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What didn't you use?

Preparing for my first RS tour and am enjoying all the advice on these forums. My version of the question about packing essentials - while fully intending to pack light, what have you taken and then never or rarely used?

Posted by
6599 posts

It's hard to give specifics but watch out for the items that you want to pack "just in case." I've found that most "just in case" situations never happen and I'm stuck schlepping them around. Even small things add up.

On my last trip, I went through everything after I got back and realized that I had only used 25% of the toiletries I brought. Also, I never wore either of the scarves I brought to accessorize outfits. Think about how you dress at home because that is how you will dress abroad. If you enjoy wearing scarves at home, bring them. If you don't, then don't bother because they will sit in your suitcase. If you wear makeup at home, bring it. If you don't, leave it at home. Same with jewelry.

The biggest thing to remember is that if you don't bring something and suddenly need it, it's almost always easy to buy where you are. And that can be a fun experience in itself. There are pharmacies all over Europe. I even bought a bag at TKMaxx in Edinburgh, because my souvenirs didn't fit in what I brought.

I'm leaving tomorrow for 5 1/2 weeks in England, and almost packed a mini flashlight, because I thought "just in case." But then I realized that if I really need a flashlight, I have my phone. I don't need the extra weight. Yes, it's small but the small things add up. However, I am bring a pair of small lightweight binoculars because I plan to go on a few birding excursions in northern England. That is worth the extra weight. Just think very carefully about each piece you put in your bag, especially if it's a "just in case" item.

Posted by
88 posts

I so enjoy reading packing threads! I often learn something new. But I am an outlier here, with my trusty 1 lb of first aid supplies, organized in the smallest size Sea- to- Summit toiletries pouch.
If it turns out I didn't need anything from it once home, I'm thrilled! Especially the Covid- related supplies like an oximeter or the blister care.
If you're going to be primarily in big enough cities on your trip and don't have particular health needs, I get that trying to find what you seek shouldn't be an issue. However, I learned in Italy (after a relative fell the first day and their knee was badly bleeding and ultimately required all of my relevant supplies) that the white "sticking plaster" things sold at the local pharmacie wouldn't stay on- so, fortunately I didn't need bandaids myself in the next couple weeks.
Healthy travels!

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks for your thoughtful replies. I'm actually an experienced traveler and totally agree with you about the pleasures of shopping for necessities overseas. I love pharmacies especially. I was asking more along the lines of travel-light "essentials" that turn out not to be. I'm thinking of my travel clothesline... I've never had a problem finding a place to hang or drape washables in the bathroom, for instance. I thought it might be an amusing thread, although I'm ready to hear advice on something to leave behind that I'm considering taking right now.

PS I once found excellent sticking plasters/Bandaids in Germany!

Posted by
131 posts

Probably others will roll their eyes at my stupidity, but sometimes I bring two fleece pullovers "just in case". It's silly, because I only ever wear one of them. At home, I can wear just the right one when I want (ie, heavier, lighter) but I just don't need them all on a trip!

I usually bring too many books. I can't read that much on the plane, so no need for 4 books. one - or two max - is enough.

OTC medications in France are only available in pharmacies, and they were all closed in one town on Sunday: was very glad I brought immodium with me! So do bring that.

Posted by
6599 posts

I usually bring too many books. I can't read that much on the plane, so no need for 4 books. one - or two max - is enough.

Tony, I used to bring 7-8 paperback books with me, as I read fast and love to read. I read in planes, trains and restaurants. Sometimes, depending on the length of my trip, I would run out of books so would have to find a bookstore with English books, which were always expensive. Imagine my delight when Kindles were first offered. Now I can bring hundreds of books with me (and do), and I'm never at a loss for something to read.

Posted by
15275 posts

I stopped taking a clothesline a long time ago because I rarely used it nor found a place to string it up.

I also stopped taking a sink stopper. Too many sinks were too small to do laundry. Instead I pack an 8 liter dry bag. It weighs less than an ounce and acts like a manual washing machine. It will dry overnight.

I do bring a flashlight because I don't want to use up the battery on my phone. (I've been in a couple of blackouts.) It is flat, is small, and clips to the outside of my personal item.

For OTC meds, I have learned to just take what I need. I ask myself..."It's 11 PM. I need XXX. Do I need it right away or can it wait until the morning." If I need it, I take just enough to get me through the day. The only two exceptions are Naproxem Sodium (Alleve) and Pepto Bismol. Naproxem Sodium is the only pain relief that works for me and it is only available in Europe by prescription. Outside of the UK, Pepto isn't available at all.

I've also stoppped taking an extension cord. I found in some places the electric outlets were further away from where I needed them to be for my phone. So, I took an extension cord. Now, instead, I take a couple of small adapters that click two or more USB cords together. They weigh virtually nothing.

After years of traveling, I've learned what I need and what I don't. I'm constantly upgrading and improving my packing list with newer, smaller items.

One thing I have learned is not to leave something at home that you want but won't take because someone else said you don't need it. If it makes you happy, take it. But before doing that, ask yourself: "Do I really need it, will I use it enough, could I get one easily if I did need one?"

Posted by
15275 posts

I also like going into pharmacies and supermarkets in different countries to see what they have and perhaps discover something I've not seen at home.

Posted by
11 posts

Dry bag, interesting. If I can't fill a sink, though, I just squish the item in my soapy hands until I think it's sufficiently washed. I like your point about refining the packing list over time. It's a kind of puzzle. What's the least to take without causing inconvenience?

Posted by
11 posts

Oh, about laundry - we used to go to a laundromat on every trip, halfway through. In Venice, there was (is?) a cafe across from the laundromat where we drank Aperol Spritzes while we did the wash. Great way to spend a few hours, if time permits.

I'm leaving the travel clothesline behind, I've decided.

Posted by
335 posts

Last year, I was on the verge of dropping my pack of OTC cold meds, tummy meds, etc. Never ever used them, figured I could get them while traveling if I ever needed them. Threw them in anyway for a trip to Sicily , thinking "OK, last time." Well, of course we both got COVID, and we were VERY thankful we had the cold meds for those first few days. It also helped to have the box we could take to the pharmacy to get more of the same/similar. So I think I will continue to take at least a few days' worth.

I used to take an umbrella. Too much weight, rarely used, and honestly much easier to just bring a rain shell (which I've also rarely needed, luckily). Febreze is another item - used to bring the travel size, never used it.

Posted by
335 posts

@alc13 - best laundromat we've ever been in was outside Nerja Spain - gas station-laundromat-convenience store-cafe-bar combo. Had a playground too. Brilliant.

Posted by
11 posts

Yes - ditch the umbrella! Either too small to be useful, or else too heavy.

That laundromat sounds wonderful, @TheOrdinaryRebecca.

Posted by
247 posts

Posted by Bon voyage!

I so enjoy reading packing threads! I often learn something new. But I
am an outlier here, with my trusty 1 lb of first aid supplies,
organized in the smallest size Sea- to- Summit toiletries pouch. If it
turns out I didn't need anything from it once home, I'm thrilled!

Never packing "just in case" items doesn't apply to first aid kits.

Because it's not going to hit you at 3 on a weekday afternoon. It's going to hit you at 3 in the morning Sat night/Sun morning in your hotel with limited supplies in their little shop behind the desk while traveling solo in a town that rolls up the streets at 5PM.

Posted by
14061 posts

Umbrella - I can't tell you the number of times I've bought umbrellas in England, Paris and Italy, lol. The ones you buy are usually heavier because it's hard to find the non-automatic opening ones so then you get a cute one with a Monet or Degas print or that funnily enough matches your capsule wardrobe colors,hahaha. I agonize over taking or not taking. Did not take to Orkney/Shetland and that was fine because it blew gales and the umbrella would have been blown to Norway but I had full waterproof jacket and pants so was good to go. This fall to France, I will probably take an umbrella. Maybe I should be on the lookout for a lightweight one!

Clothesline - Yep, stopped taking this early on in my RS tour "career". I take a 2 gal ziploc bag (reinforced side seams with mailing tape) and a plastic clothes hanger that has a hook so I can dry a shirt, pr of socks and undies at the same time. This weighs ounces.

Bandaids - First RS tour, I was not watching where I was going, stepped off a curb, skinned my knee. Was traveling with my brother and he had exactly 2 large bandaids which I used. I've traveled with them ever since but have never needed them. Probably time to rotate them out of my First Aid kit because they've probably lost their sticky.

Duct tape - Had a small roll of duct tape which I never used but did lend to another tour member when his bag broke and he had to duct tapeit together to get it back home, lol.

OTC meds - always take Immodium, pepto, motrin, allergy and cold remedies. I stopped taking the tylenol with benedryl because I don't really need that to sleep. I've taken a thermometer and pulse oximeter since I returned to European travel in Oct 2021...not sure I will take that with me in the Fall or not. It's with my travel stuff so can leave it out at the last minute.

Sunscreen - I hate sunscreen but take it anyway because I'm allergic to many brands. I use it sparingly so probably take too much but I won't leave it out.

heavy-weight Plastic bag - for sitting on wet or bird poo covered benches in Paris, lol. I take and use it every time.

Binoculars - I take mine too. I quit taking my heavy bins when I downsized to some good compact ones. They fit in my pocket or purse and I use them for birding as well as cathedrals and museums.

Books - I agree with Mardee!! Kindle all the way! I use it for my guide books as well as reading material.

Power Bank - I needed it in Venice in 2022 but didn't have one. Since then I've gotten a new phone and a power bank and have only used the power bank on the airplane to charge up one of my 3 items needing charging (phone, iPad, Apple Watch) so they would be good to go when I got off the plane. I may leave this out next time. It's heavy and if I"m not going to use it...not good.

Fun thread!

Posted by
226 posts

If I’m traveling in the spring shoulder season, I always throw in gloves and a hat. It can still get quite chilly and walking around with cold hands or head isn’t fun. It’s actually challenging to buy such things once you’re there because shops have switched over to spring and summer clothes.

Posted by
247 posts

Posted by Pam

Binoculars - I take mine too. I quit taking my heavy bins when I
downsized to some good compact ones. They fit in my pocket or purse
and I use them for birding as well as cathedrals and museums.

I think I saw this on a Rick Steves packing demo. Don't remember the guides name, but she used her cell phone camera to look at cathedral ceilings. That way you aren't straining your neck looking up all the time. Just hold the phone face up to the ceiling and look down at the screen.

Posted by
4679 posts

On the opposite side, something I always use, but do not pack: a big hand or body lotion. I used to pack tiny ones and use hotel supplied ones along the way.

It has become my "luxury item" to shop local stores and buy a nice lotion.

The funny downside is when, for example, I bought a large "Cashmere" scented lotion in Warsaw. When I got to my departure airport, I realized I had to ditch it or check my bag. Well, I checked my bag and still love that lotion!

At home, I have memories of various trips from the scent of the lotions I bought.

(And no, I don't use the scented lotions on trains or planes.)

Posted by
349 posts

It seems I always end up with a pair of shoes that I didn't wear, thinking I'd need. I think it's worth time, effort and money pre-trip to consider just one pair of shoes that are versatile and "good enough". And if, by chance a second pair of shoes are necessary, shops abound!

I like a comment of one of the other posters who said pack the clothes you wear at home, that is so true. In the past I've taken articles of clothing that I think will "work" better for whatever aspect of the trip, but I don't particularly like and never wear.

I'm seriously considering taking a black "sports-like" bra and undies instead of a swimsuit since it can double. Funny how the function of the article of clothing obscures the actual use/practicality.

Posted by
6599 posts

CW, I used to do that; either bring or buy hand/body lotion. But then I got the idea of making my own lotion bars. I have a silicone tray with plain round cavities, then melt equal portions (4 to 6 oz) of beeswax, coconut oil and olive oil (or shea butter). Once melted, I pour the melted liquid into the molds and cool them in the fridge till they harden. They will keep for a long time, and they are the best things ever for my hands. After using these, I can never go back to hand lotion.

I make a batch about once a year and store them in the fridge in a large ziplock bag. It's especially nice because they're not considered a liquid so no need to put them in with your 3-1-1 items. You can add essential oils for a nice scent but I usually don't bother. When I'm ready for a new one, I put it in a 2 oz. aluminum tin container with a screw top lid. I usually have one at my desk, one in the living room, and one in my purse.

In learning how to pack for budget airlines and TSA:
1). I wear “walking” sandals and leave out the socks and any other shoe.
2). I wear polyester black pants. Can be wadded up, wash easily, and match most anything.
3) Sometimes - I just buy shampoo at destination. Then, leave it there.
I try to carry small packet of toilet paper for late night “just in case” situations. Bailed me out a couple of times. I always carry a small first aid kit. Always glad I have it when needed.

Posted by
11 posts

You all remind me of one of my essentials - Kleenex.

Love the idea of a lightweight hanger with hooks on it. We have some; I just grabbed one for the trip. Also good advice to take along OTC products I"ll probably need.

Posted by
11 posts

My shoe history is that I take a pair that ends up giving me blisters. Longer walks than usual, maybe. So I'll usually have an extra pair of shoes.

Spring and summer packing is always easier than cold weather because the clothes are so much less bulky.

Posted by
10261 posts

I will never travel with just one pair of shoes. If something happens to your only pair there is no guarantee that there will be a shoe store nearby to replace them. I have a very hard time finding comfortable shoes and I certainly don’t want to waste my vacation time shoe shopping. The friend I was traveling with in 2011 found while we were in Paris that she needed new shoes. We spent that entire day shopping and there are other things I would have preferred doing.

Posted by
14061 posts

@alc13 - I forgot to mention I usually have a roll of paper tape in my first aid kit. My brother was a forester for his career and the boots he needed in the mountain forests never really fit his weird feet. He started using paper tape ahead of time on areas that were likely to blister and it works great. MUCH easier than moleskin as you can tear it and it will last for a few showers if you dry your feet thoroughly.

I also take 2 pr of shoes even if pair #2 is not out of the suitcase. I have a hard to fit foot as well and there is no way I"d be able to find something in Europe. I'm down to wearing one brand I have to order from Zappos.

Posted by
118 posts

I really like Mardee's comment about wearing what you are comfortable wearing at home. I have seen women looking quite sophisticated with scarves and pashminas. Both are items I don't normally wear, but somehow thought I would up my fashion game in Europe. Didn't happen for me :)

And since you mentioned you are going on a RS tour, I used to bring something dressier for that last night's dinner. Now I just try to make sure I have something clean at that point in the tour. :)

Posted by
3211 posts

I used to take a door stop, the triangle type, but I found it never fit any of the doors. So after several years, I chucked it.
I used to take a drain stop, but it never worked. I now do Pam's washing system and strengthen a plastic bag. Works much better and I'm not washing in some sink with mystery germs.
My last trip: I took a hiking skort, which I wear a lot at home on the island or off when hiking. Never used it on the Camino Frances. Too much sun there, perhaps. So I had one loose yoga pant for hiking, and an identical pair for evening. It worked out fine as I didn't rip my pants this time...
I do use a clothesline when traveling solo, so I usually include that. The hanger idea sounds interesting...but do I need to buy something else? LOL
I am happy to take my medicine bag and never use much of it. It's awful being sick and alone in a foreign country for me, so I will continue to take it.
I do take a head lamp, because if there is a power outage or emergency it will be needed. I do use the red light to find the bathroom in the middle of the night and not wake my eyes up. haha
My kindle has replaced my airplane book as well (my phone with audio books is used also.)
I no longer take big noise cancelling headphones. I'll either use earplugs or my eye mask with bluetooth speakers.
I used to make a nice sandwich to bring on the plane or in the airport, but I've gotten lazy. I am now another person who brings peanut M&Ms for the plane, and not so good tasting energy bars so they will not be eaten unless I really need them.
But essentially, everything else I bring, I use.

Posted by
4574 posts

I recently spent 6 weeks in SEAsia living out of a carry on. Still had stuff I didn't use, but it was mostly the Covid tests, way too many masks and hand sanitizer...and the temporary medicine cabinet.
Could have used one less top.
Still haven't figured out the ideal number of underwear, but still pack too many.
I do sink laundry but don't pack a clothes line.

Posted by
320 posts

Hair products. I dumped all mine the second day. Hairdryers are not that great in hotels and a hat or hair tie works fine.

‘Cute’ ‘fashionable’ shoes. Worthless. I ended up giving them to a very appreciative maid while having to buy a more practical athletic walking shoe that I should’ve brought in first place.

Anything you can only wear once. I do a capsule of mix and match items. If it’s only a one time outfit item, it doesn’t go in the bag. But I do bring a few scarves or other accessories. I turn packing into a game of creativity.

As many others have mentioned, going to a local apothecary is fun and you can find cool things not available in America.

Posted by
4679 posts

Mardee, what a great idea to have nice lotion that isn't liquid! Thanks for the "recipe." I may have to try that!

Posted by
411 posts

Happy packing, alc13. I’m leaving for England in 4 weeks so this is on my mind too. I never take sink stopper or a bag to wash things in. I shower daily and wash panties and socks then, very quick and easy. Almost always dry by morning. When I need to wash a t shirt or blouse I do the same thing. Almost always can hang it on a hanger (I travel with 2 foldable plastic hangers) in the shower or tub. I think I’ve only had to wash one of the 3 pairs of pants I bring on a trip one time years ago and can’t remember if I used the sink or the shower.

I’m somewhat phobic about being cold and I always travel off season so I’ve had to force myself to not take the extra ‘just in case’ layers of long undies and more sweaters etc, and it’s worked out just fine. Also take one charging cord, not 2 in different lengths, for my phone.

I’m also in the take 2 pairs of shoes club. Always tried and true and previously worn shoes/boots that have been on other trips. My feet are happier when I trade off most days.

(Have a great trip, Mardee! 🍀)

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you, @Lyndash! I've got the packing figured out, I think. Hand-washable and mostly quick-dry clothing, and that hanger idea from this thread; extra shoes, because I've learned I need them; packable raincoat with a large hood (no umbrella); OTC/first aid supplies. Also two new purchases - 1 plug adaptor with multiple charging cable slots (ridiculously excited about this), and the Sherpani Vale bag, which is an attractive-enough purse when folded down but opens into something more capacious when needed. Thanks everyone, this was a lot of fun.

Posted by
247 posts


Do you ever have problems with your lotion bars melting on a warm day?

I found a coconut oil push up stick in the Black hair care and skin care section of the grocery store.

I might have to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by
416 posts

Interesting comments; thanks to everyone for posting. I've found that one pair of shoes is perfectly adequate for my own purposes, even for a 3-month trip, if they're well-made, suitable for extensive walking and the last fits my foot shape. (We're now carryon travelers only, except I'll take golf clubs this summer, hoping to leave them in Scotland.) Brooks Addiction and Hoka Clifton both work well for me. I also take a pair of Teva sandals to wear in the hotel or AirBnB; they take up very little packing space. The one pair of shoes gets discarded and replaced upon return to the USA.

I'd be happier with only two pairs of slacks (Royal Robbins are great) and two pairs of Bermuda shorts, golf variety, but wifey insists I pack more. She also insists I pack sweaters I never wear. Promoting domestic tranquility, I pack whatever clothing she tells me to. I take many prescriptions, so we need to make sure we have a long-term supply. That's proving a bit difficult as insurers don't like to approve 3- or 4-month supplies of expensive specialty meds. But the personal care products I just augment or replace with products purchased abroad.

What I DO pack a lot of is tech: phone, Android tablet, Windows tablet, smartwatch, two Bluetooth headsets, mouse, two power banks and many many charging cords. Occasionally I've packed a second Android tablet, but realized that was overkill. But what I take, I use, and regularly. And wifey has phone, tablet and iBuds (or whatever Apple calls the darn things) of her own. We also take a boatload of adaptors for both UK and EU plugs - we need at least 4 of each, and an extension socket as well. Again - lots of tech.

Posted by
2089 posts

Pretty much the only thing I pack that I don't need is extra underwear, lol. I almost always bring quite a few extra, but I am not sure why;) The one time I deviated and only brought one was a one night trip to my moms, and I had to extend the trip by like 4 days. Yes, we had to take time away from caring for mom to go underwear shopping, lol.

I do not take any books, laptop, iPad, etc with me, just my phone. Sometimes I bring my power bank. I usually have 2 pair of shoes, but in the past would stick with just one.

I do take extra meds with me in case of being delayed, and my OTC kit does need to be replenished a bit. The mom in me never stopped, and I always have quite a few extra bandaids on me. One time with mom, she fell and I had to use restaurant napkins held together with bandaids on her. Worked like a charm! Feminine napkins work well for this too, and we have those in our first aid kit for hiking.

I do love visiting pharmacies on trips as it is interesting to me to see what they have and what is different than here at home.

I am pretty good at packing just what we need, but there are some trips that are unique and I pack more "just in case" items.

This thread reminded me that I need to pack some of this OTC and just in case stuff for my husband for his trip this summer. He can deal with his gear, but he would never think about packing OTC meds etc so I will put together a small baggie for him. He will be sailing for several weeks, so no place to go buy anything if needed.

Posted by
7346 posts

I have a Packing List in Excel that I update after each trip with comments of what I especially wore, didn’t need, etc. It’s been updated several times after 15+ trips. Here’s the comments from last year’s England/Slovenia/Croatia 1-month trip. I did go back & forth about bringing a swimsuit, but I’m glad I did, so I could swim in the Adriatic.

  • I always bring a 32 degree long-sleeve scoop neck micro-thin top just in case there’s cool evenings. I only wore it once during a cave tour.
  • I didn’t need my comb! I had a new pixie cut haircut! (I will bring it in May.)
  • I always bring a tiny tube of Athlete’s foot cream even though I rarely need it. But, being able to extinguish the flame of your toe on fire when trying to sleep is worth it.
  • I didn’t need my pair of lightweight sandals, but for a month trip, I wanted a backup plan for my everyday Keen Rose style sandals.
  • I didn’t use my extra pair of cheap reading glasses, but that’s staying on my essentials list - too much risk of not being able to read my phone, menus, etc.

I stopped bringing these several years ago: an umbrella, airplane headphones, RS rubber clotheline. Also, I stopped bringing several dentist-size toothpaste tubes filled fuller to cover the whole trip. I replaced that with one 2oz. tube of Crest from Walmart. Then I just purchase the smallest tube later on from a European grocery store.

One that hasn’t been mentioned, yet. I will be bringing less paper. I always had the printed reservation for each hotel from and all activity reservations. The hotel clerk rarely even glances at the paper - just needing my name and passport. So, I will bring activity papers and the more expensive hotel reservations, such as the 5-night in Palermo. I do have a screenshot photo of each reservation on my phone, if needed, and train tickets on the Trenitalia app. But I will bring a small piece of paper for each hotel to hand to a taxi driver in case I take one. The info is on TripIt on my phone, but I don’t like to hand my phone to anyone.

Something new I am adding to this upcoming packing is a 5x5” bound sketchbook and a few Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils. I’m going to several small cities where restaurants, museums, etc. close during the afternoon, so I could sketch during that time.

Posted by
2419 posts

Also, I stopped bringing several dentist-size toothpaste tubes filled fuller to cover the whole trip. I replaced that with one 2oz. tube of Crest from Walmart. Then I just purchase the smallest tube later on from a European grocery store.

My husband and I have an ongoing thing about this. He keeps wanting to take one 2oz tube, I keep saying multiple minis are better to throw away as they are used up, thus saving space. He says the 2oz tube gets smaller, also saving space. We both know we are both being ridiculous 😄 (but so far we've taken minis)

Posted by
9704 posts

Mary that makes me laugh !! Love it.

I admit, I bring multiple extra battery chargers. One that is a bit bigger that I can use to charge both my phones on a long train, ferry, airplane, or bus ride; and a smaller one for my purse if I am just out and about for (what's planned to be) a little while.

I got caught out the night of the Nov 13 2015 attacks in Paris without a charging cord or extra battery. Luckily a friend I was with was kind enough to share some of her juice so I could keep one of my phones from dying completely. We were sheltering in place in a darkened restaurant until 3 am, and of course using our phones trying to keep up with rapidly changing information and keep in contact with family and friends. I learned my lesson that night and never go out without a reserve charger and/or plug.

Posted by
1491 posts

I definitely need a second pair of shoes.

I don't pack a toothbrush, I use the one I get in the amenity kit on the plane and throw it away prior to coming home. We're going to Japan next and their hotels have much more amenity kit items available as well.

I buy a bottle of lotion at a pharmacy on landing day.

I am going to leave out my microfiber towel this trip. I have used it a few times, but I think I can do without it.

I use my Pixel phone only, no tablets. One charger.

If it wasn't for the second pair of shoes, I have my bag down to 16+ pounds. Heck, it still is 16 pounds because I sneak my shoes into my son's bag that only weighs 13 pounds.

I take 4 shirts and wear one. I typically choose one that I can leave behind. That makes room for a new scarf to come home with me.

So far, I have never regretted not bringing something on a trip. My old goal was to stay under 25 pounds. On my recent 16 pound trip (with my shoes snuck in my son's bag) I couldn't for the life of me figure what I used to pack that would weigh up to 9 pounds. What the heck was I carrying around with me before?

Posted by
441 posts

Things I packed but did not use:
-A Hydroflask water bottle. There often was not a place to refill it with ice or cold water. I just purchased 0.5 water bottles every few days. Water was also for sale on the tour bus. As a bonus the half liter water bottle fit well in my purse.
-Laundry detergent sheets- I used the hotel soap instead.
-OTC medicine- I always pack a range of items and don't need most of them. When I do need them, I am glad to have it!

Things I did not bring, but wish I had:
-Benedryl stick for bug bites
-Mosquito repellent wipes
-A hat
-one more dress or skirt
-Small reusable shopping bag

Happy travels!

Posted by
193 posts

I agree with Meg about the mosquito repellent packets and the hat--especially important for long walks in a sunny climate.

And I'm definitely a two pair of shoes traveler. I wear the main walking shoes on the plane but pack Teva Voya sandals for spring and summer trips. They only weigh 3.25 ounces. They are waterproof and look nice enough to wear going out in the evening.

Posted by
662 posts

My Bluetooth unit and its charger.
An extension cord.

Posted by
574 posts

Leslie, those are cute and oh so light sandals! Thanks for the link.

Posted by
1 posts

I have loved reading this thread! We are committed to small carry-on plus backpack for each of a family of 4. For a hot 10-day trip to Italy in summer 2023, followed by a cold 5-day trip to Prague:

Sorry we brought:
(1) too many plug converters. Our family of four could have gotten by with two (vs. one per person).
(2) small notebook - ended up buying one during our trip (it's more fun to shop for notebooks and pens!)
(3) small rubber doorstop (to give peace of mind when staying in an OK but not fabulous part of the city)
(4) power banks - we probably had two between the four of us and none of us used them

Happy we brought:

(1) portable rechargeable tiny fans; the one most fought over had a string that one could wear like a necklace and the fan could be pointed upwards
(2) laundry detergent sheets (we had washing machines at each place we stayed but there are never dryers)
(3) a velcro hat clip for drying clothes - very lightweight (search "hat organizer for baseball caps clip velcro" on Amazon)
(4) clothes that we can dispose of in the last few days of travel (e.g. undies on their last days) and replace with new items found at shops while traveling
(5) small first aid kit (did need ibuprofen and bandaids for a few incidents)
(6) microfiber hair towel (for long hair) - dries very fast
(7) all clothes could be layered and matched each other
(8) 2 of us liked our lightweight nalgene water bottles, the other two like buying convenience store bottles that can fit in cargo pant pockets (the guys)
(9) sunscreen that won't cause breakouts
(10) self-packing nylon daypack
(11) tiny crossbody bag that can go outside of clothes or under clothes
(12) scarf for hot days to cover shoulders when going into churches

Wish we'd brought:
(1) we have neck wraps that you can soak with water for long-term cooling gel, but didn't remember to bring them
(2) lighter-colored tops (husband and son brought too many dark colors for hot sunny days)
(3) small binoculars

Happy to buy when we were at our destination:
(1) Hats in the style people were wearing; some we kept, some we lost, etc.
(2) Cheap umbrellas as needed; some places had umbrellas for us to use; at others we left umbrellas for the next guests to use.

Tip: when traveling with my family, we can divide and conquer a bit:
One person brings one small (but not sample-size) toothpaste tube, one person brings the laundry sheets, one person brings the small laundry clips, etc.

The unexpected moment that brought all of us joy at the end of a long hot day: walking from St. Peter's Basilica in Rome toward Castel Saint Angelo, a food truck was selling ices, etc. and blasting Abba songs. As people approached that location, they started singing along and it was beautiful to watch them transformed from tired and distracted to engaged with their companions and the rest of the visitors to that site. We all decided to hang out just to watch people.

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After much traveling and generally adopting a "uniform" wardrobe, I do a few things that make it easy. If it's not winter, I have a thin scarf that I bring on the plane with me to keep me cozy and if I need it on the trip, it's on my person so I don't need to pack it. I wear the same outfit on the day of travel out and the day of travel home. done. I wear everything twice. So if my trip is six days, it's three bottoms and three tops and one extra top just in case. If it's winter, I wear that same scarf daily. I no longer "change for evening." If it's winter, good wool socks like Darn Tough can be worn twice, with a day in between to air out. Same for bras. if it's only six or so days, I will not pack an extra pair of shoes/boots. My preference at home is not to wear the same shoes two days in a row but that goes out the window for packing purposes. I bring a teeny flat Muji sleeve bag that has a few band aids, a bit of precut Moleskin, a few safety pins, a couple of excedrin/advil. anything else like that can be purchased. The less you bring, the freer you will feel and like many have posted, if you are in a city or town (as opposed to the middle of nowhere) it is fun to go to a pharmacy and get anything you need.