Welcome to my random collection of gear and gadgets (with some tips thrown in) to help make travel easier!
Waterproof Phone Case. These little guys rock! I had an underwater camera that I used to take on our swimming or diving adventures, and frankly it took sad pictures. The fish, turtle or kiddo I was trying to capture came out blurry or the color would be wrong, and it didn’t take video. I’m just not high-tech enough for a Go Pro yet. My phone takes surprisingly good pictures and video, and I was thrilled when I found these cases. Slide your phone in, lock it, and jump in the water! I also sometimes stick some cash or a card behind my phone if we’re at a water park or some such where the kids are going to want snack bar goodies.
If you get one, measure your phone against the dimensions provided to make sure your phone will fit. I also tested mine when it came in the mail. Stick a tissue or paper towel in there, lock the case, and submerge it in your sink or tub for a few minutes. If the tissue comes out dry, you’re good to go. I’ve never had a problem, but it’s always nice to be sure!
These are relatively new, and I love them. I’m also a little irked I didn’t come up with it myself. When I was a kid, I had a giant world map above my bed, and I’d push pins in all the places I wanted to go. With this Scratch Off World Map, you can keep track of all the places you’ve been and have cool art, too. I like this one because each state in the United States is individual, so you’re not scratching off the entire U.S. at once (unless you’ve just come off one epic road trip, you gypsy, you).
I’ve started carrying a Venom Extractor Kit on all of our hikes. It says it works for snakes. May we never need to find out. Yikes! I’ve used it several times for bug bites and stings. Poor Ally draws them to her as if by some dark magic. There will be no bees in sight, and suddenly she’s stung. This kit is a lifesaver. Yes, it looks weird. But it works. It uses suction to draw out any venom in your bite or sting, and it comes with little sting relief gels if you need them. I used it on our trip to Belize, where on our last full day out I got bit 43 times by a botless fly (not the dreaded bot fly). Worst itch of my life. Chicken pox and poison oak can’t hold a candle to those suckers. I tried all sorts of creams and salves, until we decided to give this a try. Sweet, sweet relief.
The Car Organizer is one of those things you don’t know you need until you have one. Yes, you can get along just fine without it. But man is it handy. We road trip a lot. Some might say an obscene amount. And every time we stop and the kids get out of the car, I look in the back seat and I used to cringe. Books all over, toys, stickers, water bottles, snacks. Chaos. Madness even. And then the ultimate bickering when Ally’s books slid over onto Ry, or Ry couldn’t find his water bottle. Now that we have these, everything goes into them. Books, doodle pads, water bottles, snacks, whatever they’ve got.
These are good for hours of entertainment (for my kids at least). Ultimate Sticker Collections. When they were smaller, we’d get character books – stickers with Harry Potter or the Lego Friends or whatever movie was popular at the time. My little gypsies are older now, and we’re on to bugs, dinosaurs and planet guides. These sticker books have activities in them as well. We’re not too old for stickers! When looking for a sticker book, see how many stickers are included. The Ultimate Guides have over 1000 – you want those. If they have 100 or 60, they won’t have many pages, and it most likely won’t last your little gypsy more than half an hour.