10 THINGS you will need on a trip | The Family Without Borders

The Family Without Borders

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10 THINGS you will need on a trip

petrol/gazoline cooker

petrol/gazoline cooker

People do the travelling in many different ways. Some cannot survive without a little iron, some without their favourite CD, some need their beloved pillow. From our perspective there are 10 things without which we would never go on the trip anymore. Just 10.

Our trip, which means: as a whole family, by car, for long. And not counting things one always have with him, on the trip and at home (credit card, money, mobile phone, a shirt, pants and shoes).

1. A petrol/gasonline cooker

petrol/gazoline cooker

We had a long, difficult story with finding a right way for our cooking on our trips. First we were using a cooker for spirit. We had one at home, so we took it on our Black Sea Trip. Already in Ukraine we realised that it was not the best idea. To buy spirit we had to go to the pharmacy and we could only get it with.. prescription. – Too many people in Ukraine are rather drinking, but not burning spirit – a woman in the pharmacy was laughing about our problem. – You won’t cook with this one too much here.

Our second try was a propane gas cooker, popular in all the ex Soviet Union countries. BUT after buying one in Ukraine – we had difficulties with refilling it in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan or Georgia. The bottles have different standards in nearly every country, so it was always kind of gymnastics to get some gas.

Before the Central America Trip we took our time to think about the right thing. And here we go: a petrol/gazoline cooker is the best solution. Petrol you can buy everywhere and while travelling by car, we meet petrol stations all the time. One refill last for 3 – 5 days. We use a MSR WhisperLite. This tool can only burn petrol/gazonline. But it’s a very simple, light and undestroyable stove and by far not as loud as the Primus fuel stoves.

The system is easy: works by pressurising the fuel with a hand pump, metering its flow through tubes heated by your priming flame which in turn creates pressurised vapour that is forced through a jet into a mixer tube where gaseous fuel mixes with oxygen and then into some sort of flame reflector where it is ignited (this comes from the page, I didn’t write it on my own :)

2. Duct tape

duct tapa - source: wikipedia

Duct tape or duck tape is a tape for… everything. Already in 1902 it was for example supporting a structure of the Brooklyn Bridge and during all our trips it’s supporting us. In hundreds of ways. Once, in Armenia, when our car a bit gave up and they guys in a car workshops said there is nothing to be done about it anymore, we just asked them if we can use their rampa, we drove on it and use the duct tape to fix things from below. The guys were looking on Tom like on a creature from different planet, laughing about him and collecting from the floor little pieces of the tape. We told them we will come back in one week, after we will check all the Nagorny Karabakh. We told them, we will give them one tape on the next meeting. They didn’t believe we will come back. We did come back to them, gave them the tape and… drove 10 000 kilometres more.

3. Compression Bags

compresssion bags

We use them as our wardrobe, the one with blue rope is Tom’s, the red one is mine, the green one – Mila’s and the orange – Hanna’s. Because you can compress them, they really take less space than just clothes in the backpack. And because they are waterproof, our things don’t get wet. When we sleep in the car – we close them with a lot of air inside, so they help to keep the structure of our bed.

I wish one day they can be transparent and I will be able to find things faster! While researching for this article I found beautiful colourful ones. One day we will get those and we don’t need the colourful ropes anymore.

4. Medicine bag


For sure we are not too carefull and too serious about it, but of course some medicines with us we have. Stuff for  diarrhea  fever, pain of little teeth, anti-mosquitoes stuff and plasters. With other things we don’t have a problem with going to the local pharmacy. Even if sometimes it is really really funny to explain what is up with you, when you don’t know Maya language and nobody speaks Spanish…

5. Paper stuff

passports and documents

Those you simply need to cross most of the country borders: valid passports, visas, birth documents (for the girls sometimes), additional passport pictures (for additional documents), car ID, car insurance papers. We always have copy of all of it, in different places (don’t ask me where, because I keep forgetting).

6. Maps

A real map

Yes… We don’t use GPS but normal, old school maps. Why? Because we like it and we don’t like GPS. Thanks to this I can much better orientate myself in the new place, in the country and in the world. And when we don’t know the way, we have a good reason to stop and ask around. And then there is always a tea, coffee, invitation home or at least a very good and very interesting tip, which GPS would never tell us.

But because sometimes on the spot it is surprisingly not easy to find a good, detailed map, we always buy them in advance, still in Berlin.

7. Books

Reading books with the girls  in the car

You can buy a lot of things in many countries but buying a new book of your favourite author in Guatemala is not easy. Or a Polish kids book which makes sense. So we usually have some of them. Toys you can always find or make but books…

8. Voltage converter (12v > 220v)

voltage converter (12V to 220V) with plug and usb

Having it in the car is like heaven. Of course if you want to use any electronics during your trip. In our case we load our mobile phones, camera batteries, laptops and drives.

9. A good Knife

nozTo. For cutting papayas, duct tape, anti-mosquitoes nets, colourful pencils, ropes, clothes, potatoes etc. etc. etc…. you will need a good knife. Tom really loves his old school and always sharp Opinel carbon steel knife. But there’s also a wooden Swiss Army knife we couldn’t resist to buy.

10. Air mattress

In the top we put an camping mat; Photo: Thomas Alboth

Little, thin air mattresses don’t take too much space but help us to survive 3 weeks or 6 months sleeping in the car. Are soft enough and fastly full of air. One is like 1400g, and two of them make our family bed.


So this is it. All the rest is relative ;) Of course if you want to make pictures, videos and blog about your trip – it’s another topic, you need all those cables, batteries, lenses. But this is a topic for another blog post. This one is just about travelling! Because not posting a picture from somewhere on your blog – doesn’t mean you haven’t been there ;)

Hope our list can help any of you! Anything important we didn’t mention?

Our first book is out!

We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »


  • Posted October 9, 2013 at 15:02 | Permalink

    Ale super ładowarka! Z naszej listy jeszcze : latarka czołówka na wieczorne przygody :)

    • Anna Alboth
      Posted October 9, 2013 at 15:41 | Permalink

      uuuuuuuuuups, zapomnieliśmy! jasne, że tak! dzięki!

  • Anna
    Posted October 9, 2013 at 15:04 | Permalink

    I find it very usefull to take a long thin rope to hang clothes on it to dry, to hold stuff, make little toys, etc.

    • Anna Alboth
      Posted October 9, 2013 at 15:42 | Permalink

      Yes, true, we agree. But such a rope it’s possible to get everywhere somehow.

  • Paweł
    Posted October 10, 2013 at 07:34 | Permalink

    ha! Opinel rules :)

  • Posted October 10, 2013 at 11:39 | Permalink

    I was considering buying Primus but your proposition looks incredibly simple and handy. And I already found quite a sellection of petrol cookers. Thanks.

  • Posted October 11, 2013 at 16:53 | Permalink

    I like to read you, but I think it’s the first time I write yo something.
    I absolutely agree with the books, specially for kids. Our daughter will be 2 and need 2 or 3 stories every evening, all in french… So we carry them, and are very glad we have what we need with us, even if french speaking library are great when we can.


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