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All those little packing impulse buys are coming to light

Well, in the midst of all this chaos, we are moving. It was supposed to be a move to our new home in Abruzzo, Italy. Instead it’s a move to a rented run-down duplex across town. But we are grateful the house sold just before the virus onslaught. In an effort to find joy in unlikely places, I’m having fun digging all the years' many travel impulse buys out of their dark corners and thinking about RS-style travel.

  • Tide packets, clothesline, sink stopper and microfibre towels - yup, I’m a closet sink-washer
  • Carry-on travel backpacks - far more than one per capita, and I can’t even carry the darn things anymore, it’s wheels for me (lots of those too)
  • Plug adapters and USB chargers - stopped counting around two dozen
  • Travel wallets, money belts, cross-body purses - can I wear them all at once? Why did I buy more each trip?
  • Stashes of foreign currency in at least 3 places so far
  • Many European travel guidebooks to all the places I’ve been to or intend to go to.
  • And et cetera...what’s hiding in YOUR closet?

(No, I haven’t managed to purge much of it other than guidebooks. I mean, we WILL travel again, right?)

Posted by
26509 posts
  • An incredible collection of plastic bottles of varying sizes, used mainly for the many pills I have to take with me.

  • Leftover coins from many countries, in excess of samples given to young relatives.

I recently threw away 3 or 4 bottle stoppers. Those go back to the time before twist-off caps on soda bottles. I can't quite bring myself to discard the two immersion coils I own; they might still be useful if the water supply is unsafe.

Posted by
13702 posts

Nelly! So sorry you can't move to Italy and that you are having to do an interim location. We, too, are moving. Just in the process of purchasing a home 2 hours away and hopefully will be able to sell our current home. We were planning to put it on the market in May or June but keeping it will not be a problem if real estate is not moving in our area.

So...I've started packing and decluttering as I go as we are downsizing drastically.

  • Have dumped a bunch of small plastic bottles which leaked or didn't work for various reasons. The "good" ones I'm putting in the stuff for the charity shop, the others are just going in the garbage.

  • I've started getting rid of the travel bags. Yes, me too...wheels only now. Before this all began I was able to pass my RS convertible backpack on to a person in our RS travel meet-up group. I've taken a couple of duffel bags to the charity shop. I've got one travel backpack left - it was the cheap $25 one everyone loved about 6 or 7 years ago called the Essential something or other and I got mine from CampMor. It's very light and I am not sure I can mentally get rid of this one yet.

  • Travel purses/wallets/etc - Have weeded those out and am keeping only the useful ones. The rest have gone to the charity shop

  • Packing cubes - MY WORD!!! I have WAY too many of these but can't bring myself to weed these out. I'll have much less space in the new house so maybe that will help me make deep cuts in this "collection", lol. I'll take them to our travel meet up - whenever we can get together again and see if anyone else wants them.

  • Old travel guides - the ones I've pulled sections out of are going in the garbage. The ones that are whole will go to the library booksale or the travel group if anyone wants them.

Thanks for bringing this up. It's good to think of!

Posted by
1019 posts

Oooohh, I just found a partial toilet paper roll, cardboard core removed, flattened, in a ziplock bag for those travel emergencies. That ought to be worth something in today's environment ;)

Posted by
314 posts

Wow!! You did find a real treasure Nelly!! LOL I too have pared down some of my travel necessities as we were putting a new floor down. But I know that I haven't gone as deep as I really should. My husband said, "Do you know how many RS guidebooks you have?" Well, yes I do! But it is fun to peruse even the old ones and either dream or reminisce. Nope not ready to let go of these, but at least they are now on a dedicated shelf! ;)

Posted by
888 posts
  • Yep, too many tote bags, backpacks, etc. Though in part because I sew and have made a bunch.
  • Currently 1 Pacsaf crossbody, 1 travelon mini backpack, and 2 travelon crossbody/waist convertible bags. Keeping them all for different uses. I like the convertible ones so much I've taken to wearing them full time.
  • Two different sets of matching cosmetics and misc storage bags to match my main bags - one is red and the other purple. Again, because I sew and color coordination while traveling is so important - not.
  • Stash of Delta Economy Comfort packs because my husband can't bear to pass them up even though we seldom use.
  • Fewer adapters since we mislaid our first set.
  • The only travel books I dump are some of the older, cheap ones I pick up at thrift stoes. The rest i keep. I love the ones from DK Eyewitness with the color photos and maps.
  • Paperwork from different trips - copies of documents, receipts, etc does need massive cleanout.
Posted by
3924 posts

I was wondering what you were going to do with your spring move to Italy. Glad you found a place to wait out the virus and further downsize.

Just yesterday I was wishing I had some of those silicon tubes or something to make my own hand sanitizer in. I found some aloe vera in a shop and I have alcohol so I could mix my own travel sizes as we used all of ours up last summer with 4 of us traveling. I got silicon tubes for my DIL for Christmas but I don’t have the heart to ask if I can borrow them as she is coping with the news this week that her summer study program in Italy is cancelled.

Posted by
14647 posts

Tide packets, clothesline, sink stopper and microfibre towels - yup, I’m a closet sink-washer

I don't think I've ever seen a sink in a closet. Oh, wait, they're not closets. Those are European hotel rooms.

Posted by
8042 posts

I too recently moved to another city an hour away. And I have a triple car garage packed to the gills of "stuff" we never pared down in our last 2 moves.
As far as travel items go, I wouldn't be caught dead lugging around a large suitcase. I still feel for my poor father that traveled until age 80 hauling my mother's stuff. Gone now are all the big suitcases.
I've sworn my allegiance to a 21" ultra light carry on bag. I have the same bag in 22" size, but they'd bring a bunch of arguments with gate attendants of the budget European airlines. I promise you they fit in the overhead bins of a Boeing or Airbus plane.
And I have no idea what to do with all the clay mugs from the Hofbrauhaus and Augustiner breweries--small and large. I might just use'em fo the first time since I bought them in 1970 on my first trip.
I still like to read European travel guides, and buy them at the local library when they get out of date. But Rome itself never gets old, and only the prices change in the new guidebooks.

Posted by
89 posts

I have an inflatable (as in you blow it up) ice bucket.
It’s actually been used quite a bit, but not recently.
I have maps, lots of maps.

Posted by
4515 posts

Wendy, I think an inflatable ice bucket deserves an accolade! Hope you get to use it again!

Posted by
89 posts

Thanks Pat! I’ll be honest and say that it doesn’t get as much use because I don’t need to have the champagne super-cold like in the “old days”. Gosh, just pop that top and pour it!

Posted by
148 posts

I frequently read that you shouldn’t use old guide books....if you’re spending lots of money on a vacation you should have the most up to date book.

Well, I live in a large metropolitan area with probably 20 library branches around me. I go to their book sales and buy older (2015-2018) versions typically) travel guides of places I’d like to go. It lets me learn about the area, what to do, etc. at a budget price. (Of course, if I’m actually planning a trip I get more updates info)

But I have about 15 sitting in my shelf right now.

Posted by
681 posts

I have two bathroom drawers of shampoo, conditioner, mouth wash and lotion from various hotels we have stayed at over the years. I keep thinking I will use them. I do take some when we stay at airbnb's for just in cast times. I too can not give up my guidebooks but now am using my kindle to help with having too much stuff.

Posted by
888 posts

I've picked up guide books at thrift stores for as little as 25 cents. They are useful to give you history, sites to see, maps, cultural info, etc. If I want to tear pages out I don't feel bad about it. I don't rely on them for info about hours, ticket prices or the like. For that I buy a new guide book or use the internet. I also use my local library for more current info or decide which guidebook I might want to buy.

I used to give my extra shampoo, lotion bottles to a charity my church supports but with more and more hotels going to refillable containers those might be harder and harder to find. And now with all the hand washing we're doing i may need to break into that supply for lotion.

Posted by
8334 posts

I've been gathering all those small tissue packs that I buy for every trip, dont use, and put away, somewhere in the house.

Posted by
419 posts

My goodness, I’m having a very similar experience right now. We put in new hardwood and carpet and I’m in the process of putting everything back. But I’ve decided to declutter and organize. All of the above plus hand sanitizer!!! I purchased months ago for our trip this Summer. I felt silly buying it so early but it was on sale at Costco and they usually don’t carry this—travel size sheets.

Give your unwanted water bottles to the homeless. It’s greatly appreciated.

Posted by
1221 posts

I collect old guide books, especially for places that have really changed or no longer exist. My oldest is post-WW2 and about Brits traveling domestically and the Continent and has sections on things like currency export restrictions and ration books. I've also got a South African one from the waning days of apartheid when you could still have white hotels and 'colored' hotels, a Caribbean one talking about all the joys of a holiday on pre-volcano Montserrat, and a 1990s German one with a section about newly reunified rail networks.

Posted by
1056 posts

May I add a suggestion for those of you cleaning out closets and getting rid of unused travel suitcases and bags? Donate them to your local office of Child Protective Services. Many children placed in foster care must take their belongings with them in plastic bags. 'Using a proper suitcase offers them a moment of dignity in a frightening situation.

Posted by
11186 posts

Patricia, That is a lovely suggestion! My son recently told me he was donating two old suitcases to a shelter in Portland. Never occurred to me but will remember from now on!

I am not a pack rat although our travel drawers have lots of stuff. We are a bit long on packing cubes but I use them for lots of stuff, not just clothes.

We do have 4 precious bottles of grappa left to get us through.

Posted by
28 posts

Same here. We're moving to a new house sometime this spring/summer hopefully. I hit the jackpot when cleaning out two travel drawers....8 mini bottles of hand sanitizer! Lucky me.

Posted by
4445 posts

Patricia, thank you for that donation idea for suitcases. I've balked against getting rid of them, and do use them for my own storage, but your suggestion will make it seem worthwhile.

My stash that I had to corral yesterday was Ziploc and compression sacks. A few in this suitcase, a couple in that one. Now they're all together in one tote, so hopefully I won't consider buying any more!

Still, my weakness is cute little zipper bags in colors that match. Because, as cj-traveler said above, it's so important (not) that they match.

Posted by
5697 posts

OK, this is one positive thing from the current lockdown -- I can't get out to my favorite thrift store(s) to buy even more merino wool sweaters, packing cubes, down vests ... stuff that screams out "travel" at a drastically reduced price.

Posted by
4445 posts

Well, Laura B, no one else can get out to buy them either. So the "better" news is that they'll still be waiting for you after the lockdown 🤣🤣

Posted by
6356 posts

Can't seem to get enough of those "kits" you get on long flights with a sleep mask, earplugs, tiny toothbrush and toothpaste tube, wet wipes, and maybe another pair of plastic earbuds to add to my growing tangle. I seldom use that stuff but I take it with me 'cause it's free, and after all look what I paid for the flight! Periodically I purge these out of drawers, my wife always has a use for the neat little zip-up containers they come in.

Otherwise not much superfluous stuff in my house. We do have some big suitcases that we never use any more, some day we'll donate them I guess.

Good thread. But I'd like to see some truly bizarre examples. We're all pretty conventional it seems.

Posted by
1019 posts

I found six tiny bottles of hand sanitizer. Unopened, but 1/3 empty. So does that mean the alcohol has evaporated, rendering them useless, or is it the other stuff that evaporates?

I too have lots of little travel packs of tissues stashed in various places and ziploc bags in every suitcase I've used this decade. Doing ok on clothing and outerwear, no extras there except the odd too-small item. Ahem.

Posted by
1259 posts

Funny, purge the duplicates and the useless. I bought a used Aeronaut 45 from a Tom Bihn group on FB just before the crash. Last luxury item I will be buying for months or years. Got an interesting message from Road Scholar today explaining their preoccupation over the last few weeks in getting dozens of stranded clients back home. While I am encouraged by recent new ps out of China implying a reduction in the rate of corona expansion, I cannot foresee needing any of my cool travel tools and clothes till 2021. Be safe, and, baby, be kind.

Posted by
1300 posts

Nelly, I also found a teeny bottle of hand sanitizer at the bottom of my travel storage box.
I put it in my car for those rare times now when I am out at the market in my car.

Posted by
129 posts

As to the mini shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap...I kept one of each (the ones that were partially full) and will refill with my stuff from home. I then bagged up the rest and I will take it to my local community college for our Women's Center. There are so many students who would welcome these items as they transition out of bad situations. When I thought about it I very rarely take those items with me anyway--have always used what's in the hotel or bought something locally.

My mother always considered shopping in general as her way of "supporting the economy."
(Not necessarily environmentally helpful. Business and Environmental concerns are forever in conflict.)
Let's think of impulse buying as product/marketing research and testing. Especially if you post info. (Do a review) of the item.

Posted by
761 posts

In our area, homeless shelters are happy to receive unopened (of course) hotel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, tissue packs, little bars of soap, and travel toothbrushes (again, wrapped, of course), airline and hotel toiletry kits, and the like for their occupants.

Posted by
1374 posts

Ok, this is not travel related.
Haven't been able to do any decluttering at home yet, still trying to get a TON of stuff squared away in our 3 person office so my secretary can start working at home....
But did take time Saturday to sort my dry food by sale by date. I decided an unopened Walker's shortbread too important to toss. (Not fresh, but the texture is right) Cook books are also in the pantry ... jammed between two was a manilla envelope I thought was recipes.

Oh, no, its coupons.

From 2004.

Posted by
888 posts

Yes hand sanitizer evaporates. Found an old pump bottle in our medicine cabinet used years ago to remove tree sap. It's basically alcohol with aloe Vera gel. Nothing left but a couple a green chunks rattling around in an empty bottle. If I ever find the aloe Vera gel I was looking for I can make my own hand sanitizer.

Posted by
14647 posts

For those of you who are self-quarantining/hunkering in place, you could use this time to round up all of your "travel stuff" and put it in one storage box. Then make a list of everything in the box and keep it somehwere safe. (Like online with a search function. I use Google Sheets.) Then, the next time you need something, you can look on the list to see if you have it. If you use something up or move it somewhere else, make the change on the list.

When I moved out of my house and into a storage unit to travel full time, I put everything in plastic storage bins, marked each bin with a letter, and itemized everything inside. Now, if I need something or want to know if I need to replenish, I look at the list. I keep items by category mostly with one bin strictly for often used travel items. Another for items that get used up.

And.....anything that has an expiration date like OTC meds, hand sanitizer, etc......put that date on your list so you know if you need to get new stuff without having to look at every bottle.

Posted by
129 posts

May I make a suggestion that if any of you have backpacks or used suitcases to get rid of, that you donate to the child welfare organization in town. Many foster kids end up moving their few items in plastic or paper bags, and would love to have something like a suitcase.

Posted by
441 posts

I haven't traveled to Europe since 2012 but am planning a trip next spring. I was going to Ireland this spring but the virus came along. I'm going with a rolling bag now but I've still got 4 travel backpacks, one is the Outdoor Products Essential Carryon (before the Campmor logo). As I went through my travel gear, I found the items already mentioned but I also found an inflatable clothes hanger. After washing your shirt in the sink you can hang it to dry so that it looks pristine.

Posted by
3428 posts

If you have too many packing cubes, you could use them to organize and store other items!!!!!!! Teachers/day care workers also appreciate donations of face tissues (even small packets), hand sanitizer, soap, etc. Also schools usually will accept donations of backpacks/totes for either teachers or needy students.