What were the best (most useful) things we brought

Sheena and I spent a lot of time thinking about what to bring on this trip. Maybe we should have spent a little less, since some of the last minute, least thought-out purchases ended up being the most useful. Here are a few that almost everyday we’re glad we brought along.

  • Camelbak All-Clear UV Water Filter – Thanks Mom and Dad! Best Christmas gift ever! This thing is amazing. It costs about $100, but we think we would have spent about three-times that in bottled water throughout Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador (parts of Colombia too) without it. We’ve never been sick from drinking the filtered water from the tap, and it’s super easy to use. The advantage over other systems (like Steripen) is that you screw the UV-cap directly onto the bottle and agitate. No spillage – no hassles.
  • Tokina 12-24mm, F/4 Wide Angle Lens – I bought this one week before we left, when a photographer friend stared at me, mouth open, after I told him what equipment I was going to bring. For our first month in Patagonia alone, the purchase was worth it. The Tokina works flawlessly with my Canon SLR body, and I saved about $100. Highly recommended!

Wide angle shot of the reservoir surrounding Guatape, Colombia

  • AYL Portable Speaker – It’s small and easy to use. The charge lasts a long time, then easily charges back up with USB. The sound quality is great and always surprising how loud it can get considering it’s size. We use this for music and watching movies on the laptop.
  • Charles Schwab Investment Checking Debit Card – Sheena did all the research, while I got on this one at the last possible minute (seriously, I shipped this overnight to California days before we left). This is the one card that we found which has no Currency Conversion Fees, and refunds all ATM fees. We’ve saved more than $400 by using this card. Many banks down here only let you take out $100 at a time, and will charge you up to 5%. Then your own bank might charge you the same! We are so happy we have had this card with us. It’s a bit of a hassle to set up, so do it more than a week before you leave..
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