Vagabonding Gear 101

We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to Contiki’s blog!  Justin Troupe will be going on the 48-day Ultimate European Contiki and he’s going to keep a travelogue of his adventures on his blog – along with tips and advice such as this post – as he makes his way through Europe.  Check out his post, as he prepares for his Contiki adventure, complete with video reviews of some items that he plans to use.

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A Wish List for Long Term Travelers

My name is Justin, I am a writer and photographer who is taking a Contiki trip starting on July 3rd for 47 days. I will be taking HDR photos and HD video and sharing them on the Contiki blog as well as my website The Endless Weekend.

After spending 4 months of research, I put together 10 of the neatest things I discovered for long term travel. If you want to save yourself a ton of research and money check out these companies first. If you find something better, please let me know in the comments.

This year, I am beginning my goal of photographing every country in the world. To get things started my wife and I will be visiting 30 countries this year. The first 6 weeks we are traveling with Contiki, the rest of the trip we are going solo. I did my first Contiki tour many years ago and have wanted to go on another one ever since.  Contiki tours are fast-paced; however I had a blast and think they are an insane value.

Contiki was started in 1961 by a guy from New Zealand who bought a bus and toured Europe for a summer with several random people he had just met. Fifty years later, they offer worldwide guided tours for 18 to 35 year olds. They not only provide transportation between countries but also accommodations and most of your food. We will be traveling with a group of around 25 people to over 17 countries on  The Ultimate European tour. The total price for 48 days of travel is about $6,000 per person. I know that traveling with a group is different from going solo, but if you like variety it doesn’t get any better than Contiki. The shorter tours start at about $1,000 for 2 weeks. They offer payment plans and will even let you book a tour on layaway with $200 and make payments. This company completely removes the excuse that travel is just too expensive. The accommodations are basic, but they are clean and comfortable. You also spend very little time in your room on one of these tours.

Ok so here we go:

1)   Eagle Creek suitcase: They come in many different sizes, but I decided on the  Tarmac 25 inch. These things are indestructible, lightweight and have highly reinforced corners. The wheels are huge, indestructible and will roll over anything from dirt to cobblestone. You can watch a video review (below) or by clicking here.

2) Pack it: They also have a unique packing system called PACK IT that keeps your stuff organized. It allows you to keep your clean and dirty cloths separated and fit a lot more in the same amount of space.You can watch the video (below) or by clicking here.

3)  Pacsafe: This is backpacking equivalent of a mobile safe for your backpack or suitcase. If you ever need to leave a camera or computer in your hotel room, (or hostel without lockers) this gives you piece of mind. It expands and creates a wire mesh that allows you to lock your backpack to an object in the room and keeps someone from taking it or even going through it. You can watch the video (below) or by clicking here.

4)  Belkin Adaptor: This is the smallest/lightest travel charger I could find. It will charge 3 normal devices plus 2 apple devices at one time.

5) Nokia mobile phone with an international Sim card: There are several good companies that offer international Sim cards. I chose a company called  Abroad because it gave me a US and Europe based phone number and super low rates. In most European countries, outgoing calls are around 50 cents a minute. Incoming calls are 20 cents a minute if they call my US phone number and free if they call my European number.

6) Virtual Post Mail: These guys are amazing. For 10 dollars a month, (the first 3 months, then $20 a month after that) they receive and scan your mail for you so you can read it online. They also store packages for you until you get home and then mail them to you. For $5 they deposit any checks you receive in the mail with your bank, so you get access to your money right away.

7) International Credit Card: Almost every credit card company I checked charges 3% every time you use your card outside the USA except, for the Chase British Airways and the Chase Sapphire Preferred cards. You also can earn 50,000 to 100,000 miles for signing up which will get you a round trip ticket to Europe for free (you just pay the taxes).

8)  Packtowel Ultralight: A super absorbent towel that takes up virtually no space. It isn’t exactly a beach towel, but it will work fine if you stay in a hostel that doesn’t offer them.

9)  Melatonin: Melatonin is a natural hormone in your body that helps you achieve a very deep and natural sleep. Simply put this is one of the best ways to sleep in an airplane, campground or anywhere else. You can get it at any grocery store in the vitamin section.

10)  World Med Travel Insurance: If you are going to be traveling for several months. It may be worth buying worldwide health insurance. For $342, my wife and I, bought a 4 month policy which covers up to $500,000 for medical expenses. It also includes insurance for trip interruption, emergency evacuation, passport replacement and concierge service.

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Justin Troupe is a writer, photographer, and worldwide explorer on a mission to visit every country in the world. He writes for a group of unique people @ The Endless Weekend and tweets @endlessweekend.

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