Category Archives: Packing List

Travelling with a Chromebook

My Chromebook was one of my last acquisitions before we set off, I dithered for about 3 months on whether a Chromebook would be able to handle everything I needed it for whilst I was away. Extensive googling gave me exactly what I expected, mixed reviews. Not on the performance of the machine itself but on whether it would even be useable whilst I was away.

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For those not sure what denotes a Chromebook, here’s a little info. A Chromebook is usually* akin to a netbook (small portable laptop) the difference that has to be made clear though is that the operating system is not Windows as you might expect but Chrome OS. If you’re currently reading this on a chrome browser, which I sincerely hope you are, then you might now be thinking “Google?”

Chrome OS is indeed designed by Google! For most of us the difference that is most stark is that rather than installing programmes like you would on your Windows or Apple computer, you install Apps like you would on your smartphone or tablet. This is where the Chromebook becomes a write off for some people. No you can’t have Photoshop, Word or Skype, sorry! The other big difference is that the OS is intended to be used with an Internet connection, when you open an App it launches as a new Chrome browser tab. If you’re now thinking “that sounds pretty useless” as I was at this point, please give my poor Chromebook a bit more time and attention.

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Right, my Acer only has 16gb Solid State Drive** so for most files, photos etc. i’m using an external HDD anyway. After research I worked out that the only things i’d be able to do whilst not connected to the internet were; write/edit documents, watch movies, edit photos, listen to music, write emails and play games. As I’m sure you can see, there’s not a lot else most of us do whilst not connected to the internet than that list. I’m not going to lie and say it’s a piece of cake and it does require some adaptation to new apps such as Google Docs and Hangouts, but all of these things are possible.

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Here are some bits you might like. I spent £199 on my Chromebook, Lauren spent the total yearly GDP of France on her 11” MacBook Air. The biggest considerations for me were battery life, price and weight. To the touch the 2 weigh the same, around 1.2kg** The Air is thinner at the front, but overall again they’re pretty similar. I’ve got a 9 hour battery life, the Air has 11 and finally my Chromebook cost £900 less than Lauren’s Air.

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I’m not trying to say that my Chromebook is superior to the MacBook Air, as Lauren has a huge SSD and is happily photoshopping as I write, but I’ve got a desktop at home to do all that. What I needed for the duration of our trip was exactly what I’ve got, a cheap, light computer with a great battery life!


Everything in the review before this sentence was written after 3 months of travelling. Here is the 14 month update as to how its held up!

I am still typing on my Chromebook, so as you can see it’s still going. The case has a few more scratches in it but the performance is still going strong. When I consider the body is plastic it’s actually done remarkably well. Whilst living in the rainforest for 8 months I did have some problems that meant the keyboard wouldn’t work. Annoying but not an issue most people will experience (it survived 6 months of humidity before this problem occurred.) On leaving the jungle some silica gel fixed the problem in under 12 hours.

Overall I would say that whilst the screen isn’t the best, it’s comfortable and the speakers whilst of lower quality have a superior maximum volume to Lauren’s Air. The built in webcam is terrible but since most of the South American internet connections are as well, a lower quality camera hasn’t been a problem.

Most importantly the OS. Have I found it a problem? Easy answer, no. There are still issues to be worked out, such as the fact that I can’t store music to device from my Google Music account, but hopefully this is just in the pipework for the imminent updates. You can still store music files and play them normally without a problem.


So yes i would suggest a Chromebook as a viable and good choice for a computer whilst travelling. I can only speak for my Acer C720 in terms of build and performance but I can say that Chromebooks are viable options for travelling.

*The Chromebook Pixel is much more heavy duty.
**With 100gb of free Google Drive cloud storage for 2 years.
***The Air weighs 1.08kg but we’re travelling so it’s aluminium needed a protector bringing the weight up

The Ultimate Packing List

Like many we spent days, no probably months, deciding what to pack for our year long trip. In South America there will be multiple climates so here is the final list of what we packed. We will amend as we go, in case there is anything we realise we have forgotten, but hopefully this should help a few of you get on your way…

Electronics

  • 2 Digital SLRs – Canon 700D + 450D
  • Spare batteries for both cameras
  • Lens cleaner brush
  • Tamron 80-300m Lens
  • Canon 50m Lens
  • Gorilla Pod tripod
  • 2 laptops – Macbook Air 11inch + Acer C720 Chromebook
  • 2 Western Digital Passport Drives 2GB + 1GB
  • 2 eReaders – Amazon Kindle Paperwhites
  • Travel speaker – Veho Bluetooth Speaker
  • External batteries – Muvi Pebble + Jelly Bean
  • 2 mobile phones – Iphone 5 and Nexus 4

Chargers + Cables

  • Both chargers for the laptops
  • Kindles and Nexus 4 use the same charger so you only need one!
  • IPhone 5 charger
  • Muji World Travel Adapter with USB charger – allowed us to leave most of the 3-pin UK plugs at home i.e. for iPhone 5, Kindle etc.
  • 2 Canon battery chargers – unfortunately those models do not use the same charger!
  • Headphone splitter
  • 2 sets of headphones

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Other Essentials

  • 2 Osprey Farpoint 55 Rucksacks
  • 2 Ebag packing cubes – great for all the small things, cables or underwear etc.
  • Head torch
  • Pocket torch
  • Extendable padlock – great for securing your bag to things
  • 2 additional padlocks each – one for the day bag and one for the main rucksack
  • 2 cash stashes – put a large denomination note in it and clip somewhere to clothing just in case (Lauren recommends your bra strap!)
  • Small notebook
  • 2 pens
  • 2 pencils
  • Pencil Sharper
  • Rubber
  • 1 copy of Rough Guide South America on a Budget – we have it on the Kindle too but wanted a hard copy to thumb
  • Inflatable neck cushion
  • Money belt or even better try Clever Travel Companion underwear
  • 2 dirty laundry bags (one each of course!)
  • Pack Mate compression bags (a vital space saver!)
  • 2 cotton sleeping bag liners
  • Roll of Gaffa Tape

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Toiletries

  • 3 Lush Shampoo Bars – should be enough for a year
  • 2 bars of Neutrogena Facial Soap – Lauren cant live without!
  • Small bottle of body wash – hotels tend to give you more little bottles so you shouldn’t run out!
  • L’Oreal Extraordinary Hair Oil – you only need a tiny amount so it meant we could leave the conditioner at home!
  • Face Moisturizer
  • 3 Muji 100ml Travel Containers – most products come in ridiculous packing so decant products into these to loose the bulk!
  • Tooth Paste
  • 2 toothbrushes
  • 2 toothbrush covers – great for sticking your toothbrush in your bag on flights etc.
  • 2 roll-on deodorants
  • 1 comb
  • 1 hairbrush
  • 2 bottles of Nivea sun cream
  • Mini bottle of antibacterial gel
  • 4 small zip seal sandwich bags – so many uses!
  • 2 wash bags – so we can split items between the 2 of us
  • 2 face towels
  • Mini pack of cotton buds
  • Hair bands and hair clips
  • Muji travel sewing kit (so tiny!)
  • Insect repellent – we went for 100% DEET
  • LifeVenture Bite Click Relief
  • Small medical kit – we choose to make our own as was cheaper and easier.
  • Anti-malarials
  • Mooncup – essential for the ladies! Google for more info.
  • 2 travel towels – not all hotels and hostels supply them.
  • 1 bottle of multi purpose wash – useful when you need to hand wash things!
  • Face wipes/wipes for long coach journeys

Medical Kit

  • Painkillers
  • Anti-diarrhea tabs
  • Plasters
  • Tape bandage
  • Dressings
  • Safety pins
  • Anti-septic cream

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Clothes (Lauren)

  • Walking boots
  • Walking sandals
  • Flip-flops
  • 6 pairs of socks + one thick pair
  • 10 pairs of pants
  • 2 bras + 1 travel bra (essential for sleeping on buses etc, Iain cant live without his!)
  • Swimming Costumes – 2 Bikinis
  • Sarong – useful when you don’t have a beach towel and can be used as picnic blanket, scarf etc
  • 4 vest tops
  • 4 t-shirt tops/tops with shoulders
  • 2 long sleeved shirts
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 pairs of chino trousers
  • 2 dresses – one short, one maxi
  • Skirt
  • Leggings
  • Light jumper
  • Cashmere mix black V-neck – can be layered under my fleece
  • Hooded micro fleece
  • Woolen hat and gloves
  • Fleece buff (neck scarf thing)
  • Light scarf, pashmina – lots of uses, especially handy if your shoulders burn easily!
  • Merino Thermals (Lauren gets cold easily so lots of layers is a must!)
  • Waterproof
  • Clever travel companion underwear – has pockets sewn in for valuables, highly recommend!)
  • Sunglasses!!!

Clothes (Iain)

  • 3 T-shirts
  • Polo shirt
  • 3 shirts long sleeved
  • Pair of chinos
  • 2 pairs of convertible trousers
  • ¾ length shorts
  • Swimming trunks
  • Thermals
  • Micro Fleece
  • Soft shell jacket
  • 9 pairs of socks
  • 9 boxers
  • Waterproof
  • Gloves and Hat
  • Buff
  • Walking Boots
  • Walking Sandals
  • Flip-flops

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Make-up

Lets face it ladies, most of the time it will be too hot to wear it so just bring the basics!

  • Light powder (probably could of left this at home)
  • Concealer
  • Mini bronzer/blush
  • Waterproof mascara
  • 3 eye pencils, black, bronze and gold – bronze and gold double up as eye shadow
  • 2 lip balms – Vaseline Aloe Vera (lots of uses), and small roll on one for my pocket

*As we travel we will be reviewing some of the above mentioned products so look out on our product reviews page.

Things we packed last time that we left at home this time…

  • 2 sleeping bags – we used them for 2 weeks in New Zealand but could have easily done without them. Not regretting leaving them behind yet…
  • 2 mosquito nets – used them once last time. They fell down half way through the night and we didn’t bother again. If we need them this time I’m sure we can acquire them.
  • Books – invest in a Kindle!!! Books in English are expensive abroad and you can only carry so many!

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