go on take a second and let us all know what is your great secret travel weapon?

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Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Wheres Sharon? (Sharon) on
hey thanks! lots of useful stuff on there that i will be trying to find before our next trip (and looking up in itunes next time my phone is online!). especially love the apple tv, havent heard of that before.
Posted by Alyson on
Wow, sounds like you guys travel in luxury, all mod cons! We don't have anything apple, so it's all wasted on us! We may well take the power board though, great idea!
Posted by April on
WHAT IS THE BRAND OF TAT LUNCHBOX?
Posted by Erin on
Great Sharon, glad it helped! :)
Alyson - no apple? OMG! Thats some crazyiness.
April - it's tupperware.
Posted by Living Outside of the Box on
We travel with the bubble bums, too! Not that we've used them for over 5 months...but hey...we'll get there again!
Posted by Kate on
I bought a car phone charger recently. It makes the phone a bit hot though. Does your's do that?
Posted by lola on
OK. i need to talk with you about the best mobile wifi device. i'm prepared to invest in one to have wifi wherever i am. it's really become essential. thoughts??
Posted by Jenna on
Lots of good tips here. My son loves Jake so I will get him that app as a treat soon.
Posted by Dalaman Airport Transfers on
Thanks for sharing this post. very good stuff.
Posted by Shan on
Hi there, I absolutely love your blog. My partner and I are planning a trip around a few countries with our two children for aroubd 6-9 months who will be 4 and 2 at the time. Your blog has so any handy tips and ideas about different places that I dont think you would find any where else! If you have any tips on cash flow or keeping costs down while traveling please let me know. Thank you
Posted by Sheralyn on
This post is gold! Bookmarking this one for sure - thanks so much for sharing all this! :)
Posted by Tracey on
We have been on the road for a couple of months now and have just started to potty train. We were in a bit of a pinch when our little man decided he had had it with nappies (no access to a shower curtain or mattress cover). We got creative and used garbage bags, we spread 4 out under the sheet and they worked brilliantly.

Thanks for the new ideas,I've made a shopping list before we move on to our next destination:)
Posted by lesenfantsetlavion on
Love the noodles tip!!
Posted by Ashwani Attri on
Jumping from country to country with young children and running a web-based business and a totally awesome blog at the same time sounds like a juggle, but it can be done and enjoyed.
Posted by sandi on
Hi Erin, I love your website, facebook page and blog. You are my go to place for all things related to travel with kids. I have just been back over your '13 Secret Weapons' article and I was wondering if you could tell me where you purchsed the partitioned lunchbox from. That would be my saving grace on our next overseas holiday as well as our next road trip. Any help would be appreicated. Cheers Sandi
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