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Long list of packing notes

Bags used on this trip: Carry-on: REI Big Haul 40 liter duffle, bright orange, plus Patagonia Refugio 28 liter backpack, bright red, for excursions.
1. I packed and repacked so many times for my Scotland trip I knew the contents of every packing cube and how each individual item fit into my bag. I could easily see if anything was missing. Nonetheless, I left my plug adapter in a hotel on day 7.
2. Put your things back in the exact location whence they came. Maybe try not to improve your packing and organization systems on the fly.
3. Packing cubes are pretty cool but, really, completely unnecessary. I got along fine without packing cubes for decades.
4. I carry compact 8x binoculars. Great for scenery, sure, but I use them mostly in museums, cathedrals, and such. I can sit down anywhere and get excellent closeup views of artwork, statuary, and stained glass. I see things no one else knows exists.
5. I have a 10” square pouch for plane travel. It clips to the seat pocket in front of me and conveniently holds all my in-flight needs. Keeps everything clean and organized and nothing falls into the icky depths of that tight seat pocket.
6. Anything served on the plane that comes in a little tub, like, say, salad dressing, will burp when opened. Point them away from you. 
7. Packing light is not only about efficiency and mass. On a Rick Steves tour, like it or not, you move roughly every two days, so you will get really good at packing up. The less stuff you have, the easier it is to keep track of it and to pack. 
8. My little iPhone charging stand was an unnecessary but nice frill. Upright and bedside, the phone was easy to see and the stand was a bit more difficult to overlook when packing up.
9. Suggest you bring two plug adapters. Get the brightest colors you can find or put fluorescent orange tape on them. Attach one firmly to your charger cable with a zip tie so you cannot leave it in the hotel plug when you pack up the charger. Bury the other adapter deep inside your bag as a spare.
10. I used a neck wallet instead of a money belt.  
11. Stay hydrated. There are no public water fountains in Scotland like there are in the States. Carry a water bottle, keep it filled, drink often. This implies developing a sensitivity to the location of toilets.
12. I carry a pair of rubber gloves for sink laundry. 
13. If you have a travel clothesline, experiment with setting it up and using it before you leave home.
14. When I was bicycle touring, I learned to enter the showers wearing my cycling clothing and base layers. By the time I washed hair and soaped up the nasty bits, my base layer was reasonably clean. Just pull things off, rinse, wring, hang over an edge, and finish bathing. Much easier than doing sink laundry. Not a technique everyone wants to try but I’ve been doing it for decades.
15. Your fellow travelers will clog the hotel’s WiFi with their social media needs so lower your internet expectations. I was offline for most of my trip, It was a glorious feeling.
16. Even if you find sympathetic ears, I strongly suggest you avoid discussing American politics with your fellow American travelers.

Posted by
1194 posts

Anything served on the plane that comes in a little tub, like, say, salad dressing, will burp when opened. Point them away from you.

I try to puncture the foil top with a fork tine.

Posted by
907 posts

Some great suggestions here. Especially about adapters. We just bought new ones after discovering that our european one has disappeared. Taking backup ones with us for an upcoming trip.

I too do some laundry in the shower. Mostly undies. Shampoo and body wash works great. Otherwise use the sink or a 2 gal ziplock.

Never had any luck using the travel clothes line. Could never find anything to hook the ends to. Now I pack a couple of clothes pins (helps with socks) and sometimes a plastic hanger with swivel hook and attached clips.

Posted by
14288 posts

Thanks for posting your experiences!

1/9. I have a small neon green packing cube (smallest in a set of 3 I think I got at Eddie Bauer outlet ( ) but I've also seen it at TJ Maxx. I use it for charger cords and plug adapters. It goes on the bedside table if there is one or on a counter or dresser and doesn't go in to my day pack until everything is unplugged. I try only to use 1 hotel plug unless there are several together. This time I had a couple of hotels that had USB chargers which was helpful.

  1. SO agree! Same with my purse, too.

  2. Yes, me too. Very useful for reading the stories in stained glass!

  3. Yes, this happens when your RS group arrives at the hotel in the afternoon, hahaha!! Go to the hotel bar, get a drink and you're usually closer to the router! Or just go off-line.

  4. It was very nice recently to be able to completely avoid the American political scene for 3 weeks.

  5. Hope you had fun!!

Posted by
4482 posts

Yes I learned the hard way last summer that I need to take a backup adapter. Mine stopped working and I went to 3 Boots drugstores before I found one. I like the idea of highly visible tape to put on them.

And when I go to Europe part of the vacation is a vacation from US politics.

Posted by
2238 posts

I’m pulling the small binoculars back out of the drawer! I had never thought about using them in museums. Also, the tip about bubble packets.

I also take clothespins and and some form of skirt hanger with clips - it helps pants dry faster and it fits in those odd dips in the bottom of the suitcase.

Posted by
1194 posts

I also take clothespins and and some form of skirt hanger with clips - it helps pants dry faster and it fits in those odd dips in the bottom of the suitcase.

Don’t bother with the hanger. Just take the clips.

Posted by
4950 posts

4 Binoculars for museums - love this, i have a tiny pair, have added it to my packing list.

Posted by
4950 posts

9 love your suggestion to zip tie the adapter to the charger. Definitely going to do that!

I do like the hotels with built in USB plugs. No converters. No chargers. No adapters. E-travel just keeps getting easier!

Posted by
1450 posts

More than Ten years ago I went on some bus trips (foreign and domestic) rooming with my freshly widowed mom, I never needed an alarm clock because she was always up by 6am rustling around in her suitcase like a 100 pound squirrel. I did not have a smartphone, so did not have the bad late night on line habits I have now. Anyway, I always ran the phone charging cable thru my birkenstocks and set my purse next to this, so one pile to grab in case of fire, and I never forgot my cable cord.

Posted by
907 posts

Concur that clips alone are enough as long as there is something to clip to. The plastic is useful if there isn't. Mine weighs less than 3 oz and I normally check luggage going to Europe so not a big problem.

Just bought some large plastic S books in bright colors from amazon. Throwing in a couple this year to see how useful they may be.

Posted by
2252 posts

Thank you for posting this, bogiesan! Lots of helpful hints here, some I did know but several I hadn't thought of (binocs for museums!). Your sharing is much appreciated!

Posted by
3250 posts

If you stay in hotels, and moving every couple of nights, pack the brightly coloured lid from a PB jar or yogurt container; and put your watch, earrings, etc. on it at night.
When you check out you'll spot the bright colour and won't forget your jewelry.
You could put cords, earbuds there too so you can see them easily.
Pack a couple of small bulldog clips to keep curtains shut in your room.

Posted by
1450 posts

Sj, that's brilliant, a million years ago that's what I used the ash tray in hotel rooms for. I have used some of those fabric box or basket things, but I like yr idea. One of those snapped together, and again could run phone through corner and snap it up.

Posted by
700 posts

SJ, great tip. Very cost- and weight-effective!

If anyone wants to go one step further, we use Tom Bihn travel trays for the same purpose. They have the added feature of a drawstring around the top, so you can just close up and pack the contents. For example, we use one of these for my son's 3 small stuffed animals that he has slept with every night since he was a baby. At night, his glasses go in the tray and the "friends" go in his bed. In the morning, the friends go in the travel tray (1,2,3, we count them up) and the glasses go on his face. When we are ready to pack up, we close the drawstring and the whole tray goes in the tetris-like suitcase in its designated spot (see #1 and #2 of bogiesan's notes). Knock on wood, the friends have been all over the world and we haven't forgotten one yet.

Thank you, bogiesan, for the recommendations!

Posted by
3265 posts

I make my own Tom Binh travel trays, or rather bags that can stand up. I make mine a bright color/print, usually orange, so that it will stand out when I scan the room before leaving. Everything that would normally be on my bedside table is in that bag when I go to sleep; ie, eye drops, glasses, earrings (always forget to take them off earlier), iPod and ear buds, and whatever else might be there that night. In the morning, what I don't put elsewhere, stays in the bag, I pull the drawstring and pack it. I'm a quilter so the stand up part is quilted, but there are other ways to make it stand while the drawstring segment is folded down the sides. (They also work wonders for anyone overnight in the hospital.)

Posted by
92 posts

I have been using an Eagle Creek original style "quarter cube" as a travel tray. I call it my bedside kit. I holds chapstick, travel alarm, tissues, ear buds, eye mask, ear plugs, tiny flashlight, benadryl. It holds it's shape with the lid folded back.

Posted by
3250 posts

Glad to help!
I think somewhere in this forum is the tip to reorganize your day-bag before you go to bed at night.
Check for ID, passport, money, cards, keys, etc.
Put it right beside your bed.
That way if you have to get up and get out in an emergency in the middle of the night, everything is there and ready to go.
I love all the travel tips.

Posted by
1259 posts

I received two questions about attaching a bag to the airline seat to avoid using the seatback pocket.

See this video from the Tom Bihn Vimeo collection, just at the beginning, about ten seconds in.

Posted by
3250 posts

Thanks, bogiesan; that's a great little tip video.
I'm off to get some carabiner clips....
Lately I have been bringing plastic grocery bags (if I can find them, our grocery stores here have stopped using them which is great) to line the seat pockets with; then I put my stuff in the bag in the pockets.
You never know what was last in there, and how can they clean them.... ick.
I know...plastic....but better than germs, maybe?
I don't know.

I think we can start a thread about disaster-preparedness with the counter travel bins. Thank goodness - I have not experienced a fire. But, I have experienced a power outage at an INN, locked-out of B&B, sent walking away from a prepaid/guaranteed room (long story, corrupt manager who did this to others and I think was fired over it.). Here in Florida - some poor tourists had to flee a hotel in the middle of the night due to a sink-hole. 1/3 of the hotel collapsed. People literally had to run out the doors.
So, the daypack - ready to grab and go may be a good idea. Small flashlight also and knowledge of the staircase.

Posted by
9902 posts

Bogiesan — thanks for this. Can I be annoying and ask that you add a line or two about what kind of trip this was (how many days, moving a lot or staying in just a few places, anything notable about your lodging) I.e. just to give a flavor? Eventually this post will get separated in time from your most recent trip postings, so it won't be as obvious to anyone who refers to this great thread in the future.

Thanks again for taking the time to put the post together — super interesting.