Packing Creative Extras: 2006
While we're fanatic about packing light, we all slip a goofy little extra in. Which soothing, handy, or fun packing extravagances can you justify?
Read the Distillation: Best of Packing Creative Extras, 2005
Travel Shampoo Bottles
Try JC Penney. They have a nice selection of travel items.
Idaho, USA Sun 12/31/2006
impossible to find 3 oz bottles
Does anyone know where to find a three ounce bottle for gel toiletries like shampoo? I would have thought that since the airline has regulated this three oz bottles would be easy to find, I've looked at target, walmart, CVS, Sephora and the container store and found nothing.
Houston, Texas USA Sun 12/31/2006
Point the way, O Magic 8-Ball!
I have a small spherical compass (about 1-inch in diameter, it cost $3 at the local hardware store) that I have tied on a short shoelace pinned to the inside of my coat pocket. Many, MANY times it has proved useful when popping out of an underground station or on a cloudy day trying to get one's bearings to follow one's map. It is the best $3 I have ever spent!
Northfield, MN USA Fri 12/22/2006
Extras? Zip-top bags!
I always pack a few extra quart zip-top bags in my travel backpack. The empty bags take virtually no space, and are imminently useful. I use one to corral all my ticket stubs, postcards, tiny souveniers, etc. Another usually keeps all my 35mm film rolls together (I also pack a Sharpie marker to record city & roll number on films as I use them). A baggie is quite useful for containing a small city map on rainy days (I have had a good map disintigrate in the rain)...
Northfield, MN USA Fri 12/22/2006
There are squat toilets at a rest stop somewhere on the way from Switzerland to Italy too...
USA Sun 12/17/2006
As a matter of fact, there are squat toilets in Western Europe. Look for them in Italian train stations.
USA Sun 12/17/2006
TP Tip - Thanks!
Great idea - especially if you ever have to use a "squat" toilet...we encountered one years ago in Europe, I forget the country. And of couse squat toilets are what you find in countries like India and Nepal, Thailand, etc - not Europe, but surely travelers posting on this board venture beyond Europe!
Tally, USA Fri 12/15/2006
I tie a shoelace through the roll of TP. That way you can place it around your neck while in the WC and you won't have to let it touch dirty surfaces. I have seen my share of nasty bathrooms in my travels!
Minneaplis, USA Thu 12/14/2006
The powder rooms I visit on my travels don't always come stocked with tp. I find it essential to take a roll. A trick I learned to make it more compact is to remove the roll so it will lay flat to fit in my day pack easier. Happy Holiday Travels to All!
Portland, ME USA Thu 12/14/2006
I would add that those individual packages of disinfectant wipes take up no room when packing light. I wedge them along the sides of my carry-on (among the travel packing cubes) and throw in several of those little rolls of TP as well. Out for day trips, I take a roll and a pkg of hand wipes and am ready for any bathroom. Ummm- speaking of bathrooms, my most creative extra find has been a small women's "funnel" I found at a camping store. I had tried a fancy kind from Magellan's made of paper that was a disaster. These are made for use outdoors, although you could use it if conditions were especially gross or for the hole-in-the-ground ones in parts of Greece and Turkey. It has been a lifesaver on a couple of very long and very bumpy bus tours!
USA Tue 12/12/2006
Wet Wipes for Killing Travel Germs
Plus wet wipes don;t have to go in the quart-size plastic zipper bag! You can buy boxes with individually wrapped wet-wipes called Wet Ones at most grocery stores and places like Walgreens, WalMart, Target, etc.
I use them to wipe down the area around my airplane seat - tray table and armrests - and any time I don;t have access to soap and water.
USA Mon 12/11/2006
Wet Wipes for Killing Travel Germs
I have seen wet wipes that kill 99% of germs in a small packet on TV. Just the right size for travels.
L.A., Cal. USA Sat 12/02/2006
Wet Wipes make a good substitute for the sanitizing gel products which are not so easy to carry now, especially in a purse (carry-on). I took a bunch out of a hard plastic case and carried them in a plastic baggie. There are small purse-size packages available, also.
USA Fri 12/01/2006
I am not a hypochondriac or a paranoid person, but I DO want to stay healthy when on vacation! A great use for wet wipes: use them to wipe down all hard surfaces when you get into your plane seat - armrests, tray table, entertainment system (on the Airbus 330's and others), etc. Since we started taking this small precaution, as well as washing our hands a LOT, it has really cut down on the colds I used to pick up on planes.
USA Thu 11/30/2006
I take a small pack of wet wipes in my purse. They can double for hands or tp. Saves me room for other things to bring.
Sunny Valley, Idaho USA Wed 11/29/2006
soap and face towel
I recom taking soap and a face towel in your purse or car in Europe. While it is getting better than years ago. Public restrooms are still inconsistent in providing soap and paper toweling.In addition I usually also take a roll of TP, just in case.
USA Wed 11/29/2006
Someone below used the word "capricious" re: security requirements. Good word. I lugged a rather large box of soap powder rather than zip-locking a small amount, to make its identity more clear. If Security is testing sealed packages of Tide...might as well zip-lock.
Also along these lines, TSA says we can buy and carry on a bottle of water after we go through security. Not true at Charles de Gaulle, at least on the day I flew. Had to gulp down a liter of water before I could board.
Sorry this is a little off topic...I guess it's about NOT packing extras!
Stoughton, WI USA Sun 11/26/2006
Packing for Grans House
The fam is packed up and ready for our flight to London to visit gran. Packing this time took extra care. I put all required in ziploc bags so we should get through the screeners with minimal problems. Happy flying.
Riverside, CA USA Wed 11/22/2006
The best kind of clothesline to get is the kind with hooks, not loops, at the ends. Loops work only when there's something to loop them around, whereas with hooks you can create your own loops around just about anything: a doorknob, or even a chair leg, if you're desperate.
San Francisco, CA USA Sun 11/19/2006
I found travel size packets of Woolite to take for laundry. Works great for a washer or sink. I need a travel clothesline to put up in the tub to dry clothes on.
S. Cali., USA Sun 11/19/2006
Just a word of caution: we packed miniature boxed, sealed detergent (Tide) in our bags and were pulled aside while airport security tested the boxes. Guess they thought the "powdered" detergent looked suspicious!
Santiago, Chile, USA Sun 11/19/2006
Paper soap at Walmart
Pat, Wal-mart has the paper soap leaves in its travel section. You will have to look for them because it is just a small, flat package. Its where the small travel sized shampoo and things are.
USA Sun 11/19/2006
Magellan's Soap Sheets are 9.8 cents apiece whereas The Container Store sells them for 12 cents each. However, after tax, they are 13 cents each whereas Magellan adds $4.95 for shipping, which brings their price to 14.8 cents apiece. If the shipping weren't atrocious for something so tiny, the Magellan soap sheets would be a much better buy. Thanks for all of the hints on where to buy them....
Pat in Fort Worth
Fort Worth, TX USA Fri 11/17/2006
Detergent in checked luggage is OK
Just returned from Portugal & Britain and I took detergent in a ziploc bag and added it to my checked luggge no-prob. Note that laundry mats self serve or served are getting more expensive. In Porto Portugal I paid $15 per load at a full service laundry mat no ironing. In Britain I paid approx$9 per load for self service in Moreton on the Marsh in UK.
USA Thu 11/16/2006
Crabtree & Evelyn usually carry them. So does the Magellan's catalog/Web site (under the name "soap sheets").
USA Wed 11/15/2006
Soap leaves, The Container Store
To Pat in Fort Worth, The Container Store on Hulen has soap leaves for shampoo, hand washing and laundry washing out. Telephone them to make sure they haven't run out as these items are in a catalog just mailed out.
Fort Worth, TX USA Wed 11/15/2006
I have been hunting soap leaves. Does anyone have a source for these--a source in the U.S., that is.
Pat in Fort Worth
Fort Worth, TX USA Wed 11/15/2006
washcloths and towels
I never saw a washcloth during my 2 weeks in Italy except for the microfiber cloths we brought. But the towels provided were quite adequate (but often a little air-dried scratchy).
USA Thu 11/09/2006
quart bags and carry-ons
The 1 quart bag of less than 3 oz items does NOT apply in every airport. London Heathrow is one place where you will lose that entire bag. Well, kinda. No tiny jar of eye cream, yes full size liquid deodorant, no toothpaste. Very capricious. Also at Heathrow: 1 carry-on. Not a purse AND a carry-on----either or.
USA Thu 11/09/2006
Good Place to get laundry soap--
You can get samples of all sorts of stuff from minimus.biz. I got laundry detergent, packets of lime and lemon juice, etc. for our trip to Europe last spring.
USA Sun 11/05/2006
Soap Pills for Travels
Yeep! The idea of the laundry soap pills for travels is marvy. A few in a ziploc is a $$$, time and space saver.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 11/05/2006
I take laundry soap tablets when I travel. They work well - one tablet per load of clothes.
TX USA Sun 11/05/2006
Laundry in England
I suggest you buy dtetergent in England -- the machines and detergent are the same as American machines
Perth, Australia Sat 11/04/2006
Laundry in England
My husband and I are going to England and Paris in March 07 for 11 days. To be able to clean any necessary clothes in our room or at a laundry mat, is it ok to pack small boxes of laundry detergent in your checked luggage? Will using American laundry detergent cause a problem in English washing machines? I didn't know if it would get through security without any problems or cause them to search the suitcase in more detail once they see it on the xray.
Atlanta, GA USA Sat 11/04/2006
More about ziplocks
Since the paper plane and train tickets are the likely items to suffer from moneybelt perspiration, I put those in a baggie in the longest back zipped section. Then I put a laminated 3X5 card with all the emergency info on one side and all the hotel #s on the back and baggied extra charge, etc. cards in the other. Paper money gets a baggie of its own. Besides keeping things dry, it makes it easier to stay organized, too. Many thanks for the idea about the absorbant pad concept- I am going to try that next time!
USA Wed 11/01/2006
Large Leaf Bag
I bring a large leaf/yard bag to put my luggage in in case I get caught in rainy weather. It came in handy when my luggage was outside on the tarmac at a small air strip in Belize during a bad rain storm. The luggage stayed dry and I lived through the bumpy plane ride :-) It can also double as a rain poncho (cut an opening for your head and arms).
San Jose, CA USA Wed 11/01/2006
No Soggy Money Wanted
I hear there are pick pockets all over Europe and a money belt is a good thing! I just wouldn't want soggy money or documents. A ziplock baggie sounds like a good idea.
Seattle, WA USA Wed 11/01/2006
Damp money belts
You can also use anything that absorbs moisture and odor - such as "puppy training pads". They look like the "pads" placed under packaged raw meat at supermarkets and can be cut up into smaller sections.
Also try the ziplock storage bag trick some other poster talked about - placing the docs, passports, money, etc, into a snack-size ziplock bag before putting into the money belt or pouch; we've been doing that for years both for the belt-loop pouch and the neck pouch and it works great.
USA Wed 11/01/2006
Nasty Money Belts
Lots has been written about how hot and nasty money belts can become after wearing one a few days. Here is a tip that worked for my husband and me. Put a self-adhesive feminine napkin on the back of your money belt. It will absorb the sweat and smell. Change it daily and your money belt (and you) will stay fresh and dry!
Boulder, CO USA Tue 10/31/2006
Gifts for the Hostess...
Coupons or gift certificates will work great for me as a hostess gift idea. It's a waste for me to pack a box of chocolates for someone cause they'll be all gone by the time they reach their destination! :) The airline meals get smaller all the time...
Albuquerque, NW USA Fri 10/27/2006
Sees candy makes a nice gift coupons at costco make it 11$ a pound
Bellevue, WA USA Thu 10/26/2006
microfiber wash cloth
As there was always a line at the women's WC and always a hot air hand dryer I took one of my microfiber wash cloths and put it in my jacket pocket. It dried my hands and absorbed all day without getting "wet".
Eugene, OR USA Mon 10/23/2006
Make copies of your important documents (passport, drivers license, health insurance card, credit/debit cards) in a format that is widely available such as .jpg. Encrypt it using the free Cryptainer LE software from Cypherix (you can find this using a major search engine). Attach the file to an email to your Yahoo Mail or other online mail service and leave it there. You should be able to access this through almost any computer with internet access. Or save it to a portable USB drive.
Nashville, TN USA Wed 10/18/2006
Judith - - Pashima
Read the Scam board about Pashimas purchased in Italy...if you feel bad about bringing your own Pashima to use on the plane, or while in country at a sidewalk cafe! It's not always what you think it is....
I bring my own from home to use on the plane, it has served me well, and I don't regret this really small item as a carry on! It's very very handy and useful!
USA Wed 10/18/2006
If I have one suggestion, it is to pack the basics but do not buy one new accessory before leaving home. So many goodies for souvenirs. I was especially sorry I bought a pashmina for my trip. (From suggestions on this site).The thousands to choose from in Italy were all much less expensive and prettier.
Seattle, WA USA Tue 10/17/2006
Agriculture checks at customs
If in doubt about what you can bring in always declare it. The agricultural line is almost always shorter than the regular line. If it's a no no they'll confiscate it but I don't think there's a fine if it's declared.
Eugene, OR USA Tue 10/17/2006
small size necessities
Don't run out of deodorant in Paris!! We paid 7.50 euros for a small stick deodorant.
Eugene, OR USA Tue 10/17/2006
For our 11 days in Ireland, I packed a lunch bucket size plastic cooler that folded flat, and a 16 oz plastic polar ice pack (in a double zip lock bag). All the B&B's were willing to put the ice pack in their freezer overnight, and by morning it was ready to put in the small cooler to keep sandwiches, cheese, or any beverage items cool for our mid day picnic lunch. Made my luggage a little heavier (about 2 lbs total) but was worth it for the 4 of us. This works well esp. if you are traveling by rental car.
WA USA Sun 10/15/2006
Tide Pens and Ziplocs - a must for families traveling w/ babies, toddlers.
Just want to second how awesome ziploc bags are...and the Tide laundry pen is....
Traveling w/ a 2 month old and a 2 year old, you get a lot of mucky items. I packed a few ziplocks and bought a box once I got there. Great for dirty diapers (since hotels don't have diaper pails that hold out stench) and the typical ickiness that is a toddler's outfit by day end.
ALSO - those Tide Stain Pens saved us probably from having to pay the hotel some cleaning fees - my son decided to use his art supplies on the rug and couch before I noticed what he was doing (my bad) but that tide pen lifted all the ink/crayon right up. Lifesavor, and takes up so little space in the luggage.
Cave Creek, AZ USA Fri 10/06/2006
Just got back from Oktoberfest. While the air travel restrictions have eased here, they have not in Europe. Leaving Munich the customs official told us that they were not planning to ease the no-liquid restriction any time soon. I highly suggest putting all liquids in one small checked bag, and still carry on your clothes, etc. in another. With so many extra bags being checked, there is a significant increase in lost luggage. There is so much to be said for packing light. My husband and I each had one small "rolly" bag -- our friends had 5 pieces of luggage. Not only did they hold us up -- they were constantly complaining about how backs ached. When they took a $50 cab ride because they could no longer carry their luggage, we took the metro for 1E each. Pack light!!!!! And take Fabreeze!!!!!
Mooresville, NC USA Fri 10/06/2006
Put a dryer sheet in your pack...it will help keep your not so clean clothes smelling clean!
Wilmington, NC USA Thu 10/05/2006
Customs has increased the penalty to $300 for first-time offenders who havent' declared agricultural items:
Restricted items include meat, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil and products made from animal or plant materials. That single piece of fruit or plant could be harboring a harmful plant and animal pest or disease, such as the Mediterranean Fruit Fly, that could cause serious damage.
More info on their website: http://www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/09292006_5.xml
For any questions about what you can bring back, check Customs "Know Before You Go" publication.
Portland, OR USA Wed 10/04/2006
To Tiny Food Presents
Keep in mind that some food stuffs are not allowed back in the U.S. by customs security. We should all know that flowers and fresh veggies are taboo but, our friend had to toss her expensive, cooked, vacuum-sealed sausage she bought in Holland even though she considered it processed and packaged properly. (Factory-sealed cheese was okay.) Things are probably even tougher now with all of the new regulations. Unless it is in a can or jar, I wouldn't risk carrying food items back!
USA Wed 10/04/2006
Art Stuff for Traveling
Great idea to bring art stuff to document your travels and share with friends and family. If the airport screeners wouldn't allow my paint brushes, guess I could always finger paint! :) Happy painting! Happy travels!
La Sierra, CA USA Mon 10/02/2006
I've had no trouble taking colored pencils and chalks-- I even take a small sharpener! I pack a kneaded rubber eraser, some q-tips for blending and a small sketch pad. My husband listens to his mp3 player on the trains, and I draw! It's great for airport waiting time. too. I've met some nice people when they ask to look at my work. I've done this for more than 4 years now (8 trips) and just have to limit myself because I can't take all the colors I wish I could.
Charlotte, NC USA Sun 10/01/2006
Art Creative Extras
My little goofy extra that I slip in my carry on is some art supplies. Since I want to keep to one carry-on only, the rules since 9/11 has changed what I take. I use to always take some small scissors with me to clip objects for collage, etc. However, those days are over. Depending on the security person, I've had some uncomfortable moments. Once with a metal ruler. I even had a problem with a bunch of sharpened color pencils with one screener. They could be used as weapons I guess.
My current tried and true art extras have been a travel sized solid water color box and a couple water color brushes that have built in water reservoirs. You put clear water in the handles and squeeze water out as you need it. You clean the brush between colors by squeezing and wiping the brush end on a paper towel. They truly work great. And even when liquids weren't allowed, I took them on board empty and filled them in the WC after boarding. I also bring a small post card sized block of water color paper. They are printed on one side just like a post card. Great gifts for people where you visit or those back at home. Or sketch little something and mail it back to yourself!
I'd love to hear about other people's art extras, especially ones that are legal to carry on. Take care and happy travels!
Upstate, NY USA Sat 09/30/2006
One Bag Only
Well, take that playdough for the grandkiddies while you still can - they will probably ban it because it looks like plastic explosive!! :)
The quart bag is pretty roomy especially if you already were planning to go with carryon only under the "old" rules. I had everything set to go with no liquids but now it's great that I can bring handcreme, face moisturizer with sun screen and regular toothpaste (I don't love the powdered kind). Traveling is now much happier - the no carryon water was killing me!
NY, NY USA Sat 09/30/2006
One bag only--
I forgot! With only baby lotion and baby oil to fit in my one quart bag, I'll have room left to fit in playdough for the grandkids :). They share it with other kids on a long flight and make new friends...
Jackson Hole, WY USA Sat 09/30/2006
One bag only--
The folks who need to travel with more face essentials (models, movie stars, etc.) and medications must really feel the squeeze to fit it all in! Me, well, baby lotion and baby oil are all this cowgirl needs to be soft as a baby's bottom... Baby oil also comes in handy to fix any squeeks in your hotel room...
Jackson Hole, WY USA Sat 09/30/2006
one quart bag
I use tons of goop on my face, and I was amazed that my necessities actually fit in a quart bag. If I can do it, anyone can! I packed just the absolute bare minimum in the quart bag, and the rest in my checked luggage, with the thought that I'd rather have most of my goop delayed for a few days if my luggage gets lost, rather than try to get it all in the quart bag and have security decide it all needs to be tossed away.
USA Sat 09/30/2006
Only one quart bag...
Hmmm... Only one quart bag of stuff. Yikes! Those who wear a lot of goop on their face will have a challenge! Guess it's only the necessities...
Arlington, WA USA Fri 09/29/2006
not bags -- you're only allowed ONE quart-sized bag,
NYC, Wed 09/27/2006
Now they're saying to pack your liquid stuff in quart-size ziplock bags, 3 oz or less of each item. This is for carry-on.
USA Wed 09/27/2006
New TSA Rules
Now that TSA has relaxed the carry on rules...it's more important to have a few extra zip lock/clear bags for liquids to go through screening.
I plan to pack a few extras, just to make sure I have what I need when I return home from my next trip.
Not sure what the rules are going to be like coming home from Europe - if liquids will be allowed through screening.
i'll post again when I return next week, if no one has done so first.
USA Mon 09/25/2006
Laundry & Packing
Deb: It's true that finding laundry services can be a challenge in certain cities/countries. But you can always try washing certain lighter-weight items in the sink, then laying them on an extra towel (or a microfiber one you bring from home for this very purpose, as I do) and squeeze out the extra moisture. Hang to dry and it should be dry by the next morning, unless the item is very heavy. This works fine for lightweight pants and skirts, microfiber clothing, underwear, socks, shirts, T-shirts, etc.
Alternatively, you can try airing the garment and spraying with a little Febreeze or similar treatment, or washing only the parts of the garment/item that need it.
Tallahassee, USA Mon 09/25/2006
Laundry and packing
Laundry services are often difficult, or impossible, to find; and, if you can find them, they are very expensive. One smart guy on our tour packed 24 pairs of old underwear and threw them away, one by one, after he had worn them. Another smart move might be to pack several lightweight t-shirts and do the same; throw them away after wearing for a few days. This way you have room for souvenirs in the space you have created!
Cottage Grove, OR USA Sun 09/24/2006
fun photo album
If you're staying in someone's home during your travels, especially the home of someone you've never met before, people will almost certainly love to see pictures from where you're from. When I first started traveling to Europe, I bought a small, two-photos-per-page album and put selected pictures of my relatives, friends, pets, house, family business, etc. in it. As I continued traveling, I accumulated excellent photos of new friends in Europe, and put those in there as well. The album eventually got too small, so I bought a couple of packages of single-photo replacement pages (should be available at photo shops) and made my own, personalized album with a thick cardboard cover, decorated with flags of all of the countries I had been to and bound with sturdy string - pretty easy to cut and re-tie if I wanted to add any new pages. This took a bit of time, but was fun to make, turned out well, is absolutely unique, holds up well, and is a great conversation piece when sitting around with friends in Europe looking it over. Even old friends who've seen it before now want to see my latest editions!
Lansing, MI USA Wed 09/13/2006
Tiny food presents
This last trip to Italy, intent on packing light all month, my best finds were in food shops- the amazing market in Florence, for example, and the shop on the Campo in Siena the name of which I of course can't remember! Anyway, there were the tiniest little bottles of flavored olive oil in a set for about 5 euro, completely flat vacuum-packed risotto with spices mixed in, etc. I wish I had bought more and put them away for holiday giving. I like using the packable storage tote concept- pre- carry-on restrictions I like to wrap fragile souvenirs up in all the laundry from the trip in the collapsible tote, and then check the original carry-on with non- breakables, etc.
USA Sun 09/10/2006
No problems with mailing
I mailed several things from Venice to the US...I purchased several items I didn't want to carry the rest of the trip b/c they were fragile...so I mailed them back to the States...All items fit into a box the size of a large pair of shoes...it cost me approximately 8 euros...i completely think it was worth it...items arrived safely in the States about 1 week later!!!
Glassboro, NJ USA Fri 09/08/2006
Packing for Souvenirs
When we packed for our 21-day trip to France and Austria in April, we neglected to leave enough room for all the souvenirs. We ended up purchasing a small, wheeled luggage that conforms to carry-on standards because I knew there was no way I was going to check that bag (we purchased some specific and expensive items as souvenirs).
On the up side, our new bag is bright red (the rest of our luggage is black). Every time we've used it since our return from Europe, it has served as a cheerful reminder of our trip.
On the down side, it cost us 40 euros we wouldn't have spent if we'd had the foresight to pack an empty duffel bag. Had we done that, we could have made room for the souvenirs by moving things out of our existing carry-on and into the duffel to check on our return flight. Oh well ... live and learn.
But I really, really like that little red suitcase!
Sugar Land, Texas USA Thu 09/07/2006
Pack a punch
We travel to apartments and do a lot of self catering...... always take my Chefs knife and get a picture tube thats the same size to put it in. Roll a flexible cutting board inside ....pack the knife in a microfibre tea towel and stash. There is always space on the sides to take favourite spices not indigent to area..ie Australian desert cajun spice or perhaps seschwan peppers . On the way home there is space to put rolled posters or maps etc in.
Mooloolaba, Qld Oz Thu 09/07/2006
I don't use them at home but I don't share a closet with 3 people like I might on a night train. or have a soccer club discussing the game out side my room at 3 am . just something to concider.......
Bellevue, WA USA Thu 09/07/2006
If you can take a lot of pictures on your camera, take a picture of a sign that describes what you are seeing either before or afterwards. I have done that at many museums and it has saved me a lot of time. Also, one time I wanted someone to e-mail me his pictures on his camera, so I wrote down my e-mail address and took a picture of it. That way, when he uploaded all of his pictures, he remembered to e-mail them to me.
New York City, NY USA Wed 09/06/2006
A couple more solutions to packing vs shipping souvenirs:
1. Save your souvenir shopping until the last day or 2 of your trip.
2. Pack the souvenirs in a bag and have it stored at a hotel for free or a nominal fee. Late in the trip, go back to pick it up. (This is frequently not practical.)
FL USA Wed 09/06/2006
Andre-shopping and shipping
It is expensive, and it takes a while to get stuff.
As the previous poster noted - just plan on buying smaller items if you are just souvenir shopping.
Leave space in your luggage when you pack from home to fill with your purchases.
Honestly, there isn't much in Europe to buy that isn't already in the US. It's not like it was...when you couldn't find things here. We are a global economy now.
We search for unique items, smaller things that remind us of our trips. We have taken to buying the junky reminders of Europe - a plastic replica of the Tower of Pisa, a small pair of wooden shoes, a bobble head doll of the guards in London. they are fun reminders of our trip.
All in all...we take photos as reminders..not just of "things" but of people too!
Any merchant in Europe will offer to ship your purchase home, and they will tell you up front what the cost is...you can then decide if it's worth it.
I hope you have lots of money saved!
USA Wed 09/06/2006
I never mailed anything and soon learned to buy small, light-weight useful items that took up very little room. For example, household linen items such as small tablecloths and napkins from Italy, a couple of yards of curtain material from Germany and Chester, England, pillow covers from Ireland, etc. Any of these take up much less room than tee shirts or sweatshirts and remind me every day of wonderful trips. My husband did buy a necktie in Venice but that took very little room, too. Actually, I bought a white embroidered blouse there and wore it on the trip and later at home.
MO USA Tue 09/05/2006
Is mailing souvenirs practical?
I want to pack light, but I have no idea where to store my souvenirs. How practical is it to keep on mailing souvenirs back home? How expensive is it? I am going to Europe and my home is the US.
San Diego, CA USA Tue 09/05/2006
We spent 21 days in France and Austria in April. These are items I'm glad I took:
1. Freezer bags (quart, gallon and 2.5-gallon sizes) for myriad uses. They work great as space-saver bags for some clothing, picnic foods, small items, souvenirs, etc. I took plenty and even shared a few with other train pasengers, which gave us some wonderful conversation opportunities.
2. Clothes pins. In addition to using them for hanging clothes to dry, they work as paper clips, curtain fasteners, etc.
3. Inexpensive bike chain lock. This worked great to secure our luggage in the bins near the train doors.
4. Surge protector. Not only did it have six outlets, it had a long cord. It came in handy in several rooms that had few outlets. It worked great with our electric converter set. (Next time, I plan to take an extension cord as well.)
5.Hand sanitzer. Since train washroom water isn't potable, I always used the sanitizer after washing my hands. Of course, it's great anytime you want your hands clean.
Sugar Land, Texas USA Mon 09/04/2006
Keeping track of all those digital pictures!
I, too, pack a small notebook in which I keep a brief daily sightseeing log, names of shops, restaurants, people we meet along the way, gifts, etc. One of its best uses, though, is for keeping track of all the pictures we take. Each evening my husband and I scroll through the digital pictures we've taken that day and make note of the picture number (i.e. dsc 334) and what it is(i.e. Cuzco Market). This makes it much easier once we're home to create an album or computer slide show.
Lexington, KY USA Sun 09/03/2006
backpack cover/ backpack straps
I finally found a great backpack cover for when you're going to check your backpack on the plane or bus. It's the Osprey Airporter available from backcountry.com and many other outdoor gear retailers.
colorado springs, CO USA Thu 08/31/2006
For reading star maps, etc., I carry a V. small bicycle taillight, since I could never find another tiny red light that was not big $$$
David & Janet
Portland, OR USA Thu 08/31/2006
Translating what you are eating!
I always pack my Marling Menu Master for the country I am visiting.
This tiny book is filled with menu translations so i don't end up eating a bunny rabbit or something I don't really care to eat!
I found mine on Amazon - used for less than $5.
It's so handy to have when faced with a menu in a small town where they still don't cater to the English reading traveler!
USA Thu 08/31/2006
Gifts from Denver
Before taking anything "animal vegetable or mineral" to friends overseas please check if you are allowed to take the item through Quarantine -- certainly there are lots of things not allowed into Australia, and they can be taked from you on arrival in the country!!
Perth, Australia Thu 08/31/2006
gifts from Denver - suggestions
If you are going there first, I suggest something stereotypically "western". Depending on your budget, it could be coyboys hats, Rocky Mountain Park calendar, hot sauce...
Littleton, CO USA Tue 08/29/2006
Scroll down 31 entries for the more detailed suggestion I made for overseas hostess gifts - which are flower or vegetable seeds from the USA.
TX USA Sat 08/26/2006
Some "special" candy made in Denver or other food delicacy "native" to your area is a nice hostess gift. Or maybe some native american art.
USA Sat 08/26/2006
Can anyone give me a few ideas for host gifts? We will be staying with a couple in Luxembourg on our upcoming trip, and I would like to bring them something nice. Any suggestions?
Denver, CO USA Sat 08/26/2006
Bandana as sleep mask
A dark cotton bandana makes a good sleep mask as well as a neckerchief, etc. I use mine all the time at home as well when travelling. I keep one under my pillow and another in my suitcase ready to go.
PA USA Sun 08/20/2006
small claw type hair clips
Ditto for binder (aka "bulldog")clips -except for your hair!
USA Fri 08/18/2006
small claw type hair clips
My daughter and I just returned from three weeks in Europe and Scandinavia. She brought hair clips for her hair, but they turned out to be a multi purpose item I would pack again! We used them to tighten a camera strap on our arms, closed curtains that wouldn't close, hung clothes to dry from almost anything, kept hair ties together, clipped together loose pages of Rick Steve's guide books and kept a light jacket closed because of a broken zipper. Last but not least, when we arrived at a relatives in Norway we used one (and left it with them), to hold an orchid stem to a stick.
groveland, FL USA Fri 08/18/2006
Picnic Tote Answer
Yes, you can pack both in checked baggage. You can also carry on a corkscrew and if you're talking cheese knife as in the round type used for spreading cheeses, you can put that in carry on, otherwise, I'd definately check it. For the latest list: http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm
Oswego, IL USA Thu 08/17/2006
I'm planning a trip to Tuscany, and would like to pack a picnic tote that contains a corkscrew and cheese knife, among other things. Can a corkscrew and cheese knife be put in checked luggage?
Chicago, IL USA Thu 08/17/2006
I have a tiny flashlight that uses two AAAA batteries and it provides adequate light for reading in bed. It's much handier than a headlight or some such contraption.
USA Thu 08/17/2006
microfiber towels and washcloths
I'm a convert to microfiber. On a recent trip, I took a 16 inch x 16 inch microfiber towel bought in the automotive section of Wal-mart for $1, and it did an excellent job of drying me and my hair each evening. It dried overnight.
I recently bought a pack of 25 towels from Sam's Club for about $13, and have cut a couple into 4 - 4 in x 4 in pieces, hemmed the raw sides, and am looking forward to using them as washcloths.
Yes, you can buy full sized microfiber towels, but why carry the unneeded weight and bulk, and why pay the big price for them?
FL USA Thu 08/17/2006
Good Reading light
My quest for a good reading light began with the multiple hurricanes in Florida. Everyone in the family survived with a headlamp. Great for those long evenings with no electricity. But I had trouble reading in bed and the elastics around my head annoyed me. I discovered a little light made by Rayovac (purchased at Target) that you hang around your neck. I can lay down and it lays on my chest and I can perfectly aim it at my book. It is rectangular with rounded edges, about 3 1/4" x 2 1/2". It has an LED light that you can adjust like headlights on your car. This is one of the first things I pack for Europe and it goes in my carry on for emergencies.
FL USA Thu 08/17/2006
LED reading lights (white) are readily available here in Western Canada and I imagine in the US. Book stores, greeting card stores, novelty stands in the mall, etc. carry them They are small, light weight and come in a variety of designs. They use small watch type batteries and mine lasts at least a month.
Edmonton, AB Canada Tue 08/15/2006
I don't have any experience with book lights, but I've used headlamps a lot on backpack trips, and they're great. You can read a book, a magazine, or a newspaper with it, write in a notebook, navigate to the bathroom, cook dinner, etc., etc., with them. The head strap might mess up your hairstyle (I don't have any hair to mess up), but I don't see a downside otherwise. Try to get one with a recessed switch--I bought a cheap one with an exposed slide switch a few years back; every time I put it in my pack I turned it on, so the batteries were dead when I needed it. I have no experience with using a red lamp, so I can't help you there.
Redwood City, CA USA Tue 08/15/2006
How to get TSA's unwanted attention
One thing I will NOT be bringing on our trip to Paris is my digital pedometer. I've never gotten so much attention from security screeners as I did when I brought it to San Francisco. They questioned me about it in my carry-on, and when I decided to check it in our luggage on the flight back, the suitcase was opened and searched and the pedometer was prominently positioned next to the TSA search notice. Ordinarily, I am never searched or questioned.
MA USA Tue 08/15/2006
I can't decide on a headlamp or a reading light (such as the "itty bitty") for reading in bed while traveling. I want something with an LED; small; long-lasting battery life; and wonder if an optional red light for preserving night vision would also be good. What are your experiences?
I read about a RayOVac light bar you wear on a cord around your neck, but it doesn't seem to be readily available. http://www.rayovac.com/flashlight/home&auto/reading_lightbar.htm
San Mateo, CA USA Tue 08/15/2006
I've noticed a lot of postings re: wash cloths. My solution is simple and free. I cut an old towel into several washcloth sized pieces and pack in the bottom of my suitcase. I use one for a couple of days and throw it away as I move on. This way I always have a clean cloth and don't have to deal with washing them or bringing them home.
Lexington, nc USA Sun 08/13/2006
Little or No Carry-on Luggage
Check Traveler's Helpline and Packing Light boards for information about carry-on luggage traveling from the UK today. Also check with your airline for updated information as this situation unfolds. Only essentials (medications with no liquids unless verified as authentic, travel documents and currency) are being allowed in clear plastic bag. Everything else must be checked.
Canada Thu 08/10/2006
I found the perfect journal for our trip to Wales last year. It has lined paper for writing and grid paper that I used to keep track of our expenses. We stashed ticket stubs, meals receipts, and other souvenirs into the envelopes bound into the journal. We traveled all over Wales by public transportation and it fit easily into my jacket pocket or bag. It's wonderful to go back to the journal to relive our experiences. I bought my journal from destinationunknownjournals.com
Natick, MA USA Sun 08/06/2006
Wake up with Zip Fizz
My friend who works long hours on movie sets introduced me to ZipFizz. It's a powder you put in water like Crystal Light but it wakes you up if your sleepy much better than coffee does. It is also filled with vitamins and potassium. It does, of course, contain caffeine, 100 mgs.
I was so sleepy on a train trip through part of Austria a few years ago that I missed some of the stunning scenery. I wished I had ZipFizz then. It's one of the first items I am packing this time around.
Pasadena, CA USA Fri 08/04/2006
Daisy is so right about keeping tickets, bills, receipts, etc. for a travel scrap book. If good notes are kept, day by day, then when returning home it's easy to put together a vacation history /journal. One suggestion to add interest: Explain to the reader that your journal is partly fiction and the fiction is the first sentence for each day of the trip. You could get those first sentences from http://www.bulwer-lytton.com where bad writing is celebrated by contestants in the contest composing the worst first line of "novels never written"... and then segue from there to the facts of each vacation day. You will be surprised how easy that can be done.
Houston, TX USA Thu 08/03/2006
Personalized Travel/journal book
I make my own personalized mini guide book on my computer that doubles for diary entries. One section lists my day by day intinerary from stop to stop and directions (in a different color ink) that I figured out by studying street maps before the trip. Another section describes the sites with facts and interesting tidbits. Another section is a dictionary of sorts for the most used words I plan to need, and the last section has misc. info such as converting sizes, temps, emergency info, addresses for post cards, etc. I cut an envelope down to make a pocket at the very back to keep ticket stubs, momentos, etc. in. I keep journal notes on the back sides of these pages each day and then transcribe my notes when I get home. The top corner is either stapled together or, I spend a little extra and take them to a quick-print shop to have them wire/plastic bound. The booklets make great souvenirs momentos from my trip as well.
USA Wed 08/02/2006
I found a journal at our local Michael's for $1. It has 100 pages, a hard front and back, is spiral, and has lined paper. I have NEVER been able to keep a diary or a journal, but I forced myself to do this on our recent trip to Amsterdam and Italy. I am SO glad I did! You think you will remember everything, but you can't.
I hauled that thing with me every day. I wrote down where we ate (got business cards when I could), what we ate, who we spoke with, what we saw (duh), everything I could possibly think of. I would write on the backs of the business cards what I ate, and the date. I saved time schedules, hotel flyers, etc. Following a tip from this board, I used zip-lock bags to save stuff in--just labeled them "Florence", etc.
When it came time to do the scrapbooks from our trip, I had all sorts of info and comments, etc. that I had forgotten over the weeks. Now when I sit and go thru the scrapbooks, I can chuckle at the memory of trying to talk with a little 6-year-old Dutch boy, who didn't know any English yet, (and I don't know any Dutch) but who told me, very earnestly, how he came to have a bruised pointer finger. I wrote it all down in that cheapie journal, so I wouldn't forget.
USA Tue 08/01/2006
My greatest recent discovery is a titanium spork I got at a yard sale for about a dollar. (I think that they are about 8.00 at camping stores). Weighs nothing, fits in my med/bath/makeup bag and is so handy when you have some kind of snack that needs a fork or a spoon on the train, in your hotel room, etc.
Tucson , Az USA Thu 07/27/2006
Things I brought and am SO GLAD I DID: * Journal, 4x4" or so, wire bound to stick pen in spiral when not in use. Itinerary and all contacts and addresses taped inside its back cover.
*Adidas type stretchy work out pants for the plane ride over (change in the bathroom when it's time to try and sleep) and also as jammies for your trip.
* I bought a 6 pack of San Francisco (my local home area) key chains for my overseas friends, who all thought it was kinda dorky, also thought it was sweet and immediately put them on their key chains :)
Things I WISH I HAD BROUGHT: *Battery charger. One came with my camera but somehow I lost it before my trip and ended up buying at least 10 new batteries on my trip. It ended up being an expensive thing to forget!
Things I brought and WISHED I HADN'T: *An umbrella surprisingly. But I'm glad I had it just in case, so it's worthwhile to bring because you can predict the weather.
*Gloves were more of a pain than was necessary especially when taking photos and it wasn't so cold that I really needed them.
*Didn't need the long john bottoms but I did wear the top in a layer under a tee shirt.
OTHER TIPS: * Don't bring 14 changes of clothes for 14 days! I spent 2 weeks in England, Ireland, and Scotland and took 2 pairs of dark jeans, about 4 sweaters, 5 or 6 tee shirts, and 3 long sleeved shirts to layer with. I had one warm jacket and a light weight water proof windbreaker type with hood I NEVER used because it DIDN'T rain somehow. (miracle!) I brought enough underwear and socks to last me a week, then I washed everything in one big load in Dublin halfway through the trip and was set for the second half. When my jean hems got muddy from hiking, I would simply wash them from the knee down in the bathtub and leave to dry all night and they were good to go the next morning! Or if your hotel has a hair dryer, dry your clothes that way.
*IPOD for long train rides, tube rides or just wandering around. I found that having my Ipod on while exploring towns was excellent because now certain songs will remind me of being in London or Edinburgh or wherever I was when I heard them while travelling.
*Shout wipes for clothing stains, baby wipes (for make up when washcloths are not available), earplugs for thin walled hotels and the plane ride over, and the best invention on earth: an eye mask! I flew British Airways and they give you an awesome little care pack with socks (actually high quiality and warm ones even though they don't look like much), a mini toothbrush and toothpaste for when it's time to land so you don't kill the immigration officals with your "flying for 11 hours" breath, and an eye mask. I used that eye mask the first night when I woke up at 6 am confused by the time difference and jet lag. Since the sun was up, my brain was confused, so on went the eyemask and back to sleep I went!! I use it still at home for mid day naps!
*PIN numbers are 4 digits there, I found this out the DAY before my first trip to the UK and almost broke my leg running to the bank to change my 5 digit PIN in time for the trip!
Oakland, CA USA Mon 07/24/2006
Baby-Wipes and dryer sheets are a MUST!
I spent two weeks backpacking in Ireland and also in Paris, and have to say the single best item I took was baby wipes. I had some pretty light-scented ones in a small re-sealable pack, and I tell you, they were absolutely perfect. They fit in my very small backpack like they weren't even there, and they are SO great for a quick refreshing before dinner if you haven't had a place to shower in awhile, which happens when you backpack. Also, I put some dryer sheets in my backpack too, they kept my clothes smelling great, and if you rub them all over your skin, they are the best I've ever found at keeping bugs at bay. Plus you smell dryer fresh!
Syracuse, IN USA Mon 07/24/2006
Heating packs for winter travel
My husband, two daughters (ages 7 & 9 at the time) and I went to London this past Thanksgiving 2005. And two surprises (even though we had been warned) were the short days (sundown by 4:30!) and how bitterly cold it was (we are winter wimps from Texas). But for all the sights we wanted to see we wanted to walk and so my Texas purchase of the small disposable heating packs for hands and feet were excellent. They lasted 8-10 hours and cost only $1.25 for 6 packs.
Valley Mills , TX USA Mon 07/24/2006
What to wear?
Nestor: There is a great "Travelers' Helpline" under the category Help! where you can ask this type of question.
That said, what you pack always depends on your own comfort level. I can stand cold weather, but having been in London in the fall (and a cold summer), I'd take a longish rain jacket, preferably with a zip-out liner, a hat of some type, lightweight water-resistant gloves, and a light inner layer like a microfleece pullover. Being wet and cold is not pleasant!
FL USA Mon 07/24/2006
What to wear?
Hello, I am planning a trip to London in late November of this year. But London weather being what it is, I am confused as to what to wear; being from Southern California doesn't prepare me for rain. I know I should plan for rain, but I don't want to pack a bulky rain jacket that'll make for an uncomfortable trip. What kind of clothing should I pack for that time of the year in London and Glastonbury? Would a sweater and thin rain jacket do the trick? I also don't want to look like the typical tourist. Any help would be appreciated.
Los Angeles, CA USA Mon 07/24/2006
To use during my four trips to Europe, I purchased a cheap plastic cover photo album from a discount store that holds two pictures to each page. In the bottom of each page I place a lined index card. Every night before I go to sleep, I write on one index card about the day's events. Above it, I put a postcard representing the main thing we saw or did that day and any tickets we got. In the back, I keep hotel brochures, other postcards, candy wrappers, whatever you would like to save to remember your trip. It turns into my "office". When I return home, I place these items in the back of my large photo album behind the section that hold the pictures of my trip. Then the little photo album is put back into my suitcase for the next trip. By doing this, I don't have to spend hours journaling and when people look at my photo album, they enjoy the other items I've saved too. I have never missed a day writing in the journal and reading them again brings me right back to that day and place again.
CA USA Fri 07/21/2006
To bring or not to bring
Our family of three (including 14 year old daughter) just got back from 3 weeks in Italy. We all easily survived, and could have brought fewer clothes WITHOUT even using any packing cubes but rather freezer weight ziplock bags and a 22" wheel on (though we checked ours) bags.
Things I was glad I brought: 4 flexible plastic hangers that won't break in your bag, 2 of which had clips for hanging skirt/pants/bra/underwear to dry. We did have a clothes line and barely used it as most places had a couple extra plastic hangers for drying. Also, on the note of drying...the GREATEST tip I got from someone I ran into in Rick's store was from a woman who said to bring a large microfiber towel (XL not needed). It turns out we used it for swimming...BUT more importantly she said to do this, and it was a great asset in drying things: after wringing out your hand wash to the best of your ability wrap your clothes in the towel and wring the stuff out some more. The towel is able to eek out even more water, and is reusable even when damp after the first use. It drys overnight if travelling the next day and the best part is most clothes (except jeans) will be totally dry or way closer than they would have been the next day too. We were skeptical and I was wondering if I'd wasted my money, but it turns out it was the best purchase!
My husband brought a glue stick. Sounds odd I know, but he was into journaling and would stick in ticket stubs from the train rides/business cards from great places we ate/slept and parts of post cards (yes we had the tiniest swiss army knife with scissors-checked in our bag when flying)that struck his fancy and small maps of cities we were in.
I wasn't sure about which type of travel wallet to bring. The most useful for me was the shoulder one becasue it was large enough to carry our small flat travel clock (we had no watch), a chap stick, money for the day and easy access and not as hot as a money belt. I never was worried about being pick pocketed but walked with awareness and slipped it under my clothes (a reason not to wear a dress as it can't be easily accessed)in train stations etc. In retrospect, bringing the neck wallet for travel days and something a tiny bit larger to hold our camera/map would have been great. Ikea used to sell unbreakable CHEAP colored plastic utensil sets (the lexan ones Rick sells are nice but way too expensive) that I used years ago for my toddler...We brought a knife and 2 spoons. Worth it for the quick yogurt on the train or spreading nutella on whatever. Have fun!
My suggestion is to bring the little extras and ditch the "what if I need clothes"...you can buy umbrellas and ponchos easily if it rains (at least we did in Venice).
Seattle, WA USA Fri 07/21/2006
my four best extras
My family recently returned from several weeks in Italy and Spain, and I want to share my four favorite travel extras:
1) Hobo International "Essential Traveler" purse. Kind of spendy (about $80) but perfect if you need something pickpocket-proof but with more room than a money belt. (And it's now my everyday purse at home.) It's tough microfiber with interior pockets, a zipper that goes round the bottom, and an adjustable strap that makes it fit comfortably across the body.
2) A packet of orange microfiber rags from the auto dept. at Target (about $8 for a pack of 8). They're about 15" square and we used them as washcloths, napkins, beach towels, emergency bath towels, etc. Easy to wash and they dry out fast -- so they don't get smelly!
3) Compression packing bags (ours were $11.50 for three at Target, but you can get them from Steves and many other places)are the best packing supply ever! Each member of my family was allowed one 20" rolling suitcase for the trip, and everyone -- even my teenage daughter -- was able fit more than 2 weeks of clothes and supplies into their suitcase with room leftover, thanks to these amazing bags.
4)Pashminas. My daughters and I used them to cover bare shoulders, as blankets on the plane, and to keep warm on cool evenings. Plus -- they make you look great.
Minneapolis, MN USA Thu 07/20/2006
A creative idea, but also beware of any customs restrictions (agricultural) that might be in place. Also, what's considered a lovely flower or plant in one place might turn out to be an invasive species that is harmful to native plants in another place, so it would be advisable to do your research on that as well.
USA Sun 07/16/2006
Packets of flower or vegetable seeds are the best, lightweight gifts to give someone who lives in another part of the world. The gift just keeps on giving - but be sure to check the seed packet to make sure weather and soil conditions in Italy will be a place where the flowers or veggies can thrive. (Hey, since it's Italy, how about seeds for some 'unusual-looking' tomatoes?)
Euless, TX USA Sun 07/16/2006
Gifts for hostess in Italy
I like to take something local as a gift. Maybe, Native Amererican artwork/jewelry, a small quilt, or some jam/jelly made from a North American fruit/berry. I know you're traveling light, but you won't have to carry it back.
USA Sat 07/15/2006
I think RER refers to the subway in Paris. don't panic. Paris is very easy to get around in. If you Google RER, the first hit refers to the RER. Check it out. Europe is great. You'll do fine.
USA Fri 07/14/2006
HELPP WTH IS RER??
Okay, I'm traveling to Paris on Monday.
What is the RER??? Is it trains?? Is it different from the metro? I am totally confused. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD RESPOND.
Atlanta, GA USA Fri 07/14/2006
I have a small watercolor set along with essentials so I can paint a bit if time allows. Also, some hard candy and nuts and raisins in case I get the let-down feeling which happens now and then.
USA Thu 07/13/2006
My eye mask and ear plugs were my best investment! I slept great every night in hostels and hotel rooms near streets (most were!).
I placed all my travel iteneraries and reservations, maps, train schedule print outs and copies of documents in a manilla folder. This was also useful for storing paper momentos and postcards.
Tide sells great powder packets good for 1 sink load of laundry!
Memphis, TN USA Thu 07/13/2006
I bought 1/4 yard of micro-fleece and cut it into washcloths. Easy to pack, easy to leave behind, they rinse out well and dry VERY quickly.
USA Thu 07/13/2006
Bring a clothesline! I've never used it for clothes, but I tied my backpack together, fixed my purse strap, attached things to my bag, and used it as a belt on various occasions.
FL USA Thu 07/13/2006
Bring a small baggie in case your wash cloth is damp when it's time to pack.
USA Wed 07/12/2006
Although the idea of using a "corner of the provided towel" as a washcloth might sound good, how will that keep the entire towel from getting wet while you are in the shower or bath?! It may work for just washing your face in the sink, however.
Don't agonize - Take a "shower pouf," washcloth, bandanna, dry Dove-type cloth, baby washcloth, small piece of chamois cloth, or whatever suits your needs. The last thing you want when you travel is to not feel clean - and you are used to having a washcloth! I also take a nail brush, and a small pumice for my feet, as well as a small tube of peppermint foot lotion.
Tallahassee, USA Tue 07/11/2006
I also wanted to mention that i used the sponge rollers in my hair at night...so i didn't have to take a curling iron and it truly saved time in the morning!!
Iowa USA Tue 07/11/2006
We just got back from europe....what a great time!!! We took a small duffle bag in our suitcase. We used it on the way over for a carryone...just in case our laugage got lost then folded it down in our regular suitcase and used it for things that we bought so we could carry it on the flight home. This worked great for us. We also had to go to a laudry mat during our trip and used it for the clothes. We packed light and washed our laundry in the room but being gone for a month they needed a good washing....RS clothes line is great!!!
Iowa USA Tue 07/11/2006
European Curling Irong
Three years ago I bought a Braun curling iron at Corte Ingles in Spain. It was inexpensive, works wonderfully, and can be used to add curl to my hair after using the hotel hair dryer. I've taken on each trip since and even loaned it out to fellow travelers.
Cheyenne, WY USA Mon 07/10/2006
The reason why wash cloths aren't provided in some countries is because they feel the item is too "personal" to share. If they don't want to use a washcloth on their face that has been used on your private parts, I don't think they're going to want the corner of the towel used in that way, either.
USA Mon 07/10/2006
Zip ties for car rental in Ireland
Huh? Believe it. The narrow roads in Western Ireland caused two shredded tires and a lost hubcap. Then we started noticing that the locals use zip ties to secure the hubcab to the wheel. Ingenious- takes NO space and MUCH cheaper than a replacement. (The rental companies count the hubcaps when you pick up the car- must tell you they loose quite a few!)
Tucker, GA USA Sun 07/09/2006
The set of two small and one larger packing cube sold either at the RS store or another source has made all the difference, for me anyway, to truly pack light. If it can't all fit in the cubes, it can't go in the suitcase! Generally you can use one small one for underwear and a couple things to sleep in, the other small one for your shirts and the largest for your pants/skirts/shorts. I'm getting ready for a domestic flight and it was so tempting to try to stuff more in- but now I pack light for traveling in the US, as well.
USA Sat 07/08/2006
I don't get the "take a wash cloth" bit at all. Wet a corner of the provided towel at your hotel, (two corners if you are that picky) and leave it hanging on the rail when you leave. One less (wet) thing to carry.
BC Canada Sat 07/08/2006
I don't know if this is "goofy," but the last time my wife and I went to Europe we packed the smallest Brita water filtration pitcher. We don't like tap water and rather than worry about finding adequate supplies of bottled water (for the night, say) we just used the pitcher. It's cheaper too. It might seem like a large item when you're packing light, but you can fill up the hollow part with socks or whatever. And a filter pitcher is a lot cheaper than buying bottled water!
Oakland, CA USA Fri 07/07/2006
Neutrogena sells a small solid type of sunscreen. SPF 30 oil free (Looks like a very small stick of deodorant.) I carried this around & it was handy to use mid day while in sunny Italy.
USA Wed 07/05/2006
Cheat sheet - $$
I printed out a tiny copy of an Euro converter cheat sheet to carry in my wallet. A quick glance helped me to convert cost of purchases.
USA Wed 07/05/2006
Toilets overseas usually have much less water in the bowl than those in the USA do, which seems to make certain activities, um, more stinky than at home. I've started bring an Oust Mini air freshener, which helps freshen the hotel room or an unbearably putrid public restroom. So far the fact that it is aerosol has not been a problem, but if you're worried, a Stick-Up or other lightweight solid air freshener should work too.
USA Tue 07/04/2006
Re: Wash cloths
I've also found a nylon mesh shower "poof" (also known as a scrunchie?) to be a handy wash cloth substitute. It dries really quickly, and weighs next to nothing.
USA Tue 07/04/2006
Ear plugs, clothes line, ziplock bags
Just a few handy items that helped so much for my 2 week trip to Europe. They are pretty obvious...ear plugs, a makeshift clothesline, and gallon ziplock bags. The ear plugs were incredible to have. Not only did I stay in a few hostels, but there are outside noises, people snoring, or just interruptions. When I put them in, I heard nothing and that was a relief. I woke every morning fully rested. The clothing line (from Rick Steves) helped me dry my clothes easily and effortlessly. Every morning they were dry and ready to be worn. (Unfortunately, I left it at one of the hostels.) The ziplock bags, I took about 5, kept my dirty clothes separate from my clean clothes, wet clothes separate, souveniers, all my train information, books... Everything was kept dry. I could not have lived without these three items.
Mt. Juliet, TN USA Tue 06/27/2006
Two fantastic tricks!
Great ideas. But to save time, just use an old, soft pillowcase from home(or buy a new travel-size one if you prefer - WalMart). I always take an old pillowcase with me; I then use it in hotels so I know at least the pillowcase is clean!
If you need a drawstring, clip a small hole in the top (open) part where the fabric folds over and insert a drawstring using a safety pin.
USA Mon 06/26/2006
Pashmina, actually, refers to a specific kind of cashmere: the cashmere wool that comes from the underbelly of Himalayan mountain goats. But the term "pashmina" is now frequently (though inaccurately) used to refer to shawls/wraps of various types of materials (including 100% cashmere, cashmere-silk blends, rayon, etc.).
I find that 100% cashmere shawls work really well for travel. I have a light-weight one from Nordstrom that rolls up small, yet provides excellent warmth. It's softer and warmer than the cashmere-silk blends that I also have.
USA Sun 06/25/2006
Our family took a small padded lunch bag and several empty small water bottles to Southern France recently. We put this in B&B hosts freezer nightly and sodas /food in fridge. We had cool frinks all day and safe picnic food .
Cincinnnatti, OH USA Sat 06/24/2006
If you'd like to purchase a pashmina online, try the Greater Good website (www.thehungersite.com). Any purchase made there also provides a food donation, and they're having a sale right now. I am not associated with this website in any way,just an admirer.
Portland, OR USA Fri 06/23/2006
Pashmina apparently means cashmere, and many pashminas are made of cashmere. Which sounds wonderfully luxurious, but not like a lightweight scarf/wrap for travel. So, if you are searching, you may want to add cotton or silk or whatever fabric you'd like your wrap to be made of to your search terms, or you will find mostly cashmere ones, in my experience.
USA Fri 06/23/2006
The versatile lightweight shawls/scarves are usually spelled "pashmina" rather than "pashima'. This may widen your search.
NC USA Fri 06/23/2006
I have seen many posts about having copies of passport pages and credit card numbers in luggage for back-ups, and have always done so.
But that makes me somewhat vulnerable to theft. The last time I travelled, my credit card printout page had this disclaimer: Subtract Andy's age from each credit card four-number group, then add Rob's age to arrive at correct number.
Made it hard for any thieves, but easy for me: Andy and Rob are twins. . .
Seattle, WA USA Thu 06/22/2006
Where would I find a Pashima to purchase?
Fair Oaks, Ca USA Thu 06/22/2006
Wipes are also great for removing stains from clothing. Even ketchup!
Saskatchewan, Canada Wed 06/21/2006
Amen the baby wipes!
There is nothing more refreshing when the travel grit gets you down. Olay or Dove if you're feeling dried out, Clearasil if you need, plain ole generic baby wipes for the rest of you. They are worth their weight in gold. BTW, they stay moist forever. If I have leftovers, I just leave them in my bag for the next trip. If I run out they can be purchased everywhere.
USA Wed 06/21/2006
I agree about the baby wipes. I use them daily at home also, but ALWAYS travel with a Ziploc bag of them in both my toiletry bag and my suitcase. They are great for taking off makeup (I use them even at family or friends' homes so I don't stain their washcloths!), washing hands before eating, sanitary use in the bathroom, etc. I can't tell you how many times on trips both home and abroad I have saved the day, so to speak, with the baby wipes. There are multiple, endless uses for them. Try it sometime. You will like it!
USA Wed 06/21/2006
Clean feet on the go
My sister was a genius on our June Europe trip. We didn't always have access to a shower and we wore flip flops every day, so she brought a travel pack of baby wipes so we could wash our feet on the go.
Anchorage, AK USA Tue 06/20/2006
Two fantastic tricks!
An alternative to buying an inflatable pillow for train/plane is to sew a rectangle of fabric into a tube open at one end (I add a drawstring) This can be stuffed with clothing for use as pillow en route, then can be used for laundry, etc. later! Another trick is to buy pure vitamin E oil capsules at the drug store and pack a few. These can be pricked with a safety pin to release the oil, which I then use for cuts, burns, wrinkles, etc.
Toronto, Ontario Canada Mon 06/19/2006
Make labels ahead of time for those you wish to send a post card to... It'll save time and you'll make sure you have the address correct while at home instead of possibly forgetting a part of it while overseas.
Arlington, Tx USA Fri 06/16/2006
Zip off pants/shorts
Zip off pants- some one said they say tourist right off. But they fill the gap of getting on a plane in cold weather, and arriving at an airport with no a/c. Quick and easy to use. The shorts look good and are light weight. The pants can get you in a church in a pinch.
Branford, Ct USA Thu 06/15/2006
Pashima deal - going fast
I always take a pashima with me on my travels. use it as blanket on the plane when cold, and during my travels to cover shoulders, etc in churches. Or going out at night...
THE GAP has a great deal right now - if you can still find it. .47CENTS for a pashima like shawl! I just bought 2 of them, one black, one pink. They are almost as large as a regular Pashima, and made of a machine washable material.
So -- if you are looking for a great, lightweight/dressy way to stay warm...get to your local GAP store and ask for the scarf/shawl that's on sale right now! Hurry, they will probably go fast!
I bought mine 2 days ago!
USA Thu 06/15/2006
I scan all of my travel documents and email them to myself. I sure was happy to have a high quality color copy of my passport ready to print after I was robbed in Kabul last April. This copy got me into the Embassy and a new passport was processed within the hour with few questions since I was able to provide the copy.
USA Wed 06/14/2006
Besides using the idea of making a card with all phone numbers, etc. and shrinking it down, I add to the list instructions on how to call the US from the countries I will be in and how to call from country to country (example: France to Italy to confirm reservations). I also laminate this card and make sure it is at least as small as my passport. Happy travels!
FL USA Tue 06/13/2006
Sound Machine & Fan on a Rope
My travel companion brought a small sound machine from Sharper Image on our recent trip to Italy. It was wonderful, blocking out all amibient noises from outside our hotel rooms and lasted for three weeks on one set of batteries.
We also both brought small fans you wear around your neck if it's hot outside. Yeah, I know. It looks kind of weird, but if we'd had 1000 extras with us at the Colosseum we could have sold them all and probably covered the cost of our trip!
However, my fan was from Magellan's and stopped working the second day. My friend's fan was from the Sharper Image and was still going strong when we came home.
Laguna Beach, CA USA Mon 06/12/2006
I have two copies of my passport- and do the same as the previous poster, except: besides the passport (I copy all the contact info for replacement on a margin area and trim the rest away) I copy all credit card #s and phone numbers of banks and relatives, etc, on just one 3X 5 card. On another I write all the numbers of all the hotels (a great RS idea, if you are out for the day and get lost or something!). I leave one set of all these with my emergency contact friend or neighbor, and the other I keep apart and NOT in the money belt where the real documents are- sometimes in the room safe, sometimes as she does in the suitcase. If you don't have tiny writing you can shrink it with the photocopier or use tiny font on the computer...it's reassuring to have all the info you would need in one place.
USA Sun 06/11/2006
re: ready for the restroom
I do something similar with essential "freshen up" items I want for the plane bathroom--face wipes, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush, etc. All these items are in a zip bag that I can take into the bathroom before landing. Freshening up before landing actually makes me feel less tired, even when I don't sleep well on the plane.
USA Sun 06/11/2006
I carry the copies of my documents in a different area than the actual article. So, if the article(ie: passport, credit card, airline tix, etc)...gets stolen or lost...I have the paperwork available to help me cancel, or replace the item. Make sure you copy the back side of your credit cards too, so you have the number to call if you need assistance.
I use a money belt (that is worn under my clothes, NOT accessed when in public) for my passport & credit cards. In a zipped pocket, pant or coat, I carry only one credit card & small amt of cash I will need for that day. I usually keep the copies in the wall safe at hotel &/or inside my suitcase, that is locked with a small padlock.
Another system is to switch paperwork with your spouse or friend, you carry his/her important copies of info & he/she carries yours.
USA Sat 06/10/2006
Ready for the restroom
I've got a little cosmetic case I slip in my purse or daypack when traveling. It has wet wipes (in case someone sprinkled all over the seat), seat covers (small packs from Charmin available at Walmart), and about an eighth of a roll of TP (saved from at home). I'm always prepared when I discover (as one friend put it) toilet hell.
San Diego, CA USA Sat 06/10/2006
Instead of a torch/flashlight, I bring a headlamp. Compact and more versatile! Hands-free. I use it as a personal reading lamp, too.
toronto, on can Sat 06/10/2006
Ok, I've seen a million blurbs about copying your essential documents, but I am getting conflicting ideas about where to put everything. how many copies and where exactly should I put them? (I have a money belt, main backpack, and a small daypack) Thanks everyone
USA Fri 06/09/2006
homemade granola put in small baggies are great high energy snacks. Good shelf life too. Also healthy.
Lansford, ND USA Mon 06/05/2006
Travel Documents - Copies
I scanned images of my passport and drivers license and then 'printed' them as pdf files. I used photoshop to shrink the images and saved them in a medium-resolution format as pdf files. I then password-protected the files. If I ever need to produce a copy, almost any computer can read the pdf files. I keep them along with other things such as credit card loss reporting info, a copy of my itinerary, etc. on a small USB drive. It's small and light, and if it gets stolen the documents can't be read without the password. Actually, I think one could probably put the files in a folder on a digital camera memory card (like Compact Flash or SD) since the files don't take up much memory space. However, the pdf format on a USB Flash memory drive pretty much guarantees universal readability.
Austin, TX USA Mon 06/05/2006
I always take my foot massage roller. It is a ridged wooden stick about an inch in diameter that you put on the floor and roll back and forth under your feet. It does wonders for relieving 'museum feet', and I take it on every trip.
Olympia, WA USA Sun 06/04/2006
Backpacks can walk!
A very light and cheap bike lock can give you peace of mind that your backpack will not walk out of your hostel (as mine once did!) I now secure my pack to the bed with the bike lock and keep the zippers closed with little golden key locks. At night I feel assured knowing that my money is locked into the bottom of my pack rather then cradled in my sleeping arms.
Tor, Ont canada Fri 06/02/2006
If you don't have any downey wrinkle release (which works great) use a spray bottle filled with plain water. Spray your clothes, give them a shake & they will dry wrinkle free also. I always pack a small empty spray bottle for this purpose.
USA Fri 06/02/2006
Downy Wrinkle Release
On our trip last month, we took a spray bottle of Downy Wrinkle Release with us. Just spray the clothes down the night before you wear them, and voila! No wrinkles the next morning. This product was a lifesaver after packing 12 shirts into a backpack!
USA Fri 06/02/2006
freshen stale hotel rooms
Put a couple of small vanilla scented candles or soaps in your luggage. Don't take much space or weight and just left out in a kind of stale smelling hotel room really help freshen it up.
Santa Rosa, CA USA Thu 06/01/2006
Just back from 15 day driving tour in Germany and Austria. Stayed in 10 small hotels. Not one of them had wash cloths. Luckily, I packed two - in different colors - one for body - one for face. After each use, washed them using my travel detergent in squeeze bottle and hung them on a hanger in the closet to dry for next time.
USA Thu 06/01/2006
I always travel with a small keychain flashlight in case of power failures. They come in handy everywhere, like if you lose something in a parking lot at night, or just walking in a poorly lit area. If you have to evacuate a building in the dark, the small bit of light will make a big difference.
Montreal, Quebec Canada Thu 06/01/2006
Better Dining Via Picnics
We picnic alot (and as a consequence enjoy some really great reigonal food) sometimes in the car because of rain, often for a bedspread lunch or dinner to save time and money. I bought a CHEAP (99 cent) plastic tablecloth, cut a third off and used the 2/3's to protect the bedspread etc. The remaining part I cut in two to use as lap protectors if dining in, well, less than ideal conditions. If picnicing outdoors we place it plastic side down on damp grass etc. Weighs almost nothing, toss at the end of the trip. We've had great picnics in some damp but lovely places where others have had to move on to drier ground. I also take a cheap large plastic plate for cutting purposes, buy paper plates in Europe, and cleanup is a snap!
San Diego, CA USA Wed 05/31/2006
Mountain Equipment Coop (mec.ca) makes a Airline Tote in 2 sizes for small and large packpacks that would help prevent the backpack straps from getting caught. See it at http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524442617615&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374302699795&bmUID=1148951534139
Canada Mon 05/29/2006
Back Pack Straps
Since we use Rick's bags, the straps fit easily into a zippered panel on back.
If you check your baggage, you will be told to remove the straps. You might just have to put them inside your pack -- so leave room!
Good luck with it all and have a great trip.
TX USA Mon 05/29/2006
Backpack straps - Hide away
Consider purchasing an inexpensive duffle that the pack will go into...the bonus is, on the other end, you now have an extra bag to use while there for dirty laundry, or for bringing home souvenirs.
And, you did not mention how large the backpack is, but there are certainly duffles the correct size for about any pack out in the market.
If you really want to hide those straps...you should have purchased a travel pack like the ones that High Sierra makes....the Passport, Transport, Railpass all have backpack straps and a waist belt that hide away behind a zippered panel, just for this purpose. They are not expensive, starting at about $80 for the smallest one. Check out www.ebags.com and search "High Sierra" to find their travel luggage.
USA Mon 05/29/2006
Back doors don't have a/c, so...
I always bring an inexpensive folding fan that gets envious looks in hot theaters and stuffy trains. I bought mine in SF Chinatown for about $2.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 05/28/2006
money clips / credit card holder
I bought an inexpensive (abt $1.25) clear vinyl wallet insert, (the kind for photos or credit cards), to use to store folded $$ & also for my credit cards inside a jacket pocket &/or my waist money belt. It helps keep my cash & CC tidy.
Another way I have carried my credit cards (when I don't want the bulk of my regular wallet), is to use a small clear hair elastic, as a rubber band to hold the cards & folded bills together.
I have also been known to use a large paper clip to hold bills together instead of my billfold.
I clip some small bills together (for tips) & the larger bills are elsewhere, on me (paperclipped or rubber banded) for safe keeping.
So pack a few paper clips & thin rubberbands to help organize your CA$H.
DO NOT place this in an
pocket that could be accessed by a pickpocketer.
USA Fri 05/26/2006
I was very surprised to see that nobody has mentioned the battery charger. I can't imagine a single trip without one. I use batteries in my camera and flashlight. Don't leave without one, unless you can survive without any electronics. ;)
Toronto, ON Canada Wed 05/24/2006
Travel bags by High Sierra for Scarlett
Check out this link for the High Sierra bag mentioned below. I bought one and it's fantastic!
ebags.com is also offering free shipping, and you can return it if you don't like it.
i really like the fact that the day pack can zip off, and it's a nice small size, easy to carry, but big enough for keeping your passport, money, guide book and some water in for your day travels!
USA Tue 05/23/2006
Scarlett-High Sierra bag
The Trek 35 is carry on size, since it's 22" x 13.5". But- have you seen the new travel packs they offer? Check out ebags.com for the new Transport or Passport both of them are carry on size, and are designed for travel. The Trek 35 is a day hiker pack. Top load, makes it harder to get to your items. the new travel luggage is panel load, so you pack it like a suitcase. They both have hide away shoulder and waist straps. and the price is great on ebags.com!
The Passport is just about the exact same size as the Trek 35 - 22" x 14 x 8.5. The Transport offers a bonus,, a zip off day pack that you can use during the day for touring, and it also attaches to the front of the pack, or to the shoulder straps so you can keep your valuable in front, easy to access. The Transport is 23" x 14.5 x 8.5 - still carry on size!
USA Tue 05/23/2006
Scented Dryer Sheets
A word of warning to those thinking of using scented dryer sheets. If, like me, you are somewhat sensitive to chemicals, test out the dryer sheets before using them on your expensive trip away. If I were to put them in my shoes, my feet would start to give off an odor reminiscent of a dead skunk and might also get a rash. If the sheets were among my clothes, I would sneeze everytime I opened my suitcase.
You lucky dogs who can use such things without a thought...
FL USA Tue 05/16/2006
I was staying in the middle of Le Marche in late fall, but before the 'legal' date to turn the heat on. It was FREEZING. I finally figured out that a hot water bottle (borsina d'aqua, I think) would do the trick for bedtime. I paid a fortune for it, but I think one would pack flat from home for that cold emergency.
seattl, w USA Fri 05/12/2006
Re: Scented Dryer Sheets
Thank you for your dryer sheet in the shoes tip. That is awesome. I have done the other before and they do work like a charm and take nearly no space at all.
Newport Beach, Ca USA Fri 05/12/2006
Scented Dryer Sheets
I take scented dryer sheets with me. They barely take up any space, and you can lay them flat, roll them, stuff them, or tear them apart as needed. Wonderful uses:
1.)For doing sink laundry, tear cut sheets into inch-wide strips and throw one strip in when you rinse your clothes so that they won't be so stiff after air drying. They also fight wrinkles and static.
2.) Fold them in with clothing so clothes smell fresh and not luggage-y. They're great if you ever have to put away semi-wet clothes, and if you have particularly bad-smelling dirty laundry.
3.) Unused sheets can also take off little deoderant marks (they have to be unused so that they're still stiff-ish)
4.) MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE USE-- great for walkers/trekkers: Put a dryer sheet (or half, if you like) in your shoes. Throughout the course of the day the warmth of your feet will "activate" the smell (just like in the dryer). When you take off your shoes, instead of smelling like stinky feet, your feet and shoes will actually smell like fresh, clean laundry. I swear. (BTW: the nice smell only lasts about a day, so you should replace the sheet with each use.)
If you're taking a long trip you can store a few extra in a plastic zipping bag to keep the smelling nice.
Washington, DC USA Fri 05/12/2006
We also take photos with us of our house and of our pets, plus some of our city and us with our friends (at the beach, for example).
Tallahassee, FL USA Wed 05/10/2006
Hi! I agree with the individual below who suggested taking photos of close family. The last time my friend and I went to Rome, we met a lot of interesting people. I had broght some photos of my brothers and sisters (just small wallet-sized) and they were great for conversation. Our stories and pictures about our families were met with laughter and pictures of their families. It was a wonderful experience to be able to trade stories and friendship. -Jess
Kent, OH USA Tue 05/09/2006
I want to recommend some excellent cold mutton and pickles. I took this on my flight to Sweden and ate them. It was to DIE for. Everyone stared at me with envy. It helps get rid of jet lag too. I can't rave enough!
Newark, NJ USA Sun 05/07/2006
more on money belts
In addition to a money belt, I cut pockets off old t-shirts and stitch inside my pants or shirts. Gives me a second place to carry a credit card or some cash and a copy of my passport (made small, 65% makes it credit card size).
Pensacola, fl USA Fri 05/05/2006
A small pair of foldable binoculars were one of my favorite things that we brought with us on our trip all through Europe last year. We threw them in our day pack. They don't weigh very much and they're a blast to use at the top of those many towers we climbed to the top of!
Chicago, IL USA Thu 05/04/2006
If it's Tuesday it must be.....
Here's another tip that I use on every trip I go on, short or long. Make several copies of your Itinerary and get the luggage tags that are little envelopes. They have instructions in several languages on the outside. You loop one on every single piece of luggage you check in or carry. Then if,(God forbid,) your luggage gets lost or delayed the airline knows where to find you! (If you put your home address your luggage goes home!) I bought mine through Magellan. Also put a copy of your list inside the luggage and your home address for delivery AFTER vacation.
Oakland, Calif USA Wed 05/03/2006
First trip to Europe last month.
I took a trial-size bottle of hand sanitizer, used it a lot after all the handrails in museums, etc.
I kept small packs of kleenex with me during the day in case I encountered a WC that was out of tp.
Every day, I pocketed the business card from the hotel where I was staying, so if I got lost, I could tell someone where I needed to go.
I labeled one large freezer ziplock bag for each city I was in...kept receipts, business cards, postcards, etc. in it, for easier sorting out now that I'm home and putting together a scrapbook.
Took 2-3 washcloth-size squares of micro-fleece to use as washcloths, dumped them as they got icky.
I love a cup of cocoa at night, so I packed pkgs of instant and a big plastic cup. In the evening, I'd go to the hotel's bar, ask for hot water, then return to my room and have my hot chocolate.
USA Wed 05/03/2006
Better alternative to a money belt
I agree that money belts are horribly hot and uncomfortable. Best "money belt" solution I've ever found is a "security pocket" that hangs inside your clothes. If you are a man, it is an easy matter to make a long and narrow pocket from a dark fabric. Run your belt through the top of it, and tuck it inside your trousers to lie along side your hip and leg.
Since I am a woman and don't always wear a belt, my favorite is to sew pockets to the inside waistband of my skirts and trousers. Since I keep the contents in a plastic bag, it is quick and easy to transfer from one skirt to the next pair of trousers.
To use it, either pull the pocket out (not graceful, but not much worse than accessing a traditional money belt) or (much better), pull out your elastic waist band and dip into the security pocket as needed. You can stuff in the wad of bills you just got from the ATM in about 2 seconds.
FL USA Tue 05/02/2006
Planning a trip and thinking about wearing a money belt is far different than actually wearing one 24/7 (although 24/7 only applies to backpackers). I've been to Europe twice, and have taken my money belt both times. By week 2, I absolutely hate the thing. Are inside pockets better? Maybe. You have to remember to switch your money from one pocket to the next. And money belts have their flaws too. They get sweaty and nasty. You have a lumpy stomach or back or leg or whatever. You just have to choose what's best for you.
USA Tue 05/02/2006
Money Belt Required
Other than my Rick Steves guide book, my tickets, and money, the only other absolute necessity is my money belt. I wear my round the back since my stomach is already a bit bulgy. As it is less accessible there I carry what I need for the day in my small purse worn across the body.
Ca USA Tue 05/02/2006
Money Belt Not So Bad
I have been planning a 6 month backpacking trip to Europe for a year now and have been adamantly oppose to money belts from the start. Mainly because they seemed like such an unattractive option. Who wants bulkiness under their clothing??
I was at the Rick Steves Travel Store and decided to give the money belt another look. I tried on the display money belt loaded with my passport, credit card, and some currency.
For all you ladies, wondering what size of person is writing this review about money belts, (because I know I would be wondering) I am 21 years old, 36, 28, 38, 145lbs, 5'5". Even with the essentials packed in it you couldn't tell that there was anything there (worn at my waist turned to the side).
So, I, being adamantly against money belts, purchased one, because it wasn't so unattractive after all. The Rick Steves money belt It is about as thick as a piece of construction paper made out of smooth silk with a flat clasp.
Low Rise Lucky Jeans
WA USA Mon 05/01/2006
Better alternative to money belts
Check into clothing that offers "travel" pockets. Sportif for men and Ex Officio for both men and women offer shirts and pants with hidden zippered compartments in their pockets. this allows you to travel secure with your money/passport/credit cards, etc in a pocket that is hidden, but easily accessible when you with to purchase something at a store. You aren't opening your pants, or pulling a money belt from your waist.
you simply reach into your shirt pocket and unzip the zipper to reach in and get to your valuables. This is a viable alternative to money belts or neck wallets, a cooler, more comfortable carry method.
Travel stores with clothing and travel catalogs offer this style too, check Sierra Trading Post, Travelsmith, etc for styles that have this option.
USA Mon 05/01/2006
Alternative to Money Belt
Instead of taking a money belt, I sew hidden pockets on the inside of my clothes. I'm not fond of the lumpy tourist stomach, and have found that if i sew down the flap on a cargo pocket, and cut open the inside of the pocket, I can keep my money, credit cards, and everything else safe. Keeping your money inside a pocket in your bra or on the inside of your shirt (if you are wearing a shirt with front pockets, sew a pocket on the inside) works too.
USA Sun 04/30/2006
Careful with devices that transmit
Regarding the walkie talkies and other electronic items, I believe a little caution is in order. While these are convenient and fun to use, there are different regulations in Europe. Be aware that some of these have a high enough power output that they technically require a license from the FCC to lawfully use them in this country. In Europe, the laws of a particular country may prohibit them. You should check before you lug a pair of them (they are kind of heavy to carry if you won't be able to legally use them when you get there) across the continent. I prefer proper prior planning and designating rally points where members of the same party can meet at a certain time if they get separated. I always tell the members of my group, "Okay, if we get separated, let's meet right here in one hour." This gives all the party members a definite place and time to regroup.
When in doubt, I have certain rules for minimizing the chance of those frightening moments when your spouse or loved one is nowhere around and you realize that they (never you) have become lost. If we are talking about children, mine were drilled over and over that if they became lost, they were to just stop and wait, and that we would find them. Two moving groups, seekers and the sought, will seldom appear at the same spot at the same time. If we are talking to adults, we would all agree that we would go to the LAST PLACE WE WERE TOGETHER to wait to rejoin. If all else failed, after a designated time, we would return to the hotel for regroup. We never needed to go back to the hotel, as the other techniques were always effective. Plan, then calmly work the plan.
By the way--some countries have regulations that prevent people from using GPS locaters without necessary approval being obtained. In France, likewise, Bluetooth devices can only be used in certain places. I believe they are prohibited outdoors--check this out before going. Forewarned is forearmed.
Reno, NV USA Sat 04/29/2006
A few of my favorite things for traveling...
I always print off the names/addresses of people I want to send postcards to on address lables, takes up a lot less room than an address book; Tide-to-go pen for stain removing, works 100 times better than Shout wipes!, safety pins in a few sizes, zip lock bags (also in a few sizes), a deck of cards (mine are Kate Spade, gotta feel somewhat glamorous when backpacking!), a small journal and pens to keep track not only of what I saw, but who I met, what I ate, interesting historical facts, etc., and never forget your swimsuit! I only used it once in Italy last year, but after walking all day in the wrong shoes, my back was killing me, and the hotel had a hot tub, but it was in the back yard, wouldn't have wanted to flash the neighbors! Also a travel towel, one hotel I stayed in had towels, but they were more like table cloths (very stiff and not very absorbant), I was glad to have my own!
Edmonds, WA USA Fri 04/28/2006
Hi, I haven't seen these two must-haves, (for me) mentioned so I will throw them out there. Several years ago I found a watch at Macys that starts at 13 and goes to 24, (not 1-12). This is fantastic for European timetables, you don't have to do all that figuring in your head!
Also, we always carry small walkie-talkies now while on vacation. Several years ago my husband and I got separated at Londons Camden Market and it was 8 frightening hours and calls to Scotland Yard even before we hooked again up, he finally went back to the hotel, the day was shot. Now each one of us in the group sets their walkie-talkie on the same channel and we can communicate at anytime. We use them at home in large markets and even in the casinos. Someone always seems to be dashing off to the bathroom, LOL!
Oh, one last idea. QVC has individual sunscreen wipes, 24 to an order so you don't have to carry around a bottle or tube. Happy Travels, Lauretta
Oakland, Calif USA Fri 04/28/2006
Chip and Pin
I've been living in London since September, so have gone through the whole chip and pin process. There are really no problems using cards. And if by chance you are somewhere that you may run into problems (small areas) you can always get cash out. The whole reason for chip and pin is to cut down on fraud, and most places understand that the US have not adopted this system.
Anchorage, AK USA Fri 04/28/2006
A word on Vacuum bags
A vacuum bag is designed for home use...thus you must use a vacuum cleaner. Why would you have to check with your hotel to make sure you can pack your bags again?
Travelers who feel the need to shrink their bulky items for travel in winter...or any time for that matter...should be using COMPRESSION Bags. These are designed for multi use, travel use. You place your items in the heavy plastic bag, roll it from the closed end to the open end, secure the opening as you squeeze the air out. This compresses the garments and creates more "room" in your suitcase.
If you are traveling in summer and must use these, you are over packing!
USA Wed 04/26/2006
Two items I would definitely carry for my next trip to Europe: a bottle of hand sanitizer (used it a lot!) and a vacuum bag for those extra bulky clothing items/souveniers. I cannot tell you how glad I was packing my sweaters and down jacket during my last winter trip to Europe. I stayed warm throughout and the vacuum bag saves me so much room for anything else in my carry-on bag. One catch: you'll have to be sure that the hotel/place you stayed in Europe has a vacuum cleaner to pack it.
Plano, Texas USA Tue 04/25/2006
A couple of my colleagues ran into the same chip&pin problem in UK, and warned me knowing I was heading there this summer. However, P is correct...our credit cards work just fine, you just still need a signature. I looked up the details on the chip&pin website. However, the problem seems to be merchants do understand the system. I'm considering taking a copy of the policy with me (that I printed from the internet site), and hope that merchants will then agree to take the card.
Gallipolis, OH USA Fri 04/21/2006
UK Chip & Pin
This is what I read about the Chip & Pin system in the UK: http://www.chipandpin.co.uk/consumer/index.html
I don't know why John could not use his credit card - you can continue to use overseas cards but have to sign the credit card slip instead of just using a PIN number.
If anyone else has had problems, please let us all know!
FL USA Thu 04/20/2006
Credit Card Eye Opener
Planning a trip to the UK. BRING CASH!!! Your everyday US visa/mastercard will not work with their new "chip & pin" system. About the only thing we could do with our cards was pay for the rental car. Most British banks, however, will still give you a cash advance against your credit card if you're really stuck and don't mind the extra fees.
Renton, WA USA Thu 04/20/2006
a good gift to give new euro buddies is a burned c.d. of your favorite local musicians who may be difficult to find or are unknown overseas.
Canada Tue 04/18/2006
Non-exploding hand sanitizer gel
While an ardent environmentalist, I make an exception with tiny individually packaged anti-bacterial wipes. A new, albeit pricier brand has a single good squirt of the gel variety encased in a tiny packet. Even with only using a carry- on bag, the pressurized airplane cabin or just general being on-the-go once on the ground inevitably led to an explosion or eventual leak with the bottled kind! Last European trip I scattered (out of the box) them all through my luggage, and each day before setting out stuck half-a-dozen in my day pack.It worked great!
USA Tue 04/18/2006
I found a few things came in handy; baby wipes, ziploc bags for trash, aloe vera for treating sunburns, powdered tang, one set of silverware, and flip flops.
Portland, OR USA Tue 04/18/2006
Although unconventional, I have toured many European capitals on my rollerblades. In Paris, they came in quite handy when the subway system workers went on strike (I had the Champs-Elysees all to myself--though cobblestones can make the experience a little jarring). Also, every second Friday during the summer downtown streets are blocked off for night skating with the locals. Vienna is amazing for rollerblading and smaller towns like Interlaken become more accessible on rollerblades. Despite making my luggage more bulky, everytime I venture back to Europe I always pack them.
Coppell, TX USA Tue 04/18/2006
J is correct BUT it is very easy to put your information into a simple alpha/numeric substitution code. We have a single use e-mail that contains all of our credit card and other information in a code that can be easily accessed and downloaded if necessary.
Centennial, CO USA Tue 04/18/2006
Security of email and online storage
I would like to post a caution for anyone thinking of storing passport and driver's license copies using online storage space and/or emailing themselves those copies: you will be making that information available to anyone with the technical savvy to tap into it. Email is NOT private, and just how confident are you that information stored online is held as securely and privately as you would like?
We all have to choose our own risks, but you need to be aware of them.
FL USA Mon 04/17/2006
Online Storage Space
box.net is great! Box.net offers free accounts for 1gb of storage space. I have uploaded my itinerary, a list of consulates/embassies, copies of my driver's liscence, passport, credit cards, and student ID. If something happens to my luggage or to my passport, I will be able to access everything I need online. You could also give your password to someone you trust at home as an additional precaution.
austin, tx USA Sat 04/15/2006
Sketch pad & Art stuff
I carry a sketch pad all the time on my Eurpoe trips! I take a Canson or ArtStreet 9x6" pad with a hardbord back and a soft cover. I put it in a gallon ziplock bag. Sometimes I pre-cut 4X5 or 5X7 pieces and use a large paper-clip to attach them to the back of this pad when I want to do small studies (I put these in a small baggie). I put a selection of colored pencils and chalk pencils in another bag inside that one then, I put my erasers and a pencil sharpener and some q-tips(to use as blenders) in a quart bag inside that one. I take several empty bags to use as trash catch-alls when I sharpen pencils and for the used blenders. It all fits neatly in the bottom of my RS bag or in my day-bag and I only have to pull out 1 ziploc bag when I am ready to draw. I have recently seen a 3x5 Canson sketch pad (at Michael's) that I think I will get to carry in my waist pouch with a good sketching pencil this summer. I love to draw on the trains and at airport waiting lounges. I also will draw when we get back to our hotel room each night. My husband is the photographer and loves his MP3 music, but I rely on my art to catch my impressions of a place and to relax my mind.
Charlotte, NC USA Sat 04/15/2006
Xerox Your Passport
We used xeroxes of our passports as I.D. to rent audioguides at museums and in order to use some Internet points in Italy.
Berkeley, California USA Sat 04/15/2006
how to carry a sketchbook (or journal) with you
my wife and 4 of our friends are going to europe in july. i love to sketch and plan to bring my pens, charcoal pencil, and sketchbook with me. what is the best way for me to have this with me everywhere without just holding it the entire time? my wife is thinking about using the rs pocket tote or something similar. thanks!
Washington, DC USA Sat 04/15/2006
quality luggage locks
when buying TSA locks (or any locks), I'd suggest getting a good quality lock--I recently checked a bag on a flight between the UK and France and locked it using the cheapest TSA approved lock I could find, about $7 at Target. When I arrived in France, part of the lock had been broken off and for about 5 minutes I didn't think I would be able to unlock my suitcase! Moral of the story--shell out the extra money for good locks!
TN USA Fri 04/14/2006
I feel that IF a lock had been cut off it would probably NOT still be attached to your luggage -- and therefore would be difficult to claim a refund! If all you want is to secure your luggage against casual theft cable ties are great (take nail clippers on your carryone to remove them --and new ones inside the case for each sector of your trip) However TSA approved locks that Customs can open and relock seem to be the way to go. But UNLESS airlines have a way to indicate that cases are secured (by whatever means) when you check in there is NO way that one can claim tampering if they arrive minus the locks :(
Perth, Australia Wed 04/05/2006
Brookstone sells a TSA approved lock that is guaranteed so that if they are cut off by security, you can take the lock back to the store and get a new one. I think it's a good idea to lock luggage for at least some peace of mind.
Fairfield, CA USA Sun 04/02/2006
My harmless round end kids scissors were confiscated by security in Tokyo, Oct 04.
Near Seattle, WA USA Sun 04/02/2006
Traveling comfy - YOGA PANTS!
Just to chime in.....I love to travel in my Lululemon yoga pants. Talk about comfy! They also look nice...not like leggings or sweatpants. I've seen other women wearing theirs too....for example, last trip there was another woman in the Frankfurt airport with Lulu's on. I wear a nice Merino Wool sweater, that dresses up the top half, and keeps me warm during the flight. I layer the wool over a tank top, so if I got too hot (never happens) I could take off the wool. I also bring a Pashima with me and use it on the plane, then going out at night for a dressy addition with little additional weight or volume in my carry on.
CO USA Mon 03/27/2006
Comfy clothes for the plane
I travel to Europe several times a year for business and pleasure. One thing that I like to do is take a set of comfortable clothes to wear on the plane. It makes it easier to sleep and be comfortable, avoiding some jetlag upon arrival. For myself I thake a roomy t-shirt, a pair of flannel lounge pants and a pair of warm socks or light slippers. My down booties from LL Bean are great for this since they are light and can be squashed down to nothing. This set of clothes can also double as your pajamas for the trip. I use a space saver bag to put them in my carry-on. The kind that you pack your clothes into and then roll to force the air out. The result is a small flat bag that I can easily put in my briefcase.
Portland, OR USA Mon 03/27/2006
Travel size website link corrected
FYI, thanks for lead on the travel sizes! However, the correct website is: http://www.minimus.biz
San Jose, CA USA Mon 03/27/2006
You may think it cheesy, but packing a few photos of family and friends is wonderful. I found myself always telling stories about my kid sister, best friend or even my city. It helps to alleviate homesickness, too.
Toronto, Ontario Canada Sun 03/26/2006
Someone obliquely hit the nail on the head: if someone wants in your bag, they will get in. Locks are not there to prevent a thief (or inspector) from doing their job, but to keep the casual passer-by or worker from being tempted into dishonesty.
Often, an effective lock can be as simple as a safety pin or string connecting the zipper tabs together: just something that reminds a would-be thief that the extra moment it would take to undue the "lock" is not worth the risk of getting caught.
FL USA Fri 03/24/2006
Luggage Locks - zip ties
I use zip ties all the time - they are not a hassle to undo. I carry safety (rounded end kid) scissors & a small pair of nail clippers with me in my carry on, both of which are fine to travel with.
USA Mon 03/20/2006
Luggage Locks - Use them or risk loosing stuff out of your bags
I always lock my bags on international flights. We travel with our tandem bike in two wheeled cases, as well as a small personal luggage piece for our clothing. We use the TSA locks, and have not had an issue in Europe. I worry about my luggage coming open and the contents spread all over who knows where. Locks give me piece of mind.
If the airline in Europe wants to inspect our luggage, they simply ask to have us remove the lock and then we can lock it back again. this has never been an issue in 4 trips since 9/11.
TSA locks are the way to go if you feel you need to close and secure your luggage like we do. Those plastic ties are fine, but then you have to find a way to cut them off to get into your stuff when you arrive in Europe. what a hassle that has to be since you are not allowed to carry on a knife or other sharp utensil on the plane.
Target has great inexpensive keyed or combo TSA approved locks.
USA Mon 03/20/2006
re: Luggage Locks
I never lock my bags on international flights. You might want to secure the zippers with tie-wraps so you won't be out the price of a lock if they open the bag. My bags have never been opened by security. I suppose the x-ray eliminates some of the need for examination. Bottom line - if someone wants to get into your bag, a lock won't make a difference.
USA Sun 03/19/2006
It is minimus.biz
Charlotte, NC USA Sun 03/19/2006
Travel size items
I found a great website that has only travel-size items: www.minimus.com I could not find all the travel size items I needed at the local store. It has tide packets for sink washing, crystal light individual packets and other items like first aid, toiletries. I saved money not having to buy full size items that I only wanted 1-2 packets in case of emergency. Spend $20 and get free shipping. I always pack flip flops for hotel rooms and showers- Target has $1 pairs right now. You can throw them out when you leave and use that space in your bag for souvenirs.
Monroe, NC USA Sun 03/19/2006
re: Luggage Locks
TSA is an American agency. They do not operate in other countries. Foreign Security screeners do not have access to the locks. If they decide to open your bag they will simply cut the lock off. I confirmed this with TSA (which was no easy thing)about a year ago.
USA Sun 03/19/2006
bring those crystal light mix packs for water
I recommend bringing a lot of those individual Crystal Light drink mixes for bottles of water. My last big trip I had one bottle of water and each day I would put a mix of tea or other flavor and have a bottle of flavored water each day. Worked great and I saved money on buying sodas or other drinks
Washington, DC USA Sat 03/18/2006
Reminder for the ladies! - Pack your Pashima!
As we head back into travel season....remember to bring your pashima with you on your travels. It's great as a wrap on cold planes, wonderful to dress up simple clothing for a nice dinner. You will feel more European wearing your Pashima wrap around Paris than your North Face jacket, and be about as warm. Of course it's not for rainy weather but sure does look great in a variety of situations.
This has been mentioned before on this board, but for new readers -- consider a nice black pashima for warmth and style. They take up no space in your bag!
USA Thu 03/16/2006
i love to take a few colored pencils and a (small)sketch pad. It's a great way to record your impressions and gives you something to do on the long train rides when you are tired of reading or watching out the window. I carry everything in a ziplock bag and it fits in the bottom of my (Rick Steves) suitcase. Almost no weight added!
Charlotte, NC USA Sat 03/11/2006
Cable Ties to
Instead of a lock, you could use cable ties for your luggage. They are cheap and light and would deter thieves. You would need scissors or nail clippers or something to cut them off, or you could get the kind that snap off without scissors.
austin, tx USA Sat 03/11/2006
my favorite extra is scarves. a bunch of them can be folded into a gallon-size ziplock bag. They can really dress up your clothes, especially if you need to look fancier at dinner than for the rest of the day.
pacific grove, ca USA Thu 03/09/2006
Label No No ...
Just an F.Y.I., it is illegal to remove wine labels in this fashion in Murmansk. Expect to eat borscht for the rest of your stay in the STREET!
IN USA Mon 03/06/2006
Wine Label Removers
Take wine label removers for saving the labels from your most memorable bottles. They're easy to pack and create a fun souvenier of your favorite wines from picnics or vineyard tastings.
Seattle (currently Madrid), Sun 03/05/2006
Hot Tea/Coffee (especially when you're sick)
French Press Coffee. I take a REI darn near unbreakable french press every time we go to Europe. You only have to be sick once in a hotel room to appreciate being able to make a hot cup of tea or whatever. I do take tea for myself and coffee for my husband - enough, for a couple days of being under the weather. I find the reg tap water hot enough to make do and when or if you are sick, believe me, that's enough!
San Dieg, CA USA Fri 03/03/2006
I love coffee but I have to stay away from regular coffee. When I go overseas I have a hard time find decaf coffee. For my last trip, I purchased a french press stainless steel mug from Starbucks and brought my own coffee. I use the in-room kettle and it works out great. So much better then those nasty packs of freez-dried decaf coffee.
USA Fri 03/03/2006
Keep out the cold
If I'm travelling in Spring or Fall, I take a pair of long underwear bottoms. They don't take up much room, and if the weather turns unseasonably cold, you'll be glad you did.
San Diego, CA USA Wed 03/01/2006
I copied our passports,credit cards,hotel reservations,essential phone numbers and anything else I could think of and emailed them to my hotmail address --- that way even if I lost ALL my luggage (including copies carried separately) I still could access the information
Perth Australia , Australia Wed 03/01/2006
Copy of passport
I think I set my copy machine at 67% & copied my open-faced passport - it came out the size of a credit card. Then I laminated it. In case my passport is lost or stolen I have a mini version of important info. I also did this with each member of my family who was traveling together. Of course these copies were carried in a spot different than the actual passport, as together would defeat the whole idea.
USA Tue 02/28/2006
Question-Can the TSA Combo Locks be used in Europe? Are they more trouble than they are worth in the airport security lines?
Delray Beach, FL USA Mon 02/27/2006
Compression Bag Wardrobe
I loved using compression bags to minimize unpacking. Pack a day's clothing in a bag and you only have to deal with opening and compressing that one bag. Molto conveniento for you-o.
Farmington, MO USA Fri 02/24/2006
Using hand sanitizer as a foot toner
Purell (or another brand of alcohol based hand sanitizer) is absolutely wonderful for sore and smelly feet. It freshens you up instantly, kills the odor-causing bacteria and dries almost instantly, leaving your feet dry and therefore less prone to blisters. And it's always good to make double use of an already useful item.
Montreal, Qc Canada Sat 02/18/2006
these work very well for something like a parka--in one of these airless bags, your parka will fit in the front pocket of many carry on suitcases. they also work well for laundry and for underwear. for other items, packing cubes and ziplocks work just as well.
pacific grove, ca USA Thu 02/09/2006
For my trip to Italy with Rick, I did use compression bags in my backpack. My travel clothes are mostly polyester/cotton so the bags worked well plus they are waterproof so the rain in Venice didn't get my clothes wet as we took a walk to our hotel.
Wimberley, TX USA Thu 02/09/2006
I agree with Karen about the compression bags. I tried putting sweatshirts, t-shirts, and pants into the bags, and they didn't seem to "compress" that much more (t-shirts and pants are pretty flat anyway), and I could tell that the clothing would end up wrinkled. I went back to my regular packing method of rolling, folding, and stuffing (I know, not the best method). I do like Karen's idea about using the compression bags for dirty clothes--it doesn't matter if they are wrinkled!
USA Thu 02/09/2006
They really work, but with a caveat, I think- I put my daughter's winter coat in one (she is an exchange student in the UK)and it compressed down like a pancake- very flat. Then I used another for her sweatshirts. But they looked all wrinkly. They don't eliminate weight, only bulk. I think they would be great to take on your trip at the bottom of the suitcase and use on the way home to compress all the dirty clothes so you can fit in purchases from the trip, and am going to try that next time. But you might check out the Eagle Creek contraption that lets you fold shirts with no wrinkles and fit about 6-7 into a compact and flat envelope. The packing cubes work great, too.
USA Thu 02/09/2006
Has anyone tried those plastic bags which presumably suck all of the air out of clothes? According to what I've read, these bags save a lot of space in a suitcase. If these bags do indeed work, then they'll be panaceas for my packing woes. Nevertheless, I don't want to shell out money for a product that doesn't deliver on its space-saving promise. Any forthcoming feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
CA USA Wed 02/08/2006
Cool organizer bags
I just got these cool hanging storage bags from the Target dollar store for 50% off yesterday. They just have one pcoket and can be used for undergarments etc.
USA Wed 02/08/2006
EJ, thank you!
but I'll take a different point of view on not wearing a money belt. My husband and I both follow Rick's advice on that. Thanks so much for your service to our country. We need the Navy! Bless all those who serve on the seas!
Fort Worth, TX USA Wed 02/08/2006
Looking like a tourist
I have been in the Navy for 22 years and have traveled extensively in the Middle East and Asia. American servicemen and women stand out no matter how hard we try to blend. Since the USS COLE attack in Oct 2000 and 911, the US Military has stepped up personal Force Protection training. I'm pointing this out for a couple of reasons.
First, thieves, generally speaking, (and terrorists for that matter) are going to spot you no matter how much you try to blend in. So wear whatever you want to wear as long as it is respectful of local cultures (women in shorts in the Middle East--no so good) and is in good taste. If you wear convertible pants--good on you. Someone wrote how they are not haute couture in Europe. Noted--however, they are rich in utility.
Second, the best way to avoid being a target is to practise your personal Situational Awareness (SA as we call it in the military). In laymen's terms, always know what is going on around you. There is a fine line between SA and paranoia (I tend to struggle with that at times . . . ). Once you become proficient at achieving and maintaining your SA, it will become second nature. Here are some examples:
1. Always know where your exits are. 2. Travel light (not just for convenience, but for safety too). This facilitates your ability to concentrate on your surroundings and not your baggage. Also improves your mobility. 3. Respect other cultures and laws. Helps you blend and not attract more attention than you already do. 4. Pay attention to your surroundings. What are the local men and women wearing? Ball caps scream "I'm an American". I find that to be an acceptable risk for me given I shave my head and don't like sunburn on my noggen (sp). 5. Money belts. I have always frowned on them for myself. One more bag I have to worry about. I always carry my passport close to my body, along with my military ID (I don't flash that unless I absolutely have to) drivers license, one credit card and debit card. I don't carry a wallet. My Northface Paramount pants (convertible, comfortable, fast drying and versatile) have a zippered pocket that I have trouble getting into for my ID and credit card--let alone a thief. My passport fits nicely in the thigh pocket. Bottom line, keep your junk close to your body and out of sight. For the ladies--do you really need to carry that purse--especially if it doesn't zip closed?? or would a back pack or similiar bag work? Just a thought. 6. Do your homework before you depart. Read up on the local transportation--if avail. Have change for Rails etc. Find out if the Taxis in the city you are going to use meters or do you need to negotiate your fare before getting into the taxi. There is someone, chances are, that has been where you are going that has written about what you need to know. This website is proof of that. 7. Try not to travel alone. We call this the "Buddy System" in the Navy. Liberty parties must be at least two people strong or you don't leave the ship! In some ports in the Middle East, no more than 6 Sailors/Marines can go on liberty in one party. The idea is to not become a soft target for terrorist. You get the picture. 8. If you travel in packs or pairs--have a contingency plan if you get split-up i.e. where to meet and when. Major hotel lobbies are great places to rendevous if lost or split-up. Taxi drivers and locals usually know where the major hotels are. Plus there are restrooms, water, phones, etc. 9. Where are the local hospitals and police stations. How do you dial from a cell phone or land line (pay phone/office or lobby phone)? 10. What is the geo-political climate in the country you are going to visit. State Department has a great website for that information and it is public. 11. Do you really need to go to that touristy restaurant or bar that all the Americans and Brits are hanging out in? Always targets for thieves and terrorists (Bali is perfect example, only Austrailians vice Americans). 12. When asked what country I'm from--I always answer, "Canada!". Just kidding. Well . . . sometimes.
Bottom line is to do your homework before you leave home, always know and be aware of your surroundings, respect your host nation culture and laws and have fun. It's okay to be a tourist--just be smart about it.
I'm returning from an extended deployment 20 Feb (I left in July) and will be going on vacation to Rome with my wife in March. I have enjoyed all the info on this site and will be buying some of those packing cubes. Thanks for all the tips and I can't wait to eat a carne asada burrito from one of the Berto shops in SD!!!
San Diego , CA USA Tue 02/07/2006
Try dental floss for a clothesline. Works great!!
Cedar Rapids, IA USA Sat 01/28/2006
underwear The Best!
Before our last bike trip to Italy in May 05, my hubby needed new underwear, I wanted to be able to wash his stuff in the sink a few times during the trip. I found Ex-Offico briefs for him at REI.
They are much more comfortable than cotton and washed and dried very quickly. I wanted him to keep them for our next trip, but he likes then so much he's wearing them everyday.
I bought him 4 pair, they are expensive, but will last much much longer than his normal Jockey or Hanes. Before our next trip in 07, I plan to buy 3-4 pair for me too!
I don't mind paying a bit more for quality. No shopping Wal-Mart for me. I want to be comfortable and presentable on my vacations!
Also, one comment. PLEASE don't wear zip off pant/shorts. Nothing screams tourist more than these. They are totally out of fashion in the US, let alone as travel pants for Europe. They might be great for Africa - but not in a metropolitan city like London, Paris, Rome, etc.
USA Fri 01/27/2006
Just saw someone mention the Sport Seat available at http://www.sportseat.com. I'm on my second one of these and my tip for it is to put the hand grip from a crutch over the handle if, like me, your fingers don't fit their scalloped grip.
Minneapolis, MN USA Thu 01/26/2006
Regarding R's post about the mini ziplock bags--Caution is urged. A member of law enforcement who sees pills, different kinds of pills in different baggies, and especially different pills in different bags that are small, and not just the kitchen variety sandwich bags, is going to suspect drug use or abuse. If you put the pills into the baggies, put a label from the box/bottle of medicine into each bag and if you are carrying prescription meds, put a copy of the prescription into the baggie as well. Consider this a tip from a lawyer who defends a number of drug possession cases. Even though you will probably suffer nothing more than embarassment and delay when the gendarmes realize you are packing aspirin instead of percocet, the bureaucratic snafu isn't worth it.
Reno, USA Thu 01/26/2006
Tide To Go pen
Tide-to-Go stick! Best invention ever! Stain remover pen that works wonders -- doesn't leave a soapy ring like wipes do, and stains totally disappear -- you'd never know I dropped a spaghetti-sauce-covered meatball down the front of my khaki pants today, they were good as new in moments! Definitely my new favorite travel "extra"
WA USA Thu 01/26/2006
A Good lightweight extra
On a past solo trip I brought a game called "Pass the Pigs" It is a small light game similar to dice and a GREAT conversation starter. I made a good friend on a train from Paris to Switzerland with an older woman by asking her to play. She share many stories with me about her family and how greatful they were to America for our sacrifices during WWII
Bakersville, NC USA Thu 01/26/2006
Mini Zip lock bags
Mini zip top bags ranging from 2" x 3" & up (found in bead stores or craft aisle) work FABuloso for carrying advil, vitamins, earrings, necklace, memory cards/digital battery, safetypins, hair elastics, etc.
The smaller bags can be placed into a slightly larger baggie to keep similar items 'together' & easily accessible.
I use a sharpie to label the pepto bismol/advil/etc.
(Of course this way to store medication is not wise around a young toddler who might eat them like candy -so be wise, but I carry headache meds this way in my purse all the time)
This way of storing small items is great because 4- you can easily see & find what you are searching for & B- takes up hardly any space, almost flat.
USA Tue 01/24/2006
Clear Duct Tape
FYI - Duct Tape now comes in 'clear' form. Small roll found @ walmart in the office supply aisle
USA Tue 01/24/2006
I found that I could iron my collars and lapels/button panels, pocket flaps with my gas powered curling iron. Needed it anyway and it kept me a little tidier looking as well. Diane
Campbell River, BC Canada Tue 01/24/2006
Folders and Cubes
The Eagle Creek Folders come with a board to pack around, and it really does help keep everying a uniform size, which makes it all stack neatly and flat and take up less space.
A friend who has sworn by ziplocks changed her mind when she saw my RS bag and the folder and cubes.
USA Mon 01/23/2006
More on those cubes
When living out of a suitcase the RS cubes were ideal. I rolled my capris and skirts, and made a deal with myself that I'd only take what could fit in the biggest of the three. I used one of the others for tanks and t's (same deal) and the last for bras, socks and underwear. If you religiously put each piece back (after washing or spraying/hanging overnight)you never have to hunt for anything and actually have more room around the cubes to put other stuff.
USA Mon 01/23/2006
Patricia, very good ideas!
I got my packing cubes but they didn't come with a packing board. I made one out of cardboard. Thanks for the ideas!
Fort Worth, TX USA Mon 01/23/2006
Ex Officio Quick Drying Clothes
My husband and I both love the Ex Officio quick drying hiking pants (with zipoff legs) and guide shirts. We've also been pleased with Columbia and REI brands. We've had very little trouble with wrinkling because I pack them carefully in Eagle Creek 18" Pack-It Folders:
We each use one and it holds all the clothes we need for a trip. If you use the hard plastic rectangular "form" that comes with it to fold your clothes around, they will be folded neatly and smoothly and the folder holds them snug so they don't slide around and get wrinkled. Once you've folded a couple of things, it's a snap.
You'll realize how much of a difference it makes when you get lazy and start tossing clothes into your bag without returning them to the folder -- you'll suddenly find it hard to zip your bag! (My husband did, for sure.) If you put your clothes back into the folder after you wear them, they continue to stay nice looking and compact. If they need to be washed, hand washing is a breeze and they dry quickly. Wash them out in the sink at night, roll them in a towel to squeeze out excess moisture, and they will definitely be bone-dry by morning.
I don't like compression bags because they do wrinkle things when they're fully compressed, and end up making your bag heavier as you squeeze more and more things in.
You can tuck "used" fabric softener dryer sheets into your bag, possibly into your extra pair of shoes, or elsewhere. It will keep things in your bag smelling fresh because there's still fragrance left in them, but won't be as overpowering as if you use a new one.
We also use Rick's packing cubes -- they're superior to the Eagle Creek ones we used before, and also less expensive.
Finally, one "creative" extra I enjoyed taking with me last year was four or five paperback books that I'd already read. I registered them with:
http://www.bookcrossing.com (free site)
And left them in various places in England and Wales. Once they were gone I had a bit more room for bringing back more things. I also took a couple of TEXAS MONTHLY magazines that I left behind. I thought somebody in the UK might find them a novelty and interesting!
TX USA Mon 01/23/2006
Its nice to know I'm not the only one who gets obsessive about packing. --I've had lots of alarm clocks, but the best is a Timex digital watch with the easy to set single stem dial; its loud enough and I can wear it on my wrist at night using a nylon strap. --I love the Ex Officio quick-drying pants and shirts, but they wrinkle something awful, and ironing doesn't work. But if you have them dry cleaned and pressed before you leave, they stay wrinkle-free longer and look better so you don't look like a bum. --The best light I've found is the Princeton Tec "Scout", it runs on little watch batteries, its about the size of a large grape, and with the head band it adjusts angles for reading in the dark.
NYC, NY USA Thu 01/19/2006
try Campmor (www.campmor.com) or Sierra Trading Post (www.sierratradingpost.com) for discounts, or REI if you don't mind paying full price. Also check out any good camping or outdoor sports stores in your area for one.
Alternative: Depending on the size and shape of your backpack, you can place it into a lightweight duffel bag that has a zipper running the full length - that's what I've used for my small backpack (2200 ci) and it's extremely tough, but cheap.
USA Wed 01/18/2006
Just a reminder, in many small towns and villages sweet'n'low/equal/ splenda are not available. Load up at home or in any place you can find them.
Tucson, Az USA Sun 01/15/2006
Does anybody know where I can buy a backpack cover (specifically one for checking my bag onto the airplane, not a rain cover)? I saw some Euros with one last year, but I haven't been able to find one to buy on the internet.
Colorado Springs, CO USA Wed 01/11/2006
I don't care for Woolite. A better and cheaper option for handwashing clothes is to use dishwashing detergent. It is concentrated, and does a good job. In my opinion, Woolite is too harsh, especially for wool and silk.
I am a knitter and always wash my precious handknits in dish detergent or shampoo, whether I am home or not.
FL USA Tue 01/10/2006
Wash with Woolite
I hate trying to get powder to disolve. Woolite works great for small washes...like in your sink at a hotel. I never have enough laundry to warrant a trip to an expensive laundimat. I wash what I need for the next day in the sink.
I bought an inexpensive Nalgene bottle, very small, and take it with my on every European trip. I've washed our bike clothes out every night when on a 7 day trip. the woolite works great, smells great, and doesn't take up much room.
Thought about those little packets that you can buy at a luggage store, but the cost is too high for what you get. The Nalgene bottle will last me for a lifetime of travel, and I just check it before I go and add more Woolite if needed. For secure travel, do place the bottle in a ziplock bag...as you would do with any liquid!
USA Mon 01/09/2006
Disc shaped soap located!
My local Target now carries the disc shaped laundry soap in the travel size toiletry section! (usually near the pharmacy) Just discovered them over the holidays.
Minneapolis, MN USA Sun 01/08/2006
I take detergent tabs with me when I travel for use at laundermat. They take up little room and more convenient than trying to buy detergent.
Tyler, TX USA Thu 01/05/2006
little boxes of detergent
Sometimes I have gone to laundromats locally before a long trip. You can get tiny boxes of whatever your favorite brand of powdered detergent is if you intend to go to a laundromat on your trip. One tiny box put in a zip-lock with a few dryer sheets folded in takes up hardly any room and means you are all set when the time comes.
USA Wed 01/04/2006
Keeping it smelling fresh!
I used fabric sheets to freshen up my bag, but as one traveler said, it can stain your clothes. So put the sheets in a zip lock bag (but don't zip it) and the smell travels through the suitcase, and not stain the clothes.
I also tossed a few of the hotel bar soaps in my suitcase in case the current hotel doesn't provide soap or adquate soap. This extra soap also provides freshness in my suitcase, and back up in case I need it.
One traveler said there's laundry soap that are like "discs".... sad to say they discontinued it. I cannot find the Wisk brand or the Tide brand... if someone knows where to find it, please post. They are truly portable and work great in the laundromat. This year I filled an empty squeeze bottle with softsoap/bodywash and doubled it up as light detergent (ie: underwear, light shirts) and also as bodywash (if I didn't want to use my back up bar soap).
USA Wed 01/04/2006
If you dont own a dreamsack pillowcase you should. I love mine. After several trips to Europe I always bring a collapsable insulated cooler (lunch box size), a couple sets of plastic silverware leftover from a fast food resturant, and a scented candle. Often times I would go to the store in the afternoon for a light dinner and would also buy yogurt and maybe cheese for breakfast and the cooler was helpful for those sorts of things and the sliverware could be used those occasions when I wanted to eat in. The scented candle is great for musky rooms. I remember one time I was staying 2 nights in a hotel in London and it smelled like nasty gym socks. Lucky for me I had a scented candle that I didnt realize I had that made the room liveable. From then on I always bring one and you would be amazed how often I use it. If you arent a fan of drinking water but cant afford the soft drinks overseas consider making baggies of kool-aid. My younger sister got the kind with the sugar already added (she hates crystal light) and would add it to her bottled water.
USA Sun 01/01/2006
I have a silk pillow case and the Dreamsack from LL Bean because Im sensitive to certian detergents. It weighes nothing and can fit anywhere. Puffs tissues are a must and they come in handy if there is no T.P., haha. A small travel alarm clock and a LED light, are 2 other things I would never travel with out. I also bring 1 travel towel for my hair and 1 for my body. Dont forget those zipplock bags for shampoo and soaps. As a girl I also brought a neutral colored scarf for my hair for those bad hair days, in place of my fav college hat.
USA Sun 01/01/2006
Glass repair kits
I tried to take a glass repair kit on my trip to Europe and security took it. The screw driver was considered a "weapon," lol. That was a first for me.
Durham, NC USA Sun 01/01/2006
hostels in Ireland
All the hostels ive stayed in in Ireland have included clean sheets in the overall price. Ive found pretty much all of them to be incredibly clean, as there has been an increase of health and safety rules and regulations in Ireland over the last few years. They nearly all give free breakfast as well, basic but well appreciated!!!!! Hope its useful for anyone visiting Ireland.
Ireland Sun 01/01/2006