It’s the little things that keep us sane. Or rather, the advance planning for when things don’t go easily that makes them bearable.

Since we embarked on this trip, we’ve had three serious illnesses — first, Janet was bedridden for two days in London with what we guess was strep, then Jasper was bedridden for two days in Toledo with a stomach virus, and finally I caught a fever in Merida for a day. Our immune systems are catching up to the diseases across the pond, and surely there will be more challenges to come as we move to Africa, Asia, and South America.

But we are prepared. We have a pouch that contains medications — antibiotics, anti-nausea, malaria pills, and more. We haven’t had to use them much thus far, but this one pouch is among many that we use to keep our small but potent supplies organized as we move from city to city, one illness to another, and one unpredictable moment to the other. It’s enabled us to keep the kids and ourselves educated and well taken care of even when one of us is wobbly.

All in all, there are 18 pouches, in addition to our clothes and a portable printer, which fit into our five packs on our backs or as carry-on luggage so that we may adventure as far afield and flexibly as we need. The pouches contain everything from our irreplaceables like passports, tablets, and medicines (black); general supplies like toiletries, paper, and chargers (grey); and the kids’ personal items, history journals, science journals, and writing journals (blue, green, and red for each of the kids respectively). This is all we’ve packed for a year of travel, and is all we intend to carry for the year. It is an exercise in practicality as much as one in frugality, and thus far it is helping keep us sane in more ways than one. I am looking forward to how a simpler focus on things enables us to expand our horizons in other ways.