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comfort items for international travel

Our trip to Greece is a go and now we are actively engaged in gathering the items we want to pack. I'm debating the purchase of a travel pillow or neck roll; I've had several episodes of vertigo brought on by weird sleeping positions and so have been using a second pillow to prop my head into position. I'm not so worried about sleeping in hotels, but on planes and the bus such a pillow might prove beneficial. Has anyone packed one and actually used it?

Are there other items that you have found to be lifesavers? We have always been bare-bones independent travelers, but the luxury of a dedicated bus is causing us to consider items we do not normally pack.

Posted by
5262 posts

I have an inflatable neck pillow that helps somewhat on planes, just enough to justify the minimal weight I guess. A bigger pillow might help more but would be too bulky for the whole trip. But if I had a problem with vertigo the equation might change for me. Why not try an inflatable one, it's cheap and if it doesn't help you can toss it.

Long bus rides through unfamiliar countries have never required much equipment for me. I travel with a Kindle and if the scenery is boring (seldom) and the guide not talking I might read a little. Certainly the Kindle helps on flights.

Posted by
5508 posts

I would experiment here with an inflatable vs. regular. I have found that the regular pillow is a big nuisance to haul around. It takes up a great deal of space unless you hang it on the outside of your luggage and then.... well you have something hanging off your luggage. I have used the inflatable one before but I would encourage you to try it before your trip to make sure it gives you the effect you need.

Most people take a "day bag" onto the bus with them. This could be a small backpack, large purse, tote, etc. They put in what they think they might need for the day. A sweater or light jacket if the weather changes, sun hat, sunscreen, money for the day and ID, snacks, water, guide book, sunglasses, scarf. I usually add 2-3 individually wrapped insect repellant wipes. They take up almost no space and are there if you find they are necessary. I also add some of those shout laundry wipes in case of spills. I can treat on the go and fix it later. I find a smart phone at least as helpful on a tour as it is at home. I text family and can use wi-fi. You will probably think of some other things that are important to you to have at hand.

Posted by
7695 posts

My comfort items involve a few packs of nuts and a water bottle that I can fill. With those, I know that even if I have somehow gotten myself out wandering around for too long and am not at a good point for a meal, I can always make it through thanks to my protein-filled snack and water.

Posted by
6460 posts

Moleskin, small Baggallini back pack, safety pins, zip ties from the super market, coin purse, throw away wash cloth, zip lock slider bags, cheap mystery paper back, well worn comfortable shoes or sandals, Aleve PM and a small roll of gaffers tape.

Posted by
160 posts

My comfort item is my LL Bean Down Sweater which stuffs into one of its pockets and makes a decent pillow too. I bring it regardless of the time of year. Great alone or layered.

Posted by
3337 posts

I've never felt the need for a travel pillow but DH needs one because of neck issues. He tried several different ones before finding an inflatable that worked for him.

For me, my main comfort item would be my noise cancelling ear buds. I've always been sensitive to noise, and these are a godsend for flights. But they are also great (with or without the noise cancelling feature turned on) for listening to music or watching a video where it would be inconsiderate to play when there are other people around. Like on a bus or train, or even late night when DH is trying to sleep.

The other little comfort item I always pack are lemon drops. Some people like gum or mints, but my sour lemon drops are my favorite.

Posted by
21293 posts

I don't believe anyone has mentioned a super-large, heavy ZIP Lock bag for doing laundry if your bathroom lavatory has no stopper or leaks. (Alternatively, something squishy that will block the drain.)

I've tried regular inflatable airplane pillows (basically C-shaped) and found them better than nothing but not really very helpful, because my head tends to tip forward if I doze off, then I wake up. The J-pillow is better, though not a total solution; I just don't sleep well in a vertical position. I seem to have lost my J-pillow, so I'm going to have to replace it. It appears the design has been modified since my original purchase--one hopes for the better.

My trips are so long that it's highly likely I'll need a bunch of different things at least once. I take most of the things already mentioned but try to make sure everything is as lightweight and non-bulky as possible. I travel with a small drugstore of OTC meds, but mostly just a few of each, and I consolidate them into small pill bottles. I take more of the two things I know are not generally available in Europe: high-zinc-content lozenges (Coldeeze or equivalent) and Pepto-Bismol. We won't talk about the 6 lb. of calcium, magnesium, etc., I head out with.

Although I understand the logic behind the "just buy it if you discover you need it" philosophy, there are negative aspects to that approach:

  • You'll probably pay a lot more in Europe, if only because you don't know where to shop.
  • You'll probably have to buy more of things like Tylenol than you need, and the per-pill cost will be shockingly high. I don't want to have to carry the excess around with me, potentially for months. Nor do I want to waste money.
  • The umbrella you buy from a street vendor (the one RS promises will show up immediately if it starts to rain) will start failing within an hour and be totally useless by the next day.
Posted by
902 posts

Those C shaped pillows don’t work form me at all. But this inflatable pillow worked for me: TRAVELREST Ultimate Travel Pillow & Neck Pillow - Straps to Airplane Seat & Car - Best Accessory for Plane, Auto, Bus, Train, Office Napping, Camping, Wheelchairs (Rolls Up Small) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0787DH99J/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_973XJTJXXZNCQD3GMGGR?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Other items I always bring: travel tube of Tylenol (I pack it full), slipper socks, micro fiber hair turban. I know that if I need it, I can buy it there. There’s a pharmacy on every corner.

Posted by
864 posts

I travel with a small, USB-powered fan and humidifier.

The fan is a no-brainer for me- stuffy air is the worst.

The humidifier is a lesson learned many times from hotel HVAC that has sent my sinuses into misery for the rest of the trip.

Posted by
3713 posts

I have an inflatable neck pillow that never worked for me, so I've never really used a neck pillow before. But I recently ordered the one linked below based on the recommendation of Travel Tips by Laurie in her Long Haul Flight Essentials YouTube video. It's partly for travel and partly for my comfy chair at home. 😊

I haven't received it yet. I'll report back when I get it. The one I ordered is slightly different from the one she features. I must've gotten one of the last red ones available. It does come in other colors as the 2nd link indicates.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow - red

Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow -- other colors

Posted by
242 posts

I always bring a small, thin fleece blanket (really a throw, not a full blown blanket) and a pair of slippers. I like to sleep with the blanket near my face since I don't trust when the last time a hotel bedspread or comforter was washed. The throw also comes in handy to supplement uncomfortable pillows, for extra warmth and even as a makeshift eye mask. And the slippers are nice to put on after a long day of sightseeing to give my feet a break and take up almost no room at all in my baggage.

Posted by
144 posts

I always bring ibuprofen, acetaminophen, bandaids with neosporin (great for foot blisters), collapsible water bottle, bug repellent wipes, Tide stain stick, very small sewing kit, snacks and contoured eye mask which doesn’t touch my eyelids. My lightweight shawl can be rolled up like a pillow or spread out like a blanket. I realize I have gone beyond the scope of your question but all of these items are important to me in terms of comfort when traveling.

Posted by
11434 posts

The items I have learned to take that make my trip much better are a small USB fan;, an immersion heater, cup and tea bags; lexan cutlery; kindle ereader; noise canceling ear buds; and a 10 foot USB cable.

I also take extra pepto bismol as it is virtually impossible to find in much of Europe and naproxen sodium (Alleve) as in much of Europe you need a prescription to get it. It's the only pain killer/anti-inflammatory that works for me.

Posted by
177 posts

Thanks everyone. It's been so long since we have traveled I had to be reminded about some of the things that make travel easier.
I'm looking at a noodle-type pillow that folds back on itself for carrying. I suppose that I could just roll a scarf or my jacket up, but then it would look like I slept in them.
I always carry Peanut M&Ms for a snack. And we always carry medications that we may need; costs per pill are outrageous overseas.
I've never had luck with moleskin, but I do like those little silicon toe sleeves that prevent rubbing.
The needlework and Kindle are packed and I'm almost ready to go--two weeks early. . . . .

Posted by
1002 posts

I carry a memory foam neck pillow - the C shape one - that is pretty firm. I don't put it around my neck with the opening in front, though. I put the gap over to the side, under one ear. It serves to hold my head up enough I don't get neck pain. On our two RS tours, it was great to have on the bus, as well. We left them on the bus instead of lugging them to the hotels, since that's where we needed them. They have an elastic strap on the back that loops over the handle of the suitcase.
Of course my number one comfort tip is to travel in the front of the plane. I don't carry a pillow when I'm that fortunate. :)

Posted by
3713 posts

So I said I'd report back on the Cabeau neck pillow. I ordered it from Amazon, but it never arrived. They said it was lost in transit. I debated about trying to order it in a different color and decided not to do that.

I'd given up on it totally when I got an email from REI that featured it. And they had it in red. I immediately ordered it online and was able to pick it up at the local store in a couple of days.

I tried it on and it is very comfortable, even with my short neck. I'd hoped I could somehow attach it to my lounge chair to give it a good test, but the straps aren't long enough for that. I should be able to attach it to the head rest of our truck and test it that way on our next long drive.

This is a link to it at REI: https://www.rei.com/product/144557/cabeau-evolution-s3-neck-pillow

Posted by
866 posts

I take a rubber drain stop and have had to use it! I wear contacts and can’t have open drains! I’d like to try the wrinkle spray at home to see if that really works.

I did purchase this and used it to travel to Italy. It’s not bad and good for long necks. I could rest by chin forward as I tried to doze. Inflating is a bit of a pain, but not terrible. About the size of a sofa can rolls up and I there is a perfect place for it outside my RS backpack.

Won’t break the bank, since I needed to buy 3 more for my family. I think I used it about 3 hours out of 8. I also used it as a lumbar support, but would rather find something that’s meant for that. I didn’t want this to pop.

Posted by
1243 posts

@Lulu, which item did you get? There's no link in your post. I'm trying to decide now what pillow to take with me. I leave in 2 weeks and have a TERRIBLE time sleeping on planes. I've tried the regular c-shaped pillows and the curly ones that wrap around your whole neck with an overlap, and nothing has worked. I'm thinking of making a small comfy pillow (I have a bag of shredded memory foam) and then ditching it once the overnight flight is over, since I won't need it on the way back.

I'm also trying to decide if I should take a sleeping aid. I take Ibuprophen PM very occasionally (once every 2-3 months) if I've been having problems sleeping, but have never tried it on an overnight flight. Has anyone used anything like that with success? I know if I do I won't be able to drink any alcohol (and I do like a little wine when flying), but it would be worth it to be able to sleep.

Susan,
I know people with neck problems who use “total pillow.” Total pillow os reasonably priced on Amazon.com. It looks like a circle. But, you fold it in half to create the neck support “C” shape. Can be used in a few ways. Just check them out on Amazon.

I usually carry a day pack with the normal stuff like - wet wipes, tissue, small packet of toilet paper, small first aid kit, another peanut M&M’s junkie here, bottled water, etc.. I also carry plastic bags to use for trash. Whatever I think I need to comfortably get through the day. Travel maps, etc..

Roubrat,
The tiny fun sized packs are the best for traveling. I stick as many of these into the side pocket of my underseat bag as possible. Good for treating “the grumps.” That is, myself and all family members, gets a smile.

Posted by
177 posts

Lulu348, I wish I had a drain stop in Greece! We had to ask at 3 hotels if one was available. I was afraid my husband would lose a contact lens down the drain. It's on the list for the next trip.

Posted by
847 posts

I usually do bring a neck pillow and I find they are "OK" - better than nothing but not great and yes, they are pain to have hanging off your rolling bag for the whole trip. But another thing that works is bringing a pillow case. For one thing, I don't trust how clean the air plane pillows are, for another they are not big enough. So I stuff the airplane pillow and my jacket, etc. in the pillow case and it makes an OK sized pillow. Not the most comfortable thing in the world but way better than nothing. Also having a pillow case along for the trip is not a problem as it's so tiny, comes in useful sometimes in hotels.

But another option is to buy a cheap full sized pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond (as cheap as $6) and then just throw it away after the flight. It seems wasteful to fill up trash with a pillow used one time but the cost is nominal (think of it as your ticket cost $6 more). Or bring a pillow from home if you have one that you are about to replace and throw that away after the flight.

Posted by
317 posts

I recently purchased Bose noise-cancelling earbuds, which work nicely on the plane, and other noisy places like my gym. The downside is they are uncomfortable with my memory foam C-shaped travel pillow. I have found that memory-foam pillow to be the most comfortable for sleeping when I make it snug. I've tried an inflatable pillow, but it was not as comfortable as the memory foam. The downside of memory foam is weight and size in my luggage.

I may try what another poster suggested: shredded foam ditched after the overnight flight. Thanks for that suggestion. I could also stuff my down jacket into the travel pillow's velour cover.

Posted by
455 posts

I really like the TravelRest pillow, mentioned in a previous post, for long haul flights. I have never used one on a bus.

My other comfort items for the plane:

With the Travelrest pillow, the pashmina, the foot hammock, and a window seat, I can usually sleep reasonably well on the plane.

Oops! I forgot. A bit of Tylenol PM helps, too.

Posted by
1126 posts

Roubrat,
The tiny fun sized packs are the best for traveling. I stick as many of these into the side pocket of my underseat bag as possible. Good for treating “the grumps.” That is, myself and all family members, gets a smile.

I'm so doing it. Better than my little packets of almonds/walnuts that I usually carry around with me.

Posted by
1126 posts

Are there other items that you have found to be lifesavers?

Maybe not actual lifesavers, but I like to take a travel kleenex packet, an essential oil roll on, a good lip balm, and some nuts and crackers.

Posted by
9904 posts

I should not have opened this thread again. Now I want M&Ms even though not vegan, lol!!

Susan D, I circumvent the toe rubbing issue by wearing toe socks. Not the novelty silly ones but a good brand called Injinji. They fit well and keep toes from rubbing. They are dorky looking but I'll do anything to save my feet on a long trip! To me moleskin is too sticky but if there is a need, I usually use paper tape which is easy to tear and will last thru a few showers. I just replaced my old roll last week as it was terminally bonded to itself, lol.

Lo, I love Travel Tips by Laurie. I got the Flex Flap cell phone/ereader stand she uses and I used it a lot on my last few trips. I use it at the bedside so I can see my phone/iPad at night if needed. Here is the Amazon link.

https://tinyurl.com/yc5wxxpx

Marie, those pashminas are lovely. I keep thinking I need to get one and wow, one of the blues goes with my basic capsule wardrobe.

Posted by
1124 posts

I have the travelrest pillow too - if you can get it attached well to either yourself of the seat, it makes the horrid economy seats a bit better and I can usually get at least a few hours sleep. I like that it's small and light and tucks in my pack when not using it.

Posted by
847 posts

Lulu348 - no I use the full size pillow to prop against the window, that I lean on. Or sometimes on the tray table and lean forward. Those are the only positions I can sleep in but with the full size pillow I do sleep pretty well. Most of the time I don't use a full size pillow put stuff the (full sized) pillow case with the plane's pillow, blanket (I use my own large scarf as a blanket) and my jacket. I also usually ask the flight attendant for an extra pillow.

Posted by
2042 posts

“The umbrella you buy from a street vendor (the one RS promises will show up immediately if it starts to rain) will start failing within an hour and be totally useless by the next day”

Or not, I have an umbrella I bought in Madrid from a man outside the Prada about five years ago and it is still going strong

Posted by
235 posts

My comfort item is a pillow case that I use both for plane and also hotel pillows. So nice to sleep with my own pillow case. I tie the small nylon cube used to pack it in around the handle of my suitcase to remind me not to forget it at the hotel.

And now, after reading this post, adding peanut M&M’s fun size to the packing list 😋

Posted by
292 posts

My comfort items have been with me a long time. I have ancient Bose Quiet Comfort over the ear headphones. A little bulky but the battery last the whole trip and it's the only way I've ever really heard movies on flights. My iPad for reading. I have some ballet-like slippers with leather soles that I store folded in a baggy. I can slip off my shoes and wear these for the whole flight. With the hard soles, I feel okay trekking to the bathroom in them. I'll rinse them at the first hotel. If I remember, my Dollar Store eye mask. Most importantly, on every flight, I always have my silk pashmina available. Good for keeping the chills away!

Posted by
481 posts

I use a small down boudoir pillow that can be stuffed into the bottom 1/3 of a gallon zipper freezer bag or flattened in a larger zipper bag and put at the top of my suitcase. It weighs almost nothing. I got it online at Bloomingdales when they had a good sale. I found pillow protectors at Bed Bath & Beyond and found small pillow cases online. I tried travel pillows - both C and inflatable but they just don’t work for me. I had neck/shoulder injuries and now can’t travel without a small soft pillow so it has been to 6 continents so far...

My other two must haves were already mentioned - noise canceling earbuds - I use my wired ones more than my Bluetooth ones. The other item is a flat flexible sink stopper.

Posted by
4698 posts

I always take a lightweight bathrobe as my essential comfort item.

Posted by
847 posts

min - "I tie the small nylon cube used to pack it in around the handle of my suitcase to remind me not to forget it at the hotel." That is a GREAT idea! Several times I have left a pillow case and even the pillow (mostly that's on driving trips) in the hotels.

Posted by
2 posts

Not a “comfort” item in the traditional sense but a small tube of superglue certainly gives me peace of mind. Useful for everything from cuts to torn clothing.

Posted by
2329 posts

This trip I decided to bring my comfy wool Giesswein scuff slippers—they are soft but structured, washable, lightweight but have a thin rubber sole and removable insole and after many trips with my flat ballerina slippers that didn’t support my tired feet after miles of walking I decided a few extra ounces would be ok. I am finishing up in London & averaged 8 miles per day so this was a great decision.

I also bought that inflatable travel pillow that’s shaped like a big comma…helpful on the way over when I really need sleep but won’t use going home.

Posted by
37 posts

A simple lightweight scarf does wonders keeping you warm in a heavily air conditioning environment like the plane.

Posted by
866 posts

Good idea Jan, and then you can just wrap it around your purse if you don’t want to pack it.

I also bring compression socks. A pain to get on, but they not only keep my feet and legs warm, but my feet aren’t swollen when we land. I have some black ones with fun colorful stripes!

Posted by
1126 posts

I always carry Peanut M&Ms for a snack.

And now, after reading this post, adding peanut M&M’s fun size to the packing list

another peanut M&M’s junkie here

OK, now I want peanut M&Ms 🤭

On Tuesday I was at an airport and randomly remembered this thread and wouldn't you know it, there was a snack stand with peanut M&Ms beckoning me. I can confirm they do help with a long, boring layover.