Below are a handful of products that we have been getting a lot of use out of on our trip. In some instances, this was expected, in other instances it was not.
- Lululemon Travel Yoga Mat. Nicole completed a yoga teacher training at Yoga Shanti in NYC immediately before our trip and already had been planning to bring her travel yoga mat (Jade Travel yoga mat) with her. I didn't have a travel yoga mat and my regular mat was way too heavy to pack. So I figured if I joined Nicole for some of her daily yoga, I would do it sans-mat. Then I found out that doing yoga without a mat is no bueno. So, while we were in Hong Kong, we found what I believe may be the only travel mat available for sale in the city at the Lululemon store. Nonetheless, this mat has been sweet and I've used it a ton. Less for yoga than for improvised workouts Nicole and I sometimes do in our room. We roll out the mats, set a phone app to beep every 45 seconds, and then take turns calling out exercises (pushups, air squats, planks, etc.). Ten minutes of that is a great workout.
- Aeropress Coffee Maker. We wanted to have the option of making our own coffee in the mornings. I did a deep dive on travelling coffee setups and the Aeropress seemed to be the hands down most popular. Our good friends the Macks then gifted this to us, which we've been using in combination with a hand powered burr coffee grinder and a travel water kettle. The whole set up works well together, is surprisingly light, and takes up little room because the coffee grinder components fit snugly within the Aeropress components when both are taken apart. The most time consuming step has been grinding the beans which takes me about five minutes of hand cranking each morning. An additional bonus is that it's fun to seek out local coffee beans which we've done in Hanoi and Hoi An.
- Google Translate. This has been the first overseas trip where we seem to regularly be relying on Google Translate and seeing others do it, too. We both have the app on our phones with the entire Vietnamese language downloaded so that it can be used offline (our phones only work here when we have wifi). In situations where the language barrier is too great, we can pull out the phone, type in what we want to say, and it instantly appears on our screen in Vietnamese. So, for instance, when we found a few cockroaches in our cottage the other day and wanted to get them sprayed, even though the property manager speaks very good English she didn't know the word for cockroach and the bug signs I was making with my hands weren't helping. I typed cockroach into Google translate, showed her the screen, and the problem was solved (good thing, too, because it turned out there were multiple cockroaches after we sprayed).
- DASH Portable Travel Backpack. This has been our biggest surprise in terms of something we didn't realize we needed. A good friend whose last name is Jiga gifted this to us, so we dubbed it the Jiga-pack. Originally, I wasn't sure how much it would get used because I'm also travelling with a Go Ruck GR1 backpack that is larger and heavier. Turns out that the smaller and lighter Jiga-pack is just the thing for caving expeditions, walks around town, or trips to the beach where we don't need to carry a whole lot of stuff. We've been using it daily.
- Google Maps. I'm sure there are better apps out there but we've been fine with Google maps. The key for us has been to download the parts of Vietnam we are visiting so that the app can be accessed offline. Then, even when there's no wifi, our GPS still works and displays where we are on the map. This has been super helpful a number of times when we've been on public buses allowing us to track our progress and get off at the correct stop.
- Rivals for Catan Card Game. Nicole and I are Settlers of Catan junkies. If you don't know about this game, I can only say that I'm excited for you because of the joy that can now be yours. Also a gift from the Macks, Rivals for Catan is a two player card game version (the original Settlers is a three person board game). Rivals is fun! It takes less than an hour to play, is easier to set up than the original, and is a great combination of luck and decision making.
Like this post? Want to read more about Travis and Nicole's travel adventures? Check out After Three Months On The Road In Asia And Europe ... How Nicole And I Imagined It Versus The Reality.
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