Especially when travelling with kids...
Here's a list of a few things which I am really glad we packed... hopefully you will find this useful too... some we bought along the way because we discovered we really needed them....
- hard lollies for sucking on the planes, greatly reduces chance of ear pain ! (only TACA and Air New Zealand offered lollies on their flights, good on them)
- small bottles of alcohol hand sanitiser
- kids games/maths/spelling programs on your cell phone, ipod (take SIM out while overseas otherwise it will cost you a small fortune!) or tablet, small laptop, ipad whatever you have... a sanity saver for all that waiting in airports, bus terminals...
- kids audio books (thanks Stephen C!)
- books, we took heaps of e-books (epub format)... the only practical way to get a lot of books without the bulk
- hydro-cortisone ointment (for insect bites, the only stuff which gave our poor daughter relief from the nasty red ants of Vinales, Cuba)
- antihistamine cream and pills (again for bites)
- sting pads (esp. for jelly fish)
- foot cream to prevent getting cracked heals (this is Really Important as we found that our kids feet got dry really fast in the open footwear. If you get a cracked heal they don't want to walk.... The Keen and Teva footware survived and was comfortable in the heat)
- lots of snap lock bags, large and small (to contain exploding deoderant, smells, shampoo, dirty clothes etc...)
- pawpaw ointment (for scrapes, burns)
- ear plugs (especially for Cuba and Quito...that said, dogs which bark nearly all night long were an issue in a lot of places we traveled to)
- nasal decongestant for use on planes (to avoid ear pain should someone have a cold)
- small packets of tissues and wet-wipes (for toilets...few supply paper, but also for faces, hands and colds)
- sun block & repellent
- patience and humour!
Some things (which we brought) which are best left behind:
- heavy duty rain jackets (never used as it was just too damn hot in the places which it rained and in the other places it Never rains)
- sun hats (just too hot to wear them, just use sun block and keep reapplying it... we found that the sun burns faster in NZ)
- salsa shoes (Cubans salsa in whatever they are wearing, jandels, sneakers...)
Preparation wise I'm really glad that we did the following, hence recommend them to you:
- take Spanish Lessons... in our experience the better our Espanol became the more fun we had and the better able we were to negotiate out of scams, attempt to get service, find out what was going on in each country and most importantly, connect with the locals!
- get vaccinated... amidst all the other vaccines our doctor recommended the Cholera vaccine (even though none of the countries on our list had Cholera) for the 60% protection it gave against travelers diarrhoea. This may very well be the reason why our kids did not get sick (our daughter is a thumb sucker) perhaps that and the alcohol hand cleanser.
safe travels, have fun!