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What worked for you?

Now that we are officially booked for the BOE 21 day tour, I'm reading many posts on what people found to be beneficial on their trips to Europe. Because those posts are found through searches and are spread out, I am hoping some of you would be willing to share your tips in this thread. For example;

Was there a bag(daypack, purse or carryon) that worked really well for you?
Was there a gadget or travel accessory that you really used and liked?
Any apps you would recommend?
Anything you wouldn't bother packing?
Tips on doing laundry while traveling? Hand wash or use a hotel service--what worked for you?
Tips for the bus rides?

You don't have to answer these specific questions. I would love to hear whatever information you can share that might make our trip go a little more smoothly. We have traveled overseas, but not for 3 weeks out of a carryon and not moving around this much.

Thanks!
Rachel

Posted by
4601 posts

Hi, Rachel: You are in for a great time. Will this be your first RS tour?

I'm sure you'll get many many responses on all the topics you raise, and I'll start by praising my favorite bag, the RS Appenzell Day Bag. Even though it's called a day bag, it's my primary piece of luggage. It will hold just about everything I need for a three week or longer trip. (Anything that doesn't fit, or that I want nearer to hand, goes into my "personal item," essentially a largish purse.) The size of the Appenzell - 18"x13"x6 1/2" - is such that it counts as carry-on for even the budget airlines. It has one large section, with a padded compartment suitable for a laptop, and several (three, I think) other zipped compartments. I love mine. I've been carrying it for 6 or 7 years now, and it shows no signs of wear.

I do like a backpack, rather than a roller bag (or "ankle bangers," as I like to call them), if for no other reason than they leave your hands free. A backpack is also much easier to carry up stairs, over cobblestone streets, and into and out of trains and buses. But you will hear from plenty of folks who won't travel without their roller bags.

I'll probably chime in again later with other observations, but this will do for a start. Happy travels!

Posted by
8248 posts

I LOVED this tour!!! Really, it was wonderful! I am FB friends with about a dozen tour members so I "see" them every day and every day...a year later...I still think about this tour.

-I took a RS 22" convertible backpack. By the end of my whole trip, which was 8 weeks including the 3 on this tour, I had bruises all over my arms. I packed it too heavy. It was fine once I got it on my back, but slinging it in to position is what caused my the bruises. This year for 5.5 weeks I used the 20" RS rolling bag. It was just great and I got about the same amount of clothing in it as I did for the 8 week trip. Have a tote bag or day bag for Venice and Monterosso. These are 2 places where you will want to leave your regular suitcase on the bus and just take in enough for your 2 nights. Packing cubes were essential for me to stay organized. I use the Eagle Creek Sil-nylon compression bags. They are very light. I noticed eBags (a website) has some new cubes that look good as well.

-Laundry: I am a sink wash gal. I did it for the 8 weeks in 2014 and for the 5.5 weeks this year. Not everyone likes it, but I do. I did spend the $ on Ex Officio underwear and Smartwool no show or 1/4 crew socks, both of which usually dried overnight. The main official washing spots are Reutte and Monterosso where you can bag up your clothes and the hotel will wash them (or get them washed) for you. Others found laundramats in Florence as well. I always use a reinforced 2 gal (or is it 2.5 gal??) ziplock bag (the kind with the slider on it) for my laundry just because I don't want stuff directly in the sink. This way I could get to a hotel, shower, put a shirt and some unders in soapy water (usually just used shampoo or body wash if the hotel furnished that), zip them up and put the bag in the shower and let them soak while I went out to dinner, then finish up the laundry when I got back to the room.

-Bus: I took a small travel pillow which really helped for back comfort on the bus rides. I also had a bus tote that held, water, snacks, Kindle, guide book (except this year I changed to an iPad Mini with eguidebooks which were great!!), map (do take the Europe map from RS so you can see where you are!), rain jacket, umbrella, etc. I used the bus tote for my overnight bag when going in to Venice and Monterosso. I also did not plan to ~ever~ nap on the bus...but really sometimes you have to use this time to recharge!

-Go a few days early! I spent some time in UK then went to Haarlem the day before the tour. Wish I had given myself another couple of days. I went in to Amsterdam to do the Dutch Resistance Museum which was wonderful, but I did not leave a full day to see Haarlem and I should have. I stayed longer in Paris as well...hooked the RS Best of Paris on to the end of this tour.

-Do every optional thing your guide offers. Spend the extra $ to go with the guide up the Schilthorn and whatever else he/she plans for the free day in Switzerland. Spend the $ on the gondola ride in Venice. If they offer some extra dinners, do that too.

-What time of year are you going? I went in late Aug/early Sept. I took a fleece vest for the Schilthorn day along with glove liners and used them. Whenever you are going have a waterproof (not water resistant) jacket. I used a Marmot Precip for my trip and it was perfect. I also had an umbrella. I needed both. The Marmot folds up small enough to fit in my purse.

-There is a LOT of walking and stairs on this trip. Do yourself a favor and start walking now. Break in your travel shoes. Nothing can mess up your fun like hurting feet. Go for comfort not style with your shoes. No one will look at your feet or your clothes.

Here is a link to my Trip Report which you may or may not have seen.
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tours/21-day-best-of-europe-8-26-14

Did I tell you this trip is great??

Posted by
247 posts

Congrats on booking your tour!

We did the DIY version of the BOE tour 5 years ago and just returned from 3 weeks in Italy. Here are my suggestions/responses to your questions.

I packed only my Rick Steve's Appenzell Daypack and a Tom Binh Small Cafe Bag. Both were perfectly sized for me. (I'm only 5ft 4 tall and the regular Rick's classic day bag was just a little oversized for my needs last trip.) I admit before the trip I was super stressed about spending so much money on one little TB bag but it's well made, waterproof, perfect size and had pockets and holders right where I needed them. The ability to strap all my items inside using the little leashes was AMAZING. I had my cell phone, camera, camera accessories, guidebook materials, breath mints, a small medical kit, Rick's emergency repair kit and other stuff all packed in there with room to spare! LOVE that bag and will take it with me everywhere now. Everything was tied down so it couldn't get pickpocketed, and so I didn't accidentally leave them behind!

The travel gadget we used the most was our cellphones. (T-mobile + Samsung) This probably would not be a necessity for a traveler who is on a guided tour, but it was helpful to navigate and to look for nearby pharmacies or grocery stores and to keep connected with family at home (who demanded daily photo updates of our journey lol). I also was able to document the restaurants and shops we visited by leaving reviews as we went along. After 3 weeks, I don't think I would have remembered all the names and locations without it!

Another favorite gadget would be our Sony RX100 cameras. I've owned the M1, Mark II, Mark III and now the Mark IV of this camera and It is (in my opinion) the perfect travel camera. It is as powerful as most huge SLR's but fits in your pocket. I bought the less expensive and easier to use M1 for my mother to use on the trip and she loved it.

The travel apps we used the most were:
Lifelock (it allows you to store copies of your credit cards, important documents securely on your cell phone and eliminates carrying paper copies).

Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Yelp and Foursquare. It was interesting to see how one rating site had such drastically different opinions about local restaurants. At the end of our 3-week trip I'd say Yelp and Google maps/google reviews are probably the most genuine and accurate...perhaps the travelers that use them are just a bit better traveled? Or have better taste? lol. The Trip Advisor reviews were great sometimes but usually just lead us to tourist traps. Foursquare was somewhere in the middle but did list some hole-in-the-wall-gem type restaurants that weren't even listed on TA so I give them credit for that.

Exsate Golden Hour - This photography app tells you when the "golden hour" is right after sunrise and before sunset...perfect lighting for photography. The app further lists the "blue hour" for night shots and the current moon phases. We used this almost daily to plan photo shooting times, or times to arrive at a scenic overlook (example Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence and top of the Victor Emmanuele monument in Rome).

Toilet Finder App --TMI alert -- I had my gall bladder removed a year ago, so when I need a bathroom... I need one NOW. This app was helpful finding free and paid bathrooms. Worked great in Italy so I'd assume it works well in other parts of Europe.

I just looked through my bag and the items I did NOT use were the following:
Flashlight (cell phone has one)
Alarm Clock (again, cell phone covered this need)
My big journal notebook (I spent 99% of my time out seeing stuff...not holed up writing about it!)
The assorted pens I brought, foolishly thinking I'd want to stay still long enough to sketch anything. lol

In regards to laundry, I much prefer paying a local service to do it. I want to spend as much time as possible exploring!

Bus rides are a great time to nap and recharge!

Posted by
8248 posts

I knew I would forget something....when you get to Europe, start hoarding your coins. Many of the bathrooms you stop at on the Autoroutes are pay toilets. Sometimes you get a coupon for .50 Euro off of a purchase, but you always need .20 and .10 coins, so start saving them right away. You will endear yourselves to your fellow tour members if you have extra change to share when others don't have any for a pit stop!

Posted by
3465 posts

Was there a bag (day pack, purse or carryon) that worked really well for you? RS Classic Back Door Bag. Had it for over 10 years now carries everything I need for my trips and is super light weight. I would rather carry the light bag and save the pounds for the contents instead of wasting pounds and inches on wheels and such especially with the airlines getting so picky about bag size and weight. Civita Day Pack - perfect for the things needed on the bus and while touring the various sites.

Was there a gadget or travel accessory that you really used and liked? My iPhone. Takes the place of all the other electronic gadgets I used to tote with me. Works everywhere in the world I have been so far.

Any apps you would recommend? Google Maps. Worked wonders keeping me from getting lost in Venice! Kindle app for iPhone with the RS book for your tour loaded.

Anything you wouldn't bother packing? Laptop, iPad, flashlight, alarm clock, books, extra shoes, coat and tie. Trying to go light weight and compact, and have never in 12 RS tours needed to dress up (except for one opera in Vienna and they had coats and ties for rent that worked). My iPhone worked well enough for email and everything else I needed to do electronically that the laptop or iPad have turned out to be worthless boat anchors for me.

Tips on doing laundry while traveling? I have always used a service provided by the hotel or suggested by the tour guide (except in Prague where I ended up using a laundromat, long story I might tell sometime). Have occasionally rinsed a shirt or pair of socks in the sink on some of the longer trips. My vacation time is too valuable to spend it doing laundry and the prices charged and quality of service offered by the hotel or suggested service have always been worth the expense.

Tips for the bus rides? Be early to the bus -- always early. You don't want to be the one left behind (and they will leave you behind if you become the habitually late one). Have what you will need for the entire day in your day pack. Choose your seat carefully to get the best views.

Posted by
518 posts

Some thoughts and advice I have, though not necessarily a direct answer to your questions, would be:

  1. Stay hydrated. In our excitement we tend to forget some of the basic health/diet concerns. Remember to eat all your meals, in particular a good and healthy breakfast, don't skip meals.

  2. RS' advice is that you can always "buy things over there" and that if you forget your toothpaste, then it's a good opportunity to shop locally for that. However, being on a tour with time/schedule constraints, I'd err on the side of not having to run around looking/shopping for essentials you should have brought.

  3. Be familiar with your arrival and departure airports. You can check the airports' websites, apps, etc. There may be services and facilities you may need there whether it's last minute shopping, a shower and change of clothes, an "air-side" hotel, lounge facilities, etc.

  4. On laundry, it's underwear and undershirts that I find need the most regular washing. Pants, jackets, sweaters, and other outerwear type stuff can go for a while without washing. I've had great success with a company called ExOfficio and their hi-tech synthetic fabric underwear, to the point where I'll just wear them in the shower as a wash, rather than hand washing in the sink.

  5. Smartwool socks (or any other brand of wool socks). Very comfortable and breathable. They do not absorb sweat and get smelly/soggy the way cotton does. They are expensive, to be sure, but well worth the price in my opinion. I can often wear them for a couple of days at a time before needing wash.

And most important, keep your wits about you at all times. It's when we're at our most excited, most tired, most confused/lost, most fatigued or jet lagged, that trouble arises.

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you all so much for the insight! This is exactly what I am looking for. It is so helpful to get advice from those who have already been there than to just read articles about what "should" work well.

Posted by
865 posts

Re laundry, I usually wash socks and underthings in the sink and let them dry overnight. As for other clothing, I will either go to a self-service laundry (I don't mind having a mental break for an hour) or have the hotel or full-service laundry do it. On my BOE tour in 2010, the main laundry stops were in Reutte (self-service laundry at hotel) and Rome (full-service laundry 10 mins. from hotel).

My favorite thing to take is a small bottle of Febreze Fabric Refresher. Spritz a little on your shirts, pants, jacket after wearing and then hang them up to air; pack them up the next day. Works great!

A couple-few dryer sheets and a Tide stick are handy too.

Posted by
1049 posts

I would recommend that you take a small flashlight to put on the nightstand in case you need to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. Last thing you want to do is to turn on the lights and wake up your traveling partner. I also highly recommend that you download "Ulmon Pro CityMaps2Go" app on your smartphone. With that app, you can download all the city and town maps that you will be visiting for free. When you get the name and address of your hotels from Rick Steves, you can save the location of the hotels on the maps. The app does not use any data, but accesses WiFi signals that are locked and unlocked and locates where you are on the map with a dot. You will never get lost with it. And as I said before, it does not use any of your data. It was great in Venice. Once I showed it to the members of our RS tour, everyone who had a smart phone downloaded it. It susposedly has maps of every city or region in the world. You can practice with it by downloading a map of where you live.

Posted by
66 posts

Burg,
Here's what the wife & I have used on our last 2 - 2 week + trips to Italy (including 2 RS tours).
Wife - - RS rolling carry on - 20 inch, plus a half filled Appenzell, and a Veloce Guide bag for I-pad as a purse and day bag.
Me - - RS convertible backpack, did use the Appenzell once but have now converted to the larger Veloce Guide bag as a personal item. Also use the Veloce guide bag for I-pad as my man bag.
We have also used combinations of these bags on other vacations. We tend to use the Appenzell's more for long weekend trips back home. Works for us.
Gadgets: I-phone, RS clothesline, moleskin.
Laundry - wash underwear, socks while in shower. Wring out, roll in towels to get 98% of moisture out and hang over night. Dry in AM.
Don't bother packing: Alarm clocks, books not on an I-pad or kindle device.
Have a great trip,
Gene

Posted by
66 posts

Burg,
Whoops!!!! forgot to mention my favorite gadget / travel accessory.

My Eagle Creek Packing Folder - medium. About $25. Holds all of my pants and shirts. Works for both of us.
Gene

Posted by
14326 posts

You can leave things on the bus. Take a lightweight bag that folds up to next-to-nothing. You can put things you don't need (like warm clothes that you'll only want for the mountains, travel books for week 2 or week 3, extra toiletries) in the luggage section of the bus. For 1-night stays and any stays that require a lot of walking, or uphill climbs, you can pack a small overnight bag and leave your suitcase in the bus. You'll have some long bus rides. You may want a neck pillow for those (which you can also leave on the bus).

Laundry is a matter of individual preference. Some like to take a bare minimum and do hand laundry every other night, some take 6-8 days worth and only use machines/service and some are in-between. When you get all your tour info, it will include which stops have laundry opportunities, probably more than you'll need.

Posted by
938 posts

Rachel - if you click on my name you can see posts I made in the packing and trip report section. I just returned on 10/31 from the last BOE 21 of the year. It was GREAT and you will have a fabulous time! Although I have not yet written my tour review you can see what I took and used/didn't use for a month trip. I will admit I took too much of the little things to begin with but not overly much.
* There were four of us that used the RS convertible backpack (the guide had two) - loved it where we had stairs, which was almost everywhere
* A few people brought HUGE rolling cases and had great difficulty in places where stairs were the only option
* Do your own laundry when able. I tried to do mine as soon as we arrived some place where we would be there for two days. I did it during the down time immediately after arrival. I took two hangers with clips for pants and three lightweight fabric ones for shirts - needed them as some hotels were skimpy on hangers! I would wash, wring, roll in towel and squish, and hang to dry. If the window had lockable shutters I would hang my clothes on the inside of the shutter and then close the window. In some places I needed to use a hair dryer to help quicken the drying - Haarlem.
Laundry was expensive!!! 14 E to do it yourself in Austria ( 1 load) and 13 E for them to do it and deliver to your hotel in Monterosso. I do not mind doing laundry in the sink and did not need the clothesline, laundry flakes, or sink stopper as my clothes stopped up the sink lol.
* Take a tablet with books pre-loaded for the bus ride. I never really needed my RS big book (which I downloaded) or the language guide.
* I had pre-loaded citymaps2go on my tablet but never really used them as I had looked at maps so much that I didn't really need them. Local maps provided are what you will find yourself using.
* I will tell you that after 2 weeks you will be sick of moving, so you need to be very organized to make packing up faster. I used ebag packing cubes - took two: 1 large for pants and shirts, 1 slim for panties, bras, and socks. I dumped stuff (soaps, etc.) along the way as I realized it would not be needed and did a thorough cleaning out before flying home.
* I bought heavy duty zip close 3-1-1 bags and I am glad I did not use baggies. They would not have held up!
* Save weight EVERYWHERE you are able!
* DO research each city where you will have free time to see what you might like to do.
* I bought a pacsafe 400 to use as a daybag and we used it twice to transport our clothes and 3-1-1 to the hotel and left our backpacks on the bus. It was lovely doing that. I used my large Travelon purse to carry our tablets and a leather bag that held our charging cables and six port hub. I also took an extension cord and needed it in a few hotels.
* For daily use I carried the Travelon slim pouch and it safely held all my stuff and daily cash. I DID wear my money belt when transferring from one place to another. I turned it around backward and never knew it was there.
* I wore everything I took except a short sleeve shirt but would still consider taking less next time. Pants dry slower so taking three pair worked great for me and I would even consider 4 pair next time and take fewer shirts.
* Last, be generous. Hubby and I bought big bottles of rum and vodka and carried them into Monterosso. A bottle of crema limoncello, some mixers, and we hosted an afternoon cocktail party in front of the hotel. About half of the group attended ( two bringing food and their own liquor stash to share) and we all had a great time sitting around and talking, something our guide said generally doesn't happen.

Posted by
1544 posts

All advice above spot on. The only things I can add from my personal experience on 4 RS tours (but not the 21 day best of tour):

  • Test out your wardrobe before you go. Wear things for a whole day and wash them at night and see how fast they dry. Test drive your shoes too (but you don't have to wash them). Nothing worse than finding out on your trip that the lightweight clothes you bought are actually uncomfortable, ill fitting, or don't hold up well to wash-and-wear lifestyle.
  • Use a site like Vivienne Files to visualize your wardrobe and select a small set of pieces that all work together. Before I go, I make a quick reference card (with pictures) of my wardrobe pieces and a list of combinations (Shirt A + Pants B, Shirt B + Pants B, etc.). It substantially cuts down on repeat outfits and highlights how many choices you have.
  • Find a packable tote bag for your "deep storage" on the bus. This will let you put souvenirs, excess clothing, or anything else out of the way so your main bag can remain just clothing and essentials. Examples here, here, and here. I travel solo, but I suspect one of these bags will work for the both of you (unless you're big shoppers).
  • I also pack a very small grocery style bag in my day bag (see sample here). I use this to buy groceries/snacks (so you don't have to pay for a bag at the store), and also as my "bus bag" that I leave behind during the day (economizing weight in my day bag).
  • Streamline your guidebook if you choose to take a paper one. Go to Kinkos/Fed Ex and have them slice of the binding, then take out the pages you don't need, reassemble, and have them put on a comb or wire binding. Saves a ton of weight. Next year I'm going to try all electronic/kindle versions (eek!)
Posted by
34 posts

Best advice I can give you is to not overthink it - you're going on what I am sure will be an amazing trip (I just got back from the BOE 14 three weeks ago). I thought the RS convertible backpack was perfect for my clothes and accessories. Just note that if you carry it on your back, the contents are prone to sliding to the bottom and making the bag lopsided. Just rearrange and hand-carry it before taking it onto the place so it fits. Mine had plenty of room to spare on a B757 overheard on the way over, the A330 on the way back, and even fit in the compartment of the small regional jet on my connection to Pittsburgh.

The Civita day pack is good, but not great. The main downfall is if you encounter a rainy day. I know any backpack would get wet, but the soft fabric just soaked up the water. Not a big deal, just had to air it out that night.

Sink-wash underwear (find ones that dry easily - not 100% cotton) on the first night you'll be in a location. The best "travel-wear" investment was SmartWool socks. They are comfortable, supportive, and easily sink-wash and dry quickly. Otherwise, I bought no real "travel" clothing. I just wore my usual shirts and pants, and used a laundromat one time during the trip. I tended to wear standard white undershirts that could be sink-washed (and preserved my outer shirts) - also, these were good items to leave behind when I needed to create some space in my bag for Italian chocolates! I took 4 short-sleeve, 2 long-sleeve, and one pullover. Marmot makes a nice rain jacket that can fold into itself which is easily packed.

You can't overstate the importance of shoes, but you CAN overspend. Buy a brand you know works on your foot (Sketchers work on my skinny foot with a very high arch), and wear them in. They are your most important asset.

Bring toiletries - someone else mentioned it, and I agree that I have no interest bumbling around a pharmacy looking for contact lens solution while in Paris. It's not an interesting experience to me. The TSA deal is easy - buy travel size stuff and stick them in a quart Ziploc bag.

As for the bus ride? Our bus had a cooler with waters, beers, and wine in it. Grab a couple bottles of water before you leave the bus - it's cheap! Also, in my experience, hotel mini-bar items were reasonably priced, so grab stuff you need for the day before you leave. I'd rather grab the 2 euro bottle of water than go into a convenience shop and get ripped off.

Gadgets - take the smartphone, disable data. I used an app called CityMaps2Go. Download offline maps for your cities before you leave, and take advantage of this. You GPS will put you onto the map, and you can navigate wherever you need. It's like Google maps in a certain city, but all done offline.

Posted by
56 posts

As far as a daypack, I was fine with my standard Swiss Gear backpack. I only went on a 14 day tour & took an additional piece of luggage for clothing & eventually had another bag for souvenirs, but this bad was the one that worked day in & day out. Plenty of pouches, ample space inside, not too heavy & comfortable straps.

I didn't use the Rick Steves fanny pack thing. If I did, I would have felt like punching myself.

No special gadgets, although I did bring my smartphone. I have Sprint & there was no real damage done enabling international service.

Apps? WhatsApp & Maps.Me for Android were very useful for sending messages & locating things internationally offline/in airplane mode.

Laundry? There should be at least one hotel on your itinerary that will do it for you, especially on a 21 day trip. I had read of people washing their clothes in a sink & hanging them to dry & that was not for me. I paid 14 euros & had a huge bag of clothes washed & folded for me overnight. Far less savage.

The bus rides will generally go by much faster than you think. A good guide will have all manner of things to talk about to acquaint you with your surroundings & your agenda for the day. Sleep might be something you'll try, but why would you? You might be looking at some really beautiful scenery. Why risk missing out. The coach should also be big enough & your group small enough that you may have a seat open next to you for added privacy & space.

Posted by
2466 posts

Luggage-I have a bad back and don't get along with backpacks. A roll aboard works best for me. Briggs and Riley make indestructible bags but the sturdy build adds weight. Look at flight crews and you will see they favor Travel Pro. There is a good reason. I have a small Crew 9 spinner (a line that has been upgraded) which is expandable. It's light weight, fits international carry on requirements.. I match that with a small carry bag, have a RS lightweight day bag and I'm good. I favor clothes I can wash by hand (see below). ExOfficio has been mentioned and I am their poster boy. Royal Robbins makes some nice shirts and slacks but get the synthetics avoid cotton. Tilley is known for their hats and I would not travel without one. But they make an entire line of travel clothes as well, but they are expensive. I favor their socks. Washing a few items by hand takes little time. I lost several pair of my favorite Tilley socks when a dryer in France fried them. So, be advised, your travel clothing is not really made for commercial laundry and may not look the same. I find the RS liquid soap to work the best. Must have accessories: a drain stopper, basically a flat plastic disc, a clothes line, a few inflatable hangers which greatly speed up during shirts. Pack much less than you will think you need and you'll be fine. Enjoy!

Posted by
5668 posts

Side note on testing your wardrobe before the trip -- make sure you test for color-fastness. At the last minute I threw in a shirt I was sure I had washed before -- and after the first laundromat stop my husband's underwear came out a lovely... pink.

Posted by
763 posts

Hi Rachel. I have done 5 tours and travelled on my own before and after the tour. I have not dine the BOE tour.

I have a Pacsafe purse; I am unsure of the name but it fits an IPad, though I do not carry the iPad in the bag during the day. In the purse I have a thin light synthetic fabric bag like one would use as a reusable grocery sac. If I begin the day with a sweater and my rain/wind jacket layer and need to shed them, they get rolled up in the thin bag and carried on my arm. My small camera and IPhone are in my purse with kleenex, hand-wipes or the alcohol gel in a tiny container, a notepad, pens, a map, headache meds (Ibuprofen that I can use for sore back, etc.). I did bring a reusable water bottle, but it was too large and I used a smaller lighter bottle I bought, refilled for a few days, then bought another plain water bottle.

I hand washed this last trip for a month. I purchased a "Scrubba" which is a rubber type bag that some laundry fits into; an Australian company. It worked for me with laundry sheets, that I cut up at home. I cut off the scented fabric softener from the sheet. I think they were Purex brand. I also cary 2 laundry lines, one RS and another plain stretchy one, a few plastic clothes pins and a rubber sink stopper for the quick washes in the sink. A thin towel that sops up the water from clothes; I wring the laundry then roll in the towel. The towel is from MEC Like REI, used as a camping towel.

Hand wash everything at home. I was surprised that a thin rayon tunic shirt took forever to dry. Vhoose your clothing well, only comfy things you feel good in! I chose black for pants with turquoise and black shirts. A few brighter scarves to add variety. I took 2 necklaces, waste of weight, though small.

Layering was important for warmth. I have a TilleySilk black buttondown shirt that is a good outer layer and can be worn under a sweater if cooler. I use a Scottevest Chloe hoodie as a thick layer and a rain jacket that fits over the hoodie. I also have a light sweater.

The bus rides were a time to catch up on journal notes but mostly I watched the scenery, which was most interesting. Some snoozed. Others read.

I hope My advice helps.

Posted by
197 posts

1) Loved my Veloce bag for on the airplane and in the bus. Everything at your fingertips.

2) Packing cubes - easy to fund a particular piece of clothing without having to unpack your whole bag.

3) Smart phone. Used it as our camera. Great pictures.

4) Google translate for your smart phone RS phrase book

5) Apps for the airports you will be using -- we were scheduled to fly SEA - AMS -FCO. The morning of our flight we were notified that our flight to Rome was cancelled via the Schiphol airport app. Before Delta or Alitalia notified us. That gave us time to scramble and reschedule our flight. They also have maps of the airport etc