"I'm so glad I packed ______"

So I have read all the packing lists that tell you what is helpfull and whats un-necessary, but I am still one of those people who manage to forget something important, or I dont think of something that could be a big help.

Im wondering what some of those things are for others. What did you bring along "just incase" and then couldnt live without on your trip? OR, what do you regret not bringing?

Posted by Lillie
Tacoma, WA, United States
25 posts

I forgot to add that i will be traveling in May and June.

Posted by Carol
Long Beach, CA, USA
54 posts

Various sizes of ziploc bags (snack, sandwich, gallon,etc...) because they come in handy and you always need them for something on your trip.

Posted by Charlene
Lewis, WV, US
178 posts

Three summers ago, I decided to throw in a pair of Nike sandals and seriously considered leaving them in the trunk of my car at the airport parking while we were away. Luckily, I didn't because the heat was horrible for the entire month we were gone. I never once wore my tennis shoes and everyday was so glad I had the cool, comfortable, well padded sandals. Therefore, in the heat of summer, I would definitely put in a pair.

In addition, last summer our luggage was lost for sixteen days out of twenty-eight. As silly as it sounds, the thing I missed the most was my nail clippers! With having to buy emergency clothes, I never seemed to think of nail clippers while in a department store but sure thought of them as I needed them.

Posted by Tyler
San Francisco, California, USA
446 posts

I just got back from Spain, and I'm very glad I decided to take my MacBook Pro laptop computer along. It was very useful because I stayed in hotels that had free wi fi.

Having a computer lets you do Google searches to find things you need to know, such as maps of places you want to visit, recommended restaurants, train schedules, etc.

My laptop worked find in Spain. Apple's AC adapter works seamlessly on either American (110) or European (220) current. All you need is a small adapter plug so that you can plug it in to Spanish wall plugs, which are different from U.S.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

I saw these items at a dollar store last year, picked a pack up for a dollar. They were great!!

They were clothes pins that had a hanger type neck, so you could hang up each item on each pin,, in Venice we had shutters on the window, so I closed the shutters, and was able to hook about 10 items( socks and undies) on the inside of the shutters, close the window( didn't want bugs, plus a/c was on) and the heat of outside dried items in an afternoon, and no one sees them, not even the maid who cleaned the room as I left the curtains drawn.. took zero room or weight ( plastic) .

Ziplock baggies,, love them for many things.

Powered wash stuff, concentrated, "Forever New" I think it was called, rinsed out so easily and only less then a tablespoon per sink meant we came home wiht some left over( after 3.5 weeks)

Posted by CL
Salem, Oregon, USA
914 posts

After many years of refining my perfect packing list (that gets updated after every trip), my trip is more enjoyable when aside from clothing and my passport, I remember to pack: chapstick or lip balm, dental floss (white/waxed), nail clippers, safety pins, sunscreen, ziplock bags (many sizes from snack to gallon), earplugs, inflatable hangers (don't judge!), duct tape, small hardback journal, and my little iPod Nano.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11256 posts

As CL says, the important thing is to create a packing list now. Write it out longhand and keep it in a convenient place, or put it on your computer. Whatever. Refer to it often and add or subtract as necessary. Sometime, as you near travel time, trial back and see if it's too much or it you have more room. I have used the same packing list for 7 years, now.

Posted by Connie
SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX, USA
251 posts

We loved the Forever New detergent also but it was very hard to find in the Dallas area. My friend finally found it in one of the more expensive dept stores.

Knee length shorts and capris--it was hot in Italy. I didn't feel self conscious at all--lots of people we wearing them.

Wash cloths--only Switzerland had wash cloths.

Flip flops--even though I had sandals, my flip flops still felt good at the end of the day.

Small, plastic child's plate and a spork for picnics. They were used many times.

Coin purse for all those coins. It was easier than digging in a pocket in my purse.

Nuts--they are my main snack and are hard to find in Europe.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

On my permanent packing list:
A quart size ziplock bag that is a mini desk-drawer- Post-it notes, post-it flags for guidebooks, hi-liter, pen, permanent marker, clamps/paper clips, stamps (if in US), small notebook, mini address book, address labels for postcards, etc.

Moleskin

Bandannas for multiple uses

Extra ziplock bags in various sizes

Blue chambray long sleeve shirt (RL brand) - it goes everywhere with me.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

I agree with Lee. I have my packing list on my computer and I'm constantly changing it. I might find something that works better than what I have on it now, or something new is on the market. I'm always looking for ways to lighten my load.

Then, when I'm ready, I print it out, pack my case, and head out.

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3289 posts

I'm a big believer in not sweating the packing list because you can find just about everything you might have forgotten over there.

Just about.

It's worth bringing key over-the-counter remedies with you; aspirin, Pepto, cold tablets and the like. In Europe, most are available only in pharmacies, so you can just walk over to the nearby market to get them. Pharmacies have limited hours.

Posted by Pete
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
180 posts

A tiny flashlight and a clothesline. Both indispensable.

Posted by karen
oregon
131 posts

I agree with the small but well- stocked first aid kit. I use a zip-lock and stuff it full...only a couple of the items have to go in the airport security ziplock. It takes up a little room but the peace of mind is so worth it! (After a relative depleted my supply of blister materials I discovered that the 7 euro box of Italian bandaids don't stick!)Many of the items are good indefinitely. When I return home from a trip I discard anything close to expiring and just keep the rest in my bag for storage. When I get lucky enough for a trip I don't really have to do anything but replace a few things.
Also- flip flops for hotel room and shower and back- up footwear and Dove or another kind of moist makeup remover pads in the sealed envelopes. They smell so good and are excellent for freshening up in a restroom before dinner or even back at the hotel when in a hurry.

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

ditto on the ziploc bags and blister materials. In particular, I brought a pack of specific Band-Aid brand blister bandages - they are made out of something different and oh man, they sure did help (they also stayed on for days through miles of walking, bathing, etc). I am also very glad I brought my computer for blogging and skyping and picture organization. I forgot to pick up a clothesline before I left and ended up hanging clothes all over my hotel rooms - the maids must've loved me! I brought a battery-operated travel alarm clock, and it died early on in my trip - I wish I would've had it with me as most of my hotels didn't have clocks and I'm the type who needs to know what time it is the moment I wake up. Also, I was really glad that I had both a moneybelt AND a neck wallet with me. I used the neck wallet as a mini-purse on days I traveled between cities - that let me stash everything important in the money belt but I still had a little secure pouch that was more easily accessible for a little cash or tickets for days when I was dealing with my luggage. I wasn't expecting to use both, but I did, all the time.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7819 posts

I am revising list after noting some great posts. I too love my battery operated alarm clock, I brought extra batteries just in case also.
First aid and drugs, if there is an over the counter remedy made for any common complaint or illness, I have it. .this comes from being a mom, ,, you always need something at 2 am or 100 miles from a drugstore,, so I carry major stock.

Posted by Larry
Pearland, Texas, USA
416 posts

I always bring a tiny, battery powered alarm clock and a tiny flashlight. A hand-held compass comes in handy too when you come out of a subway and don't know which way to go.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2627 posts

I have a picnic kit--a small nylon stuff sack with plastic cutlery, an oversized handkerchief (for makeshift tablecloth), a yogurt-tub-top "cutting board," and a zip-lock with a moistened washcloth (for clean up).

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4754 posts

I have to laugh at myself. I once owned a small, battery powered alarm clock that was radio controlled to keep accurate time. I always took the batteries out when it was in my suitcase as one time the alarm got pushed during travel and then went off. This worked well until the summer we went to Turkey. I could not figure out why my clock didn't work. I had completely forgotten about it being radio controlled and that once I got more than 1500 km away, it no longer got a signal from the radio tower. Boy, did I feel like a dunce. I quite like wind-up clocks too. No batteries to mess with!

Posted by Debra
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1001 posts

all this battery talk reminded me that I bought a small rechargeable battery kit and took 4 AAs and 2 AAAs with me (the camera I had took AAs). This helped immensely and now I use the kit all the time actually and save money on batteries! Never had to worry about having batteries, especially for my camera but for a couple other tings too like my toothbrush etc. Unfortunately the clock I had with me literally died, just wouldn't turn on. It was probably a piece of junk ;)

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

I always have a mini (and I mean mini) flashlight clipped to my day bag. Very helpful for finding whatever it is you've dropped while asleep on the plane. In addition I have a alarm clock from Brookstone (o/a $30) that can be switched from just an alarm clock to alarm clock/nightlight to alarm clock flashlight. Mighty useful at night when walking in a strange place. I also always bring a nightlight (or buy one in the EU). Plug it in in the bathroom. No more having to sear my eyeballs out by turning on the light at 4 a.m. I too bring a variety of zip lock bags.

Posted by Cary
Gator Country, Florida
297 posts

So many of the items that people are listing are very useful. But I just want to remind you that unless you forget your passport, airline tickets, or ATM/CC (or whatever means you have to access cash), everything else can be replaced if it has to be. And of course, you won't get far if you leave your passport or tickets at home, so really your ATM/CC are the most important in my book.

I'm a lot like you and I packed and repacked and worried about what I forgot, but when push comes to shove, you can buy things in Europe if you have to - even if you don't want to have to :)

Have a great trip!

Posted by Jaclyn
San Diego, CA, USA
36 posts

I am glad I packed lip-balm/chapstick and a pair of tennis shoes. I thought I was crazy to pack 2 pair of sandals (I was recomended to rotate to prevent blisters... it works) and a pair of tennis shoes. However... London had an unusually cold week and my feet were freezing I was so glad I packed the tennis shoes.

I never once used my make-up.

Posted by Alyson
Chicago, IL, USA
410 posts

I bring pre-printed address labels for everyone I want to send a postcard to. Ginger chew candies for motion sickness. Sunblock.

Posted by John
Brangwin, Wa, USA
349 posts

On the train lots?? concider a long handeled window squeege.. Hours looking through a clean window is great and you make friends cleaning others windows . I know this sounds nuts but it really works

Posted by Connie
SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX, USA
251 posts

Yes, you can buy things over there but I found their pharmacies to be very small and very limited. We had a very hard time finding contact solution. The 3 oz bottle didn't last three weeks.

I'd rather not spend precious vacation time looking.

Posted by mary
Greenville, USA
149 posts

A ziplock bag for my passport and other things in my money belt. It was very warm and the ziploc saved my things from getting ruined. A windbreaker/raincoat which was great at keeping me warm and dry and was very light to carry.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

Regarding contact lens solution: I no longer wear contact lens but when I did I would never travel without my specific brand. You can't find a lot of the same brands in small pharmacies in Europe. One of my friends recently returned from France. She wears contacts and took the larger bottle and checked her suitcase to accomdoate the larger bottle of liquid. I don't think that is necessary. I think you should be able to carry the larger bottle on in a ziplock bag specifically for medical needs. My prescriptions/medical needs are in a separate ziplock bag from my qt size with assorted sundry/cosmetic items.

My friend and I are going to Ireland next year. Has anyone tried carrying on larger containers of contact lens solution?

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

Usually, the stipulation is that you can take enough on board for your flight--liquids & gels--and the rest be put in your checked baggage.

You can carry more than one three ounce container of contact lens solution. Just as long as it all fits in the 3-1-1 bag.

Over the counter meds larger than 3 oz would be prohibited unless you had a note from your doctor--and even then it would be questionable.

Remember, the carry-on allowance is only supposed to be enough for your flight. The TSA doesn't care that you want to carry it all on because you don't want to check a bag.

If you do take the risk, it might be confiscated and you'll have nothing. Or, they might let you get out of line, put it in 3 oz bottles (which you have brought with you), put it in your 3-1-1 bag and then get back in line. And just think how long that might take. Makes sense to just use the smaller bottles in the beginning and find alternatives for other things in the 3-1-1 bag.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

Adding on to the top since the edit button isn't working:

However, there is so much inconsistancy with TSA, you might find someone who will let you take it on. But you will have to declare it like you do any other med over 3 oz.

Posted by Michelle
Port Townsend, WA
64 posts

I used my itsy bitsy flashlight many times, my compass too. It was easy to get turned around after so much walking around in circles, and when it got dark. Loved my alarm clock with a light too. I forgot to bring some Visine, my eyes really needed the relief, and purchased some in Zurich: a teeny, tiny bottle for 10CHF ($10).

Posted by Lillie
Tacoma, WA, United States
25 posts

I'm sorry if this is a stupid question, but what is the 3-1-1 bag?

Posted by Ceidleh
Boston, MA, United States
1173 posts

Totally Worth the Space In My Suitcase:

A stick of Body Glide to use on my feet so I avoided getting blisters in the first place.

Sleep mask (for rooms that have no curtains or sheer curtains so I'm not awake at dawn)

Earplugs

Small headlamp - brought this for when I was camping, but was also incredibly useful in cities and small villages across Europe. Used headlamp when staying at hostels to climb up and down from top bunk and find things in backpack in middle of night without disturbing roommates, used it in Paris Catacombs where ground was uneven and tunnels dark, used it again in Paris when there was a neighborhood blackout and I got stuck on an elevator and the lights went out, used it in Aran Islands walking back to hotel on unlit streets after a night at the pub...

Posted by Connie
SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX, USA
251 posts

We found the very contact solution I use but the problem wasn't finding the correct brand. It was finding contact solution at all. There are pharmacies on every corner but they are small and their over the counter stock is very limited.

Posted by tripo
seattle
25 posts

My personalized, edited-after-each-trip, "universal" packing list helps me.

Moleskine, pre-cut so I don't have to pack scissors, and the new Blister band-aids are amazing.

The clothes pins/clips with hooks that Pat referred to - fabulous for hanging everything.

Inflatable hangers - will never leave home without them again. Works for wet in bathrooms, and dry in closets without enough hangers. They fold down to nothing.

Speaking of hangers - I take a couple of the dry cleaner hangers (the kind you would never use at home) and use them/leave them behind in EU.

Nyquil gel-caps (Paris. Worst. Cold. Ever. Couldn't find Nyquil any where. Never again).

Ziplocs, large and small.

Mini travel alarm clock (our hotel in Rome did not have a phone in the room, so no wake-up call).

iPod, charger, universal adapter, digital camera, extra batteries and memory cards.

Business cards (or ones you make yourself with personal email address, etc) to give to new travel friends.

Have a great trip, Lillie!

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7185 posts

Here is my list of easy to forget items. They are all small and shouldn't take up much room. I left out all the easy to remember stuff.

Reservations/Contact list - Address book/preaddressed labels (Possible cell phone)

Sleep Aid, Inflatable pillow, Eyeshades, Ear plugs

Laundry Soap, Chamois, Clothesline, Spot Remover, Fabreeze

Lock – Backpacker, Cable-lock or both

Shave kit items - Chapstick, Bug Repellent, Sunscreen, Kleenex, Floss, Nail-clippers, Mirror

Daypack items - Swiss Army Knife (buy there), Plastic Fork, Monocular, Small LED Flashlight, Mini-Tripod, Band-aids, Sewing Kit, Duct Tape, Safety Pins.

General items - Journal, Pens and Gluestick (possible digital voice recorder), Multiple Zip-Lock bags, Digital Camera with large memory on neck strap w/whistle, GPS

Convertible Carry On -Throw in a couple of dryer sheets.

Anything that's on this list can be purchased locally or lived without.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

One thing I do is put those items I must take and not forget at the top of my packing list in capital letters and bold...this way they stand out:

Passport
Cash
Credit Cards
Medication not available in Europe (one of mine isn't.)

Theoretically, with the above, I could function. And three of those items are in my moneybelt so I must make sure I have my moneybelt.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11256 posts

I am so glad I packed______nothing more than I absolutely needed. I didn't bring anything that it "might have been nice to have". I got by with a 12½# carryon as a result.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

One of the things I do is keep a bag with most of my required travel stuff in one place:

ditty (sundry) bag, packed with essentials
packing cubes
battery alarm clock in its own ziplock bag with batteries out
Civita bag (has a flashlight attached)
Rick Steves extra storage bag "the don't tell Rick bag"
ziplock bag with my "office supplies"
laundry stuff ziplock bag which includes soap/clothesline

Like the Frank said, the list has passport, tickets, medication list, $$$, ATM/credit cards at the top along with camera.

Unfortunately, women just need more "stuff" than men do but the packing list is getting smaller!

Posted by Sue
Springfield, VA, USA
282 posts

Hand sanitizer is important, as most bathrooms, especially in rural locations, are not well supplied.

When we travel by car, I always bring paper towels--great as napkins, after wahing hands, if there is no TP, etc.

Posted by Maggie
SEPA
20 posts

A digital camera. No fighting with TSA and customs to have my film hand inspected instead of going through the X-ray machine for the fourth or fifth time...

Posted by Cathy
Second Creek, WV, USA
15 posts

We are in Spain for this month - and are really using/ enjoying a small (soft-walled, not rigid) cooler bag - just right for holding cheeses, snack foods - makes them easy to find. Also I am glad I brought my washcloths - no place here has had them. I didn´t pack inflatable hangers - but I did pack 2 plastic ones, and have really used them!

Posted by EMarie
Riviera Beach, FL, USA
25 posts

My sisters and I went to Europe for 10 weeks last fall. The items we couldn't live without were...

A mini cutting board & pocket knife. (I thanked my uncle pretty much every day for giving me Back Door before that trip!)

A large jar of peanut butter. (Guess how we saved money while traveling, haha) Buying fresh bread and banana's, yum.

Clear nail polish & Emory board.

Our personally made travel guide with all of our research and hostel information tucked neatly into a folder.

& Finally....

Wish one of us would have brought a lap top! Internet gets expensive.

Posted by Sylvia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
331 posts

Ziploc bags, Wet Wipes, ear plugs and Safety pins.

Posted by TONIA
SAN DIEGO, CA, United States
1 posts

the one thing i never forget is my power strip to plug all the chargable items in...and the different plug adapters needed

Posted by Roberta
Morristown, New Jersey, USA
4 posts

It always seemed that we ended up traveling to a mountainous area so I started traveling with a small pair of wool gloves and hap to keep me warm. Alway remember what your mother taught you, always keep your head and feet warm and the rest of you will follow. I also always bring my own first aid and over the counter cold remedies as the cost of them in Europe is very high. Baggies are a MUST too!

Posted by Sharon
Atlanta
2663 posts

I always take a zip lock bag with a pen, pencil, small notebook, highlighter, glue stick, a few paper clips and some sticky tabs for marking guidebook pages--it's my mini "activity kit."

Also, we found having a GPS for driving in Ireland invaluable.

Posted by Dave
Newcastle, WA, USA
621 posts

My big bulky Nikon digital SLR with zoom lens. I also brought a nifty new Panasonic point and shoot that also doubles as a video camera. The color I get from my Nikon is worlds better than the little point and shoot. So although I have fantasies of a lightweight bag when I'm walking around, the quality of the photos from the larger heavier camera are worth it in the end. Also with that I'm glad I brought my Macbook computer. I'm here in London typing on it right now, and I also use it to call my parents back in Seattle with Skype. I also upload all the photos I take each day (usually around 200) so they can see them as I go. Fun!

Posted by Michelle
Port Townsend, WA
64 posts

I packed my trusty bandana "just in case" and used it everyday--when there weren't hand towels in the bathrooms(I don't like those hot, hot blowers in the summer heat either)--to wipe the sweat off my face--to get wet in the numerous fountains and cool myself off--as a napkin--temporary packaging for breakables.

Posted by Debbie
Waco, TX, USA
2 posts

Disposable baby washcloths are great. They come about 20 to a pack in Huggies (which I used) and 12, I think, in Johnson & Johnson. They weight almost nothing, are dry which eleminates 1 bottle in your 3-1-1 liquids bag or a heavy soap bar when your counting ounces, and the Huggies come in different scents/types. I am sensitive to some soaps so I bought a box to try before I traveled to France this June. I decided to try washing them after I had used them. I put them in a laundry bag and washed them with a regular load. It worked great. I was able to take clean cloths for my face and the "soaped" cloths for showers and I tossed them after use.

Posted by Kelly
Plano, Tx, USA
41 posts
  1. Hand sanitizer
  2. Small travel size flashlight
  3. Various sizes of ziploc baggies
  4. Various sizes of those brown mailers that had bubble wrap on the inside. It was great for postcards I was bringing home, smaller posters or pictures I bought on sidewalk shops for people back home, or even small items/trinkets bought. That way they were all in one spot, safe, and didn't get damaged. Also bought a couple 5"x7" paintings that fit inside the mailers and packed them in my suitcase safe and sound.
  5. An old t-shirt to wrap around a bottle of wine before putting in a ziploc bag (one of those giant bags). Helped cushion the bottle, and if somehow the wine bottle broke in my suitcase on the way home, it would help do damage control and not ruin everything else in the bag. Luckily, I've never had a bottle break on me.
  6. Ibuprofen
Posted by Kristi
Des Moines
23 posts

Emitrol.

Immodium, however, I found at the pharmacy down the street.

Posted by DD
USA
104 posts

Several sizes of trashbags, used to cover my backpack from a monsoon, other to cover my big bag, and me when I didn't have a poncho because it wasn't supposed to rain.

Blister bandaids - Liquid bandaid

super glue to repair my shoe and keep a screw in my sunglasses.

fishing line that repaired a ripped bag

Clothespin saved me any times bookmark, hold something shut or open, or up.

Posted by Michelle
Northern VA, VA, USA
121 posts

We were in Western Europe for 3.5 weeks in June and were so thankful to have -

--RS tiny little day bag that fits in its own pouch great for collecting picnic supplies for the day or for a train trip
--ziplock bags
--ear plugs
--RS books (pages ripped out for trip)

Posted by Claire
Brisbane
13 posts

I'm a photographer, I thought i could get away with not bringing a tripod cause i wouldnt be out at night... WRONG! I was always shooting in alleyways, churches and dark places during the day! Damn. Got lots of great pictures, but I sure wish my tripod was with me. I will bring it next time and not complain about the weight!!!

I wished I'd packed my regular shampoo. I though i was saving space by purchasing a small travel shampoo/conditioner but yuk! My hair felt horrible and I couldnt find "my brand" shampoo overseas.

Definately pack lip balm or vaseline. A little dab around your nostrils (dont laugh!) prevents me catching bugs & colds in the airplane.

Bring lots of little plastic baggies.

I bought 2 A4 plastic velcro folders. One for all my receipts, one for the stuff you collect (vouchers, ticket stubs, all that travel stuff that you want to keep).

Always pack your flip-flops. Mine were at home.

I always pack my torch. It helped numerous times trying to read a map in the car at nighttime!

Posted by Maureen
Atlanta
1357 posts

A Swiss Army knife (packed in your checked luggage, of course) with scissors and a corkscrew.

Posted by Gela
San Jose, CA, USA
420 posts

Hi Lillie, I too was glad I packed my flashlight, zip lock bags, plastic plate/knife/fork/spoon/cloth napkin for picnics, calculator (for that ever changing Euro), microfiber wash cloth (dries fast), bandages, earplugs (for street noise at night),charger for my ipod, sink plug to do my hand laundry, pictures of my house/cat to share and initiate conversation.. the list goes on. I packed all this in a small carryon and tote bag. :-)

Posted by Pat
Wodonga, Australia
440 posts

On the practical side...a travel diary. More importantly, a sense of wonder, your sense of humour, lots of patience. And a brilliant memory so that you can remember everything, especially the photos taken!

Posted by Maryellen
Homer Glen, IL, USA
1 posts

A few items that were great to have when I travelled in Switzerland Sept 2008

Compression Bags: great for carrying dirty laundry that you don't wash until you get home. Fill the bag, close the ziplock top and press out air towards the bottom (valve in bottom seam). Easy to use and kept the suitcase smelling good.

Tide Pen: Stain remover pen that contains laundary detergent. One of my tour mates used it to get Chocolate ice cream out of his tan slacks.

Various sized bandaids: great for blisters on feet from new or not so new shoes

Most of all my cordless Conair Curling iron. It runs on a little butane canister which you screw into the handle. Came in its own carrying case and passed Custom inspections since I put it in my checked luggage. It might be contraband at some borders but I had no trouble entering Switzerland or returning to Chicago.

Maryellen

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
225 posts

My #1 thing I can not live without in Europe is ...liquid disinfectant! We found that many, many public bathrooms did not have soap, and could be a bit...well, dirty. I didn't want to get sick touching so many things where hundreds of people traveled to daily, like holding on to rails in the trains, elevator buttons, escalators, etc. Maybe I'm a germaphobe but my whole family used our disinfectant a lot!

Posted by Amber
Houston, TX, USA
71 posts
  1. My Zune...I totally revel in the trip planning process as I create playlists for my trip.

("Okay...now I think Strauss is totally appropriate for my long train ride from Venice to Munich through Austria...oh, and some flamenco guitar for that long jaunt through Spain") Plus, if you try out a new CD or listen to an artist that you've been "meaning" to get to on your playlist...that music will forever be associated with your trip. For example, my trip to New Zealand was all about the 'Lord of the Rings' soundtrack. Oh, and Australia was all Nirvana. (C'mon, I was an angsty 14 year old at the time...)

  1. A good long novel that I've been meaning to get to for the past two years. (Like 'Moby Dick' or 'Ulysses'...okay, it is a vacation after all, maybe not THAT long...)

  2. My moleskine journal.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17718 posts

I've spent a lot of time working on my packing list, which seems to be continually being revised for each trip. A few of the items that "I'm glad I packed" would probably be:

> my Palm PDA - I use this not only to keep track of essential phone numbers and addresses (family & friends, credit card companies, etc.), but also my Itinerary details (Airline & Hotel info and confirmation no.'s, phone no.'s) and Excel & Word doc's with tour info, Euro phone calling info, etc. Using Quicken I also keep track of expenses and ATM withdrawals during the trip (this invariably needs a bit of editing on the desktop when I get home, but it's still very useful). This also contains language lesson (Italian at the moment) and dictionary. If I have the time, I can brush-up on my lessons! This one travel accessory provides an incredible amount of functionality in a small package!

> Cell Phone - I've been travelling with a Cell phone for several years and "don't leave home without it". I use it sparingly for voice calls (keeps the cost down). I use SMS to keep in touch with family at home, which works really well as I can use it anywhere, don't have to worry about time zone differences and it's very cheap! The Cell phone has proven extremely useful on many occasions.

>Camera gear - lately I've been packing both a dSLR (with extra Lenses) and a small P&S for "backup" or going out in the evenings. Although the dSLR is sometimes a "bother" due to size and weight, there have been more than a few times that I was glad I brought it. Photography is always a significant part of my trips, so I'll continue taking these along.

Other stuff - the same kit as others have mentioned: my IPod (now a touch so I can acess via Wi-Fi), a small LED Flashlight, Hand Wipes, Laundry Kit, small Sewing kit, compact First Aid kit, OTC Med's, etc.

My list changes a bit on each trip, but these are some of the "essentials".

Posted by Dave
Newcastle, WA, USA
621 posts

Hot pads for the kitchen. Really! We rented an apartment in South Kensington for 10 days in London and they had no hot pads there. We did cook things in the oven and they came in real handy for sure.

Also, glad I packed my large Nikon digital SLR. The photos I came home with are priceless.

Never used my ipod once. Won't pack it again.

Glad I bought my Moleskin.

Posted by Audrey
Keizer, Oregon, USA
577 posts

A tiny flashlight attached to my RS Civita bag.

Mouthwash (hard to find in Europe)

Posted by Teri
Newport Beach, CA, USA
54 posts

I have been nodding my head with all of the above suggested pack items - great feedback.
One item I will not do without in the future is a couple of packets of "Cup of Soup" (chicken noodle). I got very sick in Sorrento with food poisoning one year and was in bed for a day and 1/2 without being able to eat and when I could, my husband could not find any food that I could handle (mostly pork products). I finally found saltine crackers when we got to Rome and was able to eat a few bites of a chicken sandwich at McDonalds, although it was breaded and heavily spiced. I now take soup with me on all trips, domestic or international as it is so lightweight. The hotel can always provide hot water even if there is no facility in the room.

Posted by Cary
Hayden, ID
196 posts

agree w/ all who keep a computer list for reference because time of yr /destination for each trip can vary some items

I always take 1. an extension cord so I don't have to be a contortionist to use my hair dryer by the only outlet under the table/bed/etc---of course you need the correct adapters for the outlet itself. 2. immersible heating coil + metal travel mug (REI) 3. sm roll duct tape

Posted by Amy
Clarksville, TN, USA
808 posts

-Umbrella! (a compact one, of course)
-Sunglasses
-Compact DVD player. When we were relaxing in our room, or on the night train, it was nice to pop in a favorite movie when the local TV was no longer entertaining or not in a language we understood!
-Febreze
-Sample packs of detergent for the laundromat
-A printout of all our reservations, copies of our passports
-If you're a germaphobe like me, a travel pack of Lysol wipes.
(I am NOT a light packer... I hate the feeling of being unprepared.)
Most importantly, I'm glad I packed my passport. ;)

Posted by Linda
Petaluma, Northern California
345 posts
  1. Very, very light compact umbrellas. If they're too big to fit into your small day bag or too heavy you won't carry them with you. I did not bring ponchos-I suppose that would be cheaper and more effective but I like umbrellas.

  2. Paper towels. Place mats for picnic tables & for clean up. Put a wet paper towel in snack-sized zip lock and carry with you like a durable handy-wipe. 3. Basket coffee filters. Use as plates for picnics.

  3. Scarf. I never wear them at home, but they're essential for a limited travel wardrobe. 5. Travel flat-iron for my hair-- purchased from Magellan's. Very small, light, and works really, really well.

  4. Gallon-size zip locks. for laundry, organizing luggage, double-containment of liquids. etc. 7. my own soap 8. String mesh bag somewhat useful.

What I forgot to bring last time: 9. partially-used roll of packing tape that you can leave behind. I bought bubble wrap in small quantities, but you have to buy a full roll roll of packaging tape to send one box home.

  1. Postcards from home. I met many people who wanted to know what California is like. Left them behind when I came home.
Posted by Diane
Downers Grove, IL, USA
43 posts

I found that many of the trains did not have toilet paper in them. I always go to the WC on the trains with a pocketful of kleenex or TP. Also couldn't live without a travel size pack of dryer sheets. With the amount of walking that you do it helps to freshen up your shoes by putting a sheet in each shoe at night.

Posted by Carole
San Francisco, California, USA
88 posts

A small (8-10 oz.) leakproof stainless steel thermos bottle because hot tea in the evenings is so soothing, esp. after a heavy, spicy meal. And of course, it doubles as a water carrier. Great for train rides. Take out cups in Europe are flimsy, not thermal or hard to find. Never had a problem or charge asking for hot water. I would take less clothing to make room for my thermos. When I have had to leave it behind, I really missed it.

Posted by Steven
Ottawa, Ontario,, Canada
521 posts

I am so glad I packed a small bit of duct tape. Just take a pencil, and spool a small amount of tape around it. If the slightest problem happens to one of your bags, duct tape is a great fix. It does not look good, but it works!

Posted by Jesse
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
171 posts

A travel alarm clock in your carry on. We were delayed overnight in Germany without our luggage and did not have one, the airline put us up in a hotel that did not have one in the rooms and we never received the wake up call we requested. Luckily we woke up on our own.

Posted by Linda
Petaluma, Northern California
345 posts

Drat. The edit function upon which I rely so heavily is not working. I forgot the most essential use of the paper towel: Fold double/triple thickness + two rubber bands = sheath for the paring knife you buy at the hardware/sundry store to put in your picnic kit.

Posted by Flight Attendant
Niagara Wine Country, Canada
808 posts

For most of us, this one is a no brainer...But for those of us who wear disposable daily contacts and glasses almost never...it's somewhat easy to leave them behind.

And prescription sun glasses just incase you don't wear the regular ones over your contacts which I do often.

It's easy to overwear your contacts and have eye issues...Glasses sure come in handy! And they are good to grab in an emergency!

Posted by Alexandra
West Coast, California, USA
292 posts

A large 'Space bag' storage bag. I vacuum-sealed my winter jacket in my suitcase on the way to Europe, then returned with 2 large down/feather pillows that I vacuum-sealed for the trip home.

iTouch iPod. Great for accessing the internet, checking emails. Not as bulky as a laptop.

Posted by Flight Attendant
Niagara Wine Country, Canada
808 posts

Oh! How could I forget! BCP - Birth Control! The shot frees you from taking the pill but you still might need party hats! And who wants to go looking for that in the heat of the moment! LoL!

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
249 posts

Great topic. FA, I laughed at your mentioning party hats, I include those in my first aid kit all the time, in fact the ones I currently have are reaching an expiry date, and I have to buy new ones!!!!!!!!! I agree with the following (which were already mentioned): a cottage cheese container lid as a cutting board, a "spork" I found in Paris which is plastic spoon with a fork at the other end and a serrated edge on part of the fork that will cut cheese and some fruit very well, napkins for in-room picnics, varied sizes of ziploc baggies, battery operated travel alarm clock, bandaids, my own selection of meds including Ibuprofen, Tylenol, T#3's, Lomotil, dulcolax (for both poles of the stomach problems), Dr's prescribed sleeping pills really helped me deal with jet lag and getting some good sleep the first few nights, my own brand of face soap and moisturizer in my container less than 100 mls, microfiber towel to wring out clothes washed in the sink, lots of scarves to dress up a boring black shirt and to keep warm. Seems like a big list, but I did feel well prepared for a lot of things when I had my own stuff to help me through. THanks for all the great new tips.

Posted by kit
cambridge, ma
28 posts

I'm a very minimal packer, but having bike toured and hiked a fair bit I feel naked without a few 'survival' items. For me, it's:

-A little LED flashlight, I like the Photon X-micro for its size and ability to go between dim and pretty gosh darn bright. It fits on a keychain and I never leave home without it! I can't count the number of times I've dropped something under a seat and had to go looking for it, or the lights have gone out, or I need to read something in the dark.

-Earplugs (need I say more? just make sure that if you have small ears you cut them down beforehand or you get ones that fit)

-A furoshiki - a square cloth (mine is cotton in a weave that holds knots well) that's tied into any shape or bag you want. Thank you, Japan! I can have a scarf, a small blanket, or any sort of purse, shopping bag, or wine bottle carrier I want. Packs as flat and small as you would expect a 32"x32" piece of cotton would.

Posted by Alexandra
West Coast, California, USA
292 posts

A roll of American toilet paper. Sometimes the stuff in Europe has the consistency of newspaper (which my mom says is exactly what they used right after WWII).

Posted by Christy
Laguna Beach, CA, USA
263 posts

I second so many of the things already listed....ziploc baggies, lip balm, ipod, sunglasses but one thing I didn't see listed and I love having with me: FEBREEZE! One year I found a small travel size bottle; other trips I have just poured it into a mini-spritz bottle. Febreeze really helps to freshen up clothes.......either if you can't get laundry done as soon as you would like or if you have been somewhere smoky. I will spray my clothes with Febreeze, hang them up over night (ideally outside on a balcony or terrace if your hotel has one) and a lot of the smoke smell will be gone.
You can also use it to freshen up your hotel room if you happen to end up in a small, damp one like I did in budget accomodations in Amsterdam!!
Along these same lines, I like small travel candles. They usually come in tins. It's nice to have in my room, smells good and is rather comforting especially if you have been on the road for a long time!

Posted by Linda
Petaluma, Northern California
345 posts

Be sure to test Febreeze at home first--the chemicals in that stuff gives me a sharp, unpleasant headache.

Posted by Frank II
USA
4376 posts

Be careful of the "extra-strength" Febreeze. It is really strong. I gave a pair of jeans (no comments I was in the U.S.) a couple of squirts and they reaked of "perfume." I got lots of looks from people.

I prefer Downy Wrinkle Remover...it has a "light" scent and removes wrinkles as well.

The RS store also sells a travel size odor spray which isn't overpowering.

Posted by Corinna
Krems, Wachau, Austria
386 posts

Neat thread :-))

I have a permanent travel kit:

small LED flashlight

matches

small candle

combination corkscrew/knife

a tiny sewing kit, with button and a few safety pins

a small wad of duct tape

earplugs

leatherman tool
(I modify it, if I only have carry-on)

a collapsable spoon/fork/knife combo from WMF

and my niftiest of all travel gadgets:

a braided rubber clothes line with loops on both ends
(Magellan has something similar)
no clothespins needed

I NEVER leave home without it, even if I go visiting friends/family for a few days!

That's my tool kit, so to speak, packed in a small plastic container with lid that can double as a cup or bowl.

My comfort kit, for planes, trains & automobiles contains

moist wipes

a botanical spray (like Healing Garden) for a quick refresh

a snack & drink

a baggy of gum, mints & dried candied ginger

paper tissues

earplugs

a soft, large shawl

address book, journal & pen

a few ziplock bags

a folded cloth shopping bag

a disposable toothbrush

a moistened wash cloth in a ziplock bag

a tiny container of my favorite lotion (Nivea Soft)

Posted by Corinna
Krems, Wachau, Austria
386 posts

edit doesn't work,

I wanted to add

a travel umbrella with a built in LED flashlight

Posted by Flight Attendant
Niagara Wine Country, Canada
808 posts

June is smart to keep some "party hats" in her first aid kit.

Did you know that Combat Medics carry them in the field in their Medical Bags? No, it's not incase they get lucky in the field...They actually carry them as an emergency improvised water carrier! It's true!

Posted by Kathleen
Hillsboro, Oregon, USA
24 posts

Take a small flashlight. Several years ago in Rome the power went out in the middle of the night and we had to catch an early flight so we were up at 4 am and it was pitch black trying to make our way down 7 flights of stairs to the lobby. Fortunately we had one of those small flashlights on our keyring.

Posted by Anne
Augusta, GA
72 posts

I always bring a headlamp. It's better than a flashlight because it's always shining on what you are looking at and keeps your hands free.