A to Z of Destinations
Australia, NZ and South Pacific
A to Z of Experiences
Walking and trekking
Diving and snorkelling
Wildlife and safaris
Meet the locals
Frontier and expedition
Cycling and Mountain Biking
Visiting the Poles
Career breaks and BIG trips
Body and soul
Volunteer and conservation
Australia, East Coast
Everest Base Camp
Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railway
Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail
Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights
Great Wall of China
5th December 2016
The Cagols have just returned from a 12-month trip through Africa with their young family. They reveal the items you absolutely must pack - and the things you can leave at home
The type of bag you choose to take – and the size – has a huge impact on what you can and cannot take. Initially, we had planned on each of us having our own backpack to carry our own things, including the kids, but research showed that children should not wear backpacks for extended periods.
The Cagols returning home (Dreamstime)
Our compromise was to get each of the children a small backpack to use for their daily needs – colouring books, tablet, an extra sweater, a water bottle and so on – and two large backpacks for mum and dad. Essentially, it meant squeezing everything for everyone into two bags. Space was limited, but that really focused us on what was really essential.
Packing cubes are small, ultra lightweight bags of various shapes and sizes that help you organize your stuff and fit more into your bag. They are also easy to pull out once you’ve sorted out your accommodation for the night. They are made from all different kinds of material and some are even waterproof.
Packing cubes (Dreamstime)
With only two backpacks to carry our things, packing cubes proved invaluable for keeping the kids organised and being able to fit everything in. Each member of the family had their own packing cube, which helped no end in keeping clothes organised. Even after we bought a car and had more space, the cubes helped us know exactly where things were and to be able to put our hands on them in no time.
The limited bag space – even with cubes – really limited what we could take and made us focus on what was really necessary. In the end, we packed a week’s worth of clothing for each person, covering all the climates we would encounter. The idea was that we would schedule in regular laundry time along the route.
African lady hanging out her washing (Dreamstime)
Each family member was allowed 3 ‘bottoms’ (2 short, 2 long), 6 tops (3 short, 1 singlet, 1 long cotton and 1 fleece), 7 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks (including 1 thick pair for trekking), 2 types of footwear (trekking shoes and waterproof sandals) and a set of thermals and a waterproof each.
We probably could have got away with less, but this proved the best balance of getting the most out of our clothes without getting too smelly.
Gadgets are an increasingly important part of travel, even in remote parts of Africa. They help you stay connected with family back home, book accommodation along the way and call for help if you get into trouble. They are also vital in educating and entertaining your children.
These are the gadgets we couldn't have lived without:
An unlocked phone
Using your phone in Africa with a SIM from your provider back home would quickly bankrupt you. Thankfully, local SIMs are available with data in every country in Africa. Your phone will need to be unlocked, but the SIMs are cheap and you’ll have access to the internet everywhere you go.
Zulu woman on mobile phone (Dreamstime)
When we bought our 4WD and started getting off the beaten track, we hired a satellite phone in case we got into a tight spot and needed help. We never had to use it, but it the peace of mind it offered was priceless.
Our laptop became the command centre of our trip. We used it to store and edit photos, write our blogs, manage our finances, send emails, book accommodation and Skype family back home.
The laptop was invaluable. Many of the things we stored on it were priceless, hence the importance of a strong back-up plan. We signed up for 1TB of cloud storage with Google before we left and would diligently upload our photos, blog posts and scanned documents to it every time we connected to Wi-Fi.
We also took two 2TB portable hard drives that we used to back up files when we were without Wi-Fi for extended periods. That way, if our laptop was broken or stolen, our precious memories and important documents would be safe.
Each of our kids had a tablet loaded with games, movies and home-schooling tuition videos. We limited their time on the tablets – we didn’t travel all the way to Africa for them to spend all their time staring at screens – but, at times, they were invaluable in letting mum and dad enjoy some well-earned downtime.
We gave each of our kids a cheap and cheerful camera to document their journey. It helped them think about what they were seeing and provided hours of silly fun on long car journeys.
Having fun with a digital camera (Edwina Cagol)
We used Android tablets and found the following apps extremely useful:
HERE – an offline GPS system, using Openstreet maps, that is essential for any navigation. Make sure you download the maps before setting off.
Tracks4Africa – we used both the navigation and guide. Again, essential for any travel in Africa.
AndroMoney – a fantastic app for tracking expenditure. Simply enter your daily budget and then it easily shows you if you below or over.
MobileVOIP – great for making free phone calls anywhere in the world.
Skype – the best app for video calling. Not everyone has an Apple device to use Facetime.
c:geo – endless fun finding geo caches all over the world. One caveat: you need to be online for it to work.
A couple of packs of playing cards are inexpensive and endless fun, and, unlike tablets, they don’t need to be recharged or connected to the internet to work.
Cagol family playing cards on their travels (Edwina Cagol)
Mosquito net, solar chargers, back-up battery storage, plastic cutlery sets, travel towels (we replaced with sarongs), water filter, iodine, and a tablet for the adults. We seemed to use our phones instead.
Edwina and Mauro Cagol are travelling around the world for a year with their three young children. To find out more about their adventures, visit www.offexploring.com
Main image: The Cagols on the road in Southern Africa (Edwina Cagol)
View all posts from
You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!
All luxury replica watches brands preach about their rarity and exclusivity, but few of them have the nerve to be elusive and discreet in any of the numerous ways that Goyard has been for centuries. The brand doesn’t advertise, list products on its website or speak to the media, and you’ll never see a splashy Goyard product launch or fashion week party. Goyard doesn’t want to attempt the extremely common fashion industry balancing act of claiming its products are rare and precious and still trying to sell $300 cardholders to every person on cheap breitling replica the brand would simply rather not sell the cardholders.
Daunted by the thought of packing for that BIG trip? Experienced traveller and seasoned backpacker Jennifer Scott shares her tips...
It's the dilemma facing every long term traveller – what to pack to cover every contingency. Our featured blogger, Samantha Bilkey says go for comfort and a little bit of style.
How do you travel more for less with the tribe in tow? William Gray gives you five sound-as-a-pound ways to save cash
After the birth of his first child, Mauro Cagol and his wife, Edwina, set up a direct debit for a travel fund. Now they are travelling the world with their family
South Africa travel guide, including map of South Africa, top South Africa travel experiences, tips for travel in South Africa, plus where to see whales and wil
Namibia travel guide, including map of Namibia, top Namibia travel experiences, tips for travel in Namibia, plus exploring the dunes of the Namib Desert
Incredible birdlife. Ancient rock art. Wild rapids. We head north from Cape Town to discover there’s more to South Africa’s buzziest area than the eastern Winelands…
The scale and magnificence of Antarctica has powerful magnetism - and a wildlife encounter here will never disappoint...
From sucking on ancient icebergs to dressing up as a Viking, Peter Moore reveals the things that kids and adults alike will enjoy most in Iceland
The Cagols have just spent a year travelling the world. 11-year-old Madeline shares her diary entries from their last week in Africa, revealing what she really thought about her family’s big adventure.
The Scottish capital is compact, manageable and packed with family fun. Sally Wray reveals the places you must visit...
Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking
for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.
Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private
and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking.
Save 15% exploring Chile and staying at Tierra lodges
£60 off your first order
SAVE 10% online with Rohan
Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web
exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!
I have read and agree to the Terms &
Where in the world are you? Add
#wanderlustmag to your tweets and share your latest travel adventures with
fellow Wanderlusters on wanderlust.co.uk
Get to know Wanderlust on facebook and bring all your travel-minded friends, too