Packing Creative Extras: 2009
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 always take a tiny LED flashlight keychain. They're bright enough for navigating stairways during brown-outs, but contained enough that you don't bother a roomie if jet lag has you reading at 2am. You can get free ones all over the place now (my favorite came from a conference exhibit and doubles as a whistle), but they're super cheap if you don't get that random promo stuff.
Alexandria, VA USA Tue 12/29/2009
Problem with combo locks
Not to diss the last poster, but we used a combo lock on a trip, and somehow the combination got messed up and we had to have the lock cut off. Now I only travel with locks that have a key. I've not had a problem loosing the keys. I keep one in the money belt, another on the key fob in my PacSafe shoulder bag. After the fiasco with the combo lock, I've sworn off them. Just saying......
USA Wed 12/23/2009
Keys have an easy way of getting lost. I use only combination locks.
USA USA Sun 12/13/2009
Bicycle cable locks
Bicycle cable locks come in handy for securing luggage in airports, trains, rental cars, buses etc. I keep a bicycle cable lock attached to my travelling backpack at all times, and the key is in my travel jacket.
Houston, TX USA Tue 12/08/2009
I saw the post about urinary device and remembered something...You could also carry an Emises Bag for this in case you get caught short. That's a fancy name for an Airsickness bag. A company called Sands makes a good one that EMS Responders will recognize. It folds up flat and is very discreet to carry.
Niagara Wine Country, ON Canada Sat 12/05/2009
Travel must haves
If I fall asleep on the plane, I have to be sure and bring breath-right-strips along so I don't drive my seat buddy away. Someday I won't snore up a storm like Mr. Ed. I also take a snuggie blanket to wear. It doubles as a robe for the hotels.
Los Angeles, USA Thu 12/03/2009
Travel dock for iPod.
Many times I found myself relaxing at a night with new friends at our hotel with a few beers/bottle of wine. Some music would have been really nice, plus if you meet people from other countries its great to have them show your their music (i bet they brought their iPod).
Portland, OR USA Tue 12/01/2009
Important travel documents and cards, etc
I photocopy all my important documents, debit/credit cards, medical information, passports, drivers license, contact information in case of emergency, phone numbers/addresses, a copy of my travel documents, etc and carry one on my person, one in my carry on then scan a copy of everything and send it to a hotmail address I set up on my home computer before I go anywhere. Then if I lose everything all I need to do is find a computer, access my hotmail and Voila! there it is, and I just print it out.
Campbell River, B.C. Canada Mon 11/23/2009
Fleece for my ears
My ears are big. They stick out like an elfs. I found some extra large ear muffs from REI with fleece furry lining to keep them very warm when I travel the colder locations like the Alps and snow hiking. I have matching fleece furry gloves and a scarf, too.
Los Angeles, USA Fri 11/20/2009
We just returned from 8 days in Paris... and the temperature (as expected) was mostly in the 30s and 40s. I had packed a pair of those "slipper sox" with the rubber nubs on the sole. But fortunately, our room was quite (perhaps too) well-heated. But if it had been cold, the sox would have been a lifesaver that took up no space in my suitcase.
Winchester, MA USA Mon 11/16/2009
I have found that one of the most important things I can travel with is a hand fan. Many places in Europe don't have AC and have quite a crowd of people making them stuffy. The fan helps keep me and the people around me cool. When traveling in Europe in the summer it is a must for me.
Baton Rouge, LA USA Mon 11/16/2009
Along with a compass, a Sharpie, and a small roll of duct-tape, on my most recent trip I took one of those mini red staplers like you use in grade school. Was nice for stapling together receipts, itineraries, etc.
Nederland, CO USA Thu 11/12/2009
I have found most convenient money belt to be the kind that straps around my calf. Often the waist kind was too bulky or obvious when taking money out. The leg style is more comfortable and easier to use and wear.
Moscow, ID USA Fri 11/06/2009
PacSafe city safe series 200 shoulder bag
I purchased a PacSafe citysafe series 200 shoulder bag for a two-week trip to Paris ($65), which was a life saver. It held two point-and-shoot cameras, Rick Steves book, book for reading on the phone, a small journal, lots of little items like handwipes and kleenex and camera memory cards, hand lotion, etc., and had room for umbrella and water bottle in the two exterior pockets. I bought a cheap Timex watch which I attached to one of the trips for easy viewing, since I don't wear a watch. The advantages of this bag are too numerous to mention in terms of safety and how much it is able to hold! Also waterproof!
dallas, tx USA Fri 10/30/2009
I need to take my big box of kleen-x so I don't have much room for underwear. I have to wash them when I remember with woolite.
Los Angeles, USA Thu 10/29/2009
Best packing extra
A female urination device is a must-have for women, in my opinion. I used the Sani-Fem Freshette on a long backpacking trip and it saved me. There were toilets too horrible to use and places where there were no toilets and in each case the handy directional funnel was great! We are truly equal to men with one of these in our packs. LOL
MN USA Mon 10/19/2009
Handkerchief! Great for many purposes!and not for blowing your nose into it!!!
Riverhead, NY USA Sat 10/17/2009
We were surprised that screens were not used on windows in the 8 countries we visited. Even the hotel for 135 per night in A'Dam did not have screens.
We had read about the mosquitos befor hand and took some packets of repellent.
CA USA Sun 10/11/2009
Wish I'd taken mosquito repellent...
We just returned from my daughter's wedding in Venice. We were on the Lido and San Clemente during the evenings and the mosquitoes were relentless. Restaurants don't always close their windows and so they were just as prevalent indoors. We cold have saved ourselves a lot of misery if we'd only brought protection along.
Fort Madison, IA USA Sat 10/10/2009
My teeth stick out like Mr. Eds. I have a retainer I wear at night, and can't forget to take it when I travel. My bag has plenty of outside pockets for such needed items.
USA Sat 10/10/2009
Glad I took...
A round, rubber jar opener made a great sink stopper for doing laundry in the hotel.
Teeny scissors and a glue stick let me add mementos (museum stubs, postcards, hotel cards, etc) to my journal on the long bus rides.
A ziploc with two small plastic plates, two sets of plastic ware and a bandanna. It made for the perfect picnic kit and fit easily in the backpack.
Plano, TX USA Fri 10/09/2009
Clothes lines-wash cloths
We use Rick Steves' travel clothes lines and his large travel towels. I just purchased a small travel towel to cut in to wash clothes as they dry fast.
CA USA Wed 10/07/2009
I wish I had packed . . .
Next time I will bring a traveler's clothesline and washcloths or bath scrubby - those were the two things I could have used and didn't have.
Kent, WA USA Sun 10/04/2009
Really glad I packed . . .
I'm so glad I took my iPod Touch so I had music, books, a notepad and games plus e-mail, news and weather when wifi was available. Also, travel sized bottles of laundry soap - went through two of them.
Kent, WA USA Sun 10/04/2009
best of packing
Definitely several sizes of ziploc bags, stain wipes, a highligter pen, flip flops, fabric softener sheets, and if we are doing some driving and staying at small b&b's I pack a tote bag to take only the necessary items in for the stay and leave the bigger bag in the car.
Atlanta, Ga USA Wed 09/30/2009
Two good items
Two things really made my recent trip to Spain easier: 1) Netbook computer...stay in touch, back up photos, carry e-books/maps, get news, kept a blog for friends back home and kept receipts etc. 2) RS Civia Day Pack (or similar)...takes no room and very useful for day trips etc. We used it daily.
Tigard, OR USA Tue 09/29/2009
Febreze gets rid of smoke smell and things smell fresh
I take a travel size spray bottle of Febreze with me. Don't just use it on dirty clothes to keep things fresh but spray it on your hair, jacket and clothes also to get rid of cigarette smoke smell. It works great!
Edmonds, WA USA Fri 09/25/2009
When I went to Italy I packed dryer sheets in my luggage. I put 2 extras in a ziploc and 1 laying on the top of my clothes. This kept my dirty clothes from smelling up the clean clothes and it works great to get rid of that pesty static. You can rub the dryer sheet on the clothes that have static or if you get stuck with a bedspread or bus seat that is full of static you can rub the sheet on the bed spread or chair and it will help. Best part is, you won't have to pack Febreeze or anything similar because you have these paper thin dryer sheets instead.
Phoenix, AZ USA Sun 09/20/2009
A netbook is a great travel companion. They can be bought for about $300 and can do just about everything you need a laptop to do while traveling: email, travel research, store and manage photos, surf the web, Skype calls, etc. Just find a wifi spot (there a lots of these in Europen cities) and connect for free or for a small fee.
Westport, CT USA Mon 09/07/2009
I always carry an emergency mylar "foil" blanket. They're available in sporting good stores or even dollar stores. It comes in handy with unexpectedly cold weather or in the hostel where the blankets are a bit thin. It even can be used for a gound cover or for sitting on damp ground at a picnic
Sewickley, PA USA Mon 09/07/2009
Baby wipes & hand sanitizers
We travel with baby wipes for refreshing before landing. Also carry a toothbrush with small toothpaste samples.
The baby wipes and hand sanitizer wipes come in handy before eating. We never travel without them.
CA USA Tue 09/01/2009
I have a tiny 6-pot water color set with one cheap brush (which I need to replace with a better one), even smaller than a set of watercolor pencils. It came with a mixing guide for making a wide array of colors. You can buy that and a 20-page pad of postcard size water color cards. They both fit into 1 qt-size baggie. GREAT for keeping as memories or as cards to send home to family.
Indianola, WA USA Mon 08/31/2009
Freshen up on arrival
I packed an old washcloth and hand towel. After flying through the night, I was able to wash up in the airport bathroom. Having a real towel and washcloth was a luxury. I put on some clean clothes, a bit of makeup and felt like a new person. The towel an cloth went in the trash.
Minneapolis, MN USA Sun 08/30/2009
The best things we packed for our trip to the UK: 1. I cut up those new Purex laundry sheets into strips and put them in a ziplock bag. They are dry so they don't need to go into your liquids bag. Put one strip in a sink of water to wash out laundry. 2. Synthetic underpants, they wash out well and dry way faster than cotton. 3. Wool socks, again wash out and dry faster than cotton 4. GPS maps for our TOMTOM. This worked out really well. 5. A thin raincoat. We wore ours on the plane but could have packed them.
Haddon Heights, NJ USA Tue 08/18/2009
Barb's Travel Tips for Packing and Traveling
"Things I am glad I brought to Europe" 1. The blow up fleece neck pillow by Eagle Creek. 2. The Callpod multiple charger(and space efficient too) with an adapter for the different countries visited. Loved this. Charged 2 blackberries and 2 ipods during the whole trip. 3. The single size serving of Crystal Lite and Snapple for water bottles. 4. A medium sized water bottle which I kept cool in the hotel room mini bar for on demand sipping especially good for night and early morning thirst attacks! 5. A few small change purses for currencies of different countries. 6. A purse type backpack (ie Longchamps) that allowed me to pack my days needs including an extra set of light weight flip flops and an umbrella. 7. An itsy bitsy light weight flat iron. 8. A few wash and dry style underwear (we bought the travel brand Exofficio) and Columbia Titanium synthetic shirts. Bought these for son and husband and they could be washed and dried easily in a few hours. Allowed us to pack a bit lighter. 9. Power Bars, Luna bars etc for mid day snacks. 10. The Verizon global data package for my Blackberry. I emailed photo's of our trip daily to my other children who could not accompany us and it felt much more immediate and real than showing pics after our return. Plus we could communicate frequently at a much lower price(about $1.00 day more than our US data plan) by emailing (vs the $1.00 minute for calls) But still had texting and voice plans in place . I like being connected! 10. Closed toe as well as open toe shoes, a light weight fashion rain coat and umbrella and a few long sleeve shirts (one silk and one cotton). Weather was variably cool and drizzly and sunny in London, Paris and Amsterdam. Needed to head out each morning ready for all weather. Wore a nice tank top under the long sleeve shirts and IF it warmed up enough I could peel the top layer off and put into my backpack.
Bannockburn, IL USA Fri 08/07/2009
Several years ago I bought a couple fleece roll-up "sleeping bags" at WalMart for $11 each for a trip to the mountains of Guatemala. Our rooms were unheated and it was great to even double the bags for extra warmth. Now we're headed back to Switzerland. I don't do well with the down comforters there - either sweating with them or freezing without them, so I'm taking one of my roll-ups for our week there. Sure it takes up room, but I plan to pass it on to someone there before heading south to Italy for 3 weeks. Then I'll have extra room in my bag for those treasures I'm sure to find there!
Lebanon, IN USA Mon 07/27/2009
Lavender foot cream
I also pack some lavender foot cream (I use L'Occitane brand) to use on tired feet at the end of a long day of walking.
Southern Ontario, Canada Sat 07/25/2009
Items we found useful on our recent trip to Amsterdam:
1) washcloths (cldn't find them in AMS)
2) Zip Lock bags of all sizes. We rented a houseboat, and used these just like we would have at home.
3) Extra high-quality plastic shopping bags. The grocery store in AMS charged for shopping bags.
Plus they were handy for carrying laundry to the laundromat down the street.
4) Sharpies would have been good to have.
portland, or USA Sat 07/25/2009
Keep your foreign coins
This isn't really something to pack, but I can't figure out where else to post this comment.
When you're leaving for home, keep a few of your foreign coins for your next trip.
2 reasons: 1) Many public restrooms are attended by an attendant who expects a tip. A restroom is often the first place travelers visit after debarking from a plane or train.
2) At Gare du Nord, we were trying to buy RER tickets out of the machine. Our debit card wouldn't work and the machine wouldn't accept currency, only coins. We ended up in a long line at the ticket booth.
And if you don't ever return, then you have a small souvenir. Or an unusual Bon Voyage gift for a traveling friend.
Portland, OR USA Sat 07/25/2009
What to Pack
Pumice! A little hunk takes almost no room and is wonderful for smoothing hard-working feet.
Grand Junction, CO USA Fri 07/24/2009
Wrinkles in Clothes
To add to the previous post, if you take a 3 ounce bottle of white liquid fabric softener and add a capful of it to your spray bottle of water, it will reduce your wrinkles faster, better and freshen your clothes.
Minneapolis, MN USA Mon 07/20/2009
i always take a small 3oz travel spray bottle of fabreeze...a few sprays at night and let hang...really freshens things up
cincinnati, oh USA Mon 07/20/2009
Getting rid of wrinkles
An easy way to get rid of wrinkles in clothes while traveling is to bring a small empty spray bottle in your suitcase. When you get to your hotel or hostel, simply fill it with water and spray your clothes until slightly damp and smooth out the wrinkles.
Washington, DC USA Mon 07/13/2009
iPhone does more and more
The iPhone is proving to be more and more valuable on my travels.
All of my hotel confirmations are on there. Hotel address, email, website, phone #'s all in my address book. The great thing about this is when you open up a hotel and tap the address, google maps immediately opens and finds it and and then pinpoints where you are. A jpeg of my passport is on there. So are important credit card numbers. All of this information is also automatically backed up in my mobile me storage which i can access with any computer if need be.
Google maps is really great though, especially when I got lost in the small alleyways of Cordoba, Spain. GPS locates me and then maps me a way to where I want to go.
San Francisco, CA USA Sun 07/12/2009
iPhone does more and more 2
Oh and yes the roaming charges are high. Get on a international plan to help manage the costs for those moments when you can't access wi-fi. Also you can put it into plane mode when a connection is not needed.
Also there are tons of travel related iPhone apps.
San Francisco, CA USA Sun 07/12/2009
Contact lens cases for storage
The lady who posted a hint to pack creams, etc. in contact lens cases was right! It works great and you can label tops with Sharpie marker. I work in an optometrist's office and we get lots of different kinds of wetting solutions to give as samples to our patients. If you have someone who works in such an office, or you are a patient, ask for a couple of sample boxes. they come with free cases inside. Also, your optometrist's office might be happy just to give you a few disposable cases if you ask. Much cheaper than buying them at the store!
Carbondale, CO USA Sat 07/11/2009
re: Why not look like a tourist if you are one..
Bettyk, its just a bad thing to make yourself a target for scam artists and pick pockets. I made sure I didnt look like a tourist on both of my european trips and I never had any scams or pickpocket incidents. I carry a purse instead of a backpack, I dont carry a bottle of water around since most european people dont drink water all day like some Americans, I dress how they do in that area (styled hair, make up, nicely dressed, scarf, nice walking shoes, etc) and I use a pocket sized map instead of a big one so its not obvious im lost... The only time people have realized im a tourist is when they ask me directions and they hear my American accent!
Boulder, CO USA Thu 07/09/2009
Looking Like Tourists
Why do people think it's such a bad thing to look like a tourist when you ARE a tourist?
I mean, you can try to dress like the locals, but if you are walking around with a map and a camera, DUH, people will know you are a tourist anyway!
It's a vacation, so just enjoy yourselves.
Missouri City, TX USA Wed 07/08/2009
Packing a light towel / cloth
I always pack a small handtowel / washcloth. For me, it's an issue putting my head down on pillows that others have used. The pillow cases are changed, however, the pillows themselves aren't...often in hot climates sweat, etc. flows through the casing and onto the pillows. I take along my own towel, and put it over the pillow and casing. I just feel more comfortable an clean. An one more thing, we're all worried about pick-pockets and being targeted as tourists...so please...all you travellers...STOP looking like tourists in your shorts, runners and backpacks! Try to blend in more; you can do it, you can be comfortable and look fashionable in whatever city you're in. Works for me.
Vancouver, BC USA Sun 07/05/2009
Julie - you put the rubber doorstop on your side of the door (inside the room) so that if someone tries to open (push) the door from outside, the doorstop stops the door after it opens only a crack and keeps them from gaining entry. It could probably be forced open anyway, but the idea is to deter someone from entering. Any resistance and they will probably move on rather than risk being caught.
USA Fri 07/03/2009
When travelling to Europe, I always place one fabric softener dryer sheet on the top and bottom of my suitcase. Everything will smell fresh like right out of your dryer. The fragrance is up to you, it's cheap, and very effective. Actually, I do this on all my trips now.
Suwanee, GA USA Thu 07/02/2009
re room safety
I understand what Elisa said about the door locks not changed a lot, but I don't see what the rubber doorstop will do to prevent someone from coming in.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 07/01/2009
I pack breakfast bars, granolas, dried fruits & nuts, petite carrots in snack size ziploc bags to snack on when I arrive the following day in Europe. By the time I get to my hotel and find a place to eat, I am extremely hungry and these snacks are great to tie me over.
Libertyville, IL USA Tue 06/30/2009
Capture some local color with a lightweight kit consisting of a dozen watercolor pencils, a few graphite pencils, a small brush, and a thin sketchbook. The watercolor pencils work as well as conventional colored pencils for sketching, but will do much more for you when combined with the brush and water. An internet search will reveal many sites with tips and techniques. If not accustomed to creating your own art, this is an inexpensive, non-intimidating place to start. Consider buying your supplies on arrival in Europe; you will most likely benefit from the shopowner's friendly interest and advice.
Chicago, IL USA Thu 06/18/2009
Funky room odors are bye bye when I bring my Method aroma ring refills. They're flat little disks with a concentrated gel scent. I leave the ring at home and store the refill in a plastic baggie while traveling between locations.
Forest Hills, NY USA Wed 06/10/2009
Carrying emergency info
Another trick for writing down credit card numbers for emergencies is to put a fake entry into your address list. Even then I will slightly modify the numbers for an extra level of security.
USA Tue 06/02/2009
Suitcases and Bathrooms
The #1 thing I would recommend is a combo backpack/rolling suitcase. You can pack a lot in these things and it's great if you're navigating stairs, uneven/brick sidewalks, or crowded train stations and airports. And a lot of B&Bs in Europe don't have elevators! These are also a must for navigating Venice, where walking and stairs are unavoidable. Plus knowing that you'll be carrying it on your back will help you keep the packing down! Mine is an Eagle Creek "Switchback 22." They are expensive, but I've had mine for almost 8 years and too many miles to count and it's still in great shape!
Other recommendations: Take a bunch of disinfecting Handi-wipes in the little foil packets. You can put them in a Ziploc baggie to keep organized and they won't dry out if you don't close the baggie right. These are great for a quick face/hand cleaning or for cleaning off the sink handles and toilet seats on a train or plane. Also, take a roll of toilet paper off of the cardboard tube and put it in a baggie in your daypack. Then you're never without clean toilet paper or Kleenex.
Denver, CO USA Mon 06/01/2009
We do as Barry suggests, but on our Spring 2009 Italy trip we also loaded eveything on to a zip drive. When we couldn't find our car rental voucher, it was easy to down load a full size copy from the drive.
USA Fri 05/29/2009
Travel document backup
Thanks to Rick and other travel writers, we know to take photocopies of passport, license, etc. To that, I now add a wallet-sized paper with every piece of vital information on in: License and passport numbers; emergency home contact numbers; travel insurance and health insurance id numbers and contact info; credit and debit card emergency phone number (with first 4 and last 4 account numbers only recorded); reservation id numbers and contact info for all booked accommodations; all flight numbers, times, and booking numbers; list of medications; anything else of importance. All of this fits on a half-sheet of paper. Make copies, fold them up, and secrete them in multiple safe pockets and compartments. Then, loss of travel documents may not cause devastating problems.
Citrus Springs, FL USA Thu 05/28/2009
Daily facial cloths (dry)
"Dove Daily Facials" or other similar dry cloths that already have "soap" in them make decent (disposable)washcloths. I also cut them into eighths and carry a few in ziploc snack bag. They make a nice sudsy hand wash with a little water from your bottle. I'd much rather wash off the dirt than rub it around with alcohol gel.
Snohomish, WA USA Mon 05/25/2009
Re: Vitamin E Capsules
Just a note regarding the recommendation of vitamin E capsules. Some people have really bad reactions to liquid vitamin E (myself included!). It can cause a bad rash and be very uncomfortable, not to mention it does nothing to heal a wound. Make sure to test it out before you travel!
Victoria, BC Canada Fri 05/22/2009
This is a great website for figuring out what time to be at that beautiful vantage point to watch the sunset!
Toronto , ON Canada Sun 05/10/2009
Hotels don't change the room locks very often, so you never know how many people have a key to your room. I never travel without packing a small rubber doorstop.
Novato, CA USA Sun 05/10/2009
Contact Lens Cases for Liquids
I can get far more liquid/gel products in my ziplock by packing them in the little contact lens cases. It is surprising how much one of those holds. I use them for face soap, foundation, hair gel, sunscreen, etc.
IA USA Sun 05/03/2009
A clean face EASY!
I buy dry, Oil of Olay disposable face cloths, cut them in half and put them in a zip-lock. They are still plenty big, weigh nothing and don't have to be squeezed into my already overstuffed quart zip-lock bag for liquids in my carry-on.
Johnstown, CO USA Sat 05/02/2009
wearing jeans in Italy
When preparing for a recent trip to Italy, I read on many travel sites and in travel books that jeans are not commonplace in Italy. Wrong. We saw them on everyone, in all cities in which we traveled: Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre and Rome. However, they were predominantly "skinny" jeans, tight at the ankle. Levis will definitely make you stand out as an American but then again so does your haircut, your shoes, your sunglasses, your backpack...
Raleigh, NC USA Mon 04/27/2009
With the restrictions on creams and lotions, I have collected samples of various beauty products. DHC is especially nice because they send 2 samples with every catalogue. Their products are quite good and you get 4 samples with each purchase.
Largo, FL USA Mon 04/20/2009
Here we go again - Throwing clothing away
The novices come back to this board...."let's all wear our cruddy clothing while we travel, and simple throw it away." (2 posts down)
PLEASE. dress nicely, and DONATE your unwanted clothing to a shelter or church in your area. You can pack light without tossing your clothing around the globe.
Citizen of the World
USA Tue 04/14/2009
Wear disposable clothes
I've been over to Europe about 9 times, and one of the best tips I can give "light packers", is to wear disposable clothes the first day(s) of the trip.
When flying over to Europe, I wear clothes that I simply throw away once I arrive. And I mean sox and underwear too. That way I don't have to pack them in my backpack. I prefer to travel very light, and this leaves room for additional purchases.
Santa Cruz, CA USA Mon 04/13/2009
Last year I travelled for 5 weeks through Europe and would have died without my blow up travel pillow and sleep sheet. Loved them for trains and hostels and airplanes. Go get both!!!
Edmonds, WA USA Wed 04/08/2009
Travelling with kids
I am a bit of a pack rat, when it comes to traveling with kids. A few items i always bring with me: (1) seat cushions, like the ones you would bring to a stadium. They are light, take up little space and are indispensable in museums and on guided walks. (2) head phone "splitters". You can rent one audio guide and use it for two people (3) ketchup and soy sauce - ok, don't laugh, but it made all the difference for my 8 & 12 year olds, as well asfor my (Japanese) third child = husband (4) ipod charger with two plugs (WalMart for 15) - no fighting over who gets to charge his/hers first (5) "miner's" flash lights - double up as reading lights and night lights (again WalMart in the camping section) (6) bungee cords and clips - you can never have too many of those. Not only can you hang laundry, but organize backpacks, wrap one up around the jacket and hang onto the backpack, etc
Indianapolis, IN USA Sun 04/05/2009
I always take a "concentrated room spray" from Bath & Body Works whenever I travel. They are less than 3oz. and cost $5. I've used the same can for more than two years of traveling. I've used it in airport restrooms, stores and out in the open. One tiny squirt produces a lot of fragrance. Not only will your nose thank you but chances are so will somebody else. In a pinch you can also use as perfume.
BG, OH USA Sat 04/04/2009
I love packing light and will never go back to a heavy bag. I've found including a pair of flip flops is really handy -- better than slippers for relaxing in the hotel room and they can double as shoes in the morning if you want to have enjoy your coffee early before being fully "dressed out" for a day of touring.
Thousand Oaks, CA USA Fri 04/03/2009
Cosmetic / Medical
Tiny vitamin E gel caspules are very useful. Prick the 'skin' to release a gel which can be applied to sunburns and blisters, as well as puffy eyes and wrinkles. Left for a few hours, the puncture 'heals'. Happy travels!
NY , NY USA Fri 04/03/2009
Brochures/Maps from Sites
I have e-mailed the tourist information offices on the web for various sites (i.e. Versailles) and have received in the mail wonderful brochures and maps. Good to have a lay of the land before arriving.
CA USA Fri 03/27/2009
Easy Travel Plate
I'm sure that someone has already though of this. A Frisbee is not only a fun and light toy. But it makes a great picnic plate. Waterproof and the grapes don't roll off the edge!!!!
Tehachapi, Ca. USA Fri 03/13/2009
Returning my mail on travels.
I write the names and address of people on envelopes before I leave from home. I send a short note with a preaddressed envelope. If I don't, I might as well not go home. Emailing isn't accessible. $$
California, USA Mon 03/09/2009
Hand Washing Clothes
DON'T PACK...liquid soap/detergent for clothes. Instead, buy some in a small tube at the local grocery or drugstore for about $3-5. We have found it in Holland, France, Italy, Germany(REI) and clothes have never come out cleaner.
New York, NY USA Fri 03/06/2009
Snack size baggies are perfect to organize notes of money for different countries. They fit in a money belt perfectly. I take notes of 5 lbs. or $$$ depending on the countries I visit. I can get a cheap lunch on the go, or other small items without the worry of extra money to carry around.
Mobile, Alabam USA Wed 03/04/2009
I bring adhesive printed labels of my family and friends with some envelopes and postcards. If I have labels, I don't forget anyone! Once, I even sent 2 to the same person, and forgot someone. It's a breeze to respond to my mail.
CA USA Wed 03/04/2009
I take preprinted labels, and an internationsl calling card to keep up with my special people while I'm on travels. If I foget someone speical who's been good to me, I'm duck food. I need to email a response just to say "hi".
USA Wed 03/04/2009
Wool, Wool, Wool
If you want to pack less clothes, wear wool! They now sell wool undershirts, underwear and socks that feel like synthetic material. No itching. The best part is you can wear them 2-3 days and wool doesn't smell. It dries extremely quickly when you hand wash it as well. It is not cheap, but it works great when you travel.
leesburg, va USA Mon 03/02/2009
I have made up a sheet of address labels on my computer and when I'm going on a trip, I just print out a sheet or two. They take no space in my bag and I can just stick them on the postcards. Saves time and I am more likely to send a card if I don't have to get out my address book and write all the addresses. Next trip, all I have to do is print another sheet.
Montevideo, MN USA Sat 02/28/2009
Few small extras - just in case.
I always take along a roll of duct tape - just in case my luggage starts to fray (which happened in Krakow) or if something needs to be temporarily held together. Also, a few zip-lock baggies for things like loose change, or medication. It's easy to find what you're looking for in a hurry since they're clear. And, I always take a small bottle of Febreeze and a few laundry dryer sheets. They help with static cling and luggage that may get that "travel smell".
CANADA Fri 02/20/2009
Zip Lock Bags
Zip Lock now makes vacuum bags. They are inexpensive and so is the little hand pump to use with them. Bought mine at Wal-Mart. They come in quart and gallon size. After to insert your item, and zip, you simply pump out the air. Using this for all my liquids that go in my checked luggage. I use them all the time for meat in the freezer - no more freezer burn.
CA USA Fri 02/20/2009
You know those heavy clear plastic, zippered bags that sets of sheets come in? They are great for toiletries etc. Both you and TSA can see inside without opening.
Richmond, va USA Fri 02/20/2009
Every time I go to London I admire the gorgeous flowers for sale by street vendors. This time I will pack an unbreakable vase that I can leave in the hotel room. I will then be able to add something extra to an already enjoyable situation.
Donaldsonville, LA USA Wed 02/18/2009
I take my water rafting sandals as my extra pair of shoes. They come in handy for river and fountain wadding. Just call me the waterworks queen.
Jersey USA Mon 02/09/2009
I dont travel without a universal plug because few hostels and hotels provide them, and dental floss, which is very strong, and can be used as a washing line.
nanaimo, B.C. USA Sat 02/07/2009
I collect packets of sugar, ketsup and other staples from restaurants for my travels. I take foil packets of wet wipes for free food samples and wine tasting I have a knack for finding.
Nebraska, USA Fri 02/06/2009
Loved all the tips. In cafes etc. I always bring a few of the little packets of salt, sugar, ketchup etc home and keep for travelling. Also, tea bags and idividual instant coffee sticks, little packs of jam and cheese supplied at breakfast in most hotels.
BELMULLET, mayo Ireland Thu 02/05/2009
Substitute wash cloth
Budget hotels in Europe and South America often don't provide wash cloths. I need one to wash my face, and rather than lugging my own (too bulky) I travel with a round, disposable makeup sponge or two. The ones I like are white on one side and a coarser pink on the other. They work well and dry quickly.
Mercer Island, wa USA Thu 02/05/2009
more on iPhone
For iPhones, rather than remove SIM, I think you can also just turn "data roaming" to off, to avoid the HUGE data roaming charges. You can also buy data roaming blocks in advance, and save a lot of money that way too.
CO USA Wed 02/04/2009
Viola! I take a cloth hat for European travels. When I go into the churches, it folds right up into a pocket or purse. I spray it with scotch guard to keep it waterproof to double as a rain hat.
USA Thu 01/29/2009
Address labels/plastic bags
Before I leave for a trip, I run a sheet of address labels containing family/friends addresses. Then, when it's time to send postcards -voila -just peel and stick! I also use large-size sealing plastic bags for packing instead of paying lots for those "packing cubes." Just fill a bag with carefully rolled clothes, seal most of the way, sit on it (yes, sit on it!) to squeeze most of the air out, then finish zipping closed. Takes up much less room.
Durham, USA Wed 01/28/2009
Fix broken fingernails
I broke an acrylic nail on vacation in Italy and couldn't find a salon to fix it. I know it's a small thing, but I felt very self-conscious with this botched up fingernail. So now I carry a set of press on nails. I take them out of the cardboard packaging and put them in a small plastic bag along with the nail polish that I have had my manicurist use on my nails. Even though I haven't needed them since that time, I have peace of mind.
Napa, CA USA Wed 01/28/2009
Iphones are great travel items but unless you are made of money i would suggest taking out the sim card and turning your iphone into an ipod touch with GPS. The international roaming is very pricey. With wifi everywhere; using expensive data charges from cell networks is not needed. but if you like $300 dollar and up phone bills (thats what my bill was) leave the sim card in.
USA Sun 01/11/2009
Inflatable foot bath
Inflatable foot bath from Walmart. Greatest silly thing I ever brought on a trip. Find it in Walmart near the pedicure creams and soaks. About $4, folds flat and comes with fizzys. I used it every night after walking 8+ hours a day in London. Tall enough for the water to go up to mid calf. I also used it as a catchall for odds and ends after it was dried.
Boulder, CO USA Fri 01/02/2009