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oxalic in peacecorpsfolks

Hey PCVs, I figure some of you can offer some advice --

Do any of you recommend any particular travel backpack (the scenario is a round-the-world trip) for a girl who is not physically active?

If you don't have anything to recommend, did you have any particularly BAD experiences with any backpacks (I would appreciate company name and model name, if you can remember).

Also: does anyone have any recommendations for good travel insurance (covering medical + trip cancellation/interruption) company for a year-long round-the-world trip? I know you guys are covered under the Peace Corps, but maybe you learned about something after your service, beforehand, etc.

Alternatively, does anyone know of any insurance policies I can get JUST for insuring the loss or theft of my high-value electronic items? (Aside from not bringing them altogether, but I find having a laptop is essential when trying to book hostels, find hosts, get flights, etc.)


Backpacks are very very individual. One that works great for you may suck for someone else. The answer one usually gets is "go to a store that sells backpacks (like REI) and try some on. They should have weights there that you can put in the backpacks." My advice if you aren't super buff is that a smaller, lighter pack is better. A bigger pack encourages you to bring more crap. Also, lighter packs mean that you aren't carrying around 9 pounds of pack _plus_ all the rest of your stuff. Check the return policy in advance, too. Buy it well in advance of your trip, and see if it holds all you need, has convenient compartments, and fits well. Use it often to be sure - even if that means filling it full of cans of tomatoes (or whatever) and carrying it everywhere you go. If you find you hate it, you might consider a duffle bag with wheels. As with so many things, don't just assume that because everyone else uses X that you have to as well.

Travel insurance for a long long trip will probably be super expensive. When we traveled recently, we just got medical insurance instead of trip insurance too. That was much more reasonable. For the cost of the insurance, you could buy a cheap laptop and maybe a droid phone without a cell plan (will still work with wifi). You probably can get both used and save yourself a bundle.
All of the above is good advice. For packs, something that fits your body and distributes weight comfortably for you is the most important factor. Tough as nails construction with good water resistance will also serve you well. Other than that, internal frames, ability to enclose the straps, multiple easily accessible compartments, and removable day packs are good features for what you are likely to encounter. My wife and I used an earlier model of this one, and were quite pleased:

shop dot eaglecreek dot com/rincon-90l/d/1005

Insurance - The only player of note for what you want is Clements International (www dot clements dot com); they are the company of choice for professional expats and diplomats, but they are not cheap. No one else is going to offer a cost-effective package for what you need, and anyone but Clements will likely be challenging should you need to file a claim.

That said, insurance still may not be worth it, with the possible exception of a major medical/medevac policy. Trip changes and health risks come with the territory. Take stuff that won't make you cry when you lose it. At various points in your trip, you will likely want to ditch stuff, anyway.

A cheap, sturdy, second-hand netbook is a good idea. Just about anywhere outside the United States, you can get affordable unlocked phones that would allow you to buy a local SIM card wherever you are at the time, so I would wait until you get overseas to get a phone.
Both good advice. And to add - for the pack, depending on your preferred mode of travel, you might consider a mid-sized backpack. Those hefty hiking bags that are three feet tall are a hassle to bring onto small van-type transport in developing countries. If you get a mid-size, you'll pack less but still be able to bring enough stuff to last you two weeks, then you can pick up some new t-shirts or whatever as you travel along, trading them out for things that get worn. It's hard to get too specific without knowing exactly what type of traveling you'll be doing, but, as was mentioned above, backpacks are incredibly individual.

Regarding the medical insurance, you might want to check MEDEX. That's what I'll be using for this contract job I got and it seemed reasonable. I think it was around $500 for almost 6 months which is less than what I would have to pay here in the US for medical coverage. I can't remember the valuables insurance we were recommended through PC, though - I think it started with a 'C'...