Friday, December 02, 2011

Cape Town Travel Gear That Worked

Only an hour and a half left in our 19 hours of flying. We're in the home stretch! As long as our Cape Town trip is still on my mind, I thought I'd take a few minutes to jot down what travel gear worked. In no particular order...

  • Samsung N150 Netbook - Man I love traveling with this guy. I must have gotten 6 hours or more of battery life squeezed out of this little guy on the trip to Cape Town. And having Internet access in our room was huge - it made finding driving directions, confirming attractions, and just checking the weather trivial.
  • Sea to Summit Foldable Backpack - this guy rocked. Not only did it work well as a carry on bag, but I used it to schlep stuff all over cape town. Nearly every day I would leave with the bag almost empty, and return with it almost full. How the seams, straps and zipper stay together is beyond me, but they do.
  • Canon T3i DSLR - this guy was great to travel with. I suppose, thanks to him, I stuck out more than ever as a tourist, but the photos were worth it. I found that the battery lasted forever, and the standard 18-55mm lens that came with the camera worked quite well.
  • Table top Tripod - I'll have to lookup the brand of this little tripod when I get home [update: it's Sima ST-10T]. This little gem was small enough to fit in a pants pocket, yet sturdy enough to reliably hold the T3i. Many a self portrait was made with this guy. I also brought along a clamp type tripod [update: it's a Pedco UltraClamp] which also worked well, though I found myself using the table top one a little more frequently. Still, between the two solutions, I almost always had us covered and the weight and price wise, they can't be beat.
  • Fodors Guide Book - every trip I think to myself this is the trip I'll go fully digital for, and every trip I'm thankful I have an actual guide book of the city with me. We found restaurants to go to, specific drives to take, and generally felt more prepared because of this book. And there's something about the convenience of earmarking pages, and trivially flipping to them that make the physical book worth it. This time, we bought an Africa guide book on and used a razor blad to slice out just the Cape Town section. A couple of staples and a binder clip later, and I had an efficient guidebook solution. Still, it killed me to actually shred a book, even though I know it was for a good cause.
  • Travel Blanket - this one was a winner for Shira. She brought a large'ish fleece travel blanket and it totally made her trip more comfortable. Unlike me, she's not a fan of the questionably clean blankets that airlines provide.
  • Sleep Mask - Ahhh, the humble sleep mask. Is there a better travel product given its weight and cost? If you're not traveling with one of these in your pocket, then you're totally missing out.
  • Overdrive (Android app) - I was able to check out 10 library books, some audio, some text, and store them on my G2. Most of the books went unread, but that's OK. I just liked knowing that I had plenty of options in the reading / entertaining department. I can see my new routine before heading off on a trip is going to be to check out a slew of books the day before we leave.
  • REI Travel Pants - I'm going to have to look up the specific model of these guys, because they rock (and I've rarely felt a pair of pants could actually rock) [update: the model name appears to be REI Adventures Pants]. Not only are they comfortable, provide an extra couple of pockets to reliably store your passport, have zippers on the back pockets and dry quickly (I washed them in the shower a couple of times, and they easily dried overnight) but they don't quite look like classic cargo travel pants (at least, not to me). They aren't dress pants, but I'm convinced I could use them in a dressier context if the situation demanded it.
  • Sit & Solve: Brain Boosting IQ Tests - this is a pocket sized book of brain teasers, and was an excellent addition to the carry on. For those times when a cell phone can't be used (like taxi and takeoff time), or when you've just got a few minutes to kill (waiting in a long security line), you can whip this guy out and work on a problem or two. Some problems succumbed easily, others I stewed on for hours. I also found that there were times when my brain was just too fried to read, but chewing on a puzzle was enjoyable.

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