Packing Creative Extras: 2008
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
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
I know that this may not be an option for a lot of people, but if you own an iPhone or are considering one, they are very useful. On my phone I have a flashlight, compass, alarm clock, and GPS. There are games to keep me busy on trains and I have a translator with over 30 languages. I can also set it to whatever city I am going to for the daily weather report. And I'm sure there are so many applications that I haven't even discovered yet. Oh yeah, sometimes I actually use it to make phone calls too! Like I said, not everyone is gonna run out and buy one, but it sure is an all-in-one convenience.
tyler, tx USA Sun 11/30/2008
For about 19.95 you can buy an undercover firearm holster that fits snugly and comfortably under your shirt. A quick sew-job will turn the handgun holsters (there's usually one under each arm) into two invisible pockets for passports and credit cards
New York, BY USA Mon 11/24/2008
I always seal the top of liquids such as shampoo and cosmetics with white adhesive tape to avoid spills in my checked luggage and carry-on bag. Take the roll along for other uses and the return flight home.
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 11/19/2008
Soft Sponge/Wash Cloth
On one of my trips to Europe several years ago, my hotel supplied a soft sponge rather than a wash cloth for bathing. Since wash cloths are rarely available in Europe, I started packing one in my carry-on bag in a ziplock bag.
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 11/19/2008
The anti-cling dryer sheets work well as mosquito repellent. Just rub over your skin and no more pest problems. They also keep your bag smelling good after several weeks of living out of it.
Katy, TX USA Sat 11/08/2008
Duct Tape and Babies
Duct tape is also great for baby-proofing! You can cover outlets, tape cupboards closed, and so on.
Shoreline, WA USA Fri 11/07/2008
Bug spray in Venice Italy.
Try to bring some sort of bug spray/repellent if you're planning to go to Venice. My girlfriend and I got hammered with mosquitoes in our hotel. We couldn't open the windows cause they would come in, so we had to keep them closed. There was no AC so it was like a sauna in the hotel room.
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 10/28/2008
For Beauty Queens Out There
I recently went on a rushed domestic trip and didn't want to worry about security and what to carry on, so I bought a box of quart size ziploc bags, took them all out and put them in the front pocket of my carry-on case. If you know you have them with you, you won't worry about having to pass security with some extra goodies, esp. if you enjoy a lot of toiletries!
Palm Springs, CA USA Sun 10/26/2008
Used Rick's Packing List for the first time and was pleased with the results. The one thing we added and will consider a vital part of our picnic set is nesting wine glasses. A step up from the suggested cup. Purchased at Dick's Sporting Goods but can be found at www.GSIoutdoors.com.
Middleburg, FL USA Wed 10/22/2008
Big Ziploc bags for laundry
A friend and I just returned from a trip to Japan, and what we learned along way can easily be translated to European travel. I used a XL Ziploc bag as a clothes washer, and it worked wonderfully! Just put in the clothes, add the soap and water (I had individual packets of Tide for sink washing), close the bag and agitate. It got everything WAY cleaner than just washing in a sink, and it made rinsing equally easy. When it was time to come home, I purchased about a dozen bottles of Japanese soda to bring home to friends, so I just put all the bottles inside the Ziploc bag to prevent leakage in case any of them came open during the flight. The bag folded down very small and was packed into an interior pocket, so it only took up room that would have otherwise been empty!
I will also not travel without a light up travel alarm clock again. I got one at Walmart that is about the same size as a Razr phone. It lights up, gives temperature and has a very loud alarm. Wonderful when traveling to hotels that don't have alarm clocks.
Nashville, TN USA Wed 10/22/2008
Safety for backpack zippers
I am securing my backpack zippers with a safety pin that has little bells on them. If they are messed with or opened, they bells will jingle and/or fall off and make a noise since the opening of the pins face down. Either way, I should know if someone is messing with my bag.
Colorado Springs, CO USA Sat 10/11/2008
Latex, cotton gloves, gum, and ear planes!
Forgot to add--latex gloves are great if your hands are sensitive and you need to wash clothes by hand. Cotton gloves over moisturizer helps soften hands. Gum helps keep your mouth moist, and EarPlanes (Walmart) help alleviate airplance pressure problems!
Colorado Springs, CO USA Sat 10/11/2008
Omigosh, I forgot a really important one: plastic brush toothpicks in its own little plastic tube. Great to freshen your teeth when you can't brush, or if like me, you have tight contacts between your teeth. Sugarless gum will also "clean" your teeth.
Colorado Springs, CO USA Sat 10/11/2008
I get disposable slippers from the Dollar Store, and wear them on a long flight to keep my feet clean when walking around. Use them your first couple of nights when you arrive,as well; then they are usually ready to discard. Also, I don't know whether I read it here or not, but I took a brightly coloured lid from a PB jar, and put my jewelry in it every night. It's highly visible on the night table, and you won't forget to take your rings, watch etc. with you when you leave the room.
Canada Thu 10/09/2008
Solid shampoo bars
I second the idea of a solid shampoo bar. Just bought two of them - Godiva and Trichomania from Lush. I bought them online and really like them a lot. I will definitely be using them for travel. Lush also sells lots of products like conditioner, soap, etc. There is also a list of their store locations on their website, so that is nice to know. Hopefully, the TSA will life the liquid restrictions sometime soon (what I heard on the news last week), but if not, the solid shampoo is a great solution and it works well also.
USA Mon 10/06/2008
How about a solid shampoo bar? I found one (trichomania solid shampoo) at Lush when traveling to Quebec, and since learned they have many stores as well as online. This was a couple of years ago. I've just checked their website and discovered there are many other types of solid shampoo bars. See for yourself http://usa.lush.com/cgi-bin/lushdb/catzoom.html?mv_arg=Solid%20Shampoos&expand=Haircare They also have many other products. The trichomania lathered up into lots of creamy lather.....The website will provide other user input just in case you need further convincing......and I'm also a firm believer in extra ziploc bags of all sizes....
ME USA Sun 10/05/2008
Smelling GOOD on the road
Pull out the perfume ads in magazines and pack them. They don't take up any room and just open one every other day and rub it on yourself. No need to pack a bottle of perfume.
Seattle, wa USA Fri 10/03/2008
Silk sweater, must have.
For three weeks in Italy in June, I brought all short sleeves with two exceptions, a raincoat and a black silk cardigan. My little black sweater was the perfect light jacket in the evenings and the perfect thing for bare shoulders in churches. It worked equally well for casual days and dressier nights. Silk is light, yet very warm and can be rolled up in a purse all day and come out wrinkle free. We're going back this summer and it'll be the first thing I pack.
Elk River, MN USA Fri 10/03/2008
Toilet seat covers
Too many questionable toilets/bathrooms during travel. Now I pack toilet seat covers. Found them in the travel section at Target. $1.00 for 10 of them. Really small size to pack in your daypack, or shoulder bag. Just nice to have "in case" you need them. It's a nice extra to have.
Centennial, CO USA Thu 10/02/2008
The first time we went to London, we would come out of the tube and be disoriented and walk a block or more in the wrong direction. Next trip, we took a small compass and never had to backtrack.
Lawton, OK USA Thu 10/02/2008
Philosophy Bodywash Shampoo combo
I second the use of Phiosophy combo bodywash/shampoo. I was given a set travel size of the wash and conditioner and thought they worked great. I have since used the the combo wash on several trips with a small bottle of drug store conditioner(my mom frequently gives me the bodywash as a gift and althouth the conditioner was nice,it wasn't nice enough to justify spending the extra $$) I've used several of the scents and have found none of them to be overpowering.
USA Wed 10/01/2008
1) Keychain flashlight (with on/off switch) so you'll always have it with you in pocket or purse. 2) Eye mask and earplugs for plane and hostels. 3) Long underwear - top doubles as shirt.
A not so wonderful extra: too much "just in case" food. A couple energy bars were great to have on hand - but what was I thinking, bringing a mini salami to Switzerland?!
Napa, CA USA Wed 10/01/2008
useful in restrooms
Many restrooms offer no paper towels. Pack a man's handkerchief in your daybag. It folds up small and dries out quickly.
Minneapolis, Mn USA Sat 09/27/2008
european travel musts
I can't agree more with the travelers' statements on this site...Rick's mesh zip clothes bags make packing light easy. I often take the liquid shampoo packets from the 1st hotel I stay at to use for laundry sink washing later.. also earplugs, a fleece, a lightweight rain jacket and Wet Ones /hand gel are essential!
issaquah, wa USA Sat 09/27/2008
An worthwhile extra to pack
My husband and I just had a fantastick 3 weeks in Europe. One of their issues is keeping food cold. I don't know why I didn't think of it but I own a $1.50 keep cold bag from the grocery store. It would have come in so handy for picnics and carrying food with us. We would come upon a great deli or store and have no way to keep things cold. This keeps food cold or even frozen for up to 3 hours. I'll never go again without it. It will fold flat in our 21" suitcase.
Port Orchard, WA USA Thu 09/25/2008
If traveling with children, a good flashlight to bring is a camping headlamp. They are small and are handsfree. Our first overseas trip was to Madagascar and one of our kids woke up vomiting in the night at a hotel that shuts off electricity overnight. My husband and I both had headlamps, and one of us was comforting our sick child and the other had hands free to clean up the mess.
Minneapolis, MN USA Tue 09/16/2008
oxyclean and bugspray
If you prefer to go a greener route, oxyclean also now comes in a "stain stick." I brought one to Italy and was impressed with how well it worked on tomato sauce in particular. We also brought a samll spray pump bottle of insect repellant, which was a godsend after dusk in the Italian coutryside, even in Sept.
Aspen , co. USA Mon 09/15/2008
all in one body, shampoo, conditioner
I love and use Philosophy Pure Grace or any other of their Foaming Bath and Shower creams. Never used it for shampoo/conditioner but may do to Europe in October due to restrictions.They do make excellent products and definately not masculine fragrances.
San Francisco, 94133 USA Sun 09/14/2008
I will reiterate the Castile soap option- a little bottle goes a long way to clean yourself, your clothes and your hair.
The vodka tip is genius- I clean with vodka at home, disinfect wounds or toilet seats- and a small spray bottle of it seems to get out musty smells.
I cannot live without strawberry extract (sold at pharmacies, such as Dr. Fowlers etc)- I take a swig from the bottle after every meal abroad and have NEVER had travellers' indigestion.
I know this sounds odd- but cheap pantyliners (not anything Dri-weave, but the cheap cotton-y kind) can save your shoes from becoming stinky! Stick one in the bottom of each shoe and discard it when it becomes too "used". Replace as necessary. If you stick one and wrap it up the back of your shoe it even stopped me from getting blisters in new shoes. You can even wrap them sticky side down around the outside of your toes in shoes to prevent pinky-toe blisters!
Krazy glue. Something breaks, you can fix it. Cut or scrape? Glue it shut. Broken nail or hangnail? Glue it down. Trust me- something as small as a hangnail can make a 3 hour train ride excruciating.
montreal, qc canada Sat 09/13/2008
btw- my husband travelled with one single bottle of some sort of man-soap while I had soap, body lotion AND shampoo. Next time I will source out a bottle of man-oriented all in one body wash/shampoo. I would just like to find one that didn't smell so masculine....
montreal, qc canada Sat 09/13/2008
Meal on the go!
Besides Ricks' travel picnic set, I have a collapsible cup and bowl (heat resistant silicone kind for backpackers sold at REI) and a small flexible plastic cutting board that doubles as a plate. This way I can buy my food at any grocery store and enjoy it on the go!
Tacoma, WA USA Fri 09/12/2008
Silk underlayer for comfort & warmth
I work outside, year-round AND have to look presentable. I strongly recommend 'Winter Silks', or other washable silk under layers. I have cotton, polyester wicking and wool layers, but nothing I have tried is more comfortable next to the skin than silk. Light weight clothes can be layered over them, they can be dressed up and visible... I wear my silk tank with a jacket for evening wear. The best part is they take next to no room to pack and dry quickly after washing. Cocoon yourself!
portland, or USA Mon 09/01/2008
My husband and I just returned from Paris and Rome. We read on Rick's website to pack a rain coat in case it rains. When we got to Paris we got caught in a week long rainstorm (thunder and lighting). Although it did not rain constantly, it did spit on us almost everyday. Because we read about bringing a raincoat we were prepared. The other piece we decided to pack was a rain slicker for our backpack. We were carrying a new camera and lenses that we did not want to get wet. So we brought the rain cover for the bag. It came in handy considering that our bag would have been soaked a few times if we did not pack this. The other way the rain slicker came in handy is it created a great theft deterrent. Because our bag was covered we did not have to worry about people trying to get inside the bag and sneaking the zippers open. The backpack was completely covered. We ended up using the rain slicker everyday whether it rained or not. We had no problems with pickpockets and thieves our entire trip.
Portland, OR USA Sun 08/31/2008
Cut and Paste Trip Book
We create a "trip book" prior to leaving, and then use it as a combo travel guide and journal. Usually we use a small sketchbook with a sturdy cover, the sprial-bound kind being best because they expand somewhat with the extra volume of pasted paper. Before leaving home we print out Google maps, Wikitravel info, an abbreviated address book (including email addresses) to send notes from the road, useful language phrases, and pages from guidebooks that we would rather not lug around. We cut and paste these the old-fashioned way into the book, in the order of the cities we will visit. Sometimes we add notes like the addresses of our hotels and such. Then we bring along a fine tip Sharpie pen and a glue stick to create a scrapbook and journal in the remaining pages while on the trip. Occasionally we have purchased inexpensive school scissors when we needed them, but usually we are pasting in things like museum tickets, business cards from restaurants and hotels, and things like that so no scissors are needed. We now have a few of these reminders of our trips, and they are helpful memory aids when we are recommending places to friends and for planning our future travels.
Vancouver, BC Canada Sun 08/31/2008
Some packing ideas that have helped me in the past:
A vibrating travel alarm clock. If you are staying in a hostel or a place and you don't want to wake others, clip the clock onto your pillowcase and slide it inside the pillowcase yet underneath the pillow itself. There are companies that sell the ones for your pillowcase as well as the ones that go under your mattress that shake the bed. Either one, it won't disturb others.
Ear plugs and eye masks. For the times that I stayed in hostels and shared the room with 12 - 15 other people, the peace and quiet makes a big difference for the next day's adventures!
Ziplock bags of any size. I used the gallon ziplocks for clothes instead of the SpaceBags that are sold at many stores. Ziplocks compress the air out easily and packing light goes a long way!
A small keychain compass.
Gaucho (sp?) pants. Easy to wash, pack, and can be worn casually or dressed up!
Qtips and cotton balls (travel containter) for makeup remover, wiping off stains...
baby powder.. for the days when you don't want to wash your hair. It's a perfect "dry" shampoo and smells good too!
Dryer sheets to place inside your ziplocks and shoes. Keeps items smelling fresh and absorbs some of the moisture accummulated by humidity.
Rub-on bandaid. Before trekking for the day, rub the band-aid onto parts of your feet that get blisters. Perfect! You won't have to worry about bandaids getting wet or crinkling after a few steps. Lasts all day!
Ginger: I buy the ginger at whole food markets. There are many different forms. I suffer from motion sickness caused by virtigo. I eat several pieces before any trip and I don't get sick. Also, if you eat questionable food, eat some ginger and it soothes that upset stomach! Plus, it's tasty!
Locks for your zippers. I had peace of mind while walking through subway stations and busy areas knowing that my backpack was safely secure from roaming fingers!
Dry-proof folder. Before any trip, I copy all important documents, reservations, directions, etc and put in the folder. I place it in a specific place in my backpack. When I am done with a particular paper, I throw it away. The folder keeps it dry and organized.
Happy travels to all!!!
Pembroke Pines, FL USA Thu 08/28/2008
Caution with anything magnetic near your Credit Cards!
I also travel with a compass which I recommend. Just be very careful to keep magnetic objects away from all credit cards, rooms cards, etc..i.e., anything with a magnetic strip.
I know from experience it will make your card inoperable.
Antioch, CA USA Thu 08/28/2008
save with freebreeze home refills!
Many agree freebreeze is a great addition to the small travel pack - especialy for shoes/boots after long hiking in the alps! But save a few buck and fill your own "mini" by getting 1.0z commercial 99cent liquid hair-spray pump bottle at the drug store travel aisle, dump the hair spray liquid (you dont need it anyways) and fill it with freebreez from your big bottle at home! 99cents vs 4-5$ for the labled containter (save that cash for gelato)! One more tip - clip the tiny sharp edge off the end of mini-tootpaste and other tubes with nail clipper so they dont poke hokes in your 3-1-1 bag!
Newport Beach, CA USA Fri 08/22/2008
Febreeze - they now sell small travel size spray bottles (Bed Bath & Beyond). Works well to keep clothing fresh and helps release wrinkles as well. Also can use on pillows, chairs in room as room deoderizer if necessary.
New York, NY USA Thu 08/21/2008
I find that most of the older hotels have wardrobe type closets. I usually just wash out one pair of trousers/pants, a blouse, a few underthings at a time. After wrapping them in a towel to remove excess water, I simply hang them in the closet overnight. The hotel maids don't even know I've done laundry. That way I don't have to pack clothes pins, lines, etc. Just a small squeeze bottle of "Dawn Dish Detergent" which lasts my whole trip.
CA USA Mon 08/18/2008
Two things I always travel with: (1) small flashlight (handy for exploring/finding your way in a dark room/reading a map at night...)and (2) dried chinese noodle soup (very filling and weighs nothing - and anyone can find a way to order "hot water" in any language
Edmonton, AB Canada Mon 08/18/2008
Best Travel Accessories
Just wanted to add two cents on a couple of indispensibles. My family spent 5 weeks traveling Europe this summer each with a 22" roll-aboard (we took a cruise or could have packed lighter.) The two most important items - a tide stain stick pen (gets stains out instantly!) and a 2-pack of stick on air fresheners (used in bathrooms and also suitcases to keep oft worn clothes fresher.)
We stayed in a variety of accommodations - apartments, b&b's, boutique hotels - most with an inroom washer and/or access to coin-op one. Used the rick steves clothesline often as most countries only have washers and line dry. A bag of small clothes clips from the dollar store was used to secure laundry that did not fit on line and also to close a variety of items (snack bags, etc.)
Seattle, WA USA Sun 08/17/2008
The era of sink washing is over
I travelled through Europe (specifically Spain, Southern France, and Italy) in May. I stayed in 9 different places I found in various RS guidebooks and all of them either didn't have any place to string up a clothesline, or explicitly forbade the washing of clothes in the room.
I got by on a combination of wearing everything 2-3 days in a row and using the incredibly expensive local laundry services (vacation time was at a premium for me).
I would have been better off leaving the clothesline, liquid soap, and inflatable hangars at home and using the space for an extra shirt and change of underwear.
Mountain View, CA USA Sat 08/16/2008
Washing Clothes in Room
My daughter and I traveled for 8 weeks in 8 counties and always found a way to use the clothes line to hang our wash with no problems. We did not ask if we could...we just did it.
USA Sat 08/16/2008
something more natural than febreeze
Instead of febreeze, try cheap vodka! Seriously, this is a trick that all costumers have used for years in theatre (and there are some STINKY clothes in theatre). The magical combination of alcohol and starch eliminates odors without the gastly, chemical smell of febreeze (which, trust me, you will start to hate after a while, as you begin to associate it with BO).
Orlando, FL USA Thu 08/14/2008
Fresh Clothes for Travels
I put stick-up Glade air freshners on the inside top flap of my suitcase to keep things fresh scented. I sprinkle lavendar powder in my shoes. Works great!:)
Boise, ID USA Thu 08/14/2008
Those of us who pack lightly and only do carry-on still want to have picnics. So it makes sense to buy a cheap grocery store knife once you arrive in Europe. Think about bringing a plastic sheath for it so you can carry the knife safely. Good kitchen stores like Sur La Table sell knife sheathes. Another help is thin bandanas to use as picnic cloths, napkins. Just wash it out after using. And I always bring a small thin cutting board.
Seattle, USA Tue 08/12/2008
Long Sleeve Shirt in the Summer
I know it sounds odd, but one of the best clothing items I took was a very very light weight cotton long sleeve shirt. We traveled to some areas that have a large Muslim population and are VERY hot. It was quite surprising, but wearing a light long sleeve shirt is sometimes cooler than a short sleeve or tank top. It keeps the sun off of your arms. It also comes in handy when you wish to visit a church and need to cover your arms.
Urbana, Il USA Mon 08/11/2008
Easy washing suds
Easy washing suds.. . Went to Rite Aid and found a small 3-pack of sink sized sealed washing packets, along with a sealed packet for a full-size load. Use and toss the packet.
Bothell, WA USA Mon 08/11/2008
Floaties – Blow them up on the plane and they are great for lumbar support. You can also blow them up to put around your breakable souvenirs in your suitcase. You can find them for $1 a pair at Wal-mart.
Jeans and shorts are fine. I was told that only tourists where them but they are all over Europe now. If you are going in the churches you will need pants that cover past your knees.
I took a coupon organizer for all of my receipts. I divided it into food, gas, souvenirs, entertainment and miscellaneous. It really helped me to keep organized and keep my finances straight. It made it very easy when I got home to put it all in a spreadsheet.
Download Rick Steves free Audio Tours and take them with you. It will save you money so you do not have to pay a guide.
Fabric Softener Sheets – Absorb odor and dampness in your suitcase
Journal and Glue Sticks – You really need to keep a journal. You will see and do so much it all starts to run together. I also took a glue stick and glued my tickets or other memorabilia in my journal for safe keeping.
Sweater and socks for the plane – If you are flying through the night, the plane will get quite cool. Take a sweater on the plane with you. If you are wearing sandals, you may want to throw in a pair of socks as well.
Mailing Tube – Take along a mailing tube for your prints or posters that you buy. You can roll them up inside and stick them in your suitcase so they do not get bent up.
Bubble Wrap – I had a hard time finding some to wrap some of my souvenirs. Next time I will just take some along.
Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow – The medium size pillow is perfect for the plane. If you buy one, take it home and wash and dry it before your trip. You won't believe how much they puff up. They will make your flight much more comfortable.
Ziplocks – very handy for a number of things including damp clothes
New Braunfels, TX USA Sat 08/09/2008
Antioch, CA USA Thu 08/07/2008
This isn't something you'd pack, but it's a great tip I saw several years ago and wanted to share. Buy a postcard each day of your trip, write what you did that day, and mail the card to yourself! You can keep them in your photo album or bind them together to make a little booklet. It's fun, provides an inexpensive, unique souvenir, and it can take the place of a travel journal.
USA Town, Ohio USA Wed 08/06/2008
For safety reasons, prescription and non-prescription medication must always be kept in their original labelled containers. Removing these labels is dangerous! Any Paramedic/Medical First Responder will agree. Details on this can be found on the Helpline. Ask for two smaller labelled containers from your Pharmacist instead. The space savings is not worth putting your health at risk. Let's not meet by accident.
Canada Mon 08/04/2008
TRAVELING WITH VITAMINS, ETC.
We've found that if you take vitamins, medication, etc., the 2"x3" jewelry bags that can be purchased at a hobby store are great for making individual daily packets. These are easy to pack and take up less room than bulky bottles.
USA Sat 08/02/2008
I brought photos of my family with our name and address on them and photos of my house and hometown, plus postcards of my area and would show them to people on the train or at breakfast which would start wonderful conversations that would last for hours and make new friends in the process. I wish I would have brought more family photos, 4x6 size, with my name and address and email on it to hand out to poeple. The people I showed them to, from Australia, New Zealand, Taiwain, Austria, all wish they had thought of that. firstname.lastname@example.org I got it off Rick Steves Europe Through the Back Door Book or this website email@example.com
Kris A. Berger
Whitewater, KS USA Thu 07/31/2008
Extra clothes for those missed flights
In traveling to London from the US, we did not make our connecting flight out of Toronto to London and had to spend the night in the Toronto airport. Sleeping in an airport overnight can be a cold experience so I was certainly glad that I had packed a long sleeve tee in my carry-on backpack!
Zionsville, IN USA Tue 07/29/2008
Avoid checking (and losing) your luggage!
I was determined not to check luggage on a 10-day european vacation, so these are the space-saving tips I found. Everything makes a difference! 1. Use a toothbrush cap that will protect the bristles and not a whole plastic tube. 2. Pack a collapsible rip-stop nylon bag and use it when you start accumulating souveniers. Check it with only your travel clothing on the way home and carry on your gifts and non-clothing items (don't forget an extra luggage tag!). Baggallini makes great ones. 3. To cut down on liquids, I packed bar soap in a soap saver (search amazon) as my body wash and washrag substitute and used solid shampoo from LUSH.com. 4. I also packed Almay oil-free makeup remover pads to save on liquids. They are only an inch or two across, and I used a tiny plastic container to take a couple dozen. 5. Packing inflatable neck and lumbar pillows with a sleep mask was a good move. It took up very little space once I was done using it, and I got some rest on the long flight. 6. A travel wallet around my neck helped me stay organized without being vulnerable to thieves. 7. Since I traveled in cold weather, I took several lightweight tees and only one fleece pullover. I could change the tees and keep using the fleece (and a waterproof windbreaker on top) and stay clean. 8. There are laundromats if you look. I researched and found out there was one at the halfway point of my trip. Great way to save packing space!
Dallas, TX USA Tue 07/29/2008
We found the poster tubes all over Europe at the museums and post offices.
CA USA Mon 07/28/2008
Inexpensive poster tube
I often want to bring home posters from Europe and have found an easy way to protect them: I make a tube of empty plastic liter water bottles using two bottle "bottoms" to form the ends and adding as many "middle" sections as needed for length. The bottles cut easily(discard the top sections)and I just tape them together to form a tube. Masking tape or duct tape will do. The resulting tube is very lightweight and also clear allowing the contents to be seen by security (I have never had a problem doing this).
Roswell, GA USA Fri 07/25/2008
Rick Steves Packing Cubes
I bought Rick Steves packing cubes, the set of 3 and they were the best investment. If you are backpacking, you can put everything in these cubes and when you have to pull everything out of your bag to get to whatever is at the bottom, all you have to pull out are the 3 cubes rather than pulling everything out individually. They help organize everything and are especially helpful if you are in a hostel and don't have room to spread your stuff out. Definitely worth the money!
Marysville, WA USA Tue 07/22/2008
best tips used from this site
Just back from 3 weeks in France,Italy,Spain. I typed up 2 single pages of ideas from this site--I thought we were supposed to pack light! The best ideas used: Febreeze,preprint mail labels,light fold-up bag,panty liners,mole skin,twist ties,postcards from US, tyvek envelope for important papers,sari scarf (used as a beach towel)& foot scrub. A few others I came up with: cut make-up remover towelettes in 1" squares and take just what you will use. I used a glasses case to store my ipod safely.
Portland , OR USA Mon 07/14/2008
If you plan to travel with earrings, use a pill box to keep them separate and intact.
Zurich, Switzerland Wed 07/09/2008
Great tips here, some of which I also use. My favorite "extra" is a microfiber blanket that I bought online (at travelsmith.com, I think). It packs in fabric tube about the size of a travel umbrella. I have been amazed how comforting it is to have a soft, clean, personal blanket in a hotel or if sitting in a park. Well worth the packing space.
Chicago, IL USA Tue 07/08/2008
Chiffon underpants from Target
They dry in a jiff....in front of a fa. draped in the sunshine during a nap; even overnight hung on a clothes pin. They do get runs after 4-5 wearings but it is always nice to have clean underpants.
Hanford, CA USA Tue 07/08/2008
extras for travel with kids
I just returned from 3 weeks in Scotland and England with my daughters, age 10 and 13. I took little packets of hand sanitizing wipes and found them invaluable many times. Also, we always kept a cache of granola bars and clementine oranges in our backpacks for energy boosts between meals.
We stayed in hostels and found a couple of items to be useful. I thought buying a couple of microfiber towels was a bit frivolous at first, but we used them exclusively for showering at hostels and saved having to pay for towels. I used the smaller sized microfiber to wring water out of our laundry each evening. Of course, the elastic clothesline was put to use every day. I took a 3 oz container of Dr. Bronner's soap which was our all-purpose cleaner.
I brought along a used toothbrush which I used to scrub out our Keens on occasion, as they were the only shoes we brought, except for flip flops for showers.
I was surprised by how much we ended up using our pocket tote for groceries and picnics. It packs up to a tiny little packet, and clips onto anything. Very useful!
Finally, each child brought a little stuffed friend from home. Though they took up a bit of room in the backpacks, they were an important constant as we ventured from bed to bed, city to village.
Charlottesville, VA USA Thu 07/03/2008
Keeping clothes fresh & clean
My husband and I traveled through 4 countries with only a carry-on sized backpack. The two things we found invaluable - Shout stain removal wipes (they come in little single-use packets that fit in your pocket and can be carried everywhere you go), and a 3oz bottle of Febreeze fabric freshener - every night we'd just freshen up our clothes with a few spritzes and they'd be ready to go the next day!
NH USA Wed 07/02/2008
My travel partner ended up bringing a collapsible, fabric, waterproof bucket. We actually used it--a lot! It held laundry that had been washed in the sink and was waiting a rinse, let us soak our feet at night when a bathtub wasn't available, and helped to take laundry to the line (when we were lucky enough to have an outdoor clothesline). Definitely an essential when traveling light.
Madison, WI USA Wed 07/02/2008
Backup for memory cards
There are now flash-based drives that allow you to download your memory chips from cameras directly, without having to use a computer at all. Makes a nice backup for your memories!
Seattle, WA USA Tue 07/01/2008
Digital photos saving
The device that puts your photos on your iPod sounds convenient but what happens if someone steals or you lose your iPod which I hope does not happen. How about uploading to an online site when you get to an internet cafe in addition to putting it on the iPod.
Ohio USA Sun 06/22/2008
I love to take pictures when traveling. I have been planning a three month long trip to Europe and wanted to make sure that I could take all the pictures I want without having to juggle extra memory cards. I found a device that allows you to upload pictures directly from your camera to an Ipod. I works on all Ipod models and even the Ipod nano has the capacity to hold 25,000 pictures!
Kirkland, WA USA Thu 06/19/2008
Camera in pocket
Traveling in France in June 2007, I took a very small point & shoot camera (Sony W200) and carried it in my shirt pocket. To protect it from sweat, I slipped it into a small flexible plastic envelope a little larger than the camera. If it rained, I turned the envelope upside down with the open end at the bottom of my pocket. This proved to be an excellent means of carrying a camera and protecting it while remaining inconspicuous.
Vallejo, CA USA Thu 06/19/2008
My Travel Scrapbooking
I bring colored pencils to draw illustrations in my journal. Glue stick and safety scissors are great, too.
Kentucky, USA Mon 06/16/2008
the values of journaling
We took a multi-city Rick Steves' tour a few years ago, and I brought along a journal, glue stick, and pair of safety scissors. Every evening, I cut off the appropriate section from our tour itinerary, and glued it into the journal. As I wrote about the day's activities, I glued in receipts, ticket stubs, postcards, etc. I always included my impressions of the sights, plus what we ate and where, and anything amusing or strange that happened. Now when we read that journal, seeing all the little added bits really helps bring it all back to life.
When you travel a lot, sometimes the trips all run together, and it truly helps to have a journal to keep it all straight. Plus, when you get a lot older, you'll be glad you have this memory-booster! Your descendants will appreciate it, too, especially as circumstances change with the passage of years. Just a few years ago, we didn't have security lines and limits on what we could carry on board. Who knows what travel will be like in a few more years? It will be fascinating to be able to read those journals and look back to a different time.
VA USA Thu 06/12/2008
Laundry - sensitive skin
My daughter has very sensitive skin and breaks out in rashes, so I always bring laundry soap from home that I know won't irritate her skin.
If you know you are going to do laundry. Bring a snack size ziplock bag with single load amount of laundry powder. Put each of the snack bags into a larger ziplock bag. ALWAYS DOUBLE BAG LAUNDRY SOAP!!!
Also, toss a couple bounce type sheets into a ziplock. If you don't use them for laundry - they will at least freshen the smell of your suitcase.
Newbury Park, CA USA Thu 06/12/2008
I agree with the baby wipes! We found another use for them, when a very healthy pigeon bombed my husband's hat in Florence. A couple of wipes and it was good as new.
Kirkland, WA USA Wed 06/11/2008
Baby wipes, useful for all kinds of things you can think of (personal use, or wiping down dirty surfaces etc. Good to take on long flights too)! Keep plastic or fabric shopping bags for taking laundry to a Laundromat. One fabric bag I had in Paris was a lifesaver for a load of laundry! Try to think ahead if you know you might have to do laundry and bring a sample size laundry soap packet and a fabric sheet or two so you don't have to buy them in the country you visit. (I learned this after having to buy a small bottle of laundry detergent at a local store for just one load in Paris!) .
If you fly an airline like BA, keep the mini toothbrush/paste, socks, and eye shade they give you! I had my friends give me the ones they didn't use on their flights so I have extras now just in case! I also stocked up on the granola bars I liked from home... and packed them in my shoes in my suitcase! When I arrived at my hotel, I just put a couple in my day bag. They came in handy when I was out sightseeing and just wanted a small, cheap snack! I always bring a small note book to record my day's activities in, with my itinerary and contact info taped to the inside cover. The journal is one of my best souvenirs- it's really fun to write up my day in a town square or in a local garden at the end of the day! It can occupy you when you're bored too (and cheaper than paying to buy a magazine to read), like I was, waiting for the aforementioned laundry to dry in a Parisian Laundromat- another guy waiting saw me writing page after page of what I had done that day. He turned to me and nodded at my book and said to me, "Le grand ecrit!" (basically: a big write up!) :)
Oakland, CA USA Tue 06/10/2008
Washing on the road
Washing out undies, socks, etc. is easier with my tip and you don't need a sink stopper. I bring single wash packets of powdered lingerie detergent. (I like "Forever New," which you can find online.) When I travel overseas, I put a couple of packets inside an empty 2-gallon ziptop bag then use the bag as my "washing machine," by filling it with water & a soap pkt then swishing the items vigorously inside the bag. No worries about dirty sinks! Turn the ziptop bag inside out to dry and use again. The bag and soap weigh nothing!
Grand Rapids, MI USA Sun 06/08/2008
I travel to Europe 7-8 times per year for business. For packing light, I suggest:
stock up on trail size offerings from your favorite make-up/skin care supplier (Lancome, Clinque, etc) - just ask at the counter at your local department store.
Crystal Light individual packets; pour one into a 1/2 liter bottle of water. A nice change from water or soft drinks.
Shower caps are great for holding dirty shoes!
Ziploc bags (take all 3 sizes) have many, many uses. From holding wet bathing suits between cities, to holding that favorite bar of soap from city to city, to keeping different curriencies separated, to holding improvised trail mix you made yourself from the cereal/nut/dried fruit offerings on the hotel breakfast buffet.
Keep the eye-shade and ear plugs (if offered on your flight over); they're great for drowding out light and noise through-out your trip (on long train rides, if you want to sleep at night and your roomie wants to read a while, etc).
USA Thu 06/05/2008
Combination alarm clock/flashlight
A combination alarm clock/flashlight from flight001.com. Tiny and dual purpose. I don't like tripping over stuff and being the thing that goes "bump" in the night.
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 05/27/2008
rubber sink stoppers
In almost every hotel I've stayed in throughout Europe, I've never had a stopper for the sink. So now I carry one of those old-fashioned, floppy disc, rubber things to keep the water in the sink when I'm trying to wash something out. It takes up no room, costs a buck, and really comes in handy. No more stuffing a sock in the drain to try and keep the water in.
San Antonio, TX USA Mon 05/26/2008
This is probably more appropriate for those traveling outside the EU. I went to Central Asia last fall. Everyone on our tour (28 of us) became ill with food poisoning and we all were taking Cipro. One of the tour members who had done a lot of traveling in Romania and other far eastern European countries had brought a very large supply of graham crackers. I lived on Emergency C and graham crackers for two weeks. From now on I am going to include at least a few graham crackers and some Emergency C in case of a stomach upset(minor or major.h
USA Wed 05/21/2008
tyveck priority bags
tyvek priority bags are free at the post office and they are so much stronger than paper envelopes and very light weight. I put all my paper work in one and put brochures and tickets in another one to bring home and use for my travel scrapbook.
Vermillion, MN USA Tue 05/13/2008
Some items that came in handy in Scotland and England: Perfume samples (the kind that come in magazines) - for yourself and for rubbing on certain areas of clothing when the clothing you washed didn't dry in time; a small bungee cord; ziploc bags; a couple pics of our hometown and house (nice when swapping stories with B&B owners); Splenda or Sweet 'n' Low packets (some places only stocked sugar).
Chicago, IL USA Sat 05/10/2008
Make your own map!!!
Make maps for each city you will be visiting with helpful info like where your hostel is and the train station and World Alliance ATM using Google Map's it's easy and free! You can be like a friend of mine and laminate them too! Also, I picked up a small notebook with rip-out pages and used it like a journal and it was an easy way to give out info to other travelers as well!
Tacoma, WA USA Wed 05/07/2008
Safety when traveling
Also, in case of a fire and you have to go into a hotel hallway, not only count the doors but leave something in your doorway to keep the door open. In case you have to backtrack to your room, you will be able to get back in.
CA USA Tue 04/29/2008
safety, when traveling
I never go anywhere without a flashlight. I have found a carabiner type clip light from waldenbooks to be very convient. At home i clip it on my key ring. Traveling I put 1 in my crossover purse & 1 on my carry on packback. They were very usefull exploring a dark castle. At night I put one on the night stand ( home & away). I also bring a small compass- mine has a thermometer. I got it at a camping store & it only11/2", so I put it on a small carabiner & hook it on my pack. Weighs nothing & with a map you are set. Also, a tip for all travellers. Count the doors in your hotel hall ( 0r your steps) to the nearest fire exit ( Stairs No elevators). In an emergency, you will not panic to find them. Have a happy & safe trip!
warren, nj USA Mon 04/28/2008
There are these bubble-wrap wine "skins" that seal around your bottle of wine/vodka/etc. Perfect for the new anti-liquids fiasco. Not cheap but well worth it. http://www.ftscontent.com/
Houston, TX USA Fri 04/25/2008
Pack 2 carabiners (the oval aluminum clips available in the camping department, not the rock-climbing versions)to secure two bags together, hold up clotheslines and otherwise hang stuff from places. I used 2 to clip my handbag/backpack to my rolling carry-on so it wouldn't slide or get pinched, and I also used it to affix the handbag/backpack to the seatback pocket on the airplane. Once something falls to the floor on the plane it is often hard to retrieve it in that squashed space. The carabiner is also good for clipping together several bags (camera supply bag, shopping bag, book bag) to your belt or a ring on your jacket.
Redding, CT USA Thu 04/24/2008
keeping yourself & clothes clean
My husband & I traveled 2 wks in Ireland & London.I brought baby wash for washing nitely our clothes & used it for hair& body. ItRinsed well. Also I brought 2 baby wash cloths as they are very thin & dry fast, when we didn't have any at the hotel. And I brought a large micro fiber towel, i got at at a camp stoer. It was great to put wet clothes in & roll up &squeeze the water, so the clotes dried faster. I also used it to dry my hair. It was also usefull after some rain showers. And ladies, The travelon crossbody handbags are great for traveling w/out constantly using your hands. There is a "secret" zipper in back for very important things you don't want take out often. I carry a small "taxi" style wallet in another area, with only a limited amount of money, as I don't want to show off my valuables. Happy traveling! This site is the best for hints!
Franklin, nj USA Wed 04/23/2008
Multi-purpose Baking Soda
I always take a small container of baking soda (bicarbinate of soda). It can stop heartburn, ease an itch or bug bite, sub for baby powder, or sub for toothpaste. I put some in an old prescrption bottle with the lable removed. It is SO useful.
Charlotte, NC USA Tue 04/22/2008
Creative Travel for Kids
A creative travel idea with kids: I found some kid's monkey backpacks ideal for them to take their crayons, books and other travel essentials with them. For the parents, the monkey packs come with a long clip-on tail to keep kids from getting lost in the airport. Clever!
San Diego, Cali USA Sun 04/20/2008
Always carry Clothes pins
Sometimes it seems that even a small pinhold of light can disturb our sleep. We always travel now with a clothes pin which can be utilized to keep curtains together or pinch together enough curtain to cover a "hole". Ear plugs are a must for noisy hotel mates. Ziplock bags are a must and are great for sorting jewelry according to color or outfit. My daughter's favorite birthday was celebrated in Ireland. Thankfully we had packed birthday candles which we stuck into cupcakes and suprised her one evening. I packed a gift bag, card and gift as well. It was magical! So don't forget candles!
Glasgow, Ky USA Sun 04/20/2008
compact and multi-purpose
I pack a dozen vitamin E gel capsules. They are great for cosmetic use: under eyes, dry lips, dry hair treatment etc. Also help to heal sunburns and shoe blisters. Just prick with a pin and you have a single portion!
Toronto, Ont Canada Sun 04/20/2008
For budget travelers
1. Facecloth! Many people pack a large bath/beach towel but forget to bring a small one for the face. 2. Lightweight bike lock. Locking your pack to the hostel bed during the day gives a peace of mind (zippers can be closed with smaller locks). 3. Small gifts. Assume that you will meet people who are so kind that you will want to repay them with a small token. I make mixed cds for younger friends and packets of (Canadian) flower seeds for older folk. I keep a couple in my day pack and the rest in my big pack 4. Plastic cutlery (in case you forgot to grab some when you bought your picnic supplies earlier :-)
Toronto, Ontari Canada Sun 04/20/2008
More on duct tape
Duct tape is handy if you use a hydration pack with a plastic bladder. (Highly recommended if you hike a lot.) If the bladder springs a small leak, duct tape can seal the hole. I had to make an emergency repair on a hike, and it worked even when applied while the bladder was filled with water.
For packing, I pull a length of tape from the roll, wind it around on itself and tuck it into the hydration pack with the first aid supplies, extra pair of hiking socks, etc. Gorilla tape is even tougher than duct tape, although it is more expensive.
Willits, CA USA Tue 04/15/2008
our favorite must brings
Here are some things we've found useful in our travels... *3x5 spiral-we write down what we ordered at restaurants, off the trail side trips, etc- a great memory *pocket kite-weighs almost nothing, a friend maker *portable cork screw *cottonelle wet wipes cut in half in zip bag-many cleaning uses-body/other pleasant smell *binder clip-holds curtains shut, etc. *almonds-healthy snack anywhere *Sudako pages extracted from larger book
Everett, WA USA Sat 04/12/2008
Lose The Key!
Combo locks are more convenient than locks with keys. That way you just remember the code and don't have to worry about losing the keys!
Canada Fri 04/11/2008
Pamper your eyes !
I always pack a tiny magnifying glass - handy for reading fine print, or even better, one of those flat magnifying cards about the size of credit card - takes scarcely any room - can be carried in your wallet.
Sylvia K. Grant
Osceola, WI USA Fri 04/11/2008
duct tape and foam
Denise - You are so right about the duct tape. I carry a travel size roll that I squash flat and put in a baggie. This last trip we stayed in a friend's flat in Florence (say that 5 times real fast) while she was away. After much searching for a place to hide the key, we used the duct tape to tape the key in a secret place when we locked up on leaving. I lined the bottom of our suitcases with sheets of foam that is used to wrap dishes. We used these, with the duct tape, to wrap our treasures purchased in Venice. Just little bits of duct tape kept the foam in place but was not too much in case customs wanted to take a peek.
FL USA Sat 04/05/2008
Potions Lotions and Locks
I collected little plastic sample jars from Origins. They are about 1 1/8 inches across and 5/8 inches tall. They are clear. In these I put my face lotions and hair creams. They are concentrated so you need only a dab. Perfect for two weeks. I marked them with permanent marker so I knew which was which. I found I can place four or five of these stacked up in a plastic Rx bottle. Worked perfectly. No leaks. I use gelato spoons from previous trips to fill these tiny pots with the creams! While on trains and in B&Bs I lock my luggage. I color code the locks with their keys with dabs of nail polish. Red, green, white, etc. Saves a lot of time.
FL USA Sat 04/05/2008
Novelty LED lights
One thing I found very useful was attaching an LED light to my fanny pack.
I had one of those novelty ones with a single diode that you squeeze to turn on. They're usually on a key chain. Some companies were handing them out at a career fair.
Very useful in the dark when you flashlight is back in your hotel room.
USA Sat 04/05/2008
what's fashionable in rolling suitcase
Rufus -- I tend to think you would be better with a 20" rolling sutcase (IF you can fit all your gear in it ??) I have managed with a 20" plus a backpack for 6 weeks in summer around Europe for the last 4 years -- but if you can't manage a backpack try a SMALL (16") rolling suitcase as well as a 20" -- I have had few problems with a 26" plus 20" in the UK ---- hope this helps
Perth , USA Fri 04/04/2008
what's fashionable in rolling suitcase
I haven't been to the UK in a few years, due to surgery I can't take a backpack this time. I'm assuming that a black suitcase will be unassuming-looking, from my previous experience, but is there another color that's seen these days. I am almost thinking of a 24" but I haven't ever used one that big.
Clothier, OK USA Tue 04/01/2008
Toilet Seat Liners
May have found this handy tip here-for toilet seat liners, I cut a rough pattern from the paper liners and cut as many as I need from flattened grocery store plastic bags. Certainly cheap, stuffable and wetproof!
Concord, CA USA Sat 03/29/2008
I may have found this tip on these message boards, but it was such a great tip I must share. Packing jewelry in a plastic easter egg allows you to stuff it into the crevices of your bag without packing a bigger extre, unnecessary item (jewelry box, jewelry roll, etc). It's also less conspicuous, and less likely to attract the attention of a thief.
Pasadena, CA USA Fri 03/28/2008
I add a shoelace or piece of yarn, through the core of the TP roll. That way you can hang it around your neck while doing your business in the restroom. I have also been at enough pit toilet rest areas and dirty train restrooms.
mn USA Thu 03/27/2008
Tp roll in my travel bag.
I take a roll of tp with the core taken out and flattened to fit in a pocket on my travel bag. Lots of powder rooms on my European adventures are often out of tp. It works great for kleenx as well. :)
Casper, Wy. USA Wed 03/26/2008
Light it up
DId anyone mention a flashlight yet? If you can't sleep in a strange bed, you can read without disturbing everyone else in the room with you. Also handy for finding the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Fresno, CA USA Wed 03/26/2008
Practice safe toilet useage!
So I got the neatist thing in the Wal-Mart camping section-- TOILET SEAT COVERS! I've found myself uncomfortably squatting at many a rest stop all over America (and definitely a few in Europe)! They cost two bucks for a thin wallet sized pack of ten! I keep a pack in my car for those nasty emergancy stops!
Mesa, AZ USA Tue 03/25/2008
Pack a compass!
The best thing I packed for my trips to Europe was a compass on a keychain. I attached it to the zipper in of my jacket pocket. That way, coming out of the subways, I could easily and discreetly figure out which direction was which, without standing there with a blank gaping stare, a dead giveaway that I'm a "TOURIST"! LOL!
Columbus, GA USA Mon 03/24/2008
One thing I need on my travels is post it notes. I write notes on the highlights of my trip and put them on a map. I also write reminder notes for myself and put them on the inside of my suitcase flap.
MT, USA Sat 03/22/2008
Alternative Nightlight and the American Dollar
An alternative nightlight: My iPod has an astonishingly bright light which I often use at home and on camping trips if I get up in the middle of the night. Of course...you need to be able to recharge your iPod on your trip.
As for buying clothes on the go: I'm steering clear of the notion to pack "tossable" clothing, or the bare minimum and instead buy what I need whilst traveling. Right now the dollar is so weak, I'd rather really think hard about what I can pack for half the price, and do washing on the go. Anyway, that's just imho. (Besides, I'm from casual Southern California...I'd hate to tromp around Ireland in my daily wardrobe rejects...they're only just good enough for camping! LOL).
If that "must have" sweater or shoes does occur en route...well, then that's when I'll decide what gets mailed and what gets packed! :)
Santa Ana, CA USA Sat 03/22/2008
Duct Tape - don't leave home without it. Loose cover on the camera battery? Torn luggage? Sandal strap break? laptop lock broken? Duct tape to the rescue!
Bubble wrap and tape (save the duct tape for big jobs) It will take up room in your suitcase, ensuring that you have room for purchases on return. If you don't buy anything delicate just leave it behind.
Band aids and Neosporin.
Buffalo, NY USA Fri 03/21/2008
Fun Travel Idea
One of the most fun things I have done is to take and give out Double Bubble gum. I will never forget the young ladies and men at our hotel in China who would blow a bubble every time I got off the elevator.
Pittsburgh, PA USA Wed 03/19/2008
I looked at the label on Airborne and on a regular vitamin mineral supplement. It's true, Airborne is simply some of the same vitamins in One a Day, with the only difference being that Airborne has about three times as much Vitamin C. I bought One a Day, and will eat lots of oranges the week before I travel.
Stoughton, WI USA Wed 03/19/2008
Travel Size Skin Care/Cosmetics
With the TSA strict requirements for liquids/gels, I have started carring sample sizes of my favorite skin care/cosmetics. Stop by your favorite cosmetics counter (Clinque, Bobbie Brown, etc) and ask for samples (some are more friendly about this than others). I also ask for samples when I make a purchase (when spending money, you get even more samples). This has been a life saver for me, because I travel to Europe 8-10 times per year for business, and I DO NOT check my bags; so that little one-quart ziploc bag is my salvation!
Norfolk, VA USA Tue 03/18/2008
I haven't had any trouble with unmarked 3-oz. bottles clearing security at airports or cruise ships. I save bottles or jars that might come in handy. I have bought some really nice 3-oz containers in the travel-sample area at Walmart for 50 cents each. They have large openings and are easy to fill and can rest on the top; staggering them in the 1-quart ziplock bag allows for extra space. I can get a lot of little bottles in the bag! I always put my razor in also.
Green Valley, AZ USA Tue 03/18/2008
I know others have posted this, but it is worth repeating: buy a small spray bottle (fill with water after arriving) and use it for an "iron." I even do it at home for many things, instead of ironing. No need to buy the wrinkle-free stuff. Also, I always use distilled water for cleaning my glasses (and wine glasses at home)and they are super spot free! Some of the retail glasses cleaner scratches plastic lenses. Put water in a small, pump type bottle for travel. Very cheap!!
Green Valley, AZ USA Tue 03/18/2008
Homemade wrinkle releaser
Beckys idea is great! You can even add just a TAD ( a few drops) of liquid fabric softener to the water and it will also freshen things up as well as remove wrinkles since it also relaxes the fabric!!
Boulder, CO USA Tue 03/18/2008
We found a fantastic little scale at an American Tourister store, and it definitely kept us under the weight limits for our luggage. It also kept us packing light in general.
Hallandale, FL USA Wed 03/12/2008
Packing Airborne 2
Thanks Carol - Thats too bad - here I thought we had a great product! ah well... For those that want to get a refund: Looks like a full refund is ofered for all their products... but you have to show receipts. Now who keeps receipts from Savon or Trader Joes for 5 years! Maybe it was the placebo effect but it seemed to help me somehow. Guess good diet and juices/water as many recommend is still the BEST defense! (and wash your hands too)
USA Thu 03/06/2008
Tom... I have a new suggestion to save you space and money. Skip the Airborne all togethere.
"There's no credible evidence that what's in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment," said CSPI Senior nutritionist David Schardt. "Airborne is basically on overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed."
Now my creative extra is a corkscrew. I did have to surrender it at CDG once, but...
Atlanta, GA USA Wed 03/05/2008
A microfiber wash cloth or even half of one in your pocket will dry your hands all day and you don't have to stand in line for the air dryer. Saves time and it isn't even saturated at the end of the day.
Eugene , OR USA Fri 02/29/2008
Travel Alarm Clocks
I always like to bring a travel alarm clock, partly because I like to stay in little pensions/hostals that don't usually offer wake-up calls, and partly so I have back-up for places that do have that service.
I found the Credit-Card Sized International Alarm Clock via 3Luxe - http://www.3luxe.com/best_ofs/Travel_Alarm_Clock/The_Credit-Card_Sized_International_Alarm_Clock
It has a calendar and other cool features too - it is definitely a useful purchase if you travel a lot, whether for fun or for business or both.
Chicago, IL USA Fri 02/29/2008
General Foods makes latte packs for on the go. Just add hot water. Great for a hotel room treat. Mmmm!
Billings, MT USA Mon 02/25/2008
Crystal Light on the go travel packets. Light, easy, packable. Just add to water. Saves money on buying sodas, or drinks. Add vodka for a cocktail under the Eifle tower.
Portland, OR USA Wed 02/20/2008
I noticed the popular Air-Borne cold-prevention tablets now come in small individual travel packets in granular form (a box of packets vs a tube of tablet). While I always took a tube of the tabs for on the plane - these little sugar-packets work great too! stick a couple in your pocket for on the plane, and before/after you land!
USA Wed 02/20/2008
Dove Cleansing Wipes
Just came back from five days in London and they do not provide washcloths..at least in the hotel we stayed in. Fortunately I had packed a large package of Dove cleansing wipes - the kind that activate when you wet them. Perfect for use as washcloths in the shower - hey, if they're gentle enough for face washing, they're perfect for body washing. There were three of us sharing a room so i put the package on the counter and told my friends to help themselves. I still had plenty left for the journey home. Well worth the packing room
Cary, NC USA Tue 02/12/2008
I take Wet Ones in a flat pouch. Works great for every kind of travel cleaning.
Kentucky, :) USA Tue 02/12/2008
A couple of years ago I bought a $3 chamois in the car care section of Wal-Mart.I removed it from its bulky packaging and stored in a zip lock bag.My favorite use for it is to remove excess water from laundry done in my hotel room. I roll it up in the chamois,squeeze several times, remove the laundry and wring out the chamois. Even bulkier items dry quicker. It's also a good emergency towel for both baths and spills. My other favorite is zip ties. I pack my folded duffle bag with clothes and any non-breakable souvenirs,secure with a zip tie and check it for my flight home. (I use my rolling bag as my carry on since I don't have to carry it.) If security needs to get in my bag they can just cut the tie. I leave more ties on top and hope some thoughtful security person will use another one if needed.
lexington, nc USA Tue 02/12/2008
Travel laundry soap
I finally have something I think is cool to contribute!! powdered lingerie soap- I have found regular laundry detergent is a nightmare to rinse out of clothes in a sink, woolite is liquid (obvious travel problem). The latest solution is Holistia lingerie soap- Available at Nordstrom. In addition to being very high quality soap- perfect for hand washing, it is unscented so it doesn't smell femmy. It is a little expensive ($17+) but it goes a long way. My travel clothes are worth it.
Mukilteo, WA USA Tue 02/12/2008
I try to travel light but somehow when I am in the Cologne / Bonn area at Karneval time, I end up having too many thing to take home in my existing baggage. I came with the Rick Steves' Classic Back Door Bag and a cotton shopping bag. The shopping bag became full of Kamelle (little candies and bags of chips thrown, during the community and city-wide parades on the days up to Ash Wednesday), so I had to do something before heading home. I did not want spend $50 or more, to send anything by economy mail which would take three weeks to arrive. Luckily a local grocery store had a small sports bag for only $12.00. It worked fine but if I was to use it to transport any liquids, like the little bottle of "Feigling" fig vodka for instance, I would have to put that in my Classic Back Door Bag as the checked luggage. The only thing that broke was a bottle of Köstritzer which was at the bottom of the bag - I don't know, somehow it settled down there. Not to worry, the two other bottles survived just fine. I just have to wash off the stains in the laundry but the glass has been disposed of properly.
Anyway if you are out of packing materials, the grocery store may be a good point to start at.
Frisco, TX USA Sat 02/09/2008
Small item supplier
Some great ideas here. For those things that you can't improvise or "borrow" for your trip, I have found some great stuff and good prices at www.minimus.biz
Baltimore, MD USA Thu 02/07/2008
Gallon size Ziplock baggies are your friend! Put EVERYTHING in them. REI Micro camping towel, size Large with hook. Airplane blanket: Life saver for train delays, cold hostels, head rest, and are small enough to throw around your neck for a kind of poncho, "I'm traveling, cold and its 3:00 am in the morning, I just got off the train and I need a hostel" look.
Portland, OR USA Fri 02/01/2008
Extra Travel Bag
I found the ideal extra bag to fold up and put in my luggage to bring back extra goodies in. It's cloth with lots of pockets. It can be machine washed to keep it clean. I found it at Walmart!
Toluka Lake, Cal. USA Fri 02/01/2008
Zip up duffle bag
WalMart sells a zip up folding duffle bag in the luggage section for $7.88 and it is about 8" x 10" and flat when its zipped up, and opens to a carry-on sized bag. This is good for when you buy extra stuff before going home, and also good for on the trip there, if visiting friends or relatives you can bring gifts and once empty, zip it up and stash it in your luggage.
Boulder , CO USA Wed 01/30/2008
Big return- little room
A few things I have found useful. 1)REI, LL Bean,etc have very durable plastice silverware kits - along with handi wipes you're ready for a meal from any market.I bring them in my day pack(had delicious roast chicken and potatoes in from the travelling market in Bruge, Belgium!) 2)I carry-on a large backpack, but have a day-pack stashed inside. 3)A small bottle with sprayer and one hanger. Fill the bottle with water hang your clothes, mist the next day's outfit and it will help get out wrinkles overnight 4) Bring an extra duffle for the goodies going home (not too big)
El Paso, TX USA Sun 01/27/2008
Last year we did battlefields in the Verdun, Muse Ardennes area of France. Two things that were unbelievably helpful were hand sanitizer and papertowels. Bathrooms were almost impossible to find outside the major battlefield attractions. The ones we did find had no paper and no way to wash. So, those items were great on our trip,. I will never go without the hand sanitizer again.
Springfield, VA USA Thu 01/17/2008
I take a small first aid kit and led flash light when I travel. You never know what you'll need.
Nashville, Tenne USA Tue 01/15/2008
Just in case...
The first time I lost power in a hotel I was overjoyed that I always carry a small flashlight. The second time it happened in another city I felt really smart and prepared. I also carry a bottle opener, a champagne stopper and a very tiny walkman-type radio I got free with a bottle of shampoo once. I am waiting for the day I get to use this for info after an earthquake.
Raleigh, NC USA Mon 01/14/2008
Drain plug -- best last minute idea
The single best item I packed on my backpacking trip through Europe was a drain plug. It's the big floppy kind that suctions to any drain size. Most hostels didn't have a plug for the sink so there would have been no way to wash my clothes. I was also able to take more baths because the tubs didn't really have plugs either.
Anchorage, AK USA Sun 01/13/2008
Packing wine home
Bring cheap water wings(for kiddie swimmers). You can inflate them around individual bottles of wine to keep them from being crushed in your luggage. And the don't take up any space until they're inflated.
Colorado Springs, CO USA Sat 01/12/2008
Paperclips. Not only are they great for keeping your documents together, they are an easy safety device for the zippers on a daypack. Less obvious then a big lock, easier then using zip ties and is enough to deter pickpocets.
Calgary, AB Canada Sat 01/12/2008
I'm a chef so food is important to me.I always travel with a small knife roll that has a 10'Chef knife, small paring knife, and a 10'Bread knife, and digital thermometer. Yeah, the downside is I always have to check my luggage. But there are so many great markets in France that there is nothing worse than buying a rabbit and some potatos and a loaf of crusty bread, only to find that the gite or hostel only have these flimsy, aluminium pieces of knives that haven't been sharpened since de Gaulle was alive.
WA USA Fri 01/11/2008
A small bottle of talc powder to sprinkle in shoes and the suitcase keeps things fresh.
Sacramento, CA USA Sat 01/05/2008
1.Pack clothes and underwear destined for the trash or thrift store. Dispose after wearing during trip. More room for purchases. 2. Use large ziploc bags to "vacuum pack" socks, underwear, etc. Bags come in handy for other uses, if you need them. 3. Take a bar of Dr. Bronner's 100 uses peppermint soap for washing clothes, hair, body...you get the idea. 4. I run. I take a pair with only a few miles left and use them on the trip for daily runs and dispose of them before the trip home. Reason: see #1 5. Use bounce sheets to stuff inside shoes, etc for deodorizing.
new york, ny USA Thu 01/03/2008