There used to be a section under packing called packing creative extras. I really liked reading it and picked up a lot of tips. What are your creative extras? My personal two favorites are a pill dose bag with misc paper clips, binder clips and rubber bands and a zip lock bag full of different sizes of zip lock bags.
I always pack a couple of those market bags that stuff into their own little pouch... we used those all the time!
I've found that a small compass is very helpful, especially when exiting from a subway station when I'm not sure what direction the exit faces.
Mostly just the basics for us. I do pack ~4 plastic spoons, forks & knives clumped together and then rolled inside several paper lunch bags, then the whole thing placed inside a couple of Ziploc bags. We use those for picnic lunches.
Otherwise, I take one bright-colored small square pack of Post-its to use for marking items we want to note. When we were in Paris, I would write down the Metro Stop transfer #'s & end points when we were in our hotel. Then, I didn't need to pull out a map or look like a tourist at the Metro - just pulled out the paper and glanced at it, if needed. The stickiness of the Post-it helped me not lose it.
I love packing those extras. Here are a few of my own:
Envelopes: for times when you don't want to just hand open cash for tips to your guides or hotel housekeeping.
Permanent markers: pens/pencils are OK too, but when you need to make a note of something, maybe write your name on your belongings at some point, the permanent market will write on most surfaces (much more so than a regular pen or pencil).
Small plastic containers (such as gladware type): for carrying leftovers from a meal, pastries from a bakery, picnic foods, or any food that you want to carry in your pack and not have smashed. Also handy for loose souvenirs that you don't want crushed, lost, or damage your pack or clothes such as pins, magnets, pens/pencils, or any other small souvenirs
Safety pins: for clothing failures
Duct tape: for luggage/bag failures
I also take one of those fold away market bags and use it all the time and I wouldn't be caught without an assortment of different sized zip lock baggies.
There is a section under Ricks Packing List called 'optional bringalongs' that covers most of these things but creative people always seem to come up with wonderful ideas that others never thought of.
These are ALL great ideas. I love everyone's creativity. I sure miss that link, people would post things that were so simple like Jean and her postit system!! My husband carries a tiny compass, he loves it. I guess his other "creative extra" would be a pedometer. He likes to tracks how far we walk every day. THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
and I also forgot:
Velcro straps: not the regularly sized ones (that have hooks on one side and fuzz on the other), but Velcro also makes small ones that are great smaller applications: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001E1Y5O6?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage
I've used these to secure various gear together.
Sanitizer: not hand sanitizer but small travel sized aerosol spray cans: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00129JTXM?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage
I love using these sanitize surfaces in hotel rooms, such as door handles, TV remotes, the phone, night stand, head board of the bed, faucet handles, etc. before I settle in to the room. And yes, you can bring these on board a plane in your carry-on, so you can do this in the airplane bathroom too. And for the true germaphobe, they come in handing for spraying the bottoms of your shoes before stepping into your hotel room or packing in your luggage!
Small bottle of Tabasco sauce: comes in handy if you find airplane food too bland
KC, those Velcro things look interesting I can see them having multiple uses. Oh airline food, the worst part of any vacation.
yes, those velcro strips are great and very versatile. And because they are on the long side, you can cut them in half or thirds and get even more bang for your buck.
On the Tabasco, we did that for a flight once and realized that airplane food can be so bland as to not react at all to Tabasco, in fact it came out just tasting sour. I should have instead suggested bringing your own seasonings (and avoid the worrying about the liquids rule for carry-ons). Seasonings would seem to be more versatile than hot sauce.
Short 5' extension cord with Euro adapter taped on the prongs on one end and three outlets on the other end. Some hotels only have one outlet and this allows me to run or charge up to 3 devices. Taping the adapter on keeps it from getting lost.
Home-made 4' travel clothes line made by looping and braiding three stands of elastic bands with carabiners on each end. I can attach and stretch it out and hang wet socks, underwear and shirts without pegs. Clothes are almost always clean and dry.
If I'm in a hotel with a TV I use one of my larger ziplock bags for the remote control. I just KNOW in my heart that they are rarely, if ever, sanitized. I immediately slip the remote inside the bag to assuage my chronic germaphobia. ;-)
I use a Tom Bihn "Side Effect" bag on the plane, which holds earbuds, iPhone, gum, Chapstick, tablet, pencil, small Moleskin, etc. The nifty extra is a pair of double carabiners that swivel. These clip to rings on the outside of the bag, and then clip on the seatback pocket. It's easy to reach small items en route, and the bag isn't in the way of folks who share/exit your row. Those little carabiners have changed plane travel for me--no more digging in my carryon for small items or losing things in the (icky) seatback pocket. The idea could be adapted to other small bags/carabiners.
Photos of this are in this thread: http://www.tombihn.com/forums/general-bag-discussion/7037-double-carabiner-4-thumbs-up.html.
- Small locking s-biners are great for keeping backpacks and day bags secure
- I also usually take a couple of backpack straps, which I can use to prop up my feet on the airplane by looping them around the tray tables. http://www.rei.com/product/848429/redpoint-34-webbing-straps-with-side-release-buckles-package-of-2
Marie -- I'm really curious about how you use those backpack straps -- I am short and my legs/feet always get so tired since they can't reach the floor! I have a feeling this could be something really useful for me. Could you explain a little more?
I have a petite sister whose feet also don't reach the floor. She got an inflatable beach ball from the dollar store and uses it as a foot rest when she flies. It's easy to pack and adjustable.
Kim, thanks for asking your question. I was visualizing the straps across two trays, picture hammock, with her feet on top of them. :) I wonder how well this system works when the person seated in front reclines? Beach ball sounds like a great idea.
I like the beach ball idea too. I'm 5 feet tall and on our upcoming flights (three legs to get to Luxembourg) I'll be in the middle seat. The straps in my head seem like they might be an issue when I'm groggy and my husband is trying to get by from the window seat. Although my only reference of straps and my feel are when I'm doing a TRX workout. I am def interested in hearing more about the strap method ! They both sound more comfortable than my method that I have always used which is propping my feet on my under the seat bag.
I throw a couple of fabric softener sheets just loosely in my backpack. Helps keep the dirty clothes from taking over...so to speak! ;-)
I pack a lanyard for the hotel key. At night or whenever I'm in the hotel room, I hang it on the door knob of the hotel room, inside naturally, so I know exactly where it is in case of fire (I'm an insurance/risk manager person in my former career). Sometimes in the cases of fire, one has to return to their room and if you don't have the key, you could be sunk. Also, on my last trip in one hotel I had the bathroom down the hall, so it facilitated having it with me and hands free for middle of the night trips. Coming back to the hotel solo late at night, I'll hang my key around my neck and under my jacket before I leave the restaurant, theatre, etc. That way I know exactly where my key is and it is quickly accessible. I also have a whistle attached, but have never in my life needed it so likely unnecessary.
This year, travelling for 5 1/2 weeks with carry-on luggage only, I ditched both my noise-cancelling headphones and my velvet-lined eye-mask for Sleep Phones, with the band pulled down to cover my eyes for sleeping. I selected soporific music on the audio channel, turned the volume low, and enjoyed the best sleep I've ever had on a long-haul flight.
Kim, you can purchase inflatable footrests. Doesn't the beach ball roll around? Seems like your feet would be constantly slipping off.
My rather large "extra item" handbag goes under the seat in front of me and serves as a footrest.
A washcloth in a small zip lock sandwich bag.
I've used a $0.99 beach ball for years; you can inflate it as much or little as you like. Get a large ball so you can leave it partially deflated yet it's still tall enough to make a difference in your leg/foot height. Don't feel self-conscious with a brightly-colored beach ball under your feet; trust me, someone in that plane is quite jealous ;-) Those inflatable footrests are usually around $20 or so, are smaller, and at some point they are going to spring a leak :-( I'd rather spend the big bucks on my beach balls. They can also be used as pillows, an arm rest, beach balls ;-) , can fill an empty space in a not-quite-full bag if necessary, padding, etc. But you need to buy them in very early spring, because they are a seasonal item. Buy a few...
I like the idea of the 'leg straps'; I can't believe I haven't thought of that myself! They can be adjusted for either your feet or your ankles, depending on what is most comfortable at the time.
I also like the idea of the double S-carbiners for clipping on the top edge of the seat-back pouch (or whatever)! I can adapt any bag with two cheap carabiners! (Sorry, Tom Bihn LOL!)
I've also used the 'wash cloth in a bag', but if it's wet/damp, don't leave it in for longer than a full day (if that long); it will mildew by the end of a long day, and you'll never get that stench washed out :-(
I can't travel without a few scarfs. I use a scarf as a blanket, a pillow (Wadded up), a picnic sheet, an actual scarf, my beach saronge, a head cover or "hoodie" to keep my ears warm and trap in body heat. I only buy Rayon scarfs that are light, roll up very small and keep in heat when doubled up.
Small pair of binoculars, for those sights you will pass close to, but want a closer look. Also comes in handy for train trips, looking out the window at distant castles, bridges, mountains, etc. Rick Steves used to sell a compact pair of binoculars here at the "shop" page.
I have this pair, and they're perfect for my needs:
The same binoculars sold here for $36 are sold on Amazon for $20.
Those weekly pill organizers are often good for earrings or other small jewelry. I like the Muji ones because it's easy to take exactly how many wee jars I need.
(Muji has a US presence but their web site is currently down for a revamp.)
Small binoculars are great for travel, especially churches. Think stained glass, mosaics, frescos - all up where you can barely see them. The facades too with the wonderful sculptures.
I found snack bags at Target that have the zip-lock at the narrow end (most are on the wide end). They are invaluable for keeping little things from getting lost. I put my coins in them to go through security at the airport and to separate coins in different currencies. I keep my ear buds in one so the wires don't get tangled up with other stuff. I use them for just about everything except snacks. The larger bags are good for keeping things together. I can pull one out and quickly find what I need, especially helpful on flights. If you're expecting rain, take a ziplock bag that will fit over your camera and keep it dry.
I take mini highlighters and a small pad of post-it notes and file tabs. They're great for marking pages in guide books. I also take sheet protectors for print-outs, maps, brochures etc. I can keep each destination separate, and the papers are easy to find in my day bag and don't get all crumpled up.
I always carry a canvas tote bag folded up, just in case I see something I want to buy during the day and good for groceries on the way home.