Packing Creative Extras: 2010
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.
Silk long uunderwear
Pack a pair of silk long underwear. If the weather gets cold or damp you will apprecaite them. One can even sleep in them. I took a pair to Tanzania in June and used them during the rains.
clayton, ga USA Thu 12/30/2010
Day bags and whatnot...
I know that Rick and others say to not use fannypacks as they make you look like a tourist, they're stupid looking but don't worry about looking like a tourist, they will know but I have a much better option: I use a waistpack on my belt sort of like what you would see in the military (I use a money belt too) and someone will have to knock me cold to get it It's on solid and I can move it around to be in front of me in crowded areas and to the side when I sit down. In there I've got (very organized) hand sanitizer, a pen, a small pad, a poncho, a swiss army knife, a compass (I finally learned my lesson on that one getting lost so many times,) a half-pint of... whatever, and my camera. On the side I found I could hook on one of Rick's pocket packs and attached it even more securely with velcro so if I want to buy something I've the bag to do it (and I don't work for Rick so this is no ad!) As for looking like a tourist, like I said they know. I dress in neutral colors, that's about the only thing I do out of the ordinary.
Edmond, OK USA Wed 12/08/2010
I travelled to England when the weather was still quite cold but, I found the disposable 8 hour hand warmers are great to keep me going and staying warm, especially after I lost a glove. I even transfer the hand warmers into my shoes if they got too cold. Easy to pack, disposable and inexpensive.
Bedford, Tx USA Sun 12/05/2010
Thermacare Heat Wraps
I tend to get a very sore back when traveling. All the sitting on the plane, standing for long periods and walking take its toll.
I now pack Thermacare Heat Wraps in my luggage. Instead of buying the ones for the lower back I get those for the top of your shoulders. They fit me better and come 3 to a package instead of 2 which make them less expensive. Each one usually lasts for at least 8 hours or more and they don't take up hardly any room in my luggage.
Another bonus is when the weather is really cold, they help keep me warm!
Missouri City, TX USA Sun 12/05/2010
Plastic bag rolls
I always take a roll of my dog's 'toilet' bags. They are inexpensive, colourful, strong but biodegradable and come in convenient (and small) rolls of 50 bags. Useful for pretty much everything from packing food to carrying wet stuff and tying things up to using as a rainhat or footcover or (if neon yellow, green or orange) as an emergency flag. I've even used them as giftwrap. I rarely leave home without a roll in my bag
Vancouver, BC Canada Sat 11/27/2010
On most recent 5-week trip (Oct/Nov 2010 to Paris, London, cruise ship and US visits) we took along an almost weightless, black, mesh laundry holder that starts flat and pops open to form a rectangle. Bought for $2 on sale at Walgreens, fits in top zip pocket or bottom of average suitcase, stows easily when opened up in even small closets. We dropped our dirty clothes in there and carried it by the handles at the end of each week to laundromats near our hotels. Used the excellent tip on this site to carry Purex sheets - they take up no room, work great at the laundromat, and can be cut into strips for handwashing in the sink. No worry about spilling bulkier liquids or powders in your luggage.
Cedar Point, NC USA Sun 11/21/2010
Blanket for travels
The best creative extra I've ever brought on a trip was a snuggie blanket. Great for keeping warm on drafty flights and hotels. Rolled up it can double as a pillow. I even wear it as a bathrob. It fist nicely in a suitcase rolled up in, and put in the sock area.
Butte, MT USA Sat 11/13/2010
A few things I've learned
I know that Rick recommends that ladies forgo wearing make-up on a vacation. But, if you pack it right it can be really nice - especially if you are going out for dinner in the evening. I also pack a few ornately printed scarves which can dress up even the most basic of outfits and can act as a light shawl. I tend to pack only practical clothing (a few t-shirts and 2 pairs pants, plus one pair sandals and my boots), so having a couple of girly things is really nice. I am also a huge fan of Ex Fficio underwear - easy to wash in the sink and one only needs 2 pairs!I have not found a solution to sweaty socks, but always enjoy an evening footbath after a long day of hiking to every castle and cathedral in a given area.Having clean feet is soooo refreshing! If I'm travelling somewhere hot - or plan to do a lot of hiking - I pack or buy baby powder (the anit-perspirant trick doesn't work for me, as I have super sensitive skin) and use it EVERYWHERE on my body. It was a real help in Mexico and Italy!
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK Sat 11/06/2010
I take my wooly slippers to wear on the plane, and for the hotels. Nothing like something warm and wooly to feel more at home. I find room in my suitcase for them. :)
Los Angeles, USA Mon 11/01/2010
Staying clean and fresh
In Italy now and I am so glad I brought individually packaged "Wet Ones" for hygiene and for quick spot removal. Also heavy-duty tissues in small packets. Useful when the WC is out of paper. Finally, instead of liquid soap, we use the Purex sheets. I cut a few into small pieces to use in the sink, but also brought a few full-sized sheets for the laundromat.
Portland, OR USA Sat 10/16/2010
My creative sponge
I came up with the idea of using a new, simple kitchen sponge (yellow sponge on one side, green scrubby on the other) to clean my clothes off of everyday dirt and cat hair on this most recent trip I'm on now. I brought black, as one does to Europe, and am staying with people with cats. My slightly dampened sponge gets a lot of the cat hair off, and has been good for taking off any "road dirt" from pants, coat, shirts. Very helpful. A tiny bit of soap and water and the sponge does the rest of the work.
Auburn, WA USA Thu 10/14/2010
European hotels typically don't offer in-room coffee-you have to wait until the breakfast room opens or seek java elsewhere. As an early morning java junkie, I solved this problem by bringing a small immersible water heater, cup and packets of instant "joe". Worked perfectly!
Santa Fe, NM USA Sun 10/10/2010
Instead of putting all your dirty laundry in one bag or sack (it gets too bulky) take along some small plastic bags, like ones the newspaper comes in. Each little bag will fit a pair of dirty socks or underwear or shirt. You can stuff these into spaces in your suitcase.
portland, or USA Tue 09/21/2010
Kay, the address labels are a must for sending poscards! I pack a travel size squirt bottle of woolite or other concentrated laundry soap for washing clothes in the sink. 13 gallon garbage bags for dirty clothes (to stay away from the clean ones), and they can be used for packing dirty shoes, too. All of the flight, hotel, car, etc. confirmations, addresses and phone numbers, directions, maps, etc. go in a plastic zip folder, placed in my carry on luggage, and in date order. When finished, they are shredded and thrown away. A deck of cards for flight delays or train rides doesn't take up much room. For those of you who hate to ask people to take your photo, a foot-long, expandable tripod works great. Before we leave, we always send our family our itinerary with hotel phone numbers, etc., in case of emergency, along with copies of our credit cards and passports.
Eden Prairie, MN USA Fri 09/17/2010
We just returned from 15 days in Central Europe, and we packed extremely light! However, some little comforts we found helpful & fun were: - travel journal & a sandwich sized tupperware box of supplies (glue stick, date stamp, double-sided tape, small scissors, etc) to glue in little bits & pieces as we went along (tram tickets, receipts, etc.) My journal is now done & I will eventually put details of this & photos on my blog at heididilley.blogspot.com - a few each of various sizes of ziplock bags, useful for an amazing amount of things!
Riverside, CA USA Fri 09/17/2010
After dinner coffee
We're just back from a great tour to Tallinn, Eastonia, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia. Other than ice, the only thing I missed from home was my after dinner Decafe coffee. Decafe is a must for me at night. Next trip I will take a supply of Starbucks decafe packets. Not as good as fresh brewed, but you can always get hot water and we didn't find any restaurants that seemed to have any idea what "no caffein" coffee was.
Arlington, Tx USA Mon 09/13/2010
I type out address labels on my computer before leaving for trip and that way no need to take an address book for postcards. Just slap it on the postcard, find post office and voila! those cards on on their way home - which I send the 1st or 2nd days on my trips.
Atlanta, Ga USA Sat 09/11/2010
Ooops! Forgot one of the best things I always take with me - a very small rubber mat to use for taking showers. Too many bathtubs are extremely slippery and I surely don't want a fall from such. Mine came from K-Mart, is about half size of one of the regular sized ones. I fold it in half and slip it right inside of a 2 gallon plastic storage bag which fits flat on the bottom of my luggage. Also - after accidentally leaving one in bath in Germany, I take red fingernail polish and draw red "xs" all over it so I won't leave it again - quite noticeable there in the bottom of the tub. I also take a pair of my own pillow cases as I've found my face doesn't get chapped/red from sleeping on the hotel's cases which evidently are washed in extremely heavy duty laundry powder.
atlanta, ga USA Sat 09/11/2010
small items that can be useful
1) Vitamins & a first-aid kit of whatever you usually need. Pack small amounts if you're going to large cities. They all have places to purchase larger amounts if you really need it. 2) Pack 2 toothbrushes & 2 small toothpastes for each person. 3) An extra chapstick. 4) Small hand lotion. 5) Small zip-lock bags for those bits & pieces that you accumulate and need to find easily. (Esp if you need to save receipts for business.) 6) Paper or plastic shopping bags with handles. Lots of grocery stores charge for shopping bags. (Altho they do make a unique souvenir) 7) Sharpies, yellow highlighter & a couple ballpoint pens. 8) Safety pins and/or a few clothes pins. 9) A small purse-size flashlight. 10) Extra batteries for anything that needs them. I like the battery-operated votive idea! Joan
Portland, OR USA Sat 09/11/2010
Make a Honey-Do List
One great thing I've done for a trip is to make a list of 1) Must-See Sights and a 2) Don't-Give-a-Whit-About Sights Then we all compared our lists and concentrated on doing the Must-Sees on everyone's list. But knowing what we DIDN't want to do ahead of time saved a lot of time and energy while we were there. If you're really organized (not me) you can add the address and other details of the Must-Sees to your list. Also - take lots of memory cards for your digital camera. You'll take lots more photos than you think.
Portland, OR USA Sat 09/11/2010
@Tuscany regarding mini passport: The U.S. government now issues credit card-sized passport cards. They are designed primarily for people who live near the Canadian/Mexican borders and who don't want to use a full passport. They are not accepted in air travel, but are accepted in ship ports and automobile entry points. But you CAN carry this in your travels overseas regardless of where you go, and this will be an actual legal form of ID! :-)
Dublin, CA USA Mon 08/30/2010
Baby Wtipes or Bust
Having survived 7 yrs of traveling with over 300 people--on buses-- around the US as a bandparent, and one jaunt to London, I've learned to always travel with baby wipes. My favorites are the antibacterial unscented ones. I've used them to disinfect, freshen up, for first aide, and as napkins.
Tulsa, OK USA Sun 08/08/2010
Stow unneeded luggage!
I live in Ohio and my soldier daughter was in Iraq for six months before she was given 2-weeks' leave. For months she planned her vacation to Italy with Rick Steve's help online, etc. We met in Milan and packed according to Steve's list and it was GREAT! We each had one case/backpack combo. The only problem was that she had to travel wearing her full uniform and we wound up lugging an extra large tote bag around with her uniform (including boots) in it! In retrospect we should have checked the bag in at the Milan train station for the two weeks and saved us some grief along the way to 4 more cities: Venice, Florence, Salerno, Rome and back to Milano. The suitcase/backpack combo bags were awesome! We felt like Steve was with us the whole trip, as we checked his guidebook every day. Thanks Steve, it was a trip of a lifetime. We stayed at hostels everywhere and although we were especially impressed with the hostel in Salerno, (which is more like a luxury hotel) at that location we missed "talking" to other guests. The hostel hosts were so friendly and only too willing to talk to us and teach us about their home city. It was sad to say good bye to my daughter knowing she'd be in harm's way, but two months later she was safely back home in the U.S.
Painesville, OH USA Thu 08/05/2010
We just returned from a 3 week trip to Germany and Italy with our 15 year old son and had several mishaps from which we learned. Three things that were used all the time were The Body Shop's Peppermint Foot Spray, a mini flashlight and washcloths. Our feet were tired and sweaty at the end of each day. The foot spray helped to make them feel better and was great in the morning to get going. None of the bed and breakfasts where we stayed had washcloths so we used them for our face. Also, the flashlight came in handy at night when I couldn't sleep and wanted to read, but everyone else was asleep. The other thing we bought before leaving was two shirts each that would dry overnight. We washed every night and had a fresh one in the morning--especially good since it was so hot. We wished we had taken shorts that were washable. The thing I took and did not need was a portable blow dryer--never used it. There was one even in the smallest B&B. Next time we will also buy two pair of quick dry underwear. Our luggage was lost for several days. Next time we will pack an extra set of clothes in our carry-on. Also, our son's luggage came two days after ours, so I will mix the clothes in the suitcases so there is some of each in the different pieces. We try to pack light, but will pack even less next time. Hope this helps someone.
Franklin, TN USA Tue 07/20/2010
Before each trip I put all of our travel plans, airline flights, hotel confirmations, suggested places to eat, pre-purchased ticket vouchers for museums, etc. in a small three hole binder and carry it on in my carry on bag. It's organized and I know right where to find what I'm looking for when checking into hotels, flights, etc.. They make very thin ones that don't take up much room. Try Office Depot or Office Max.
Carmichael, CA USA Mon 07/19/2010
While Douglas Adams may have thought a towel to be indispensable, I'd argue that a sarong/pareo can do everything that a towel can do, and double as clothing for a femme on the go. You don't actually need "fluffy" to dry you off. Do try it at home first, though, to get used to the new, odd sensation.
And to keep from packing a damp sarong on your last morning at a hostel, just use your sheet to dry yourself, and then leave it behind for housekeeping to launder.
Chapel Hill, NC USA Thu 07/15/2010
Wine Opening Tricks
Instead of packing a wine opener, be creative and try this: http://www.wimp.com/wineshoe (I don't speak French and I understood the steps to make it work!)
Miami, FL USA Tue 07/13/2010
Games and More
Altoids tins are great for a few items. They can either be turned into a small first aid kit / survival kit or used as a small jewelry box. With a little creativity, they can be turned into travel games. For example you can paint a checker board and/or tic-tac-toe board on the inside and make small playing pieces with clay or shrink plastic attached to magnets. Instructables.com is a good place for tutorials using the Atloids tins.
East Meadow, NY USA Sun 07/11/2010
Being older travelers, we have several pills to take each day. We purchased 2 inch by 3 inch zip lock bags from our local hobby store. These are sold as "jewelry" bags in the bead section. We filled each bag with the pills needed for each day, marked with the date of each day we would be traveling. A quart size zip lock bag held the pills for each week. These took up little space in our luggage and we could keep track of whether we had taken our pills each day or not (helpful when you have jet lag!).
Acworth, GA USA Sun 07/11/2010
Underware and Socks
I agree with a prior comment. Get two pairs of Exofficio underware. They dry in 4 hours. You can also order the Magellon's socks at the same Megellon's site. They also dry in 4 hours. If you get the FoxRiver hiking socks, they take about 6 hours to dry. These are at the same site.
Houston, TX USA Thu 07/08/2010
bamboo cutlery and self-catering
Personally, after a buffet breakfast at the hotel, I'm ready to self-cater (picnic) my own lunch from the local market or store. Since I was carrying my small suitcase on the plane, I could not take my S.A.pocket knife and fretted about cutting bread- but I did take a pocket set of bamboo cutlery with fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks from our local eco-store. Now I know that a pocket knife is not essential, since you can buy rolls which break apart easily or using the bamboo knife and the spoon would have been enough for salads and yoghurts. Bamboo has anti-bacterial qualities, is light and did the job.
Boulder, CO USA Wed 07/07/2010
a little extra bag security
after having my local airline refuse to let me use the TSA approved locks on my checked bag, i have started tying my suitcase zippers together with dental floss-tape style. just a little extra security that is allowed-but beware, it is hard to remove when you want to! usually need a small knife to cut it-that's when i use the small multitool that looks like a key that stays on my keychain-it has never been refused by security (got it at home depot-key department)
Memphis, TN USA Mon 07/05/2010
I like to bring one of those collapeable vases. They weigh nothing, and it's great to have fresh flowers in a hotel room, especially a budget one.
Toronto, On USA Sun 07/04/2010
Loved the mini passport idea. I'll have to try it next time. I always make copies but never thought of laminating it.
As for losing luggage, try packing at least one outfit in your travel companion's luggage as well as your carry-on. That way you have 2 extra sets of clothes!
USA Sat 07/03/2010
Battery operated candle
We bring little battery operated votive candles to use as night lights in the wc. No outlet required.
Houston, Texas USA Sat 07/03/2010
Packing your carry-on
I have always heard horror stories about people losing their luggage when they travel, in particularly to other countries. So when I was heading out of the country in February, I decided to stick a clean outfit (including undergarments) in my carry-on. I also packed my toothbrush, a travel toothpaste, travel shampoo, hair brush, and a bar of soap in there too. Well, I happened to be the "lucky one" whose luggage was misplaced by the airlines when we arrived! However, it wasn't a big deal because I had the essentials with me.
Pittsburgh, PA USA Thu 07/01/2010
What helped us.
Package of disinfecting wipes for plane and train rides. I wiped them down once seated. A small .5 fl oz of pure lavender oil. Used on achy feet, blisters, insect bites, and anytime I feel stressed. Using a small spray bottle, I would make my own room refreshener/ shoe deodorizer with a few drops of lavender oil and water. Viola! For doing laundry, I packed powdered oxi-clean and Purex Complete 3-in-1 cut in strips. Big safety pins helped secure our clothes as it dries(packed 12-14)hanging above the alleys and streets. 5 weeks in Italy and France all carry- on with no problem. Our 8 year old son carried the day pack.
Springfield, MO USA Thu 07/01/2010
On a past trip to Germany I took too many pairs of cheap socks that slipped down in my shoes and were bsically worthless, causing me to waste time and money replacing them. Good socks, especially for hiking, are a good investment and will save alot of agravation.
Chicago, IL USA Tue 06/29/2010
If you are doing any sort of adventure-y trip take along a small role (or the end of a role) of duct tape. On our most recent trip, we used it for a luggage repair.
Redwood City, ca USA Fri 06/25/2010
re: face/wash cloths- I have bought babywash cloths and pack them instead of bring regular ones. They are thin and when squeezed out, they dry very fast! I have even bought very cheap ones in dollar stores( although they are not as big)and put them in cooler bags. When my husband is parading with his pipes and drum band he can use them to cool his face down, If they are lost, no big deal.I always bring a Rick Steves drying towel to squeeze extra moisture from laundry,but I wouldn't cut it as it too valuable whole.
Stewartsville, NJ USA Mon 06/21/2010
RE: Cost of European Toiletries?
Everything in Europe is so heavily taxed it's always going to cost more than in the US, especially US brands.
That said, I take exception with the notion that it's some kind of interesting part of the adventure to purchase toiletries in Europe. Even seemingly identical products to those you use at home could have slightly different ingredients for the European market due to chemical regulations. It wouldn't be very pleasant to have a rash or worse allergic reaction on vacation in Europe.
Waycross, GA USA Sat 06/19/2010
I'm not a big sanitizer person at home, but always carry a small ziplock of face wipes when travelling. Perfect for cleaning hands before grabbing a street food lunch or freshening up before a restaurant meal.
St. Louis, MO USA Thu 06/17/2010
Cost of European Toiletries?
I like the idea of buying my toiletries when I arrive in Europe, but I have one question: In comparison to US prices, how much do they cost? (Someone here mentioned that a small deodorant cost 7 Euros in Paris.)
The first time I went to London was in the days before digital cameras and the film my camera required cost me $5.95 at home and 5.95 pounds in London. So I've always figured that it would be more expensive for me to purchase a travel-sized tube of toothpaste there compared to what it would cost me to purchase it before I leave.
Also, I've read a lot of comments about the little packs of soap sheets. Apparently they are really popular with campers and REI has a whole selection of them. I think each one costs about $3.95 for 50 sheets. I took them with me on my last trip and they were great for a quick morning wash-up. If you don't have an REI near you try a local camping supply or outdoor store.
Midwest, USA Thu 06/17/2010
Facecloths in Europe
Since most European hotels don't supply facecloths, what I've taken to doing is bringing my rattiest facecloths with me and leaving them behind as I move to a new hotel.
NJ USA Sun 06/13/2010
I bought a small Rick Steves' travel towel and cut it to make several face cloths. They are quick to dry.
CA USA Sun 06/13/2010
no journal and no camera
One time while traveling, we met a couple who didn't keep a journal and didn't bring a fancy camera. They bought postcards from every sightseeing place they felt worth it, wrote something about what they had done/experienced on the back and sent it to their own home. The most beautiful pictures are (in my case anyway, i'm not that good with camera's) always on postcards, and with the stories on it you have a very original 'photoalbum' to show your friends.
USA Wed 06/09/2010
I scan my passport at 67% on my copy machine. It reduces to a CC or DL size. I laminate it with clear packing tape & carry it in a vinyl wallet insert, along with some folded paper money and a few C.C. in the spaces. Then placed securely inside a zipped or buttoned pocket. I Do not carry it in the same place as my actual passport. (In case I would to lose it, I have a backup copy for quick replacement.)
I have had shopkeepers use the small copy for VAT paperwork, when my passport was back in the hotel safe.
USA Fri 06/04/2010
Before I leave on a trip, I scan all credit cards, passport/ID, insurance cards etc (front & back) into a pdf or jpeg and then upload the file on to google documents. That way, if I loose my passport, I can at least have copies of all my items. Also, it's safer than leaving a copy in your suitcase, which could get stolen/lost.
Long Beach, CA USA Thu 05/27/2010
Money Belts - dry documents
I use a quart size ziploc baggie to put my money, passport, airline ticket, hotel voucher etc. into, and then into my waist money belt. Now when it is very hot and humid, my papers stays nice and dry, and not damp with perspiration. Another option is using several sandwich bags to keep each item in a separate compartment. Now you have dry, readable, intack important items! May seem bulky to wear, but worth the dryness and safty.
HB, CA USA Mon 05/24/2010
I cut a 3" diameter postal mailing tube to the longest length of my luggage. I use the tube to protect items such as posters, etc, from damage. Small and fragile items can also be protected in the tube. I usually pack several empty Rubbermaid type boxes in my luggage when I leave home to help save room for and protect mementos.
Elyria, OH USA Sun 05/23/2010
I print business cards for each day that has a significant "event", such as: flight number and departure and arrival time; hotel name, address, and phone number; train times; car rental address and phone; emerncy phone numbers like my bank and debit card company. I make three sets -my wife and I carry one and the other goes in the suitcase. As the days go by, I just throw that card away.
Richmond, VA USA Wed 05/19/2010
This is probably a no brainer, but when bringing a journal to record my trip, I was always too tired to write in it at night. I finally figured out to write in the morning with my coffee what I did the day before.
Portland, Oregon USA Tue 05/18/2010
Packing light but with comfort
I'm about to take a 24-hr train trip and wanted to take my neck Bucky (keeps your head from falling onto your shoulders when you sleep), but the buckwheat hull filling was too heavy. I took it out and stuffed it with bubble wrap. I can flatten the bubble wrap sheets into my carry-on bag and the Bucky outer case weighs nearly nothing and takes up no room without the bubble wrap.
Bellingham, WA USA Mon 05/17/2010
LOVE the idea of printing the name and address of the hotel on a business card for the cab driver (In Italian). How creative.
USA Fri 05/14/2010
We print business size cards in the language of the countries we're touring with the name & address of our hotels to hand over to a cab driver. It ends confusion and they seem to appreciate it.
Dick & Ann
Simi Valley, CA USA Sat 05/08/2010
Caution! Hard Beds in Europe!
I vacuum seal a twin size foam bed pad ($10 @ Walmart). It ends up about the size of a folded bath towel, and doesn't take up much suit case space. I sleep like a baby on those hard beds, and leave it at the hotel so I have room to pack my European purchases for the trip home.
Broken Arrow, Ok. USA Sat 05/08/2010
I pack a box of watercolor pencils and a sketch pad--my children and I slow down our travels to draw/paint and the activity is a wonderful ice breaker.
CO USA Wed 05/05/2010
I've found that a tiny sample cologne spritzer filled with water is a great way to keep a fresh face on my travels. It's like splashing your face with water but you can do it anywhere and it won't mess up any makeup you may be wearing. You can get them free from perfume counters in the department stores or purchase empty ones from cosmetic stores like Sephora. If you tell them what they're for at the department store they'll usually give you several (I asked for one for my perfume and one extra for water and walked away with four little empty spritzers!)
Seattle, WA USA Sat 05/01/2010
Packing Cube Alternatives
I recently purchased valances and drapes from JCPenny. They came in these plastic bags that had zippers. Voila, I had free packing cubes. I just rolled up shirts and other items and it was easy to find since they were clear.
Chico, CA USA Tue 04/20/2010
I bought my little Pacsafe bag on a whim last summer right before my trip to Paris. It was indeed a lifesaver! It fit my passport, camera, pocket-sized map, money, and countless extras to take along with me for the day. And, as an added bonus, it acted as a sling for my injured arm/shoulder after a bicycle mishap, LOL. They may seem a bit pricey, but they are definitely worth every penny.
Columbus, OH USA Sun 04/18/2010
Creative packing Extras
Three things I always pack with me are: 1-dental floss---makes a great temporary shoelace or works as thread if you rip something or lose a button, 2- a needle with a larger hole for the floss and 3- a disposable zippered plastic pillow cover, goes over the pillow and under the pillowcase and cost under $2.00. I also like to pack the plastic lid off a can of coffee to use as a plate.
Campbell River, B.C., Canada Sun 04/18/2010
I always bring rubber flip flops to wear in the hotel to keep my feet clean. Even though I always stay in upscale hotels you still don't know what has been on the floor!
Nashville, TN USA Sun 04/18/2010
I highly recommend Exofficio's line of travel underwear. I bought two pairs and brought them on my last trip. I would wear one, then wash it by hand and hang it up overnight while wearing the other. I went for two weeks and never needed more than two pairs of boxers. Great invention, and fantastic for packing light.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Sun 04/11/2010
Check out the GoToob silicone travel tubes for liquids. They are a bit pricey at $7-$9 (1.5-3 oz) but are strong, flexible, and have secure caps. A 1.5 oz Toob will hold a week's shampoo for me (male) and the 2 oz will hold a week's worth of shampoo for my wife. Available at REI, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and at Amazon. Highly recommended.
Richmond, VA USA Sat 04/10/2010
Use a half sheet three ring binder to organize all the paperwork that seems to accumulate during a trip. These binders are designed to hold half sheets of U.S. standard letter size paper (8 1/2 x 5 1/2) and come in various widths. I like the tiny 1/2" size which will easily slip into my day bag. Punch holes across the top of full sheets and fold them in half to store in the binder. You can put in dividers if you want to be fancy, but I just put pages of related information information together then fold them in half as a group which makes them into a "chapter" in your book. You can add pages from your guidebooks, sections cut out of maps, and much more. I punched holes in a small manila envelop and added it to the notebook to hold small bits of paper like stamps, receipts, and ticket stubs. You can add blank sheets of filler paper for travel notes and journalling. It's all in one releatively compact space and easy to find what you want.
SFO, CA USA Thu 04/08/2010
Protection for fragile items
I always throw at least one of those cardboard wine gift containers or tubs into my suitcase. Because it has sturdy sides I can fill it with small breakables and don't have to worry that they will get broken or crushed during my travels or by luggage handlers. I even use them to pack bottles of wine that I am bringing home. To save space, when packing for my trip, I fill them with items that I will not be bringing home.
Chicago, IL USA Sun 04/04/2010
I brought a journal to keep track of details and expenses. To help me remember where I was and what I did everyday, I wrote the date and location in my journal every morning and took a picture of it. That way, I knew where and when my pictures were taken.
Canada Sat 04/03/2010
Avoid leaving your rings, watch, necklace etc. behind in your hotel room; pack the brightly coloured clean top of a peanut-butter jar, and use it as a tray for these things at night. They are usually red or blue, so will catch your eye as you're packing to leave.
USA Sun 03/21/2010
Web belt worked wonders
I started packing a 60 inch web strap with a plastic buckle, available at the local outdoor store. So far it has been: 1) a clothes line extender 2) a quick strap for securing bags to chairs or overhead train bins (won't prevent a serious thief but will buy an extra few seconds) 3) after a pickpocket attempt on my backpack in Sevilla, I used the strap around my pack with the clip fastened... one more step for a potential thief to get through 4) by buying a bright green strap, I attach it to my luggage so it is easy to spot.
Portland, OR USA Wed 03/17/2010
For those of us who take medications that come through the mail in huge containers, I have a solution for ditching the container but taking the prescription information. I peel off the label, carefully, and paste it on a snack size zip lock baggie. I take 5 meds and this is a life saver for space. My husband and I have never been questioned about this method even after inspection.
Bellingham, Wa USA Thu 03/11/2010
Zip lock bags in quart and sandwhich sizes have come to our rescue for so many things- left over food, wet bathing suites and sea shells. They seperate bathroom supplies and dirty underwear, wet shoes and dry travel books. A MUST!
Marion, Ohio USA Wed 03/10/2010
Other travel extras- tea bags and instant coffee along with two travel cups with airtight lids for my husband and I . We also brought a small heating coil that we used in the bathroom to heat up water and Crystal Light packets for our water bottles. All those drinks add up quickly and we are really on a shoe string budget for our trips! Useful also was the shammy towels that were small, packable and dried quickly for shower and beach
Marion, Oh. USA Wed 03/10/2010
A hand held digital luggage scale. We fly Ryan Air often and they are sticklers with weight requirements for your carry on and check baggage. Its small and light and keeps me from worrying about paying for heavy luggage.
Kaiserslautern, Germany Sat 03/06/2010
I always travel with a zip-loc bag containing basic first aid supplies--for colds, headache, etc. and especially callous protectors! Another essential item is my power monkey (NOT the solar variety, which is worthless). This handy little item can charge my cell phone, ipod, and kids handheld toys. Last, but not least, I always pack several cheap plastic shopping bags to put my dirty shoes in when packing to go home. I also carry my camera and guidebook and a bottle of water in one of these during the day so I don't look like quite a target--just a woman who's been to the store.
Sterling, VA USA Sat 02/27/2010
5 light and useful add-ons
1. A convertible voltage immersion water heater, instant Starbucks coffee, dry creamer packs, and sugar packets are clutch for getting sluggish coffee-addict travelers out of bed. In Europe, the high voltage will heat a full cup in about 2 minutes. 2. Washcloth tablets are essential for American style bathing - even fine hotels usually don't have washcloths. Save used ones for cleaning up shoes and wiping splashes off trouser legs. 3. Laundry pack - clothesline, Woolite, and stopper. Bring quick-dry socks and underclothes and save valuable luggage space. 4. LED flashlight - for when European hotels lose power or to find something in a dark train compartment. 5. Lexan cutlery and disposible takeout containers for when you just want a quick hotel picnic or are too tired to eat out.
Boston, MA USA Tue 02/23/2010
as I posted on the Packing Light Wall, a small bib apron will protect your clothes from jolts of the plane or train.
Seattle, wa USA Sun 02/21/2010
My daughter in law gave me a pack of Shamwow Towels for Christmas. They are SUPER absorbant. A towel the size of a bandana will dry me AND my (short) hair.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 02/21/2010
Diaper Pins and Retractable KeyChain
I've been freaking out about pickpockets, from all the comments on this and other sites, but I like to have my wallet handy in my pocket with at least my daily spending money. So I've bought a retractable keychain. One end pinned into my travel vest pocket with a diaper pin. The other attached to the key chain feature of my wallet. I can pull out the wallet, but will certainly notice if anyone ELSE tries to.
Diaper pins in general are one of my favorite travel items. Useful for a zillion things and won't sprong open like regular safety pins. Does the button pop off your pants after too much Weiner Schnitzel? No problem.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 02/21/2010
Many Uses for Anti-Perspirant
I read in one of Rick's books that a traveler brought an extra travel size anti-perspirant to use on his feet to treat sweating feet. Okay, this is gross but when in Italy my rear cheeks were chafing from the heat. I pulled out the extra roll-on and presto, instant comfort. I see no reason why this wouldn't work on any other body part that might chafe from the heat.
Tornto, Ont canada Thu 01/14/2010