You set a budget, so that's good.

Then check

Nikon and Minolta don't make camcorders that are on the radar - but they may have still cameras (and they do make good still cameras) that take low-resolution video on memory cards. Hitachi does not get any high marks for what they are trying to do in the camcorder environment.

Canon and Panasonic (you don't want Sony, so I'll just drop them) are your likely suspects.

I would suggest staying with either miniDV tape or hard drive based camcorders - you may have a compelling reason for a DVD-based camcorder, but due to their poor video quality, many of the folks on this board don't like them much. Look through posts... you will see a recurring theme.

There really is nothing too terribly difficult in video editing software - I discovered it a few years ago and found it rather easy. That said, you *can* make it as difficult as you want. Since we don't know how long you trip is planned to be, we don't know if a hard drive camcorder makes sense - Seven to fourteen hours is a lot of recodrfding time - but if it is a long trip and you somehow fill the drive - what happens if you want to shoot more video? Delete files? Are you taking a computer to transfer footage? With miniDV tape, pop out a full tape, lock it, mark it, pop in a tape and keep shooting... Keep in mind, this is digital tape and is very different form the days of analog tape...

Theres a bit more to consider, though this should get you started - read through some of the recent forum threads - check the sticky... then see if you can maybe come up with a short list...

Canon ZR800
Panasonic PV GV320

... to get you started...