BreakAway Stuff Essentials

Posted on: Thursday, February 19th, 2009
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Blog | Leave a comment

If you’re planning to BreakAway with your family, don’t leave home without these time-test travel essentials–sure to come in handy, alleviate boredom and ensure some fun.      

  • Frisbee.  Extraordinarily useful. Playing catch is uplifting and teaches about breezes.  Perfect as a plate; keeps food on-board for passing and is easy to clean.  Butt protector on wet sand.  Dice catcher for simple games.  Playspace for Polly Pockets.  Hip factor:  Symbolizes a cooler era, before digitalia sent us inward; is noncompetitive. 


  • Swiss Army Knife.  Blades stay sharp and cut the cheese and anything edible.  Carves wood.  Mini-tools can fix things. Easy to cart and clean. Even has a plastic toothpick.  Hip factor:  Features bottle-cap opener and corkscrew.  (When a guest at a home that was missing its corkscrew, the Swiss became an international hero.) 
  • Felt art board.  Found this little gem online before the trip, and what a Godsend it’s been.  It’s light, mobile, and creative as can be—even for parents.  Hip factor:  It’s handmade, which is way cool.  And it makes colorful art easy. 

 Fish Felt

  • Sticks.  Yes, sticks:  My kids insist.  They find sticks—driftwood, seedpods, chop-sticks—and use them for drumming riddims, drawing in the sand, making things, or beating each other up.  Hip factor:  Drumming rocks. 
  • Backpack.  Carries whatever you may need, like Frisbee, Swiss, water, paper, pen, sunscreen, meds, snacks, (sun)glasses, koozie, toys, cash, mini-poncho, and plastic bags (vital around rains and seas).  Good for packing camera without showing.  Can be secured to something to assist thief-proofing.  Hip factor:  You look like a savvy traveler.
  • Local papers.  Buy them all; read them often.  Show stuff to the kids to help them understand we’re not in Kansas any more. Get a sense for what’s up with the locals; learn island politics and issues.  For example, Grenada and Cuba remain BFFs; taking pictures in St. Vincent is now legal; and St. John solves way less than 10% of their serious crimes every year.  Hip factor:  Conversations with locals can elevate immeasurably. 
  • Snacks.  Kids these days.  Their appetites are less predictable than Minnesota weather.  They’ll turn up their nose at delicacies at mealtime, then insist on a PBJ later.  Often, a kitchen is not handy—nor a fridge.  So this backpacker prevents whining with a few small but filling things like apples, bananas, peanuts, crackers, cookies, and snack bars.  It’s a matter of survival.  Hip factor:  Your kids like you.
  • iPod.  This trip has been decidedly under-mediated by design.  But the little iPod (and its big cousin, the portable speaker dock) has been a treat.  Sesame Street songs in headphones can save a 5-year-old when delayed in transit.  Speakers blasting Jimmy Cliff can bring the happy back into a sun-fried family’s pre-dinner hour.  Music bonds families, and radio is undependable at best on islands.  Hip factor:  May be the hippest thing, like, ever? 


  • A deck of cards.  Can work miracles in tricky situations, to say nothing of providing just plain fun.  CurlyGirl can do sorting, number, and memory lessons.  AllBoy can learn strategic games.  The family can play.  Best adaptation:  Math-fact flash cards; just pick 2 cards, and do the math (multiply, add, subtract, or divide with fractions).  Hip factor:  Cards are cool—always have been, always will be. 
  • Pass the Pigs.  A compact little game of chance, rather like dice, but better.  The game is fun and quick and easy.  The pigs make cute little toys for youngsters with imagination.  Hip factor:  Udderly original, and sure to attract any nearby Iowa tourists. 

Travel Diversions


  • Pen and paper.  Instant amusement for children.  Essential for swapping vitals with new acquaintances.  Priceless for capturing fleeting ideas and keeping lists.  Hip factor:  You’re set when someone asks, “Got a pen?” 


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