Is there anything you packed and didn't need or wish you had packed but didn't?
Your question is really too open-ended to answer. The response largely depends on what you'll be doing during your travels. My best advice is to pack for what you know you'll be doing and not the "I might" scenarios. For example, you won't need dressy clothing if packing it hinges on the slight possibility of having tea with Queen Elizabeth.
Seriously, the RS travel list is a pretty good starting point. I've actually winnowed down what I take from this starting point and not once have I found myself wanting something I didn't pack.
Related responses found in this thread:
We have taken 13 RS tours over the last 14 years and will be taking #14 this June. I apologize for not remembering what we have deleted since the beginning of our tours but I do remember taking a hair dryer the first couple of years.
We have not taken a hair dryer in probably ten years. We have replaced an overload of regular cotton clothing with "sink-washable-quick-dry" things, most of which are ExOfficio. We each take 3 tops - two long sleeve and one short sleeve and reverse that mix depending on where and when we are going. We take 3 pairs of pants, one of which is "zip-off" legs so that it can be used as shorts or a swimming trunks. Three sets of underwear and socks. We wash things in our room sink as needed hanging stuff up in our bathroom that is dry by morning. We have added a compass and a small pair of binoculars. It does get easier and lighter as the years have gone by. Happy travels.
I'm with Charlie, what I've deleted or refined over 7 RS tours is taking fewer clothes for a longer period of time and making sure they all wash and dry quickly! I don't use the ExOfficio (except underwear) but I get Tee shirts from Land's End that are a cotton/modal blend which dry pretty quickly. I actually wear them all the time so they are not really a travel wardrobe, but my everyday clothes.
I've got the guide book thing worked out now...use the RS guidebook on a Kindle app on my iPad so I can plan what to do in the free time from the tour.
Which tour are you taking?
We have yet to really use stuff for a picnic, although I always bring a plastic spoon. Usually our picnics have been group affairs with a guide, who always seems to have a decent knife. I now bring one of those plastic skirt hangers that you get from a store. I find I have better results drying pants and shirts. It frequently breaks before the end of the trip, so one less thing to take home. On northern trips, I bring silk long underwear. If it's rainy and cold or the blankets on the bed are thin, it comes in handy.
The short answer is yes, all the time.
I will answer the second part of your question since others are covering the first half. I can't think of anything I didn't pack but wish I did except medicine for stomach issues on our last day. But another traveler kindly gave me hers that she didn't need. Normally you can pick up anything you forgot at a pharmacy.
Thanks, everyone, for your responses. I will especially re-evaluate my clothing and will also consider leaving my hairdryer at home. I'm refining my list based on this thread (and the one referenced in this thread).
We've done 2 independent European trips with accommodations that included youth hostels, so I'm transitioning to RS tours. We're going on Village Italy in June.
To answer my own question, I always take a few ziploc bags and keep one in my backpack. If I need to pack something wet or if I want to save something partially eaten for later, I'm prepared. I also take stomach meds because if needed, I want them immediately.
We took the Eastern France tour and I wished I had packed a pair of gloves for Chamonix. Our first day there was warm but the second not as warm. I got by with layers and had a great time but gloves (small and light) would have been nice
Village Italy is such fun! There was nothing extra I needed on that tour.
I want to assure you that there is almost nothing that you cannot purchase in Europe if you really needed to, even though it may be only an adequate substitute to your "favorite" brand. The only exception may be highly specialized medical supplies or something extraordinarily unique to you as to compromise your functioning if you had to go without (contact lenses, medication, etc). Take a hard look at discretionary items such as hair and beauty products. Really no need to bring a hair dryer, they are in almost every hotel room now (same with soaps, shampoo, etc.). I think it's worth bringing a pair of elegant clothes/shoes if you are (almost) positive you will have an occasion to use them (since they are quite expensive to buy from scratch. European clothes are generally more costly, although they have the same fast-fashion chains there like Zara, Mango, etc).
When you get your list of hotels a few weeks before you leave, take some time to look at each hotels' website. It will give you a lot of information such as if hair dyers are available and if they have air conditioning.
Most European hotels don't have wash cloths. If that's something you use, then bring one along. A lot of our hotels in Italy didn't carry little bottles of shampoo. I brought one small one and took some out of hotel rooms on the way for just in case. In the US, I always use the laundry bags that are provided in the room. They aren't available in Europe. I bring the extra large zip-lock bags to put dirty laundry in.
I forgot to bring my fabric fan (to cool myself) to Italy. It was nice to have while touring very warm buildings without air conditioning. I got one in Venice and it made a nice souvenir, but it would have been nice to have earlier in the tour.
Enjoy your trip.
If you use a hair straightener or curling iron, these really do not do well using a power converter. My daughters and I have killed a few...so last time in Europe, I bought small travel European versions that I always bring along...have to look good for the photos!! =)
I try to limit my items packed to a minimum, in a 20" carry-on plus a tote. I wear loafers to travel and then have a pair of walking shoes packed, at size 13 they take up a bunch of my space. I must admit that I felt a little awkward when I was invited to tea with the queen and had to appear in jeans and fleece, but HRH was most kind and patient, or at least she did not show any deeper negative reaction. Very nice lady. She is now over 90, so I doubt you'll meet up with her during the Village Italy Tour. There were three things that I had to run out and buy cheaply in Barcelona last month: (1) a terry cloth hand towel to carry daily to wipe off my sweaty brow, next time I'll bring it along; (2) a small sharp knife for cutting food, which I could not carry on; and (3) I brought a few of those tiny little Tide packets for hand-washing, but not enough; did not find them in Barcelona, so needed to buy a small box of hand-wash laundry detergent, but did not find as small as I would have liked. A slightly heavy addition to my baggage. Next trip, I'll take a bunch more of the little Tides.
A couple of items I found room for in my Rick Steves Roller that came in handy: pop up umbrella and a squished up duffle bag that became my extra bag once my souvenir purchases needed space. Both of these can be purchased easily however- migrants selling umbrellas pop up quicker than puddles when it rains, and shops and stalls selling cheap bags for souvenirs are easy to find as well.
Otherwise, I too packed along the packing guidelines and found the bathroom washing routine perfectly fine.
Larry's comment about laundry reminded me of my addiction to "Tide to Go," those small red stain remover sticks.
I never leave home without one! I have saved many a blouse or shirt by having one handy. It does need to go into the 311 bag, but then it will be handy for when turbulence during the dinner service causes food to fall on your shirt ...
For me, they only thing I do differently is I pack more than they recommend and have my laundry done for me when I go on tour.
Laundry has been available on every tour about half-way through for somewhere around €20. That includes, wash/dry/fold, however, expect that it will be washed on the equivalent of the "hot" setting on a North American machine.
I wear the same clothes in Europe that I wear at home, with the exception of a few dri-fit T-Shirts for hiking or hot days touring.
Sharyn, I don't require turbulence to dump food/drink all over my clothing when I fly. For the last several years I tuck in my napkin like a bib and life up the little plastic tray or cup my hand under the glass. I don't care if I look like a child, I'll never see these people again (frankly if someone came up to me in 10 years and said, "I remember you, you ate like a child on the flight from Dallas to Madrid in 2010!!" I'd but them a drink or two. They have the best memory of anyone I ever met.) I have spilled so much stuff going and coming on planes I've given up trying to eat like a "normal" adult. %)
I'll throw in a few comments since we have traveled extensively in Europe, independently and on 9 RS tours. We use shampoo for laundry so we no longer need to take laundry detergent. Shampoo is generally available in the hotel rooms, has a nice scent and rinses out easily. Also, a flat sink stopper since all sinks do not have stoppers. It is a flat rubber disk found in the laundry section of the grocery. Pop-up umbrella needs to be small so it can be carried in a purse or daypack. I usually carry clips for hanging up laundry. They are a plastic clip with a hook on the top. I found them in the section of Publix where laundry supplies are stocked. Maybe try Wal Mart or Target. They are useful for clipping clothes and hanging over shower curtain rods. Be sure to roll your wet laundry in a towel, twist and squeeze to remove excess moisture. The clothes will dry faster. We carry a small LED flashlight in case it is needed after dark. We hiked home from dinner one night on the Village Italy tour and needed the light. Also, I carry a small shaker of baby powder to use in shoes for odor control. No need for a hair dryer or very much makeup. Ex Officio underwear is comfortable and dries in a flash - a little pricey but I also wear it at home sometimes for short trips. Have a great time and don't worry about wearing the same clothes over and over. Who knows you in Europe????
"a flat sink stopper since all sinks do not have stoppers."
Linda beat me to it, but it's worth emphasizing (in the US as well as in Europe). If you want or need to use a washbasin filled with water (for whatever purpose), be sure to bring a flat rubber "universal sink stopper" like this: http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/flat-rubber-sink-stopper-in-white/1013307342?Keyword=sink+stopper
If your tour is starting in a city then I typically get my toothpaste, mouth wash, etc after arriving. It save space and weight in my carry on.
I typically take 2 sets of cloths besides the one I am wearing. I typically only use one of these two sets so in the future it will be the one I wear and one extra set. I wash the clothes each evening though.
I'm not a big fan on bring a lot of technology on the tours, I usually leave my iPhone at home. I brought my mini-iPad on the tour I was on in early September. I usually bring TWO travel clocks with me on vacations, they are easy to bring and don't take up a lot of real estate in the luggage. On the last tour I decided to bring only one travel clock, huge mistake. My travel clock went out and trying to find one while I was in Rome was taking up too much valuable free time. I decided to use the Clock on my iPad, it did the trick for me but I plan to always take two travel clocks in the future.
If this is your first time on a RS Tour, you will find being on TIME is very, very, very important. When the guide says to meeting in the lobby at 8:15am, it is nice to be there on time -- maybe a few minutes early. I do not want to be the cause of the tour being held up because I woke up late!!