Rockonliving’s Top 10 Essential Travel Items

(Hey Rockonliving friends! Look who has joined the fun? This post is a share from Quinn!)

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I am passionate about travel. I am passionate about new experiences. As a result, I am often on the go and away from the every day life lived in my home. Regardless, if I am traveling for weeks at a time in a foreign country or for just a weekend away, there are 10 items that I travel with always!  The women in my family may have a different top ten, however, as the only dude here, these are my top 10 Essential Travel Items!

  1. My ID. Either a passport or driver’s license. This is probably a pretty obvious one. It’s great to have on you in the event you forget who you are. 😊
  2. Money. I will always carry a credit card and cash. I typically use my credit card as often as I can so I can easily track expenses and also accumulate more miles which supports our future travels. I will also bring a debit card to withdraw money from an ATM. Internationally, you will receive the money in the foreign currency and the exchange rate is often better than at a foreign currency exchange vendor. When traveling, especially to a foreign county, be sure to call your bank and credit card companies and let them know your travel dates. Often with international travel, I will talk with my local bank and try to get a small amount of the foreign currency that I will be heading to. It is good to have usable money in the foreign country before I can make it to an ATM. Not all foreign currency is quickly available at my bank and they may need advanced notice to acquire the funds.
  3. Toiletries. I always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, lotion, razor, contacts and glasses.  I actually have a separate small travel toiletries bag that I grab and go. This way I know I always have all the necessities.
  4. Clothes. Duh. Of course. However, I am very selective with my choice of clothes that I travel with. My clothing selection is of course varied based on where I am heading. If I am heading to a hot tropical location or snowboarding, there are 2 criteria that my clothes must meet. First, I plan to layer my clothing. To be honest, I have a narrow comfort margin for temperatures. I don’t like being too hot, and I don’t like being too cold…just call me baby bear. Layers allow me to dial in on the perfect comfort level. Layer up if you are cold or remove layers if you are warm. Second, I love pants, shirts, and jackets with pockets. I am very pragmatic and with pockets, I can carry more items. I have a style of pants that I love so much I bought two of them. I use this style of pants with all travel, especially international, because they have many pockets and some with zippers. These allow me to carry passports, boarding passes, my wallet, at times toiletries, ear buds, and whatever else I need. The pockets with zippers are an extra defense against pick pockets commonly found in foreign countries.  

I have a pair of shorts which have come to be known as my “Period Pants”.  We enjoy amusement parks and big roller coasters! Many parks do not allow lose items on rides and require you to rent a locker. This is highly inconvenient, and we find visiting amusement parks without a backpack or purse makes life so much easier. As a result, I get to carry all my family’s accouterments like their money, IDs, lipstick… and tampons and pads.  Lucky me. My “Period Pants” are shorts with multiple pockets which have repeatedly been stuffed with feminine hygiene items. Yes, pockets are good.

5. Hats. I shave my head. As a result, I need something on my head to keep in warmth and/or avoid too much contact with the sun. Baseball caps, beanies, bandannas, buffs… whatever it is, I need something that I can put on my head. During the summer I am more partial to a light weight, washable, fold-able ball cap.  The other seasons I will usually wear a light-weight beanie hat. 

6. Money Belt.  I have had the same money belt since I went to China about 25 years ago. This money belt has a secret pocket with a zipper on the inside where I will carry large increments of money. The money is always on me, secure and safe. In addition to serving as secure bank, this belt also holds up my pants! Who knew! 

Love this money belt!

7. Back packs. My family and I are big fans of traveling light. Putting everything you need in a backpack allows you to be hands free during travel and forces you to pack smart and get really clear on what is important and what is not. People are frequently asking us about how a family of five travels internationally for weeks with only 1 backpack each.  This is a great question and a great topic. We will post more on this topic soon.

Simplify your travels.

Often, I will also travel with a small light weight, collapsible backpack.  This doesn’t take up much room and can really come in handy. I will often use this small pack to carry items I want quickly accessible on the airplane too.

8. Water bottle. I always travel with a steel water bottle. I drink a lot of water and want access to water at all times. A refillable water bottle allows this, as well as reduces the use of disposable plastic and paper cups…#winning. 

9. Supplements that keep me healthy.  Typically, I take a variety of supplements every day to support me in optimal health (more on this later). When I travel. I often will not take all my usually daily products with me, however there a few items I travel with always.  One is called BioVegetarian.  This is a wonderful supplement that is has anti-viral, anti-microbial and immune boosting botanicals.  The next is a product called Reboost.  This is a blend of homeopathic remedies in tablet form taken sublingually.  These two products have saved me time and time again form getting sick.  I will also travel with Vitamin C. C is a classic antioxidant that boosts immunity.  I take these products with me, always.

BioVegetarian keeps us healthy!

10. A pocketknife. Usually I travel with a Leatherman Skeletool. This pocketknife has a knife, bottle opener, pliers, flat and philips head screwdrivers, and wire cutters. This has come in hand so many times. Of course, I don’t travel with this when flying because we now carry on our backpacks and do not check any baggage. Depending on the nature of an adventure we are having, I may even purchase an inexpensive pocketknife once I arrive at my location. For example, when we went to Yellowstone, I purchased a pocketknife once we got off the plane, picked up our rental car and then did some shopping for supplies. A knife and tools easily accessible (your pocket) have been hugely convenient and helpful.

The Leatherman Skeletool

There it is! My list of the top 10 Essential Travel items! I hope this helps you in planning and living your best adventure. Please offer up any other items that are essential to you when you travel. I would love to learn from your experiences!

Rockonliving friends! Quinn

Rockonliving Update!

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Rockonliving is growing! The collaborative and creative juices are flowing here at Rockonliving and we are excited to announce that we are working on creating travel guides for the places we visit with more detailed information. For example, does the Octagonal home we mentioned in our Yosemite trip interest you? In our Yosemite Guide, we will provide booking, contact information, pricing and things to consider booking this home in California. These guides will also include feedback and input from all the members of the Rockonliving family! You will hear from Quinn, Vickie and our teen/tweens share their input on traveling. From the more practical adult input to perspective of a 10 year-old that wished to do nothing but “buy cheap crap” in Paris! We hope to share our lessons learned and make it easier for you to begin planning your Adventures! We are super excited! The blog is evolving and launching soon – Stay Tuned!

Visiting Yosemite National Park – and being robbed within 20 minutes of arrival to California. Good Times.

 

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This was a special moment of release Kayah caught on camera between Quinn & I when we finally had squared away the robbery in Yosemite.  Nothing like healing in Mother Nature.

 

Twenty minutes after arriving in Oakland, California we were robbed.

After a long day of travel from coast to coast, our family decided to stop for a quick bite at Chipotle just outside the Oakland Airport.

When we pulled into the parking lot we had zero, zilch, suspicious vibes of the location – it was the middle of the day, in a busy strip mall, with lots of small quick places to eat. Our Spidey senses were not even tingling.

5 burritos and 20 minutes later we came out to a smashed window and our first family robbery.

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If you all know our family, you know Quinn LOVES to travel light and his rule is everyone gets to pack/bring one backpack – that’s it. This delights him.

When we went into Chipotle, if the tag from the rental company wasn’t a beacon enough to thieves, the five huge backpacks tucked in the trunk of the vehicle was like a flare on the Titantic directing them to our goods! Doh.

We were literally 25 feet from our vehicle! In a matter of seconds, our window was smashed and the desperate little thieves grabbed three of the five backpacks.

Yes, the loss of electronics was a bummer. However, the real bummer, the real hassle, was the loss of things like this: two teddy bears of irreplaceable sentimental value; the glasses and contacts that would require us finding an eye clinic in the middle of nowhere to have new glasses and trial lens contacts made;  the loss of two sets of retainers which due to the length of our vacation meant over the next three weeks our teeth would move and shift; The $375 Epi Pen…

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Family Fun at the Stanton Optical Center! New glasses & contacts.

That kind of stuff…you know? Like, how I wish they would have just grabbed the things they could make money off of and tossed the rest on side of parking lot or something.

We were surprised and so grateful to learn our State Farm Insurance policy would cover the cost of our stolen items. We were grateful that other than paying for our deductible, we will would not lose any further cash from our pockets.

It seems everyone, I mean, everyone in the U.S.A. knows you just do not pit-stop in Oakland (especially if you are in a rental car screaming “tourist!”)

I am serious. The police officer that filed our police report said, “Ma’m I don’t even stop in Oakland for gas.” Um, ok.

According to our officer, California’s prison system is so overcrowded that the type of theft we experienced has been taken from a felony to a misdemeanor. This means they do not do anything to follow-up on the crime and the criminals know it. Parts of California (Google Tenderloin in San Francisco and Oakland for more insight) also have a huge homeless population.  The officer shared crime that can generate a quick buck are rampant.  It’s funny, when we visit Europe we are extra cautious (and have never had a problem), but for some reason Oakland was not on our radar at all.

When we called the car rental to let them know what had happened they instructed us to just return to the airport and they would set us up with a new car.

Ok, so listen to this!

When we pulled in, the attendant instructed me to “park our car in the last row with the other vehicles (there were 5 or 6) with smashed windows” from that day! They (along with the other rental companies) have their own on-site window replacement companies who only handle these daily occurrences.

You know, come to think of it, for the amount of traveling our family has done we are pretty fortunate this is the first safety/crime mishap we have experienced. Excellent reminder to not let our guard down and do our research before arrival.

Being robbed wasn’t fun, but did not ruin our trip. The thieves stole enough from us – the last thing we were going to allow them to steal was our good times!

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” – William Shakespeare

Luckily for us, the first four days of our adventure were in a Squaw Valley in a beautiful octagonal Air B& B where we had time to decompress and unpack what had occurred with our kiddos and find places to replace clothing, equipment, glasses, contacts, etc.

Like everything that happens on our adventures (and life too!) the robbery was and will forever be part of our vacation. We folded it into our experience like warm towels out of a dryer. Teaching and role modeling for our kids that the best made plans sometimes will be majorly impacted by things outside your control and what do you do? Do you allow it to overshadow and take away from the experience or do you lean in and use it as a lesson in life of resilience and how you just keep going. You just keep moving forward and finds ways to make it awesome.

We learned some valuable lessons with this robbery.

Here are Rockonliving’s Top Ten Lessons learned when robbed on vacation.

  1. Back up your computer regularly. Quinn has asked me umpteen times in the past year “when is the last time you backed up your computer?” I hadn’t. Lesson learned.
  2. Call your insurance, bank and credit card companies immediately. Our businesses were sympathetic and put all our accounts on high security alerts and advised us what to do next.
  3. Make copies of all important documents. Before leaving on your adventure, make copies of all important documents you may need access to (in the future, in addition to driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, insurance information and itinerary, we are going to add prescriptions for medicines and glasses/contacts too) should something happen during your travels. Make a copy of these important documents and keep in a safe place where someone could get for you if needed today!
  4. Change all your passwords immediately. Even though our computers have passwords and fingerprint security we were advised to immediately change all passwords.
  5. Kick “what if” to the curb. A few times I found myself starting to think of all the worst case scenarios that could occur if someone got into our computers – and it can make you crazy with worry/anxiety. You can only control so much. There is the the circle of what is in your control (change passwords, close accounts, place accounts on high alert) and then what lies outside that circle and until something happens the worry and “what ifs” are nothing but a waste of your precious time and life. Kick it to the curb.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings at all time. We do this fanatically when internationally traveling and for some reason failed to do so on this domestic adventure. A simple Google search would have raised our awareness that as the #14 (out of 25) most dangerous cities in the USA, Oakland has some issues.
  7. The show must go on. Don’t allow setbacks in your trips (unplanned detours, in-climate weather, wildfires, illness, etc) define your trip! Learn from them, experience them, make them a part of your experience. Model resilience and demonstrate problem solving behaviors.
  8. Look for the helpers. Didn’t Mister Rogers say that? What a nugget of wisdom. As soon as we came out of the restaurant and realized we had been robbed we had a number of helpers that made all the difference in our experience. People who stayed with us and our children and offered support and help while we waited for the police, shared apologies and even offered their last $15. There are SO many more people that want to do good in the world than harm. Make sure you and your family sees that!
  9. Things can be replaced. What a delicious opportunity to practice letting go of things and not being attached to ‘stuff.’ It is the people, the memories, the experience that really matters, truly.
  10. Don’t stop in Oakland. Not for gas, not for food, not even for a red light. Just sayin’

I will wrap up this post and if you are thinking of traveling to Yosemite National Park or San Francisco, stay tuned!

Quinn and I will be soon sharing information (from renting an RV for the first time to visiting San Francisco in 2 days or less) to help you as you make your future plans!

As always,

Rockonliving friends!

Vickie

 

 

 

Most times my husband sees rules as “suggestions.” Not at the National Parks.