Family Travel Gear: Update From the Namibian Bush
Hi from Namibia, otherwise dubbed "the land God made in anger" because of its merciless expanse of dust and currents. More on this surreal place soon, (it's become one of my favorite countries) but for now, lets focus on the task at hand: travel gear!
We've been on the road for 5 months, through 4 continents, 40-plus flights, multiple climates and scenarios which means our stuff has taken a serious beating and deserves some recognition.
At the start of our family adventure, I made a packing list for us: a travel-photographing, fast-moving, mostly low-maintenance (we have one baby who doesn't walk yet!) family of three. I Marie Kondo-ed, MacGyver-ed and acquired well-made products that would ideally survive the horrific treatment they were about to undergo.
So how has our "stuff" held up through it all? Here are the standouts:
Baby Carriers & Wraps We use a structured carrier for hikes, airports & as a supplement to the stroller. A soft or woven wrap comes especially handy on long haul flights & sleeping (also for sun shades or blankets). For any kind of travel, I would bring at least one of each!
Mountain Buggy Nano Travel Stroller 13 lbs. of carry-on goodness that somehow survived Bali's giant fissures in the earth (aka sidewalks), Polynesian puddle jumpers & being dragged through a few sand dunes. Still going strong. Bonus points for the mosquito net & rain cover.
Camera Backpacks Our Lowepro backpacks became our weekenders when we had to drop our luggage for shorter stints through the South Pacific. The separate cubes and plastic toiletry bags included helped with extra baby clothes, diapers, etc.
Fanny Pack Laugh if you must but I used a flimsy hipster thing I found on Etsy more than anything else. It fit a diaper, sunscreen and my shades. What more can you ask for when trudging through the desert? #handsfree
Osprey Meridien Wheeled Backpack I've had this gem since I first met Michael five years ago, followed him around the world and explored all continents with it. It not only turns into a giant backpack but has a small daypack attached. Accommodates both my and baby's things. No signs of slowing down!
Compression Bags for clothes separated by climate and need.
*We decided not to bring a car seat with us because of luggage restrictions and rented them in each country. We've had no problems so far securing one.
BABY GEAR //
Sun Protection on every level. UPF sunsuit, sun hat, sunscreen, scarf or muslin as sun shades. We've managed to get this far without a sunburn but have also been über-vigilant. We doubled up on Badger and Babyganics sunstick on her face... just in case!
Medical Kit Luckily we have run into nothing more than a few teething fevers and a centipede bite, but are happy to have these on hand: Babyganics Bugspray (ditto on the vigilance part), Punkin Butt Teething Oil & Arnica, Booty Balm, Nose Frida, Baby Motrin & Cold Tablets, Nasal Spray, Neosporin, Thermometer.
*TIP: Saline spray is good for long flights to keep baby's nasal passages moisturized. Also don't forget the #1 home remedy for all things immunization and health: breastfeeding! Nursing can depressurize their ears during takeoff and landing, amongst other magical wonders.)
Baby Clothes A combination of climate-appropriate layers, bottoms and a wool sweater. We've had to add to her stash because she has grown so much! Which is great because you can acquire cool pieces along the way. I especially love her elephant pants purchased at thel Ubud Market and the Keedo boys line from South Africa to buy some layers for the winter camping here. Her entire wardrobe fits into one packing cube.
*TIP- bring along pieces they can grow with, maybe start off larger than they are and use for pajamas, flight shirts, etc. #multifunctionality
Mountain Buggy Pod High Chair our one luxury item, but it's been especially handy when camping and in Okinawa's tatami restaurants. We clipped it on to the sunken tables!
Travel veggie & fruit packs We found these (or comparable brands) almost everywhere and were a lifesaver, especially for a baby who is growing up en route and doesn't have a daily table routine. We stocked up on them in bigger towns and kept them on hand for long car rides, flights or hikes. Even the corner stores in French Polynesia had organic options. Merci!
Diapers We opted out of cloth diapers for this trip since we are moving so quickly doing laundry only when changing countries, but we were able to find disposable diapers everywhere we went. For really off-the-grid places, stock up beforehand. Speaking of diapers,
*TIP: Ditch the Diaper Bag and consolidate into your day pack, purse, or fanny pack. I ended up putting a rubber band around a few diapers and a travel packet of baby wipes, which got me through part of the day. If she was younger, I would have included an extra onesie and pants.
Lotions and Potions Coconut oil, natural hand sanitizer, baby wipes, Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 Hemp Baby Unscented Pure Castille Soap. (Our entire family used one tiny bottle over the course of 3 months, including my strapping German husband.)
*CONFESSION: I forgot about the hand sanitizer for most of this trip, and Sia hasn't been ill once. I was diligent in certain indigenous areas, but other that that have used wipes for everything and she's survived. I wouldn't recommend being as lax as I was, but also puts into perspective a baby's immune system!
Toys Her toys are literally plastic straws from lunch. One man's trash is another man's treasure! Plastic stacking cups are also a good toy option because they pack into each other, are great in the tub and on the beach and for throwing sugar packs into them on planes flights.
Monkey Mat A weighted parachute blanket that can be used at the beach, or in our case, during our multiple flat tire changes on the Skeleton Coast.
Dry Bag Essential for fast travel, water destinations and if using cloth diapers.
I've been living in my Icebreaker merino wool pieces, Patagonia underwear and Athleta trekkie jogger pants which are outdoorsy enough and light years cuter than zip-off convertible pants (my husband is German). My BOOB design nursing bra has still not fallen apart despite being used and abused every day & how my Wallaroo sun hat hasn't blown off in some nefarious gust of wind is beyond me. Still kickin. Fits into two packing cubes.
Panasonic Lumix FZ-1000 For a mom who is carrying her baby around all the time, I need something I can shoot with one hand and one lens. I can't vouch for this bridge camera enough. A fantastic & affordable upgrade to the FZ-200 I carried around for years. Lightweight, a better sensor, the zoom is not as good as the 200 but who needs photos of giraffe's nose hairs? All the photos on this blog are taken with this camera.