Traveling Light(ish)

New Lightweight Suitcase

The other day Howard was cooking some potatoes at our Airbnb here in Zagreb & he asked where’s the garlic powder. Then we both started laughing. I had bought a container of garlic powder in Lisbon last fall and was going to leave it at the apartment, but at the last minute I threw it in an outside pocket of one of our suitcases. Somewhere between Portugal and Crete the lid came off and the garlic powder spilled. Only about a fifth of it made it to our apartment in Crete. The rest was in the suitcase pocket or leaked out through the zipper probably in the hold of the plane, on the baggage carts, carousels, and other airport facilities. Exhausted from traveling, we got to our apartment in Crete and wondered why everything smelled like garlic. Once we realized what had happened, I emptied the suitcase and, without bothering to look over the edge of our balcony, we dumped out the remaining garlic powder.

(If the owner of the dark blue car that was parked under our balcony ever reads this, please know that we are very, very sorry.)

That suitcase was forever going to smell like garlic, but we also realized it weighed 8 kg (15 lbs), which was a good portion of our airline weight allowance. We ended up buying a new lightweight suitcase while we were there and left the garlic scented bag by a clothing donation box. It was gone a couple hours later. I hope it’s new owner likes garlic.

Custom Media Center

Our two large suitcases and laptop bags may seem like a lot to lug around on a vacation, but we’re not on vacation. We’re living here. We only brought things we need or really, really wanted and there’s several things we miss and wish we could have brought with us. So, besides our clothes and toiletries, what did we bring with us? Here’s a list of what we lug around with us on moving days:

Our laptops, mice, hard drives, pads of paper in lieu of a white board, and anything else we need to work. We each wish we had a second, larger monitor, but that would be too much to cart around. We also have our tablets, phones, a surprisingly large number of extra cables, and our Nikon D90 camera. It’s a good camera, but it’s heavy and I don’t like carrying it around when my phone has a good camera too. We thought we would make some cool time lapses with it, our view of Belgrade would have been perfect for that, but we haven’t bothered yet. We should have brought the GoPro instead.

No Spoilers!

Our media center, which consists of a little Raspberry Pi that Howard built, a projector, a little JBL speaker we picked up in Lisbon, two Xbox controllers and a mini keyboard remote that came with something else, but works with the Pi. Instead of the projector, we can hook everything up to a TV, but if our apartment doesn’t have one, like in Greece, or we want a second TV in the bedroom, then we use the projector. We have actually used the projector way more than we thought we would so in hind site we should have spent a little more on a better model. The fan is a bit loud on this one and it will only adjust the perspective vertically, so if it’s not facing the wall straight on then the screen will be skewed taller on the right or left side. Also the speakers on the projector aren’t very good, that’s why we needed the JBL speaker.

Let’s Play a Game

On the Raspberry Pi, Howard put Kodi for streaming TV shows or movies. The internet’s not that great in the bedroom here in Zagreb so we have been downloading shows to a thumb drive or hard drive on a laptop, which works too. We also run RetroPie on the Pi. Using the Xbox controllers we can play almost any arcade or older console game. I suppose we could play some of the new console games, but it would probably cause the Pi to melt or explode. We can watch YouTube, stream Twitch, and even watch news from the US on the Pi too.

We also brought our Echo Dot. Alexa has become part of our family & we would miss her bad jokes, weather reports, and listening to her stream Pandora while we work. The only issue is we can’t set her location to most of the countries we’ve been in. I’m not sure why, maybe the Echo Dot has to be available for sale in that country? We were able to set her location to Dublin, Ireland though, so she’s at least in the right time zone.

Plugs and Adapters

We need to be able to plug in these electronics, plug them in to non-North American outlets, so we have an assortment of adapters. We have a set of standard adapters that will fit any plug into any socket in most of the world. We also have a power strip that adjusts the voltage, but all of our electronics actually do this on their own, all of them except the charger for the Nikon camera I wish I hadn’t brought. It makes a good power strip though. Plus we also each have a 4 port USB charger we use to charge our phones, tablets, watch, etc. We found these a little over a year ago in a bin of left over Easter candy and toys in the front of a Walmart. It was a great find and really cleaned up all the wires and extension cords we each had on our side of the bed.

Travel Safe

For our passports, keys, left over cash in various currencies, and other valuables I have a small travel safe, the as seen on TV FlexSafe. If we did get robbed, someone would have to walk off with a chair, bed frame, or take the closet apart before they could get our valuables. It also helps me keep track of important stuff like our passports. It’s designed to be used as a lockable bag at the beach or pool too, but we haven’t used it like that.

We do try to cook at home at least 4 days a week so I bought a cutting board. I usually get a new one every six months and who knows how old the used ones are at the Airbnbs. We made it to Zagreb using the somewhat dull knives provided in the apartments, but the sharpest knife here was a butter knife. With all the delicious fresh produce we were getting, we bought a small santoku knife. I wish it had a cover, but I’ll wrap it up in a towel and it should be fine. I just hope I don’t forget it’s there when I start rooting through the suitcase….

The Sharpest Knife in the Draw

The last thing of interest we carry around is a suction cup shower head adapter. This seems silly, I know, but some of the apartments just have a hand held wand. I get the entire bathroom wet trying to wash my hair with one hand.

Well, it’s time to pack all this stuff up. Luckily we should have plenty of room in our luggage. I gave away a few things to charity (By charity, I mean I left a bag of clothes next to a recycle bin. It was gone within a few minutes.) and we mailed a box home with our winter coats and any cold weather clothing we wanted to keep. It’s warm weather for the next year for us!

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