I've seen all the generic checklists. Is there anything anyone wishes they brought or did bring that wasn't intuitive or on the generic checklists?
All practical and useful on recent trips: Safety pins, ziplock bags (multiple sizes), individually wrapped hand sanitizer wipes, sunscreen (expensive in Italy!), inflatable hangers (for drying clothes - most places you can't take the hangers out of the closets).
If your digital camera has a good dark exposure function, a small portable tripod will allow you take some glorious night-time photos. And if you prefer using washcloths in the shower, bring one, because most of Europe does not use them.
My electric, battery powered, toothbrush. Foot cream. Piece of soft cotton cloth or bandana for cleaning glasses.
Blister spray and/or blister bandaids. Can be found in the bandaid aisle. Blister spray creates a barrier between your foot and any surface (sock, sandal strap, etc.) that can cause a blister. Its a good prevenative measure. Also, Johnson & Johnson sells a "blister bandaid" that is special for covering already-existing blisters to cover and protect them from further chafing or bursting. I think they are worth the little space they'll take in one's luggage given how miserable one can be on a trip if one's feet are not in top-form.
I thought about getting gel insoles, but then I read on the TSA website that gel insoles aren't allowed in carry on luggage.
"Gel shoe inserts - Gel shoe inserts are not permitted, but shoes constructed with gel heels are allowed and must be removed and screened."
Did I miss something? Are they allowed if already in your shoes?
Oh yeah! Gel insoles for your shoes...they're fantastic.
Ear plugs we were by a late night bar that was loud.
More ziplocs I now keeps s stash of several each size in my suitcase.
Small flashlight our power was out 1 night for a short time (15-20 minutes)
extension cord if you're taking any electrical stuff (plus the adapter and appropriate plugs)because there may not be many/convenient outlets
duct tape (Magellan's sells small rolls), assorted sizes ziplock bags, moleskin
definately mole skin. don't take two pair of shoes, I have done that twice and never worn the second pair, too much weight. take clothes that you aren't that crazy about and leave them in your room for the housekeeper to use or share, then buy something new for fun. when you put it on in the morning when you go back home you will always remember buying it on your trip.
Definitely the ear plugs! A small flashlight for those middle of the night bathroom breaks in rooms that have blackout curtains. An eyeshade for rooms that have facial tissue for curtains. Cheap plastic hangers (if I lose/forget them, I've only paid about 10-15 cents each). Q-tips. Travel-size packets of Kleenex. I love Europe, but I swear that Europeans treat Kleenex like the crown jewels and lock up all of their boxes. Dental floss.
I 2nd the kleenex thing. Especially if you are a lady! There seemed to be an overall lack of TP. Because of the lack of public bathroom soap in some places, we brought some antibacterial spray. I am also a big fan of the blow up travel pillow. Although you feel a bit silly, it stows easy and can really help you sleep on a plane or train. They have soft flannel ones at Target for around $7.
for the ladies, a fake pashimina shawl. I have used mine for a blanket, a beach cover up, an eye shade, a pillow, a head scarf, a scarf and of course as a shawl! get a dark color so the dirt doesn't show. the airports have scads of them or wait until your travels and you can find them in the street markets everywhere.
I bring a small container of anti-bacterial wipes. Found them at Target for $1.00 ("nice n clean brand) Keep them in the daypack. Great for cleaning hands after holding the poles in subways, cleaning up after using the restroom, and in general after eating lunch on the run!
Here's what I brought on my 2nd trip that I wished I had on my first:
Jeans - call me a Back-Door heretic, but I like 'em too much. They were comfortable, and helped me blend in well while touring Scandinavia.
Blow-up back rest - I had the RS blow-up pillow during my first trip, so I added an Eagle Creek back rest. It helped during the long flight (I was hurting during my 1st trip).
iPod w/noise-cancelling headphones. Between the iPod, the noise-cancelling phones, the jeans, the neck pillow, and back rest, there were times that I was almost able to forget I was in a cramped airplane.
Umbrella - instead of a separate rainjacket, I got an REI travel umbrella and an REI water-resistant jacket. Since it rained half the time I was in Scandinavia, I was good to go (NOTE: I don't work for REI - I just shop there a lot).
PS - don't forget that you can always mail extra stuff home (as I did), and often buy what you need/forgot in Europe.
Regarding the J&J blister bandaids. I got a bad blister on my heel during a walking trip in Italy 5-6 yrs ago. I went into a small pharmacy in a small hill town where no English was spoken. I pointed to my heel & hobbled around. the clerk pointed to a display of bandaids types. I bought one to fit my heel. It turned out to be the protective gel type. Total protection - no pain - fast healing. When I got back to the US I couldn't find them although we now have similar products.
The point of this story is not to worry about forgetting some item. You can get whatever you need there & it'll add to your enjoyment & your stories. I travel with less & less each time.