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A few things you should remember to pack...

I was more than shocked at my travel group on a recent RS tour, (I thought with all the travel this group had done they would know better). #1 thing to bring for a women (and men) is the small packages of tissues. You never know if your toilet stop will have adequate tissue. I also like the small package of hand wipes for the cleaning of hands after a stop that is less clean or very busy. I can not tell you how many didn't have tissue and conveyed that possibly the end of the world was happening.. ok, I exaggerate. Another thing is small change if needed to pay for said trip to the loo. or to give a tip to the toilet caregiver.
Another (depending on where you are traveling) is your own tea bags, which obviously is not needed in England, but if you are traveling to places in Eastern Europe you may not care for their tea or coffee. Be prepared for coffee not comparable to major cities in the USA. Don't whine about it! And yes, my group whined about the quality of the coffee, but if 95% of the group is whining then I guess that is okay. I was ready to stop hearing about the crappy coffee machines at each and every breakfast.
I also want to give cudos out to the elastic clothes line that RS shop sells. Forget those suction things. This was the greatest addition to our traveling necessities.
Also bring large strong rubber bands. I use 2 on my shoes to keep them compactly together when packing and I rigged a clothes hanger (you know the ones without a hook) to the towel warmer bar to help clothes dry faster.
I also bring at least 3 extra of the gallon, quart, sandwich and snack size zip locks. You never know when you want to bring something to eat on an outing, need it for wet clothes that must be packed, or something starts leaking in your ditty bag.
Now one more hint. If you don't pack certain toiletries .. no worries as most major cities with tourists have a great shop for purchasing what you don't have. I also want to say that prices were most times better for the local brands.

Posted by
1290 posts

I like to give a small "happy travels" goody bag to my close girlfriends when they travel overseas for the first time. It is very simple, a couple packs of travel size tissue, a small hand sanitizer and a 2.5 oz of Aveno hand lotion, gum and sometimes I will add a small pack of nuts. The whole thing (with a cute bag) cost's around $7.00 but the contents are invaluable. Live and learn!

Posted by
21724 posts

...... Be prepared for coffee not comparable to major cities in the USA....... I should hope not. Love that statement 'cause I have no idea what it means. My experience is that most European coffee is vastly superior to general coffee that I find in the US other than some specialty coffee shops. That comment reminds me of an earlier recommendation, "If you want a good cup of American coffee in the morning you need to bring a jar of instant coffee." From a poster who was in France.

Posted by
2526 posts

Some great coffee and some FAR less than great coffee I've had at breakfasts in Europe. Don't get me started on synthetic juices served in Europe.

Posted by
489 posts

Frank, you may be correct that the coffee is superior in some parts of Europe, but eastern Europe has these "all in one" coffee machines in the hotel breakfast areas. Not only do they take forever to make a cup, they use some sort of prepackaged coffee product. Let's just say that be prepared for a different cup of Joe than what your local coffee shop or home makes.

Posted by
489 posts

Letizia, You are a very great friend! I would also add a couple of the bandaid "blister" bandaids and the small travel size of ibuprofen. But one of the other best things, I have found is a product from bandaid that is a small tube called "friction block" stick. all sorts of uses. I would also add lip balm, a couple of smaller band aids, a small roll of tums, a couple of shouts "to go", a couple of alcohol swabs, a couple of pepto bismo chewables, a package of insect repellent towelettes, a black tea bag, and the best thing forever... The victor. https://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-SwissCard/dp/B00KFJYRYG
Well, that is in my small pack (along with eye drops) everyday.'

Posted by
31471 posts

I recently got to experience a "new" type of coffee in Italy, albeit not entirely voluntarily). After trying that I doubt that I will ever object to less-than-perfect coffee in Europe again. It's called Café Orzo and is made from Barley......

http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/cafe-orzo-the-new-coffee-alternative-from-italy.html

Apparently it's very popular in Italy, but for someone accustomed to "real" coffee, it was rubbish! On that note, I think I'll go pour myself another cup of coffee.

Posted by
2721 posts

Coffee made from barley is barley. Maple syrup made from oaks ain't maple syrup. ☕️

I think the right approach is to remember you are in a foreign country. If a traveler discovers coffee is awful - just chalk it up to a lesson learned and enjoy the rest of the trip. The trip is only for a short period of time! This is not a life altering experience like an accident.
An aside, tea bags can be used to stop bleeding for first aid. Just apply the bag as is to a wound and tape it on or hold it with pressure against the wound. Tea helps blood to clot. Any brand will do.
I am curious about the Swiss Army card. Is the blade of the knife and scissors small enough for carry on? I love Swiss army scissors. They work great. I would appreciate something like this, but only if I could carry it on.

Posted by
2560 posts

On toiletries: yes, you can find anything in Europe. But, if you have specific brand needs, maybe not. I'm a tough guy but my armpits, well, how shall I put it: they are delicate little flowers. I only use one brand of deodorant, everything else causes a rash. Sure enough, I ran out in Spain. Fortunately, with much searching and wasted time I found a hypoallergenic brand made in Spain. It worked and no rash! Next time I'll pack better.

Posted by
2472 posts

I always carry tissues and tea bags, learned that 40 years ago......add a sheet of moleskin, it works better than bandaids on your feet.

Posted by
518 posts

Whining? On a RS Tour? Now way! I would assume that the type of people that would choose and RS tour wouldn't be of the whining type.

What exactly is "American Coffee?" If by American you are referring to the USA, most coffee is grown in equatorial regions. If you're referring to Starbucks, I'd say that barely passes as good coffee. The flavor they produce (i.e., from their processing/roasting) lacks so much of the original fragrance of the bean, assuming their beans are even fresh to begin with, that what most Americans equate with the flavor of coffee is not the coffee bean itself but the roasting. Fortunately, more and more independent boutique roasters are popping up all over the country to rectify this problem, especially in urban areas and this is true in Europe as well.

Posted by
489 posts

to Sun baked... yes, had no trouble with my swiss card both leaving Chicago and returning from Europe. we only did carry on this trip, normally I would probably put it in a checked bag. Also coming back from Croatia we carried on our collapsible walking stick.

Posted by
12897 posts

Where in "eastern Europe?" Poland , Czech Rep? I have no problems at all with coffee in Europe, be it in London or Krakow or elsewhere in Poland Is their coffee supposedly inferior? Coffee in France, Austria is great. I pack all the possible necessities, (rubber bands, twisters, safety pins, paper clips, binder clips, toilet paper, wipes, a pair of extra shoe strings, hand sanitizer, zip lock bags (big and small), drafting tape, yellow marker, tea bags, etc.

Posted by
31471 posts

Sun Baked,

"I am curious about the Swiss Army card. Is the blade of the knife and scissors small enough for carry on?"

In my experience at my local airport, they won't allow the small knife in the Swiss Card for carry-on, but they will allow the scissors. There have been times when I forgot I had even packed the Swiss Card, but they're very thorough so they always find it. I now always remove the knife and store it in my checked luggage and then retrieve it when I get to Europe.

Posted by
3580 posts

In addition to most of the ones already mentioned, I take my own adapter plugs, laundry detergent pods (dry), plastic shower caps to cover the bottoms of packed shoes, a scarf, my saved Oyster card for London, a clean bandanna for cleaning glasses and iPad surface.

Posted by
11613 posts

Good list, tgreen.

I bring a minimal amount of things in a "starter kit", like travel-size toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo, and I also pack ziplock baggies ( 2.5 gallon down to snack size), coins and tissue for bathrooms, packets of laundry detergent, a stain remover stick); everything gets replenished as needed. I like trying other products.

A word about coffee: I hate those multi-drink dispensers, will not use them. The coffee-only dispensers aren't as bad. But if at all possible, I want a freshly made cappuccino in the morning. I have sleuthed through photos on booking.com to try to identify the coffee-delivery system at various hotels.

Posted by
3683 posts

Another essential: A washcloth/facecloth. Many European hotels do not provide them with the room towels. Pack in a ZipLock so it can be carried damp.

Posted by
2526 posts

For small injuries, abrasions, bug bites, etc., take small tubes of an antibiotic, hydrocortisone and a/d.

Ken,
Thank you for your reply. I could get the Swiss card and just leave the knife part at home. Maybe we should email Victorinox and suggest that Victorinox manufacture a TSA friendly device - like a small multi tool without any blade and add a corkscrew, bottle opener. This card is close. I think I would prefer a folding knife design with key ring. However, TSA probably appreciates the translucent card design for easy inspection. Hmmm.... Add an emergency mirror surface for signaling when lost in a vineyard after a wine tasting and unable to find a proper restroom.

Posted by
2526 posts

As for a corkscrew being part of a multi-tool, French airport security folks confiscated my corkscrew (no blade). Oy vey.

Posted by
754 posts

Alan: I'm with you on the deodorant. My "delicate flowers" will accept only plain old deodorant -- usually Mennen or Old Spice. No anti-perspirants. They contain aluminum, which is what gives me the rash. I took a trip once and decided to try a travel-size anti-perspirant that claimed to be hypoallergenic. All good for a couple of days, then the itchy rash came. So now, I always travel with a full-size container of old faithful.

Posted by
119 posts

Alan,
Would you please be so kind as to tell me the name of the deodorant that does not cause a rash for you. My husband has the same problem, or is it the folks around him have who have a problem when whatever he uses does not work! I got the travel sized crystal deodorant sticks for us to use when traveling, but he says even that bothers him. It works great for me.

Thank you!
Martha

Posted by
2320 posts

Lots of good items listed here that I bring on a just-in-case basis and every now and then I am ridiculously relieved to have them. Clips, duct tape, plastic bags, safety pins, sewing kit, scissors, super glue, etc. I have found the perfect travel shoes and boots but still always bring my emergency foot care pack. Always 4 or 5 Clif or Lara bars--I always bring a couple home but they've been breakfast more than once or got me through to the next meal. Tea bags because I can't start my day without a cup and sometimes I don't get a tea/coffee maker in my room so have made do with running the hot water long enough to steep. Even when I do have a coffee maker they don't always have a flavor I like, so best to be prepared.

I must say I've encountered those fancy coffee machines at a couple of hotels--in Krakow and Budapest, both gave great coffee in a variety of styles, no complaints aside from the time it took to get a full cup and waiting for others to finish getting theirs. In Tallinn, Warsaw, Prague and another Budapest hotel I encountered fresh coffee that was good to great, and I do love my coffee so would remember anything less than pleasing. While out and about I usually stop for a latte and that's usually the best bet for getting a truly enjoyable cup of coffee.

Posted by
18311 posts

"If you want a good cup of American coffee in the morning you need to
bring a jar of instant coffee."

I knew a Swedish girl who did exactly that, brought a jar of instant coffee to "augment" our coffee when she visited the US.

I have to say, I've never had coffee in Germany that wasn't better than anything I've had in the US. Coffee that strong in the US would be bitter. It must be that thy somehow roast the beans to be good strong.

The only time I've been disappointed by coffee in Europe was in Paris. Not that the coffee wasn't strong enough; it was too strong. Their tiny cups have just as much caffeine as our big cups; it's just concentrated, so you can get your full charge in one little sip. I guess they don't want to waste time, but I enjoy dallying over my coffee.

As for clothes lines, I started off, years ago, using one of those like Rick sells, but I could never find any place to string it. I got one with suction cups and the first time I used it, it worked, but there was still no place to string one with hooks. I can still use it without the suction cups, but sometimes, that's the only way I can use it. But most of the time I find that inflatable hangers and hooked clothe pins are all I need.

Posted by
2526 posts

Per Lee, "But most of the time I find that inflatable hangers and hooked clothe pins are all I need." Agree.

Posted by
2526 posts

Per Lee, "But most of the time I find that inflatable hangers and hooked clothe pins are all I need." Agree.

Posted by
3111 posts

@ tgreen. I always carry a little pack of tissues when I'm out and about no matter where I am because of the "Oops, no toilet paper" issue. However I always stock up in Europe for my favorite brand, Tempo, and bring some home. My sister in law buys at least a 12 pack every other year when they travel to Europe to try to make it last 24 months until they return.

Posted by
489 posts

@ Mona, I will look for that brand when we go back this summer.

I also must add that if you are someone who can not live without washing your hair with conditioner, bring it or buy it there. It is rarely offered in many European hotels, especially in Greece, Croatia, etc.

Posted by
3111 posts

@tgreen. Check the labels before you buy. This summer she grabbed a 12 pack and descovered that it had some scent. We left that purchase behind at the house where we were staying and headed back to the store for the "classic or original" kind.

Posted by
2560 posts

Coffee: in Western Europe the pod market is dominated by Nespresso. These machines make darn good coffee but it is espresso or double espresso. Many of the hotels on our recent Spain tour had these as did our hotel in Paris. I had to really pace myself to avoid the jitters! Bigger cities had Starbucks for those really hankering for American style coffee. A few hotels served American style coffee and it was mostly poor.

Posted by
2526 posts

Hmm... "American style coffee" ...well my taste runs to Blue Mountain and Kona beans, but my budget limits such.

Posted by
12897 posts

The last two trips I managed not forget to buy German coffee, beans or ground, 500 grams, "Jacob" or "Tchibo " at Frankfurt Hbf before leaving for FRA for the return flight to SFO. Even though "Jacob" is available at the Russian stores in SF, as well as in the German import stores, the price is still better quantity wise getting it prior to returning.

Posted by
6642 posts

Fred, I like Eduscho better, but its harder to find here.

Posted by
12897 posts

@ Stan...What is available at the Russian stores here are "Jacob" and "Dallmayr" and also "Eduscho" Aside from the three German import stores (that I know of) in the SF Bay Area, no one else carries German coffee, certainly not the mainstream coffee places like Peet's, etc. or the specialty markets.