Power to the people!!!!

I’m a little apprehensive about watching my iPad or my iPhone explode the very first time I plug it in when we get to Paris.  What and the hell is wrong with the outlets in Europe?  They look funny and I don’t seem to have any power cords that fit their receptacles!  And if I do somehow get it to fit, BOOM, my precious little device might meet it’s maker.

Should I even write about this BEFORE the trip?  I really have to trust old Google (Wikipedia?) on this one.  If either of these Internet places says it’s so, then it must be so.  Maybe I should just report back after it all happens?  Ugh.

I’m going to do my best to explain about electrical systems all over the world.  Look at the figure below.  It’s amazing that there are so many different voltages and frequencies around the world.


Before you even think about plugging something into the power receptacle in Europe, or anywhere for that matter, you need to figure out what type of device you have.  If you take a single voltage item and it’s made for 110 or so volts, and you plug it into the wall in France, BOOM, you just blowed it up!

REI actually explained it in a manner I can understand:


How to Determine if You Need a Transformer or Converter

The label on your device will help determine if a voltage converter or transformer is necessary. This label may be: a) affixed directly to the back of the device; b) on the AC transformer box of the power supply lead; or c) molded into the plastic on the plug. It is often in very small print.

The INPUT line contains the key information—whether the voltage (V) is single, dual or multi.

Single-voltage items have a small voltage range (such as 100–120V). These small ranges are designed to accommodate voltage fluctuations only and will not accommodate a 220V power supply. Single-voltage devices include older appliances, such as hair dryers and irons.  (My input — BOOM!!!!)

Dual-voltage devices use a slash to separate the 2 voltages. Example: 120V/240V. Common dual-voltage devices include newer hair dryers, electric shavers and toothbrushes, irons, coffee makers and tea kettles. These do not require a transformer or converter.

Multi-voltage items use a dash to indicate the range of voltages. Example: 100–240V. Common multi-voltage devices include laptops, e-readers, tablets, smartphones, cell phones, MP3 players, cameras and battery chargers. These do not require a transformer or converter.

In my opinion, unless it is very important for you, I would refrain from taking single-voltage devices.  (See BOOM above)

If’s you do insist on taking a single-voltage device, you have to “step down” the voltage from 240V to 110V using a voltage converter.

If you are only taking multi-voltage devices (110-240V listed on the label), that means you only have to adapt the plug to fit into the wall to wherever you are traveling.  Sounds confusing?  Let me show you some pictures:




So, once you figure out what kind of device you have, you are going to have to make some decisions.  For example, we are mostly taking USB chargeable devices that are multi-voltage.  Our two iPhones and two iPads and a camera all fit this category.  So I’m leaning towards buying the USB Charger pictured below for Europe:


We can plug all five of our devices into this and charge them.  And only use one plug in the wall.





Sources for this blog:



2 iPad minis, 2 iPhones and a camera!

If you can remember when nobody owned a smart phone, can you remember what it was like to travel?    You would either have to know the route or stop at a gas station and buy a map.  Or God forbid stop and ask directions from someone.  Remember the old travel atlas you would buy from Wal Mart or get from your State Farm Agent?  Travel Atlast

Well?  Times have changed.  Tablets/laptops and smart phones are pretty much all you need when you travel nowadays.  For us, a couple of iPads and iPhones will be a challenge.  I can’t remember the last long trip we’ve taken and not brought along a laptop.  I’m a gadget person and I’m already having to change my stubborn ways when it comes to traveling with my laptop.  I’m going to try and keep this blog up to date using the iPad.  I’m going to take along a bluetooth keyboard so I don’t have to type on the iPad.  I like the feel of a real keyboard.  It’s not as easy as typing on a full keyboard but you have to make some sacrifices so you aren’t bogged down by the size and weight of a laptop.

The camera is a Lumix/Panasonic DMC-ZS40.  It’s a pretty standard compact camera.  I bought it because a) it was a good deal at Costco, b) it had some really good feedback on the internet, c) it has GPS! and d) it has a 30X zoom.

I’ll talk about travel photography and some travel apps we will use on our trip in the blogging blogs of the future.


Clothing, clothing and more clothing.

Since we are limiting ourselves to two backpacks, the clothing choices we make are very important.  When I was researching what to take, I found the website The Savvy Backpacker.  Tons of resources here to help you travel in a backpack.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 10.44.59 AM

Since clothing weighs the most in your backpack, I spent some time thinking about how little to take.  I have to admit I usually take too much when I travel.  Reina actually takes about the right amount.  This time however, I think we’ll both be put to the test.  To put everything into one backpack is going to be a challenge.

The key to packing for an extended trip overseas is being able to plan on either wearing things more than once, washing them in the sink or washing clothes at a laundromat.  We don’t really want to be taking time off of the trip to hang out in a laundromat so we are going to take stain resistant clothing and clothes that were meant to be washed in the sink.  Exofficio makes a lot of clothing that fits this description.  Cotton is not real conducive to weighing less and drying quickly.  Most of the clothing we’ve bought is some form of polyester.

For this trip, something that complicates matters is the fact that we’re going from cold weather in Europe to hot and humid in Brazil.  That will be a few more shirts, shorts and cooler clothing in the backpack.

What to take? What to leave?

Backpacking across Europe and South America?

Seriously?  I’m almost 50 years old and we are actually going to do this?  Why would I do this?

Over the past few years, I’ve developed a minimalist mindset.  I’ve tried to be very mindful of the things I purchase and I’ve either donated, sold, or trashed thousands of things I couldn’t live without when I bought them.  If we leave a smaller footprint when we travel, it’s easier to get up and go when we want.

The first focus of backpacking is, wait for it, the backpack.  I did a lot of research on  what kind of backpack.  Believe it or not, there are tons of types of backpacks.  For my simple mind,  I studied the kind that pack from the top and the ones that unzip like a suitcase.

We decided to go with the Osprey Farpoint 70 (Pictured below)


One of the main reasons for this choice was the removable day pack.  When you are out and about in town seeing the sites, it’s nice to have a small backpack to carry water, snacks, camera, and any souvenirs you purchase.  As far as what we are going to put in the thing, that’s another story.

image1 (1)

Another cool thing I liked about the Osprey was the fact that it has a flap on the back that you can zip shut to cover up your straps.  This way you can check it as luggage and the straps won’t get damaged while in transit in the airport.  Then you can take the daypack on the aircraft.




If you haven’t heard of airbnb  you may be missing out.  The idea of disrupting the norm is happening every day.  Airbnb is where people rent out their spare room, apartment or whole house.  The website is the avenue for the sharing.  We are pretty much going to rely on staying at airbnb while we are abroad.  Here’s one example of our view of where we are staying in Rome:

To see this property, go to https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3709507
The price is not bad either.  We are paying less than $150 per night.  That’s after all taxes and fees.
We think you benefit from staying with the locals.  You typically interact with the person that owns the apartment or house.  We used it in Ecuador and we’ve also used it a good bit in the United States.

Trip of a lifetime

Reina and I are going on a long vacation in a month or so.  We will start in Europe.  Spend a few weeks there.  Then a 16 night transatlantic cruise to Brazil.  Spend a few weeks in Brazil and then return home for Christmas.  

We are going to backpack.  That means one backpack per person.  Yikes.  I think we can minimize to do it.  We have been reading up on travel clothing.  Basically this is stain repellent clothing that is typically wrinkle free.  

As far as electronics, we are only taking an ipad, two iphones, and a Lumix camera (with GPS).  The iPad will have a Zagg Bluetooth keyboard so I can post here on the blog.  

I’m practicing the mechanics of a blog.  I’m going to try and post something either every day or two.
Lisbon Portugal 2012

Welcome to our Travel Blog!


Good morning.  Moon here.  I’m learning how to blog.  I’ve never been a blogger before and it’s pretty new.  I retire from the Air Force soon and Reina and I are going on a long vacation to Europe and South America.  The fun begins on November 1, when we fly to Paris.  I’m learning how to blog using WordPress and I’ll be updating from an iPad.  If there is any advice out there, please give it to me.  I will try to post information about where we are in our journey.  We will be gone for almost 7 weeks so I’m hoping that I won’t be lazy.  Until the next post…..