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Favorite packing hacks

I’m a carry on only travel kinda gal and when we travel in Europe it is typically for 4-6 weeks at a time. Thanks to folks on this forum and other sites, I’ve acquired many packing hacks. I thought I would share my favorite hacks and others can add theirs so we can learn from each other.

Here are a few of mine:

I have my pharmacy print extra labels for my prescriptions and then I put the pills in snack bags and then slap the labels on the baggies.

I am sensitive to some chemicals in shampoos so I travel with a shampoo bar (saves on liquids bag) To keep it from turning to mush, I throw a bunch of safety pins in a small soap case and place the bar on top. This allows the shampoo bar to dry and I have extra safety pins for emergencies.

I use shower caps (got mine at the dollar store) to cover shoes in my suitcase.

I use rubber bands to keep clothes from unrolling

Store my earrings in a small pill organizer. I place necklaces on press n seal wrap to keep from tangling.

Hubby uses a reversible belt (black and brown).

I fill a 3 oz travel bottle with Murphy’s oil soap. Great for stain removal on clothes

Laundry soap sheets in a zip lock bag and a flat rubber drain cover for washing clothes in the sink

Posted by
7346 posts

I love a post to learn more packing light ideas! Thanks for starting this one, bjs323.

Aren’t those laundry sheets nice? They are so handy for sink-washing or running a load in an apartment!

Probably my most helpful hint is that everything that goes into my backpack or personal size tote is written on my packing list as the item and also the exact location where it will be placed. So for instance, the European outlet adapters are in my small red mesh zipper bag, and that is placed on the left clam shell of my backpack. As I pack, each is checked off. During my entire trip, it’s very easy to know exactly where everything is located - saves a lot of time & reduces any frustration trying to find something!

I put a band of neon-striped tiny duct tape around any outlet adapters, phone chargers, tiny flashlight - anything small that might get left behind.

I am one of those crazies who weighs each item and chooses the lightest choice. I set out all of the shirts, for instance, that will dry fairly quickly and that I also like to wear. That saves on the total weight quite a bit. The reason I focus so much on reducing the weight is that I travel by train & like to move locations A LOT! I want to be kind to my shoulders, back and arms to be able to continue traveling that way. : )

For last year’s month-long trip, I brought (including worn on the plane) three shirts, two dresses, 1 pair of pants, plus one 32-degree micro-thin scoop neck long-sleeve in case it was colder in the evening. But I added another dress last-minute because we were celebrating our 45th anniversary, and I wanted that special dress in our photos.

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150 posts

I keep a master spreadsheet for every trip. When I am planning a trip, I make a copy. It has tabs for itinerary, packing, things to do before I leave, restaurant and activity ideas, flights, etc. I have a master packing list with everything on it, with categories. So there are items I may take on a cruise I don't use on other trips. Much easier to cross out items than remember to add.

I keep a "cold weather" pouch (quart ziplock bag) filled and ready to be packed. It's no so much for when I'm traveling in winter or to a really cold destination, but for shoulder season. It contains a pashmina, magic gloves, an undershirt and pair of tights. I can throw it in and it helps me when the warmest I've packed is a pair of jeans and sweatshirt.

I always take my kindle. I get most of my books from the library. If you load a bunch of books before you go (I use a couple of different libraries) and keep airplane mode on while you're traveling, even if your books "expire", you don't lose access until on the internet again.

While not perfect at doing this, for longer trips I always take a 2 day supply of basic OTC meds for just about any trip, I figure I'll either be better in two days, or it allows my travel companion time to find meds, without needing to do so immediately. I use the little pill bags and put a note as to what it is and when it expires.

When traveling in the US, I always carry postcard stamps. I always mail my mom (87) and my neighbor (97) a postcard when I travel. If I'm out of the country, I use the Touchnote app.

Can't wait to see the other tips.

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2193 posts

I'm a weigher of stuff too. For shoe bags, I use the thinnest produce bags from the grocery store/

Posted by
14061 posts

@PandaBear - Ok...what are "magic gloves"?? And what program do you use for your spreadsheet? I'm still using google docs with just a table but might look at something else. I know several people use Wanderlog or TripIt.

Jean! I've just added a note-to-self to get some bright small duct tape. I had a cool roll of aqua jaguar print but it's so old it's just sticky all over. That item was hard to find last year before travel season so I need to look this year now that the supply chain seems to be back to somewhat normal.

I'm not sure if this is a hack or not but last year I started taking a larger plastic bag to sit on, particularly benches in Paris that are either wet or covered in bird poo. Now, I was reading someone's post today, and realize when I'm on a tour in the countryside and am not carrying my purse I need to transfer that to my small day pack.

I think one of our topics for our local RS meet-up on Saturday is how to organize things in your carry on so you can easily retrieve important items if you are forced to check your bag at the last minute either due to a full plane or smaller sizer or whatever. When I went to Orkney and Shetland in August I packed my outerwear (rain jacket, rain pants, ball cap, gloves, beanie, buff) in an Eagle Creek large compression packing cube. On the Intra-island flight I just put that in my carry on as their overhead bins in the prop planes are minuscule. So...I'll be using that idea going forward for anything I think I might not want to go in the hold. I also used it in my very lightweight day pack (Sea-to-Summit silnylon pack) which smushes down to fist-size. The packing cube gives it some shape.

Fun topic...I love packing threads!

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8732 posts

Carry on traveler.

Packing tubes for clothing.

Under the seat carry on is a small Bagallini backpack which is nearly 20 years old.

In it I carry a small empty water bottle that I refill after security. Also a golf pencil with some gaffers tape wrapped around it, leather coin purse and paperback crossword booklet. Small zippered woven coin purse for ear plugs, twist ties, a vintage Glide dental floss tin, couple of safety pins, Listerine pocket packet breath strips and an ancient Bayer Asprin tin for 2 Advil PM for my overnight flight as well one dosage of medication that I take with breakfast.

In carry on luggage, packing cubes for clothes and toiletries. Earrings in small Altoids tin. Liquid soap is placed into empty travel size Scope mouthwash container.

EDIT: I also take a leather valet tray I got on Amazon
for coins and keys. Very practical.
EDIT DEUX: pair reading glasses from 99 cent store and chums. Grab them from the bag and wear them till I’m through security and immigration. Then trade them out for my prescription sunglasess.

Posted by
7346 posts

Pam, I think you can find the small duct tape at a craft store. On Amazon, mine is the Duck brand Mini Zigzag Tape, Multicolor.

Posted by
7346 posts

Just thought of another one. I really pared down what went into my small crossbody purse I wore during the day while we were recently traveling in Spain. I wanted to wear it inside my coat, so it was the perfect challenge to reduce & reduce!

Phone (Apple Pay enabled), TP - used every day!, two Purell singles, two wrapped Lifesaver mints, paper or business card of lodging name/address, a €10, €20. And an enlarger that looks like a flat credit card to read menus.

Traveling solo, I would exchange the enlarger for a real pair of reading glasses. (Money belt is always worn with the essentials.)

Posted by
1417 posts

Pam, magic gloves are those knit gloves that empty look like they would only fit a kindergartner but do magically stretch to fit most adult women. Used to be very standard Dollar General fare

Posted by
88 posts

What a great conversation starter, thank you! I love learning new ideas!
I weigh all my stuff but I don't use a packing list. The best advice for me, learned here years ago, was regardless of trip length, plan for one week of clothes. I always have to make some adjustments anyway when the long-range weather predictions start showing up for the destination.
My house is tiny with very limited storage. When I was working my clothes were mostly way nicer than I would travel in/with and in retirement my daily clothes are way too worn-out to use for travel!
So I have a smallish plastic zippered storage "box" that holds my "big trips" merino collection plus a few other tried and true pieces I love to wear, plus all the little stuff like adapters, money belt, etc. For me it's really fun to pack ( and wear) my designated travel clothes, I just have to add a few pair of underwear ( don't have special ones of those!)
Then it's just figuring out the coat and shoe situation.
I also agree that a consistent system for packing is the overall best tip. The only time I nearly lost something at security was when I deviated from my usual routine. And ditto for leaving hotel rooms.
Lastly, another way I'm likely different is the 1 lb fully stocked first aid kit I've developed over the years. It's in a small Sea-to-Summit toiletry pouch. I don't need a list for it because I just replace anything that has expired and now have a sticky note reminding me to take my oximeter (Covid).

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18 posts

Pam - I have started using Google Sheets recently for my upcoming UK trip. It's pretty similar to Excel and if you have a Gmail account you can easily start making spreadsheets with it. For my trip I've made a separate tab for each different place we're staying and then have listed out all of our activities for each day we're staying in that location. I have the sheet shared with my travel companion so we can both access and edit it and I was able to add a link to it to my phone home screen so I can easily access it. I had started writing everything out in a small notebook but I'm not even sure that's going to make it into my luggage now that I have it all on Google Sheets!

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6599 posts

One recent thing that I changed is instead of bringing along a toiletries bag, I pack three small mesh pouches by Travelon. One is small, one is medium and one is a bit larger. The smallest one holds my make up, which admittedly is not much. I sometimes add a few odds and ends.

The next size up, which is about the size of a Ziploc baggie, holds my 311 liquids. The largest one holds medical stuff like Band-Aids, moleskin, prescription meds, and anything else I’m bringing like that. I found that it’s easier to pack three slim pouches to save space, rather than to try and fit a large and usually wide toiletry bag into my personal bag.

I also use shower caps to cover my shoes, but have found that you can order them in large quantities on Amazon for very little money. I then use the same disposable shower caps to cover bowls where I have bread rising, or cover leftovers in a pan. They are very adaptable. 😊

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442 posts

My favorite packing hack is using contact lens cases instead of normal "travel size" containers for a lot of items that are considered to be liquids. I use the contact lens cases for Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Vick's Vaporub, and make up such as foundation, cream blush, primer and BB cream. I've found that I can travel for at least two weeks with the contact lens containers and they take up hardly any space at all. My husband also uses them to carry his daily aspirin and one prescription medication and because they are small pills, he can fit in at least two week's worth in each.

I also bring either the top of a peanut butter jar or a small plastic lid to corral nighttime items on the nightstand, such as Chapstick and my earrings. This makes it harder for them to get knocked off the table and also keeps me from forgetting them when I'm checking out.

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81 posts

I buy a small roll of dog “poop” bags at Dollar tree. Many uses: cover shoes, wet clothes, leftover food items etc.

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2532 posts

I bring charging cords that are bright colors like red or green as they are easier to see and thus not forget.

I stopped bringing anything in plastic baggies as I couldn't ever seem to find things. I now use zippered ones bought on Amazon. The different sizes and shapes allow me to quickly recognize things.

https://www.amazon.com/JPSOR-Zipper-Colors-Document-Organization/dp/B07DHJ2BB8/ref=sr_1_5_pp?dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.DvOK2x3f-SFAbNu8gjvB_qWxPNBPAljaDQaKZxCR19IW_x4iRxtZsWo6HVIFxraBHqBJ5Ja9GrkQ_-xWiM99Jbn5cZqSwUq6iCHoSM4umr17YAR3Tq2M1MLL21v96RlV1uKK8FqChbxEQzQND2D6VdP_8nKQ1iTey7KNjWrWklebNMyPqnKUY8huvlHl3YZkYragLSCaoYroN3mp4xLwDbzIG6S2ka59f0RgEWylhy1HJKWNG-C86ZDpUWO6gPFoThuCyo6rPJv1W49UiwL-diFaNjkhJnfXr2PX5yk-bX4.VSS6gaWk0Tjbr1gvQ8swfbz2Fw1r76NCWxdqoHq4KZA&dib_tag=se&keywords=clear+zipper+bags+for+travel&qid=1708955979&sr=8-5

After struggling to find things on the plane, I used one of these to put items I would need. I didn't want to have an extra one for the whole trip, so put my OTC medicines in a regular baggie for the plane journey. Then I replaced it with the zippered one.

I use my dog's old medicine bottles for pills-they are smaller. I get labels from the pharmacist. I put multiple pills/supplements in one container-as long as they are visually different. I put all of them into a zipper bag.

I label things using a label maker. I started doing this after I mixed up cream rinse and shaving cream on a trip! They were in different colored tubes but I couldn't seem to remember which was which!

And I do put things in the same place in my suitcase. That makes it so much easier when changing locations often.

Posted by
1398 posts

Yes, I do most of what's been listed here. Google Sheet and Google Doc, plus Photos for screenshots and photos of guidebook pages, plus Google Maps with places flagged. I pack clothes for only four days because we almost always have an apartment with a washing machine. Laundry sheets are great! A 2-gallon ziploc bag to put into the airplane seat pocket to hold stuff I will need during the flight (those pockets are gross and I also know that people loose their stuff using them). I pack a tiny baby washcloth or two. My latest travel invention I felt proud of was hanging up a covid mask to hold my own small bar of soap in Italian rental apartment showers --- there is almost never a soap holder except the ones that hold big bottles of shampoo and body wash.

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2089 posts

I too use contact lens cases for my moisturizer.

I use the little 2"x3" zipper plastic bags for medications and just label those. No regular pill containers as they take up too much room.

I use clear plastic bags that come with new shoes to pack my shoes in the suitcase. Or if I have some shoe mitts from hotels. I was thrilled to see some of those as well as a sewing kit at the last place we stayed. Those are hard to find nowadays!

At most, 2 pair of shoes, the bulkiest one is worn on the plane.

I take a short nightgown and no robe. I take one pair of slipper socks to act as slippers.

At night, I put my rings through my necklace and keep those on the nightstand next to me. Being on the necklace, the rings are not going to get knocked off and lost.

I wear minimal makeup, so my 311 bag has 2 oz containers of shampoo, conditioner and gel, and then all my makeup.

I do take a small ziplock snack size baggie of OTC meds as they are often not OTC in other countries. Even for road trips, you don't want to be going to a store if you are under the weather.

I only take laundry sheets if we are staying for a couple weeks, or like last summer when we were camping for close to 3 weeks.

On our trip a few weeks ago, I used my Rick Steve's bag and once it was fully packed it came in at 16.6 pounds total. It was less, until I remembered the paperwork folder (yes, old school here and I like a backup) and threw my purse in there so that I only had that bag and a personal item for the plane.

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7346 posts

@Nancy8, ” My latest travel invention I felt proud of was hanging up a covid mask to hold my own small bar of soap in Italian rental apartment showers.”

That is brilliant! I’ve been thinking about what I could use to hold a bar of soap in the shower when I’m in Puglia, etc. Usually there’s a couple of showers during a trip that have nothing to hold soap or the little shampoos. They seem to be paired with the tiny enclosure for added fun! An N95 Covid mask with a small carabiner to secure the straps around a pipe near the shower faucet handle should work very well.

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1398 posts

I didn't even need a carabiner --- there was always something or other to hang the mask on. Failing that, I might use a twist tie.

Posted by
2388 posts

I also do many of the things you listed. I also keep a master packing list and update it with notes after every trip. It is pretty rare to add or subtract anything from the list after a decade or so of using it, but it's always good to review.

I also take bar shampoo (and body soap). I discovered the Matador FlatPak soap holder and use that with half of a Dollar Store PVC soap saver inside it (helped with drainage). A definite game changer! I got the black colored Matador and it does kind of disappear in my toiletries kit, but I see they have a white one now. I also take a small plastic zip baggie with assorted OTC meds. Last trip I realized I didn't know how old anything was, so I started over and used a sharpie to write details on the outside of the baggie - name of med, type/color of pill, and expiration date.

On my most recent trip I attempted to streamline the pairs of glasses I need to bring (readers, long distance, and sunglasses) by ordering a pair of bifocal glasses with clip on sunshades. Unfortunately they didn't work great in execution because the lower part of the bifocals (readers) were too high and I kept tripping on things. I had my eyecare professional make a different version and will try those next time before abandoning the idea. Packing is always a work in progress :)

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6599 posts

An N95 Covid mask with a small carabiner to secure the straps around a pipe near the shower faucet handle should work very well.

Or you could just grab some at the doctors office. 😊 Mine always has boxes of masks for people to take. They’re not the good as the N95 masks, but it’d be fine to use for something like that. Then you could save your N95 masks for your face! 😷

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4901 posts

For those who do hand wash and find some rooms with few places to hang stuff, get one of the braided rubber lines for hanging clothes. Then go to a hardware or outdoor store and buy about 20 feet of "para-cord". Very light weight, and takes up very little space. Attach ten feet to each end with really good knots and you'll never have a problem finding a place to tie off the line.

Since even carry on bags are gate checked from time to time, if you travel with a spouse or companion consider packing half of each person's stuff in each bag. If one bag is gate checked and goes on it's own vacation, both will have at least enough to get by until the wayward bag returns.

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513 posts

Many great ideas! Mine is not a packing tip, but an organizational tip related to packing: I have a plastic storage box that I keep in my attic (near my luggage) with all of my travel-related stuff in it (locks, shoe bags, various plastic bags, extra luggage tags, neck pillow, extra passport cover, etc., etc.) This saves so much time when I pack because I don't have to rummage through drawers looking for 100 different items. Most are in the box.

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441 posts

I love the idea of marking small easy to forget items with neon tape! On my last trip, I left behind a nightlight and adapter because they blended in to the wall.

My hacks (many are related to traveling with kids) 😀

  • On the plane, I put a small zipper pouch on in the seat back pocket. It holds my headphones, hand sanitizer, gum, a pen, hand lotion, Dramamine, etc. Then I am not constantly digging in my backpack.
  • I bring Wet Ones wet wipes with me. Great for cleaning hands in a pinch or sticky gelato faces
  • Bring a small nightlight (for my kids but could be great for anyone)
  • Always carry snacks to ward off hangry feelings (beef sticks or protein granola bars)
  • Small lollipops for pressure changes on the airplane or as boost on a long day of walking or hiking
  • I save beauty and make up samples and bring them along when I travel. (Sephora gives you a free birthday gift of sample sizes for their rewards program--even if you seldom shop there).
Posted by
2193 posts

The mention of a nightlight reminded me of something I learned from this forum: take a couple of cheap plastic tea lights. We once bought a nightlight in Europe, but it was big and heavy. These are small and light and do the trick!

And snacks: I always bring Babybel cheeses - they can stay at room temperature for quite a while and still be fine.

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7346 posts

Testing this out! I have a small box of heavy-duty N95 masks with the tight bright yellow elastic thick bands I bought in 2020 in a hardware store that I’ve never used. They smooshed & hurt my face too much, so I used the KN95 ones. The folded “cup” from the beaky style should keep the items inside from falling out of it.

I just cut some small “V’s” along the fold line of one of them for water drainage, and it’s hanging on a sink faucet now to see how quickly it will dry.

UPDATE: this heavy-duty mask material held up well to being saturated and dried fine. After a shower on my last day at a hotel, I can just attach the damp mask to a loop on the outside of my backpack with the small carabiner to dry while I’m walking to the train station, before rebagging it.

Posted by
206 posts

Hi bjs323,
Great topic! Thanks.
Instead of taping cords and tech items, I paint acrylic paint, red or yellow, on the white cords. Tape can come loose and the sticky residue rubs off on the carrying case and my fingers. Anyway, I’m trying paint this trip. Acrylic paint is plastic so it won’t peel off.

Produce bags or shower caps for shoe bags-one of the best tips here, in my opinion, though all are great. I bring a couple produce bags rolled up and rubber banded (weigh just about nothing) for picnics when we need trash bags. I bring plastic grocery bags too, very light and fold up tiny. You never know when you have to stow a wet rain jacket in your day pack.

I like tiny locking carabiners (Nite Ize s-biner microlock, stainless steel). These little guys can attach a light jacket to your daypack, or just lock your zippers on your self-stowing nylon backpack for those crowded public transit times when you want a bit of peace of mind. Not foolproof but a deterrent. These weigh very little.

Snack bags and sandwich bags with zipper closures are great for leftovers from picnics or your continental breakfast you want to save for later. Or for small souvenirs you want to protect.

For guided tours when we stay only a couple nights per place, I make a list and laminate it-this has all things I need to remember to take when leaving the hotel room. My list includes the usual things you’d expect, such as travel tray, laundry, wallet, phone, reminder to take vitamins, fill water bottles, remember adapters and cords, check back of bathroom door, closet, under the bed, etc. This list has saved me many times. I keep it in my travel tray so I won’t forget it. The travel tray has my eyeglasses and I never go without those. So I wouldn’t forget that.

Jean, I weigh everything, too. Sarah Munro has great tips about this. Very helpful. Shaving off fractions of ounces adds up to real weight. Some you can’t help, like your bag, it is what it is. But you can lighten the load.

More stuff isn’t better, it’s just more. It’s a work in progress for me.

I looked at the Matador, didn’t like the closure, and I think it would be hard to clean, might get mildew smell... Not for me, hope it works for you. I have a small soap dish from Clinique sample soap, sleek. I need to bring my special face soap. Nice if you don’t have those requirements but I do.

Last bit not least, adaptability. I try to “pack” that. 😄

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19 posts

When planning for our first overseas trip last year, I stumbled across the website, packinglighttravel.com. She posts lots of tips already mentioned, like duct tape and contact lens cases, but also hair ties and clips, and small cable locks for securing zippers. A couple of interesting examples hereand here

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5574 posts

I prefer bar soap over the liquid bodywash found in most hotels. I slice up a bar of soap so that I have one piece for each hotel I will stay in (e.g., if I am staying in 8 different hotels, I slice the soap into 8 pieces) and put it in a ziploc bag. I take out a slice of soap when I arrive and throw away the used soap when I leave. I never have to deal with a wet bar of soap in my suitcase.

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488 posts

I slice up a bar of soap so that I have one piece for each hotel I will stay in

Laura, I love this idea and will try it on my next trip for sure since that's an ongoing pet peeve of mine. Thanks! I also love the idea of putting everything you'll need on the plane into one small bag. I don't know why that never occurred to me since I always end up digging through my bag during the flight, and the produce bag for picnic trash or really whatever is a great idea for me too.

I love this site. I learn so much here!

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193 posts
  1. Yes, to the shower caps to pack extra shoes!
  2. I typically pack for hiking trips so I always carry a bandana. It has multiple uses, including as a napkin or face refresher, and takes little space. You can wash it and dry it overnight. It avoids using the baby wipes which dry out.
  3. I wrap a long length of duct tape around a 3 inch pencil which is
    always in my lumbar pack along with a tiny moleskin book that is 2.5 x 2 inches.
  4. If you need to cut a thread you can use the cutter on the dental floss container.
  5. Dr. Bonner's peppermint soap in a 3 oz. bottle: it's very concentrated and lasts for a 2-3 week trip. It works for laundry, body wash and even for washing fresh produce.
  6. All the pairs of socks are bundled together with rubber bands stuffed between shoes.
  7. I thread a chain necklace through a straw to keep it from getting tangled.
  8. I carry the drain stopper and the thin clothes line from RS that doesn't need clothes pins. Easy to hang in the bathroom.
Posted by
1 posts

@Laura that is a great idea re: slicing a bar soap!
These are all fabulous tips! I use many of them, but will now get shower caps for shoe covers instead of the thin plastic bags I'm using now (I order them from Amazon to dispose of cat litter scoops); they are thin like produce bags or doggie waste bags and work ok, but I think I might prefer the shower caps.
I have celiac disease and food allergies, so I always make and pack several food allergy cards in the language of the country I visit so it is easy to hand off to a server or chef. It makes dining so much easier and takes the stress off everyone if there is a language barrier.

Posted by
247 posts

Still learning, so lots of reading here and elsewhere,

Many have mentioned travel trays for the nightstand. The Tom Bihn with the drawstring looks great for just gathering everything up in the morning to pack,

BUT I recently noticed this on Rick's Packing list in the Optional Bring Alongs / Picnic Supplies.

Fozzils dishware. https://www.fozzils.com/shop
Wish they had some forget-me-not colors.

Posted by
15275 posts

Fozzils are good but if you want something cheap, Wal-Mart has a "Mainstays" brand plastic plate in 10.5" size and 7" size that are made of plastic and go for 50 cents.

Dollar Tree also has a two=pack of the smaller plates in the childrens section for $1.25.

If you find your charging cable isn't long enough in some hotel rooms, get a coupler that will connect two together. Like this one for USB-C cables:

Basesailor USB C Female to Female Adapter 3-Pack

When you have an efficient way to pack, take a photo of your opened, filled bag. This way, you remember how you "Tetrised" everything together and less of a chance of leaving anything.

Posted by
1331 posts

How about binder clips to close the gap of hotel drapes? Also, I try to block the tiny light from the TV cable box by placing something in front of the light or use a bandaid or painters tape over the light. Sometimes those tiny lights really bug me.

Using a N95 mask for holding bar soap in the shower is a BRILLIANT idea.

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7346 posts

If you’re purchasing shower caps for shoes, I bought a couple of Eagle Creek shoe bags on Amazon several years ago (there’s plenty of cheaper brands available, too) with a zipper to keep the sand or dirt from settling in your suitcase. I use my second one for clothes that I will be washing the next day.

Posted by
411 posts

Thanks for all the great ideas. I’ve added some over the years but I have to confess I’ve never traveled with or had the need for shoe gags of any type. My 2nd pair of shoes are invariably in the bottom of my carry on but I’ve never had them dirty enough to cause any concern. Maybe I’ve just been lucky? I mean, I always wear them in my hotel room…..

Posted by
6599 posts

Dr. Bonner's peppermint soap in a 3 oz. bottle: it's very concentrated and lasts for a 2-3 week trip. It works for laundry, body wash and even for washing fresh produce.

Leslie, great idea! I recently bought a new giant bottle of the Dr. B peppermint soap and happen to have an empty 3 oz. bottle. Perfect! I love showering with Dr. B in the morning! The only problem I have using dental floss to cut sewing thread is that the thread always frays. So if you're trying to get it into a needle, be prepared to spend some time with it (or bring a needle threader).

The Tom Bihn with the drawstring looks great for just gathering everything up in the morning to pack.

khansen, it is! I have two of them now. I use one for my charging plugs, another one for adaptors and then I have a small TB cubelet that is perfect for storing all the charging cords. I just wind them into a circle and slip them in the bag. They stay that way and no tangling. My sister uses her travel tray for jewelry. I don't have that much jewelry, though. 😊

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3159 posts

I know it’s a typo, but I’m giggling at the vision of Frank ll manoeuvring a 105 inch plate into his carryon bag…..😏

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247 posts

Posted by Linda

How about binder clips to close the gap of hotel drapes? Also, I try
to block the tiny light from the TV cable box by placing something in
front of the light or use a bandaid or painters tape over the light.
Sometimes those tiny lights really bug me.

Using a N95 mask for holding bar soap in the shower is a BRILLIANT
idea.

I usually have binder clips handy, but I usually use one of the hotel pants hangers to close the curtains and leave it there if I am in a ground floor room as a message to the hotel - "You need better window coverage." Also keeps me from leaving my binder clips behind.

I really like when they have a roll down shade plus a sheer curtain plus the regular curtain.

I have used a hand towel draped over the microwave clock to block out the LED.

Really love the mask idea for soap. Thinking this may be a way to put a wet bar back in a plastic case and it actually dry out enveloped in the mask? I've read good and bad reviews of the Matador soap bag's ability to dry the soap. With things like shampoo bars, conditioner bars and laundry bars, you really don't want to lose any to the goop phase.

Posted by
247 posts

Adding on to the face mask to hold soap idea,

This could also be a way to get another use out of a used face mask.

Use a used mask to hold a bar of soap. Don't say ewwww yet.

Not like germs on the mask will transfer to the soap. We use soap and water to remove germs from our hands. We use hand sanitizer to remove germs from our hands.

I've been bringing a small atomizer with isopropyl alcohol with me to spray my masks inside and out to get more than one use out of them. Haven't been sick. If I were sick, I might re-think that strategy.

I've mainly used masking since Covid on the plane and if I expect a crowded public event.

Posted by
370 posts

Such great ideas.

I use plastic take away containers gathered on the trip for small fragile souvenirs. They were great to bring small, tissued Christmas ornaments home from Strasbourg. I often take a little bubble wrap with me (or a used bubbled envelope, for packing treasures.

I take a small pill container for 1 or two pair of cheap earrings. My go to pair doesn't quite fit into my contact case. I'm going to see if I can find a little larger case, although I sometimes add other things to the pill container, such as safety pins.

Posted by
4574 posts

Just back from 6 weeks SEAsia with a carry on sized suitcase and my new favorite tote and purse. One has to check bags over 7 Kgs (15 pounds) on internal flights so I used the tote as my carry on item.
The tote bag is an Amazon knock off of "The Foldie". Couldn't justify their costs in Cdn$ and the Amazon versions are about $25CAD. I tried to keep it empty so that my suitcase co trolled my packing limit. Just transferred what I needed for a day to the bag. I kept the bottom zipped to the smaller size except for the flights between Ottawa and Asia when I needed all my winter gear nearby.
My purse is a backpack/cross body Lug Canter bag.
My shoe covers are old newspaper plastic bag sleeves. Kept them around for this purpose for years.
I bought a 3-pack of flat, pliable sink stops and cut one to about 1.5 inches across and another about 2.5 inches across (there are often raised ridges on them and I just cut around one of the ridges. I just packed the two smaller ones and this took care of the challenges we sometimes face of leaky stoppers.
Bandanas...primarily to dampen and wear around the neck in hot climates.
The life saver was WrightSocks Coolmesh socks I tossed in. The darn heat and humidity cause swollen sweaty feet, and these help keep feet cool and blister free. Sadly, I didn't wear them day one and my sandals created large blisters. Adhesive bandage tape and these socks (even in sandals....thank goodness that isn't 'strange' in Asia) made all the difference for foot comfort and the ability to enjoy the rest of the trip.
Laundry sheets....I took them, but I seemed to want bubbles to show my clothing was actually being cleaned so most often just used the hotel body wash or shampoo. After 6 weeks of many washings, I will admit clothing felt like they had some build up, but a good launder in warm water when I got home eliminated that perception. I would intermittently use the laundry sheets...because I had them....
Drying clothes....I rarely use the bathroom for this as there is rarely sufficient air circulation. I launder frequently and hang clothing in the main room where it can catch airflow. Thankfully they offered removable hangers, so no need to McGyver anything or use a clothes line.
Multi colour print tops don't show dirt and reduce the ability to see wrinkles 😉

Posted by
2 posts

For every European vacation I save up old underwear and socks for both my husband and I. You know, ones that are almost worn out or uncomfortable, so you don't want to wear them at home. Every night we each throw away a pair of underwear and socks. No more dirty undies to carry around and as you are on the trip it makes room for souvenirs! My dad used to do this and my sisters and I learned the trick! I save old nightgowns too. I take two on the trip and halfway through throw the old one away and start wearing the fresh one that I take home. Can't stand to wear the same pajamas for 2 weeks without washing!

Posted by
7346 posts

”[bring underwear that is]. uncomfortable, so you don't want to wear them at home.”

Traveling is the time I purposely pick the underwear and clothing in my closet that feel the best, so it’s not annoying me when I am trying to enjoy a trip. I am walking all day - not the time for something riding up or scratchy! If there’s something you hate to wear at home, bringing it to Europe still means you don’t like to wear it.

Posted by
3159 posts

Also, is it responsible to leave your discarded clothes as garbage in your host country?
I would feel bad doing that.

Posted by
869 posts

While it may seem like a great travel "hack," leaving your unwanted/old clothes as trash in another country is irresponsible. There have been discussions on this forum about traveling responsibly and reducing one's carbon footprint. In that spirit, I believe it is a terrible idea to leave your unwanted clothes and make it someone's else's problem. Most clothes generally are not biodegradable so discarding them contributes to landfills. Since 2022, textiles are banned from disposal or transport for disposal in Massachusetts -- we can't put our old clothes and rags in trash bins for our weekly pickup.

So please be a responsible traveler and visitor.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/our-environmental-commitment-level-while-travelling

Posted by
330 posts

I have no desire to wonder about looking like a bum because I brought worn out clothing anywhere. If it’s not nice enough to wear at home I’m certainly not hauling it to Europe

And no they are not thrilled to get your trashy castoffs.

Posted by
4901 posts

...save up old underwear and socks for both my husband and I...each night we each throw away a pair of underwear and socks....

EEEW!

Posted by
2193 posts

@Mary - So what do you do with your worn-out textiles?

Posted by
3211 posts

@Janet: In Massachusetts textiles are gathered separately at various sites and recycled, if the owner can't figure out how to recycle it themselves (sewing skills come in handy). It does make one pause about buying too many clothes, etc. or not sufficiently wearing something out when you become aware of disposal and environmental issues.

Posted by
4574 posts

In my neighborhood we can put cotton, linen or wool items (preferably cut up) into the curbside compost pickup. Stuff that takes forever to rot can be put into a designated dumpster for recycling.
As a crafter, I cut up old textiles into small bits for stuffing for pet beds. Others donate to pet shelters.
Just as tourists may not understand the high cost of utilities like heat, electricity and AC, they often also do not know the restrictions for discarding waste in Europe and their commitments to reduce waste, green house gases, etc. We are just a guest in their country for a short time. Guests don't discard their underwear at friend's homes (I would hope).

Posted by
15 posts

Such great tips!! For those who MUST have their fav scent with them and cant take the bottle - I spray my perfume on pieces of cotton balls and then store in an airtight tiny plastic container so as not to dry out. Then when I want to use perfume, take out a piece, rub it on my wrists and neck and voila, I smell delightful :). l find that one piece can usually be used for 2 applications, so I pop it back in my mini container and use the next night. That's my 5 'scents'

Posted by
7346 posts

Everyone has their favorite clothes, favorite scents, etc. but as a person who is very much affected by scents, especially perfume, men’s cologne, any of those plug-in type fake scents, even some laundry detergent scents, please, please wait until you are not in an airplane, train or any other place people are not able to move away from you, if needed, to wear any perfume. Even some of the airports aren’t doing us any favors by forcing the walking route past the perfume counters - ugh!

Someone may think they’re smelling nice while I (and several others) am sick a couple of days with a migraine because of it. Thank you!

Posted by
247 posts

Posted by Jean

Someone may think they’re smelling nice while I (and several others)
am sick a couple of days with a migraine because of it. Thank you!

Amen to this!

Same with hotels that spray deodorizers in the room or use plug ins. I wake up with brain fog, headache and stopped up sinuses every time.

Posted by
247 posts

Posted by Janet

@Mary - So what do you do with your worn-out textiles?

There used to be a thrift shop in my hometown, more of a one-woman Good Will, that would take all used clothing, even the too worn out to wear stuff. She would remove the buttons and either use them to repair what could be repaired and re-sold or sell the buttons themselves. Then she would cut up the good portions of the fabric for quilting squares. She also took donated sewing scraps for this purpose. A couple of ladies that worked with her would make quilts for children in an orphanage in a nearby town in Mexico.

Posted by
869 posts

@Mary - So what do you do with your worn-out textiles?

Any textiles/clothes/shoes that are in good condition, I will donate - either through work events (such as Dress for Success) or to the Big Brother or Big Sister foundation.

My town has partnered with an organization called Simple Recycling for textiles that cannot be donated/re-used because they are well-worn or torn. We call them and schedule a pickup. They take care of the recycling. Additionally, Massachusetts has a list of textile collection organizations that (1) will pick up; (2) have collection bins; or (3) partner with municipalities for collection events.