Tricks for Packing Light: 2010
Share your creative tricks to fit your world into a small bag for a European trip.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
- Rick's Travel Tips: Packing Smart and Traveling Light
Leave good stuff at home
I travel with only carry-on. I purchase clothes from Goodwill and take my old socks and underwear. These can easily be left in hotel room or in the case of clothes, I donate them. Leaving me with an empty suitcase to bring home treasures from my travels.
Green Valley, AZ USA Thu 12/30/2010
Oldies but goodies
Missing some oldies but goodies here: Mageline makes a fabulous, light-weight travel clothes line, holds clothes without pins; a tube of Travel Wash is great, suds rinse out easily; Dr. Bronner's peppermint wash is great for laundry, shampoo, bathwash, etc.
USA Sat 12/04/2010
just thought i'd add my 2 cents worth. i get a tiny collapsible umbrella hanger for everynight washing ($2 at a dollar store) ; roll up 2 leggings (short and long black - hides dirt and goes with everything), 2 tops, one dress, (i can't live in the same outfit for 10 days - 3 weeks, and i test them all to make sure they will dry overnight); one silk nightie, undies (including bra top, socks), raincoat, sandals/shoes, sweater with a hood, and since learning the hard way that you can take one carryon plus purse to UK, but only one bag back, i now wear everything in the bag through security, and once through, take most of it off and repack the bag. if i need jeans due to cold, i go to a local thrift shop (tons in the UK) and if necessary, leave them behind. i wear a wrist wallet instead of purse, and leave the moneybelt with passport in the hotel safe. i also learned to always have a cell phone (that fits in my wrist wallet) because on my first trip to london, i ended up inn four hospitals in four days, and no way to contact anyone. the Iphone has GPS, alarm and internet...does one really need anything else? or cheap uk phone is good also. i won't be taking my laptop this time, as small as it is because of the iphone and internet cafes. Don't forget the sink plug, adaptor for phone charger and micro-fibre facecloth. duplicate info essential...thought i'd lost my air tickets on one return and used the duplicates in my bag. Oyster card is on it's third trip. Barclays Bank ate my debit card on two separate trips; once was particularly bad because i didn't find out until after dinner in a restaurant that couldn't take credit cards, and i had no cash left, so i went to Barclays down the street and the ATM ate my card. ! had to sweet talk the restaurant owner into trusting me to pay him the next day, and it was an interesting process trying to get my card back.. Use cirrus ATMS. don't forget to let your card companies know your itinerary, and always have 40 to 60 pounds for the day just in case of emergency. i found the day bag a must for peanut butter sandwich and apple picnic (I usually take something from B&B brekkie to get me through to dinner - i can't eat those huge B and B full breakfasts in one sitting, so i take something small to go - another reason to have a free ziplock), water, map, sunscreen..something that folds up into nothing. You don't have to spend huge dollars...check your local thrift shops. A tiny LED flashlight on keyring that hangs on the wrist has been very useful at night or dark places or when the light goes out or you can't find the switch. Try and be hands free as much as possible if for no other reason than to catch yourself when you trip on the cobblestones, or mind the gap and miss) , i found the notebook useful to journal in when i travelled alone which helped me feel like i had company. i take a silk pillowcase which eliminiates some bad hair moments, and helps me sleep cause my brain thinks i'm at home, a hat for sun and bad hair. I also take laxative tea, sleepy time tea and some immune building throat spray which counteracts the airplane air and digestive time zone adjustments. i take my own water bottle with it's insulator shield (great for keeping water cool on hot days and cheaper than buying bottled water) . it tucks into the side pocket. With the tiniest toiletrie bag attached to tiny hanger that will hang on the back of the bathroom door You can acdtually take a hanger and put it through the other side of a ziplock), and purex sheet strips for luandry and easy in and out of the backpack, plus ziplocking most things, especially the undies, i'm off with the essentials and the weight does not affect my spiinal decompression therapy.
coquitlam, bc canada Sat 11/20/2010
Baby Wash Cloths
European hotels seldom provide washcloths. I brought several baby wash cloths, initially for cleaning my face. Found they were also useful for lining the body-side of our moneybelts. They absorbed perspiration. They were inexpensive, not bulky and dried quickly.
Santa Clara, CA USA Thu 11/18/2010
I pack light by taking mix-and-match clothes that can also be layered for extra duty. Since I only take a few button shirts, I take a small sewing kit. No buttons, no shirts. Happy travels!
CA USA Sun 11/07/2010
I just bought a pair of TOM'S shoes for my last trip to France. I used them on the plane and in the airport - easy to slip on and off, good cushioning, easy on the feet. NOT for long days touring in cities, but fantastic for swollen feet and ankles on the plane, going through security and easy to pack back in the suitcase- they fit on the side and take up almost no room. I got the canvas ones in Black to match everything. I used them in the hotel as slippers and down to breakfast every morning, or out to dinner at night. The best thing about TOM'S is if you buy a pair, TOM'S gives a pair of shoes to a child in need.
Centennial, CO USA Tue 11/02/2010
a few tips/ideas
I second the motion on the throw-away-socks & undies tip; I took old ones and threw them away (actually cheaper than having 'em laundered by hotels, and more convenient than spending time washing them yourself; they're pretty cmpact too; don't really save much space in luggage by packing 1 fewer pair of socks...). If you can deal with the high cost, using the hotel's laundry service for other items (e.g shirts and pants) does at least buy you a good deal of convenience; can pack less, and don't have to spend time doing your own laundry.
A few common items i've found helpful are:
*rubber bands: surprisingly useful for holding stuff together, light, take very little room in luggage. Can be used as emergency shoe sole repair, to hold various documents/items together in a bag and/or to compress folded stuff; can also wrap a rubber band around one's wallet to provide friction with fabric in your pocket (making pickpocketing a bit tougher).
*plastic/ziplock bags: for organizing things in luggage; also useful if you get caught in a downpour; can put your mobile phone, electronic device, passport, etc. in the bag to avoid getting 'em water-damaged
*small pocket-sized notebook and a collapsable pen: can use these to jot down photo descriptions, and/or make impromptu maps or list directions to various places (can also help you communicate if you can spell words in other languages but aren't great with pronunciation). someone mentioned taking photos of street signs, etc. to record descriptions for photos. I found this a good [INVALID]native too; I've also used the digital camera for "mapping" purposes. e.g.-once I got out to an area not covered by my pocket map, so I took photos of various street signs, landmarks, and buildings, and checked the viewing screen as I walked back to see If I was going the right way.
Houston, TX USA Mon 11/01/2010
Worried about laundry? Still want to pack light and not worry about taking/buying powders and liquids with you? or trying to find some there? Try 'Purelle' laundry sheets. They're like a fabric softener sheet (i.e. Bounce) but have the dry laundry detergent and anti-static fabric softener sheet all in one sheet. It is light, thin, not messy like a powder or liquid, I just slipped it between my clothes and it did a great job when I did a load at the hostel in Paris. It's cheaper than buying soap there and totally portable.
Toronto, ON Canada Tue 10/26/2010
You can always get laundry done. We were in Budapest and had the laundry sent out by our hotel, they picked it up from our room, and dropped it off the next day. For about $15 US not only was it laundered, everything, including our socks and unmentionables, was ironed !
USA Tue 10/26/2010
a caller on a recent radio show asked about carrying a knife in carry on. well, you can't. but here's what we did. we took only carry on luggage to Paris, and then bought an inexpensive, popular french knife/corkscrew combo at a charming kitchenware shop, E. Dehilleren, had an authentic shopping experience, had our authentic souvenir corkscrew (which got lots of usage), bought a few more knives, (Opinel) as gifts - when we returned, yes, we had to check one bag with the knives, but another option might be to ship them home. Bon voyage!
brier, WA USA Mon 10/25/2010
Packing light for Rome in the Fall
We just returned from Rome and thought I'd offer a few tips on what to pack/not pack. We managed to spend a week in Rome, dressed reasonably well, and only used a carry-on sized bag each. First of all, I am a big proponent of the "go and throw" philosphy. I took quite a few t-shirt type tops (in solid colors) which were still wearable but not worth keeping another season and used those as the basis. These were worn under either a black v-necked cardigan or grey cardigan and accented with a few scarves or inexpensive/costume jewelry I brought along. Even without sweaters (during the warmer daytime), the t-shirts looked presentable when dressed up with the accessories. I had two pairs of jeans - one dark blue and a pair of black jeans which were also serviceable but not ones I planned on keeping much longer. I wore black yoga-style slacks on the plane for comfort. These also doubled with the black cardigan to look more dressy at night. I did bring two dressier tops for nighttime use. I wore a pair of good walking shoes and packed another dressier pair of comfortable black shoes which were worn in the evening. Added a pair of slip-on sandals for walking around the room/hotel. I left behind the shirts, old jeans (folded, in plastic bag marked "refuse" an left in room - just in case anyone wanted it or could donate it) and also threw away the older nightie/lingerie I had brought. This left me with lots of room in my bag for the items we had purchased in Rome. This method makes packing much easier, doesn't require bringing a suitcase full of "dirty laundry" home and gives me an opportunity to thin out my drawers/do inventory before buying new items. For toiletries, I brought what liquids would fit in the required quart sized bag limit. For cosmetics, I found a compact-sized product with eye shadows, 2 lip glosses, and blush all in one piece which saves a lot of room. I also have a solid bar of shampoo, which I got at a Lush store. When the small bottle of hair conditioner I brought ran out, I picked up a bottle in the local grocery store for 2 Euros. It was fun trying a new product from another country. As a side note, I would say that no matter what you wear you will look like a tourist! Even though many Italians are wearing casual clothing, they seem to wear it very well. I think it may be because they generally seem to be petite and proportionally built so whatever they wear fits well and looks good. They are also very big on scarves, and they all seem to wear one! As for my SO, he does not ascribe to the "throw" philosphy so he opted to take several golf-type polo shirts which could easily be washed out and quickly dried overnight. As for creative extras, I packed an over-the-shoulder black bag for day use, a couple of those compacted wash cloths you can get at dollar stores, 2 umbrellas and we each wore a lightweight weather-proof jacket on the plane. All in all, it was so much easier and faster to not lug around large pieces of luggage, nor get charged for checking them in. I was amazed at the size of suitcases some people drag around with them. Hope this information is helpful!
Virginia, USA Sat 10/16/2010
Pack super light
I wear the NorthFace pants that roll into Capris and zip off into shorts. For shirts I wear the Techwick T-Shirts from EMS: you can wash them in the sink at night, and they are dry before morning. Two pants, three shirts lasted three weeks!!
Buffalo, NY USA Tue 10/12/2010
I find that there are never enough hangers in the closets of hotels and B&B's. What I do is bring along about 8-10 thin wire hangers that I usually get from the dry cleaners. I use a black clip to hold them together and place them as the last thing in my Rick Steve's suitcase. They take up virtually no space. Another essential item is a small, very fine spray bottle (can be found in the travel section at the drug store). I hang the wrinkled item on one of the hangers and lightly give it a spray using water from the tap. Then give the item a few shakes and use your hand to brush out the wrinkles. It takes only a minute and it is ready to wear.
USA Mon 10/11/2010
Photo ids without notebooks
Rather than packing a notebook to keep track of photos I take a photo id picture of where I am. A road sign, a directional sign to the site, and if I can't find any sign, I take a photo of the description in the guidebook. When I get home I can always identify where the photos were taken.
Jane Kistler Halweg
New Bern, NC USA Fri 10/01/2010
I'm another fan of the Macabi skirt. I recently took two skirts and a few tops on a weeklong trip. They were much cooler than pants and appropriate in more places than shorts. I buy a new color each year during their annual sale.
Orange, NJ USA Tue 09/21/2010
Arlene- I have worn & enjoyed Macabi skirts for several years now- traveled extensively with them all over the world. I have swam in waterfalls in my Macabi; hiked; gone to dinner- you name it. They are pricey but so worth it!
McKinney, TX USA Mon 09/20/2010
1) it helps if you only have to pack for one type of season 2) I buy chef's pants and wear them everywhere. They're tough, they wash well, and are comfortable. There are many styles available (I don't get the white ones obviously). 3) zip lock bags 4) ship stuff home 5) don't carry books (I use Steves' guides and cut/staple as he suggests) 6) I go for "radically light" packing: One carry on backpack for a 2 months trip to Europe..yes it is possible. It's even easier here in Thailand.
Bangkok, Thailand Fri 09/17/2010
We just returned from 15 days in Central Europe, and after literally running in 2 different train stations to make transfers we were really glad we packed extremely light! My husband and I each had 2 of those plastic "space saver" bags that you squeeze the air out of, those were great to use for our tops/pants. Everything else went into ziplock bags (socks in one, panties in one, toiletries in one) which made repacking so much easier when we changed cities, as well as making airport security a cinch! Especially when my suitcase was searched at London/Heathrow - they took EVERYTHING out of it...made it so much easier to put 5 bags back in versus individual items!
Riverside, CA USA Fri 09/17/2010
Adhesive Wall Hooks
The 3M Command Wall Hooks are specially made to come off without damaging the surface they are attached to.
Missouri City, Tx USA Wed 09/15/2010
Just wanted to rave about Eddie Bauer Travex pants. My husband and I each had 2 pairs in different colors and these were awesome... lightweight, wrinkle-free, water-resistent in the rain and plenty of pockets (security zippers too)! I brought a pair of yoga pants for the airplane, but didn't even use them. I ended up wearing only the the travex pants because they were so convenient. With the pockets, we were able to carry our items conveniently since we only had the one carry-on (and no extra bags allowed for European discount airlines). Highly recommend! And I got them on sale last year, only paid $20/pair.
Tucson, AZ USA Mon 09/13/2010
Adhesive wall hooks
Patricia- Are you sure the hotel appreciated you putting the adhesive hooks on the wall & then pulling them back off?- those are damaging to wall surfaces!
McKinney, TX USA Sat 09/11/2010
I've never seen mention here of my favorite travel skirt[INVALID]a Macabi skirt (macabiskirt.com). They are designed for trekking and outdoor pursuits, supplex nylon, full, capacious pockets (and a zip security pocket), dry overnight, transform into sort of blowsy pants, snap up to be shorter. I am an older lady and don't wear shorts so a longish skirt is cool and culturally correct everywhere. For a trip to warm places I take 2 skirts and 1 pants and to a cool place I do 2 pants and 1 skirt.
Altoona, PA USA Sat 09/11/2010
Rick's Clothes lines
Good idea. I also use the S hooks and carry 2 of Rick's clothes lines.
CA USA Thu 09/09/2010
Travel Clothes Line
Rick's clothes line is more adaptable if you take two 1 inch C-Clamps along. This allows hooking the clothes line to window sill edges, hinges on doors, and any other protrusion that does not allow use of the velcro circular snaps. C-Clamp the protrusion; then thread the velcro snap through the C-Clamp.
Fairhope, AL USA Wed 09/08/2010
Favorite travel item
We took several Command(TM) adhesive hooks [INVALID] the kind that come off when you pull a tab. Used for hanging toilet kits, extra towel hooks, in the kitchen, etc. We brought extra adhesive tabs and just pulled the hooks off the wall as we left.
San Antonio, TX USA Wed 09/01/2010
I have made a wonderful discovery of silk longjohns. Easy to wash out, and quick dry over night. I only need to pack one pair. Cotton longjohns are high maintenance for traveling. I have to pack many pairs.
MT, USA Mon 08/23/2010
I can walk 10 miles a day in Europe and on cobblestones and I never got blisters or sore places on my feet. Don't know why, but they are the most comfortable shoe for my daughter and myself.
We've had ours for 6 years now and they still look new.
Brentwood, CA USA Sun 08/15/2010
Chaco sandals aren't for everyone. I took 2 pairs for a month stay in Paris this summer. I wore them at home for 6 wks prior. After one week in Paris walking 5-10 mi/day, my feet were destroyed. I had blisters everywhere - I had no other shoes and it took me a week to find a pair of Tevas. The Teva's were a godsend. I would not describe Chacos as elegant, and they are very heavy as well (for light packers this is an issue). I now swear by Tevas.
Sausalito, Ca USA Sat 08/14/2010
We just returned from 2 weeks in Paris, Amsterdam and Bruges - my tip: Packed only two pair of quick-dry travel briefs. Washed one each night - if not dry by morning I wore the other pair. My wife's tip: Footware = 1 pair of Chacos sandals. Sturdy enough for hiking, comfortable enough for walking, elegant enough for evening.
Whitefish Bay, WI USA Sun 08/08/2010
Cooking on trains.
You are not allowed to cook on trains in the US for sure. And I don't believe you can even cook on the Siberian train across Russia.
Brentwood, CA USA Mon 07/26/2010
Packing light tips
Just got back from 5 weeks of touring Hungary, Romania, Austria and Germany on the train with my 13 year old son. Gotta give a big shout out for Rick Steve's travel clothesline (braided latex - no clothespins, and velcro end closures to go around any pole)...I just can't give up socks and underwear altogether, so 5 weeks on the road was a special challenge! Took 2 pairs of travel fast drying underwear for each and multiple pairs of high-tech running socks for both -- did a quick sink wash each night in the hotel and the clothesline worked in almost every situation- especially when we needed a second shower at night (we had heat waves!!!) when sweating and walking all day- the clothesline just opened with the velcro release and kept all contents on the line until shower was over and popped it back up to dry overnight. Won't travel without it again!
Boulder, CO USA Wed 07/07/2010
Cooking on Trains--- A BIG NO-NO
Yes you can eat on the trains- but don't plan on cooking on them!!! They often have a "trolley" with refreshements or a dinning car. You can also purchase food before your journey and bring it aboard.
Charlotte, NC USA Mon 06/28/2010
beach wrap and rolling
When I travel to a beach locale, I skip the towel and take one of those colorful wraps. You can wear it as a cover-up and spread it out on the sand as a towel. They are very light and wash out in the sink if you are doing an extended trip. Also- a tip on packing- I'm a roller. But even if you are a folder, don't forget to use up the corners of your suitcase and the insides of your shoes. Fill them up with small things like socks and underwear. It's amazing how much more you can fit in.
Redwood City, ca USA Fri 06/25/2010
Travel as if you were hiking
We head to REI before we travel, but much of what we find probably can be found online or at most trail shops:
- Campsuds, concentrated liquid soap. Need only a few drops to wash clothes in sink. 2-ounce travel bottle is plenty for several weeks of travel.
- Pack towel. Available in various sizes, very lightweight and compact. Handy for those super rainy days or the Szechenyi Baths.
- ExOfficio underwear. Lightweight, compact, anti-microbial and quick-drying. Dry out overnight even in humid weather.
- Stow Duffel. It comes folded inside itself in its own tiny pouch. We inevitably buy lots of stuff while we travel, so we fill the duffel for carry on and bag-check the packs coming home.
Durham, NC USA Tue 06/22/2010
Very light travel
My trick for packing light is just to buy most necessities at my destination. It is part of the fun! Especially when there are Poundshops or something similar (like dollar stores) because you can get shampoo, laundry soap, towel, etc for very cheap and can give the leftovers to fellow hoteliers when you check out. I cannot comprehend paying $5 for a pack of soap leaves when I can pay 29p for a bar of soap, or pay $5 each for a tiny 3 oz silicon travel container for Shampoo when I can get a full sized bottle of shampoo for 79p.
Boulder, CO USA Tue 06/22/2010
Ultra light backpacking
My daughter & I are headed to Europe late Aug for 5 weeks. We are utra light backpackers and can't wait to fianlly leave the bear canistors and sleeping bags at home. Not planning on carrying packs -- thinking camera, toothbrush, map & our trusty GPS in my pant pockets. My daughter will be carrying the train tickets and a jump drive of necessary docs. If we need a extra shirt we will buy and toss the oldies. We both did away with underwear and socks long ago after some very long backpacking trips in the Sierras. There just a hassle to keep clean & you sweat! We might bring our pop can stove to cook on if it is true you can eat on the trains. We are looking for an adventure and not just a vacation!
Seattle, WA USA Fri 06/18/2010
Reducing Guidebook size
If you want just a section or two from Rick's guide, just tear the book on the binding and remove those pages. Trim edge with a paper cutter. Take the pages to Staples and have them put on a spiral binding. Now you have less to carry and book stays open to any page.
NEW PORTLAND, Maine USA Tue 06/15/2010
For easy, convenient leg & underarm shaving, Venus now makes a disposable shaver with built-in strips of shave gel on each side. I also love "Envirosax" - they're lightweight shopping bags that roll up really small with their own snap closure - plus they hold up to 30 lbs. You can just stick one or two in a pocket or purse. Also - my husband has size 13 feet, so if we each want to bring an extra pair of shoes, mine fit inside of his :)
NY USA Tue 06/08/2010
ScotE-vest was great! No need for a purse as the pockets hold everything. No worries about pickpockets. The weight is evenly distributed and you can buy the lightweight jacket with zip-off sleeves. Well worth the price. Used it on a week's tour in Istanbul and very comfortable!
Staunton, VA USA Sun 06/06/2010
Just got home today from an 18 day trip to Europe using ONE of Rick's rolling suitcases.Although we have a Rick clothesline and have washed our own clothes on several other EU trips, this time we used a laundry.Clothes washed,dried,and folded for 9E.It may be a luxury,but it sure was nice!
Rockford, TN USA Thu 06/03/2010
light quick dry pant
i agree with taking and wearing light slacks...i recently found moisture wicking type pants that are light and airy and comfortable even if it is really hot out...north face and columbia are examples of some brands but they can be a bit pricey...champion makes a decent pair for half the price...
cincinnati, oh USA Mon 05/17/2010
Lightweight wool clothing
Just returned from a trip to China with only a carry-on and had a black cashmere v-neck sweater that was great for the cooler weather we had and never smelt bad no matter how many days I wore it. Layered well over other things and did not take up much space! I also bought an IceBreaker merino wool short sleeved hot pink v-neck shirt with a flattering curved hem from ? Backcountry Outfitters before I left. Wonderful! Washed and dried quickly. This company is in New Zealnd I believe and actually identify which sheep your shirt was made from on a tag inside your shirt!! Great quality.
Traverse City, MI USA Wed 05/12/2010
One pair of shoes
I only travel with one pair of shoes. Typically, I get very decent walking shoes: leather tops, added support and rubber bottoms. I buy them in black so I can use them in a nicer restaurant etc. and they still look okay. Right now I have some New Balance shoes. You can walk all day, they remain comfortable and still look good at night.
Portland, OR USA Wed 05/12/2010
I agree the travel packets of laundry soap are convenient and secure. Even if your bag gets squished on the plane, train, etc., the packets won't burst. To avoid using space in my freedom baggie, I take travel packets of powdered laundry soap. I like Forever New, which doesn't break down the elastic in undergarments. You can get the packets at goinginstyle.com. I need all the space in my ziplock bag for toiletries. I use some of my boyfriend's ziplock bag space for my toiletries, too. So that's another travel tip! ;-)
San Jose, CA USA Mon 05/10/2010
Good Lightweight Slacks
The best slacks for traveling light may be offered by restaurant clothing supplier Chefwear (www.chefwear.com). The company was started by a woman chef when she needed something professional, nonbinding and cool to work in. Now she offers products to men as well.
For travel I like the almost shirt-weight cotton slacks with the wide, two-inch quality elastic waist, zipper fly and both a button closure and a drawstring. Two pairs of these pack in one of the envelopes Rick sells, leaving lots of room for two or three long-sleeve oxford shirts.
These days of security checks make it nice not to travel with a belt and the wide waistband is much more comfortable after a big meal. Washing is easy and the fabric weave defies creases and limits wrinkles. The slacks dry about as well as an oxford shirt and not quite as quickly as a Coolmax blend. Colors and patterns range from sedate to wild so express yourself! These are for Spring to early autumn wear when travelers can truly pack light.
Caldwell, TX USA Mon 05/10/2010
Good option for quick washes
Another good option for washing in hotel rooms is wool wash meant for sweaters and other delicate items (Soak and Eucalan are two popular brands). They don't require rinsing and come in inexpensive (maybe 25-65 cents) sample packets that are good for one small wash that will fit in a 3-1-1 bag easily. Because they don't need to be rinsed out, you use less water and save time (you can just give clothes a good swish in the water, towel out excess, and hang to dry).
Bay Area, CA USA Fri 05/07/2010
Woman's lightweight down sweater - VERSATILE!
The best light weight jacket I've found for cooler temps is the ISIS Whisper down sweater. It compresses into a small stuff sack, easy to pack. Perfect for travels to Europe in early spring, or late fall, or for those chilly nights anywhere anytime. They offer some really pretty colors too, and the stuff sack comes with it. I love my Whisper jacket and wear it all the time, it's with me on my travels. I've even used it as a pillow on the plane and train, or spread it over my legs to keep me warm. Check their web page www.isisforwomen.com for dealers in your area, and you can buy on line from the company as well - if you don't mind paying shipping charges
here, but wishing I was traveling anywhere, USA Sun 05/02/2010
Best sweatshirt, ever!
We are taking a late spring trip to France and Italy. Should be relatively warm, but there's nothing worse than being chilly. I found a lightweight, fleece sweatshirt made by the snowboard company, Burton, that will take up no room in the suitcase but has kept me warm in 40 degree temps here. No bulky jackets or sweatshirts!
Liberty Lake, WA USA Fri 04/23/2010
Best travel bag (n)ever!
The Osprey Porter 46 bag might fit carryon size, but at 3#2oz, it is almost 2# more than my carryon bag
CO USA Fri 04/23/2010
Best travel bag ever!
I've found the BEST travel bag ever. It is the Osprey Porter 46. It is only $99. It is SUPER durable and SUPER spacious. And, it still qualifies as a 'carry-on' bag. I've been to Europe with it twice (17-day & 8-day trips), and could not imagine wanting anything other than this particular bag. By the way, I use the Osprey 'Day-lite' back pack as a day bag. It 'piggy-backs' onto the larger travel bag.
Princeton, TX USA Sat 04/17/2010
Re Inexpensive and Fast Drying Tees
Those Lands Ends tees are on sale right now. Plus they have a promo going till 4/19 - 25% off everything and free shipping.
Orange, NJ USA Fri 04/16/2010
If you travel way off the beaten track, try bringing the little device that allows a woman to "pee" standing up. Travel and camping stores sell 'em in both a plastic or pack of disposable form. Bill Maher made a joke about these a few weeks ago on his show.. I was thinking "if you'd been a woman in some of the bathrooms I've been in, you wouldn't think these were so funny." They take a little practice; try yours out before you leave home.
san antonio, TX USA Thu 04/15/2010
Inexpensive and Fast Drying Tees
Lands' End makes a women's performance tee which makes a great travel shirt. It's a synthetic wicking fabric which is good for keeping you comfortable in hot or cold and which dries super fast. It's very thin and packs small, comes in a wide variety of sizes and colors, and costs a fraction of specialized travel brands.
SFO, CA USA Wed 04/14/2010
Experienced but still learning
As an experienced traveller now preparing for a UK trip, I still picked up some great tips from Rick's Graffiti Wall - thanks to Jordan, Rose and others. Totally agree with tossing clothes as you go - I save up underpants which have stretched or gone greyish - a 3-week supply of 21 makes room for purchases. Likewise, after weight loss two trousers in size 16 (you now wear 14's) can be worn a few times and left behind,placed neatly next to the hotel's trash can. More space! Wearing Black and White is a great idea (& aqua scarf, red cardigan) Take ziplocs, travel sizes and cosmetics running low,then toss. This way I can bring home my coveted Brit paperback books and avoid a second bag. Liked the idea of secure inside pockets. Refuse to wash clothes, they never feel good after. Loved Ed of Albany's contribution!
Chattanooga, TN USA Mon 04/12/2010
Wearing black-not the best tip!
I have to laugh when people suggest wearing black in Europe, beacuse of its neutrality. I went last April, and first of all it was HOT!(So black was clearly NOT the best choice.) We visited Amsterdam, London and Paris. Walking around the gardens of the Louvre and in the catacombs, you will collect a lot of dust-there is a fine WHITE gravel everywhere. I agree with wearing gray as the alternative neutral. One thing I noticed was that European women all dress nicely-dresses, heels(yes, on cobblestone streets-I don't know how they do it), so I'm glad I packed some dressier, more tailored clothing for the trip. Also-when it comes to toiletries-you can always buy them there-it would have been nice to do that and try out some of their brands.
OH USA Fri 04/09/2010
Make a good money belt Great!
Wearing a Rick Steves money belt saves packing a wallet. To make a good money belt into a great money belt I have reinforced the included plastic pouch with a heavier polymer material from a notebook cover. I cut this to fit inside the pouch and for good measure, use a good glue to hold the backing in place. This prevents the rather flexible original pouch from wadding up over the course of a tour, changing the belt's tailored shape but, more importantly, the crumpled pouch lets moisture through to my passport and spare currency. This "fix" is neat and functional too!
Caldwell, TX USA Sat 04/03/2010
Shaving on travels
Since razors are at risk of being confiscated at inspection, I've figured out to take a small electric shaver in my carry-on. It doesn't have to be in my baggie of stuff. I don't want to be hairy like a gorella on my travels! Happy trails.
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 03/23/2010
Grey and Navy as alternatives to black
As a very light skinned person, I look terrible in black. I have found that grey and navy are suitable neutral alternatives. They work very well in a monochrome combination, just like black. The nice part about grey and navy is that they work all year round, and in warmer climes as well as colder ones. I personally like to use various shades of grey (from charcoal to silver) in my "base" clothing (jacket, pants, sweater, skirt) with a second set of pants/skirt/dress in navy. Add your colors in the tops. All of this fits easily into one bag, as you'll be wearing one outfit on the plane.
San Jose, CA USA Sat 03/20/2010
For those of us who can't wear synthetics, Cashmere over cotton is a great idea! All my clothes are linen or cotton so packing light is a challenge. I just have to get used to using the laundromat. Even cashmere washes in the washing machine! And I'm learning to wear scarves for color & a change. Hope in the future, more natural fiber clothes will exist to help me pack light!
THOUSAND OAKS, CA USA Sat 03/13/2010
I have found that the body butters from Bath and Body Works are thick or dense enough that I haven't had to limit myself to 3 oz in a baggy business. I just put them in my carry-on toiletries bag with the rest of my non-baggie stuff. They are wonderfully moisturizing and there are MANY nice fragrances.
Plano, TX USA Thu 03/11/2010
one bag travel
I travel for vacation to europe several times a year. I think I have my packing down to a minimum but can still travel comfortably with one bag only, a shoulder purse type bag(so no having to check a backpack anywhere, since it looks like a purse-a keen oswego bag). Here is what I take: One pair of convertible pants (wear on plane), one pair underwear (ex officio), one travel bra, one tank top, Northface long sleeve travel shirt (zip pocket)worn over tank and acts like a light jacket. I also take a golite rain jacket (packs to size of candybar),silk boxer type shorts as extra underwear and to sleep in, as well as a pair of yoga type leggings. I wear a pair of new balance countrywalkers and take an extra pair of socks. In winter, I add a microfleece pullover and a heavier rain jacket. If I get tired of my wardrobe I will buy a tshirt or sweatshirt. I wash clothes every night, socks and underwear,etc and it is dry by morning. I use chairs, etc near a window, or radiator depending on weather, and use dental floss if nothing to hang them on. As a little extra's, I also pack 4 safety pins (use as clothes pins, keep drapes closed,etc). I also take a kindle reader, shopping tote, spork and emergency space type blanket bivy sack (like a sleeping bag), which came in very handy when my train to Edinburogh was derailed at night. As for toiletries, Take only the minimum. With the many markets all over europe, do as the europeans do and buy there. Saves the whole 3-1-1 deal. I buy pre wrapped toothbrushes with toothpast already added (try rite aid or cvs) and take 2-3 for the plane and then use the brush with the paste I buy there. With just one bag and one change of clothes, I can go anywhere, change my plans at the drop of a hat, not stand in line to get into harrods, or any museum and not spend my whole trip looking for a place to dump my stuff.
LV, NV USA Mon 03/08/2010
I been reading all the tips on doing your laundry while traveling. No one ever mentioned using inflatable hangers. They are wonderful for drying blouses or shirts in a hotel bathroom. They blow up with little effort. Your clothes have space in between to dry. Hang them over a shower rod. They lay flat in your suitcase, so they take up no room. I have mine hanging in my laundry room at home and use them regularly. Also can serve as closet hangers if necessary. I buy mine locally. They would be a great asset to Rick's Website store. I'm sure they can be found on the internet. Just Google it. Instead of buying all those expensive travel detergents, just put a handful of powder detergent in a ziplock sandwich bag. A little goes a long way in a bathroom sink.
Springfiled, Il USA Sat 03/06/2010
Dry/solid laundry/toiletry products
Purex makes a (relatively new I think) combo detergent/softner sheet that can be cut up for hand washing....works great, packs small and doesn't have to go in your 3-1-1 carryon plastic bag. Oh, and the solid little sheets of toiletries like soap, shampoo etc. are great too....except according to my daughter who went to Africa and had no hot water.....the shampoo doesn't dissolve but becomes gummy in cold water. Try before you go if you are traveling third world countries.
Carbondale, CO USA Thu 03/04/2010
The Packing Book: Secrets of the Carry-On Traveler
Best clothing idea for women I can think of comes from my packing light(er) book of inspiration, Judith Gilford's "The Packing Book: Secrets of the Carry-On Traveler." Until I read this book and began to do what she suggests, I always packed too much. The one fundamental truth about packing too much is assuming you're going to wear what you take. I know I never did wear that "one" extra outfit. There were always 3 items I wore to death, and could not use the rest of the month's supply I brought with me. Once I learned her simple principles, which include only bringing a maximum of 12 pieces (which ALL COORDINATE--crucial) I began to pack light. It was amazing.
The KEY is that all pieces must be able to be worn together in some way, and that you do not do what I usually did, which was throw in some entirely unrelated piece and/or color which went with nothing else. I am not one to iron, nor do I like wearing all one color, so I also pack only knits and light-weight clothes that can be layered.
Based on Judith Gilford's suggestions, here is a list of all of the clothes I will need in the Spring in Europe (staying at least 1-2 weeks, probably longer):
almond leather jacket, pink button-down shirt, brown button-down shirt, cream t-shirt, one pair brown velvet pants, one pair jeans, one pair brown knit pants, Nicer tops: cream, sea foam, brown; taupe sweater.
All of these items coordinate with one another, but most importantly, the tops all go with the jacket/pants. That's crucial. The other thing I have to mention is that I absolutely HATE taking clothes I know I will be bored with by the end of the trip. I like to look nice but not worry about ironing, so everything I bring is made up of some kind of natural or knit material. All these tops are hand washable, and unless some disaster occurs, I don't generally worry about washing my pants until I get home. Bonne Chance!
Seattle, WA USA Wed 03/03/2010
When traveling I only pack my oldest underwear. Each day I place the dirty underwear in a plastic bag which I discard in a public trash can at the end of the trip. No washing, no rinsing, no carting around detergents. No wearing damp undies!
NYC, NY USA Tue 03/02/2010
Socks for Travel
I vote to throw away my travel socks, too. I won't have to wash them. Pack old ones...holes won't show if I have my shoes on. Great idea!
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 03/02/2010
Why all black?
I don't wear black, and I bet that many other women don't, either. If I wear black close to my face, I look washed-out and tired. Sorta like my passport photo. If you can wear black and look great, I'm happy for you and I'm glad that works for you. But I'd rather not look as if I'm either going to a funeral or about to be the "guest of honor" at a funeral. What works better for me is to choose TWO coordinating colors, one light and one dark, which is more visually interesting and more flattering to me. Too many women are getting persuaded to "just pack black -- it goes with everything," and ending up buying a buncha stuff they probably won't want to wear back at home because it looks bad on them.
Again, if you like black and it makes you look good, then that's wonderful, and I'm jealous. But it's not for me.
USA Thu 02/25/2010
Bandanas work well for this too and tend to be a bit larger and thicker than mens' handkerchiefs and probably pack smaller than an apron. Plus they have dozens of other uses.
NJ USA Tue 02/23/2010
I agree that your clothes need to be protected from "dribbles"...I use men's cotton handkerchiefs...I fold them in half and tuck them into my neckline...works for me and takes up almost no space!!
DeFuniak Springs, Florid USA Mon 02/22/2010
Protecting your clothes from stains
I'm going to be gone three months and will obviously have to reuse clothes a lot. And I do tend to dribble when eating on planes/trains/streets. So I bought a plain black bib apron (a small one, 24 in long) and plan on protecting my shirts to live another day. Fits easily into a corner of my backpack.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 02/21/2010
...refill your toiletry kit right after a trip - before putting it back in the closet. You may be in a hurry the next time you travel. It would also be a good idea to put a slip of paper inside saying when it was checked and refilled.
D/FW, TX USA Mon 02/15/2010
Just clarification on the readers. You can download books when you are in Europe on the Kindle. I think there is an extra charge ($2.00 or under), but it works. I like the Kindle because it is self contained (no computer necessary). The Ereaders are great, sure saves room and weight in the luggage. Heard the prices are going up on the best sellers.
Portland, Or USA Wed 02/10/2010
I love to read while on vacation. I'm tired of dragging books around that I either have to leave in a hotel or carry around, adding extra weight in my luggage. I just purchased the Barnes and Noble Nook. After looking at the Kindle, Sony readers (2 different ones) and the new iPad, the Nook is the one for me.
I already own an iPhone, so all the things the iPad will do I can do on my phone. The battery life on iPad is only 10 hours...the battery life on Nook is 10 days...lots of reading for me. Best feature is that the Nook allows the owner to replace the battery, none of the others have this option.
With all readers, you have to have the books downloaded before you travel overseas.
I can't wait for our next trip to Europe..I'll be loaded with lots of books, never running out again!
no matter which ereader you purchase, I feel it's the best way to pack light for avid readers...
Centennial, CO USA Tue 02/02/2010
Packing Tips for Women
Here are my travel tips for women. When traveling overseas, pack as light as you can. I start by trying to stick to one color--especially in the winter. I take all black. For a week I'll pack 5 black turtlenecks, one black v-neck, a pair of black straight leg trousers, a pair of dark blue skinny jeans, one black skirt, one black knit dress. Two print scarfs to add some color. One pair of black flats, one pair of black heels. One pair of black boots that I wear on the plane. Everything can be rolled up. Naturally, the undergarments and makeup and hair products will go in the suitcase as well. Speaking of the makeup and hair products. Don't bring full sized. Go to Walmart and get those little plastic jars and bottles and just incorporate your regular product into these little jars, etc. I bring costume jewelry NOT good stuff just in case anything is lost or I leave something behind. Summer packing. I stick to neutrals and black. Mostly a few sundresses or knit dresses and a couple of bathing suits. As my life is one enormous hot flash, and for you women who can relate, the trousers in the summer are too hot to wear. Shorts are too sticky and in intense heat, they ride up your lets and it looks vulgar and just not right so the sundresses are a godsend. One pair of flats, a pair of sandals and a pair of heels to dress up your look are all you need. The nice thing about the summer is also overseas it seems like women do not wear as much gunk on their faces as we have a tendancy to do here so leave the fake eyelashes and the foundation and blush home--lol! Oh yes--remember to bring a set of adapters for your blow dryers and flat irons! Also if you go to your wireless phone company, they will give you an overseas accessible phone to use--I know ATT does that. And roll, roll, roll those knits up--it takes less space that way. If you do have a pair of trousers or a dress that'll wrinkle--here's a good tip--place a large plastic bag( like a hefty trash bag) on top of the article of clothing to be folded--then proceed to fold the clothing over--it won't wrinkle. One last thing. I always make a list of what I need to pack and print it out on the computer. Then I place the list in my suitcase and check everything off as I pack. This way I don't forget--yes--besides the hot flashes--the memory goes as well! Happy Packing!
Wayne, PA USA Wed 01/27/2010
My biggest tips for traveling in Europe are 1)you never need to bring as much as you think (think layers), 2) unless you will have a valet and driver giving you door to door service, use a backpack if you can handle it at all (cobblestone streets are a nightmare for wheeled lugguage)and 3) bring only two pairs of shoes at most (one dress pair that you can walk comfortably and your best pair of casual walking shoes) You should plan your outfits around your shoes, not vice versa or your bag can get really heavy!
Austin, TX USA Wed 01/20/2010
I have used my flat iron for my hair to remove wrinkles from clothes. It works...sorta...
MT USA Mon 01/18/2010
weight limits for carry on
Your readers should be aware there is an 8 kg. limit for carry on luggage in the EU. Sometimes it is enforced, sometimes not but if you are asked to weigh your bag and you exceed the 8 kg. you will have to check it. We are airline employees and travel standby so always have our entire wardrobe in one carry on each. We tried the "take pity on a fellow employee" line but it didn't work. Just thought I'd warn you.
Montreal, QC Canada Mon 01/18/2010
Steaming Clothes using Dental Floss
I have also used the shower-steaming method to get the wrinkles out of clothes. Many hotels use hook-less coat hangers or trouser hangers, and those are not easily hung in the show stall. It's handy to carry a roll of dental floss (the wide ribbon, waxed type) to tie these hookless hangers onto the shower curtain rod. Ribbon floss is the must have, fix-it, travel item, it's really strong... and it's good for the teeth too. But, be careful, on one occasion in an old hotel in Wellington NZ, after about 30 minutes of steaming, the tile around the shower wall loosened and fell off, making a huge mess, to my chagrin. So, be careful how long you run the shower on "hot". To increase the steam concentration in the bathroom it is also helpful to take a tissue and cover the air vent louver in the bathroom ceiling (and remove it when finished).
Belgrade, MT United States Sun 01/17/2010
I don't take anything that needs ironing. Lightweight knits are the best. Whle showering I hang the clothes I plan to wear in the bathroom and the steam takes out travel wrinkles. This even works for jeans.
Bothell, WA USA Tue 01/12/2010
Wearing the Same Thing Day After Day
Your pictures know. About ten plus years ago we really committed to the the one bag. But my wife's chief concern was being seen in the same clothes all the time especially in pictures. About a hundred pictures were mounted in an album (just prior to the digital age). After friends and relatives had viewed the album, I always asked the same question, "Did you notice anything odd or unusual about our pictures?" Of course, the answer was always no. "We are wearing the same clothes in nearly all of the pictures." "I didn't notice." End of discussion and she has never raised the objection of being seen in the same outfit day after day.
Denver, CO USA Mon 01/11/2010
Traveling with less
I learned to travel with less from my wife. We recently spent two weeks traveling Germany, Austria & Ialy. We each had a med. size carry on suitcase that just fit in overhead compartments. I traveled with one pair of blue jeans and one black jeans used when goign out for a semi formal dinner. I wore a casual blazer most the time. I witnessed many travelers struggling miserably with more than one suitcase. For some reason people think than need a daily outfit. Who is going to know what you wore yesterday? Yes it's hard not over pack but it will make your travel much less hasseled. I too travel with an extention cord for my small but heavy C-PAP machine. My wife thought I was crazy until we stayed in a motel with one outlet. For those wondering, a C-PAP machine is a small air compressor used by those who have sleep apnia
Fishers, IN USA Sun 01/10/2010
Packing light, senior travel
Just returned from a month in Europe (October). We left home with no reservations or itinerary or timeline and flew the military space-avaialble for retired military. Took torn out pages of Rick's books and one backpack each. We had been on 2 of Rick's tours before. I am happy that I took my extension cord for the C-PAP machine. Many B & B's did not have a plug anywhere near the bed.
Madras, OR USA Thu 01/07/2010
I travel for four days every 30 to 60 days and then at least once overseas for two or more weeks. Since 9/11, I have been packing my clothes in sets in large (2.5 gal) ziplock bags. My underwear and socks go into one bag which gets squeezed down until no air is in the bag. The other clothes get neatly folded and then squeezed down except for no iron shirts. You can segregate clothes by type or by outfit, one or more per bag. This insures that when TSA inspects your bag, they are not rifling through your clothes, they can inspect each bag without opening it. I use a medium sized LL Bean roll on duffle and never fill it, except on return - I like to purchase European tablecloths.
amherst, MA USA Thu 01/07/2010
Ed from Albany, I hope Rick Steves includes your packing advice in his next publication. It's priceless---and funny, too!
Willits, Calif USA Tue 01/05/2010
I was visiting a friend in Thailand who needed to make visa run. We decided on a week in Laos. I did the entire trip with one medium shoulder bag because I left all cosmetics and hair stuff behind. A small bottle of shampoo, a brush, and elastic bands did it. No rollers, blow dryer, conditioner, foundation, eyeliner, etc. So liberating. And no one cared. I was clean, comfortable, and pared down.
Portland, OR USA Sun 01/03/2010
I wash my clothes while I shower, especially my underwear. That means the next time I am ready to shower by underwear and clothes are dry to wear again.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 01/02/2010