Tool Box

Below are some of our favorite tools, gizmos, and services we use to enable our new lifestyle, from traveling to photography to website creation and everything in between.  Many of these would have been useful to us before we went rogue, so whether you’re leaving the country or not, hopefully you’ll find this page useful.  This page is a constant work in progress.

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Travel

Vayama.com and Kayak.com

  • Our favorite websites for booking flights.

US Global Mail Service

  • They scan and email all of our mail to us, suddenly making all of our mail very organized :)
  • They forward any packages or mail to us upon request at a good rate.
  • We get a Texas mailing address through this service, which is awesome for taxes!
  • Enter our email address as a reference, if you sign up, to get a month free: laura@lostandfoundfamily.com

 

Bubblebum Inflatable, Portable Car Booster Seat – We bought ours from Amazon for $45.

  • For children age 4 – 11, 33 to 80 lbs.
  • Fits easily into a backpack or suitcase.
  • Zack loves his.

 

RideSafer Car Seat Travel Vest – We bought ours from Amazon for $150.

  • For children age 3 to 6, 30 to 60 lbs.
  • Fits easily into a backpack or suitcase.

 

 

Lowpro Fastpack 250 Camera/Laptop Backpack – We bought ours from Amazon for $81.

  • My whole office fits into this bag.  I love it.
  • Great quality and design.

 

Messermeister Edge Guard – We bought ours from Amazon for about $4 each.

  • We really, really didn’t want to sell our nice kitchen knives.  These little sheaths make it safe and easy to bring our knives along (so long as we don’t put them in our carry on! :D ).

 

Banking

First Republic Bank

  • Amazing customer service.
  • Deposit checks from anywhere anytime via smartphone.
  • No ATM fees worldwide at any ATM!
  • No currency exchange fees worldwide!
  • No monthly fees!
  • We love this bank!

 

Cameras – Photography & Video

Canon T2i - I bought mine from Amazon for $550.

  • 1080p Full-HD video mode
  • 18 MP CMOS APS-C sensor.  Not the picture quality of a full frame sensor, but lighter and much more affordable.  The APS-C sensors have a crop factor of 1.6.
  • This camera does everything I need for an amazingly low price.  If photography and video end up being a good money maker for me in Costa Rica, I’d love to eventually invest in a nicer camera.  For now, this is good enough.

GoPro HD HERO2 - I bought mine from Amazon for $298.

  • 1080p Full-HD video mode.
  • Waterproof, impact resistant casing.
  • Cool accessories for mounting this baby just about anywhere.
  • Small, lightweight, durable, and easy to bring anywhere.

 

Lenses – Photography and Video

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 - I bought mine from Amazon for $700.

  • Nice wide angle is great for video as it stabilizes the shot, makes it easier to capture the action in close proximity, and gives the footage a more sweeping, epic feel.
  • Perfect for indoor photography, huge landscapes, as well as adding depth and dimensional interest to close-range shots.
  • The optics are very well done.  Nice sharp images.
  • The manual focus ring feels very smooth.  You can easily pop the focus ring back and forth from auto to manual focusing.
  • The large 2.8 aperture makes this lens great for low-light shooting.
  • There is no image stability on this lens, but since it is such a wide angle, it is not really needed.
  • The crop factor of 1.6 for my T2i camera body means this lens actually shoots at a 17.6-25.6mm equivalent.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II - I bought mine from Amazon for $114.

  • I use this lens primarily for portraits.  I have used it for video, but the long focal length makes accentuates any camera movement making it difficult to get stable shots.
  • Extra sharp images from fantastic optics.
  • Huge 1.8 aperture makes for great low-light shooting and portraits.
  • Image stabilization for sharper hand-held shots.
  • Fast, precise autofocus.
  • Small and light weight.
  • Crop factor of 1.6 on my T2i camera body means this lens actually shoots at an 80mm equivalent.

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS - I bought mine from Amazon for $480.

  • I use this lens primarily for portraits.  It’s great for bringing the wildlife up close and personal from a comfortable, unobtrusive distance.
  • I have used this lens to get nice, close-up video, but the long focal length makes it difficult to get stable shots.
  • Good optics give nice sharp photos.
  • Image stabilization makes for surprisingly sharp hand-held shots.
  • Crop factor of 1.6 on my T2i camera body means this lens actually shoots at a 112-480mm equivalent.

Accessories – Photography and Video

Glidecam HD 2000 – Got mine for $449

  • Great, simple solution for video stabilization.
  • Small enough to travel with easily.
  • Not cheap, but cheaper than a lot of other stabilizers out there.

 

Photive Ultra High Capacity Lithium Ion Battery for Canon - I bought mine from Amazon for $14 each.

  • Half the price of the Canon brand battery!
  • Has a capacity of 1700 mAh, compared to Canon’s 1120 mAh.  I haven’t measure it, but it seems to last about 30-40% longer than the Canon brand battery!

 

Wasabi GoPro Battery – I bought mine on Amazon for $15 each.

  • Half the price of the GoPro brand battery!
  • Has a capacity of 1400 mAh, compared to GoPro’s 1100 mAh.  Seems to last about 20-25% longer than the GoPro branded battery!

 

SanDisk 32GB 45MB/s Class 10 SDHC Flash Memory Card – I bought mine from Amazon for $34 each.

  • 32GB is good for about 90 minutes of 1080p HD video.
  • Fast class 10 data writing makes sure no frames are skipped.
  • I also bought some 16GB cards for $18 each.

 

Zoom H2n Handy Recorder – I bought mine on Amazon for $195.

  • Great little device to capture high quality, stereo recordings.
  • Perfect to use with a little lavalier microphone, or something to get good, strong vocals when the subject is far away from the camera.
  • Records around 20 hrs on 2 AA batteries.
  • I also got the accessorie pack for $39.

 

Neewer Wireless Remote for Canon – I bought mine from Amazon for $2.60!

  • Surprisingly, this thing costs less than a fried Twinkie from the fair and works really well.
  • Nice for taking pictures of the whole family when nobody else is around.
  • Nice for sharper macro and telephoto shots from not having to touch the camera.

LensPEN Lens Cleaning System – I bought mine from Amazon for $5.

  • Works awesome!  Use the brush to flick away dust and debris.  Use the felt pad to wipe away any smudges or marks for perfectly clean lenses and lens filters.

 

B+W Kaesemann Circular Polarizer – I bought a couple different sizes from Amazon.

  • These babies are nice!  But expensive.  They make the blues and greens pop like no other filters out there.  Trees, sky, and water look amazing through these filters.  A sealed design make it weather and peel resistant.  Great optics with no image defects or artifacts.  Fantastic design and build quality all around.
  • I bought a 77 mm filter from Amazon for $150 and a 58 mm filter from Amazon for $90.

Joby Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Flexible Tripod – I bought mine from Amazon for $35.

  • A small, versatile tripod built for the road.
  • I hear the joins wear out, getting looser overtime, so I am careful to move the joints as little as possible.  Mine is lasting very well so far.
  • I also bought the Joby BH1 Ball Head accessorie for $30 to make fine adjustments easier.

Computer, Electronics, Phone and Software

Macbook Pro – I bought mine from the Apple store for $2089 (with a $200 education discount for homeschooling)

  • Attention homeschooling parents!  If you homeschool your kids, you qualify for the Apple Education Discount!  I did not know this until a couple of months ago.
  • This is my first Mac, and I love it.  I decided to go with the non-retina display version, primarily because of cost.  The design and build quality are phenomenal.  The new Ivy Bridge processor is awesome for video editing.

Adobe Production Premium CS6 - I bought mine from Adobe for $450 with the education discount for homeschooling (normally $1900).

  • I love Adobe!  It was a steep learning curve, but I was happy to invest the effort and time because I knew I was learning a high quality software platform that could take me places.
  • If you homeschool you can shop at the Adobe Education Store and save up to 80%!

StrongVPN Internet Security - We signed up for 1 year for $55.

  • Connecting to public networks, like at hotels and coffe-shop wireless, leave you exposed for identity theft.  Firewalls, or antivirus won’t save you.  The only secure solution is a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which isolates your computer on an encrypted channel.
  • Besides security, using a VPN has the added bonus of making it look like you’re surfing the web from the US, instead of from Costa Rica, or wherever.
  • There are lots of VPN services out there.  We chose StrongVPN because it is competitively priced, easy to set up, supports multiple devices, and has a long track record of good customer support.  We got ours up and running in a few minutes.

LaCie USB 3.0 Rugged - Got 1TB on Amazon for $200

  • USB 3.0 makes for fast data transfers.
  • Extra rugged, made for travel and abuse.
  • Good security and encryption, 256-bit.

 

Wacom Bamboo Capture Tablet

  • Super precise, pressure sensitive pen is great for editing photos.
  • Touch sensitive pad makes it easier to zoom and pan.
  • Great for writing and annotating.

 

Unlocked iPhone 4 with Google Voice

iPad2

Kindle Touch

iPod Shuffle

Beyerdynamic Headphones

Kid Headphones

Altec Lancing Mini Speaker

Computer Tips and Tricks

Manage multiple email addresses through gmail

Apps for iPhone and iPad

Note-ability for iPad

First Republic Mobile Banking

Google Translate

Google Latitude

Kindle

GDrive

Audible

Google Currents

Dropbox

Genius Scan

Evernote

PayPal

Dwolla

Web Hosting and Blogging

Host Gator

  • Great customer support.  I love the technical help chat feature.
  • Great prices.  For about $6 per month I have unlimited storage, bandwidth, domain names, email addresses, and regularly scheduled backups.  I thought this was absolutely amazing.
  • Really easy to use.  I had no experience with creating a website, and I was able to get a quick version of LostAndFoundFamily up in a few hours.
  • Enter the Coupon Code “LostAndFoundFamily” for a 25% discount!

WordPress

  • The #1 blog publishing platform.  Free and easily customizable with wonderful support.
  • HostGator will install WordPress onto your website right from your HostGator Control Panel.

WordPress Themes

  • Themes make it easy to customize the look and feel of your WordPress website.  I still haven’t found the perfect theme for me, so for now I use the simple and free Esplanade Theme.  I will upgrade to a more optimized and comprehensive theme framework, such as Thesis or Headway, after I get more experience and gain a better idea of what I want and what is available.
  • Elegant Themes.  These are some beautifully crafted themes I stumbled upon in my searches.

Zenfolio

  • I plan to take a lot of pictures and video, which consume hefty quantities of hard drive space.  I wanted an easy way to back up my full resolution photos and videos and to organize them into a good viewing experience.  Zenfolio is the solution.
  • For $50 per year I get unlimited storage on Zenfolio’s geo-diversified servers, which is a bargain compared to buying extra Dropbox, Amazon Cloud, or Google Drive storage.  (Zenfolio has since raised their price to $60 per year).
  • Zenfolio makes it easy to design a beautiful viewing experience for your photos and videos, organized into galleries and collections.  It’s simple to customize the look and feel of your Zenfolio website with their intuitive website-building tools.
  • The Premium option, for $120 per year, is a cool upgrade I would like to try out sometime later.  With this upgrade, Zenfolio creates and runs a print shop for you, offering everything from t-shirts to mugs, to canvas prints, and takes care of all the work, from filling your customers’ orders to returns and customer service.  Pretty cool.
  • For a 10% discount, enter our referral code: J31-7CD-QTV

Apparel

Keen sandles

Colombia waterproof breathable rain jacket

Colombia convertible pants

Health and Body

Sunspray Lotion

Toys & Learning

Microscope

Tournament Chess Set

Insurance

1 month health insurance in the US

Life insurance

Travel health insurance

 

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