Useful Things to Travel with - What are Yours?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by overedge, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    17,444
    I find the taste of Brita water yucky.
  2. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    Totally unfair! I'm jealous!

    I also bring needles and different colored threads. The duct tape idea is great! I had a suitcase zipper go and had to run out to buy a cheap suitcase 2 hours before a flight back from AZ.
  3. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    :confused: :confused: :confused:

    Brita doesn't add anything to water, it only subtracts -- chlorine, minerals, etc. The only possible way it could make water "yucky" is if you like the taste of chlorine.

    But each to their own ...
  4. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    Do US airlines still have freebie blankets & pillows? I know you can't get them on Air Canada unless you buy them -- and then of course they're new, and you get to keep them. Can't remember about Westjet. And I haven't flown any airline other than those 2 for a long time.

    I do remember when they did give out blankets, though, they were in a bag that looked like it had come straight from some kind of cleaner. But seriously, if you're going to start thinking about that ... think about the seats. How often do you think they're cleaned? :eek:
  5. Erin

    Erin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2001
    Messages:
    4,906
    Let us know how you like it, as I very tempted to buy that. I often have travel where I am going to multiple locations and it is such a pain to have to repack over and over again. I have a trip to Europe coming up where I am going to probably have about 10 hotel rooms in 18 days and was not looking forward to repacking every couple of days. This could be the solution.

    I'll post what I travel with in a bit, I really should be working right now :p.
  6. fan

    fan Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2003
    Messages:
    968
    if you use lonely planet guidebooks, you can actually buy just the chapter you need online. i do this, then throw out the pages i've seen as i've visited them, so they're not so heavy.
  7. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    9,815
    Oh that is a good idea. I actually have been using The Rough Guide for the past three years, but maybe I'll get back to using LP again.
  8. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2003
    Messages:
    3,012
    I use an small film camera case for all my adaptors. It is just the right size and keeps everything right at hand. Yes, when I get to a new hotel room my first move is to find the outlets, then plug in all the chargers. I carry a universal adaptor, as well.
  9. pollyanna

    pollyanna Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2006
    Messages:
    8,958
  10. Vash01

    Vash01 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2001
    Messages:
    25,115
    Scissors
    A spare wristwatch
    Flashlight and batteries
    A book (just in case I feel like reading, while waiting for a flight)
    Non-perishable food (e.g.cookies, granola bars)
    A copy of my passport
  11. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    Love the neon duct tape for luggage ID. I use scraps of neon lycra. Left over from the skating days. I tie scraps of different colors to both handles - no one else's looks like mine :lol:
  12. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    And don't forget its uses if your plane crashes and you get stranded on a desert island! Jamie & Adam were able to use duct tape to make shoes, carry water, catch food, build a camp, and I can't remember what all else. Of course they had a few hundred rolls to work with ... might put you over the weight limit on your luggage. :D
  13. Moto Guzzi

    Moto Guzzi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2002
    Messages:
    1,724
    I always bring allergy pills. I'm allergic to feathers and don't always remember to check the pillows to see if any are feather pillows. Benedryl helps me to sleep on long flights.
  14. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Messages:
    18,917
    All depends on where I'm traveling to - if it's my mother-in-laws I take scotch. ;) Lots and lots of scotch.
  15. madm

    madm Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Messages:
    541
    If you are going to a remote country, you definitely should take antibiotics with you. When we went to South Africa, per our doctor's advice we took Cipro because it is a pretty broad spectrum drug used to treat many kinds of bacterial infections. When we got to Africa to meet up with our daughter who was doing an internship there, she was very sick with an unknown stomach ailment for days and we gave her the Cipro to take. She had seen a doctor but they couldn't figure out what she had. There are tons of diseases one could get there. In the end she later determined that she and 3 other interns must have eaten some food contaminated with salmonella (their refrigerator had stopped working for 2 days). At any rate, she got better within a week.

    The other drug we took with us was Zolpidem (same as Ambien) for sleeping. I took one pill on the longest flight (11 hours London-to-Capetown) of our two days of flying, and I slept great for 8 hours. It enabled me to be right on track with the time zone changes since we landed in the early morning. No jet lag at all. You have to have a full 8 hours to sleep though since that sleeping medicine knocks you out.

    I also always take ear plugs with me when I travel. It makes it possible to sleep in a noisy airplane, noisy accomodations, and with a snoring partner.

    Other good items to have with you are electrical convertors that fit the plugs in the countries you'll be visiting. I bought a travel hair dryer that runs on different voltages so that I can use it in the U.S as well as other continents.

    And last but not least, take a little of your own laundry supplies so you can get by in a pinch. You can always wash your underwear in a sink with a little powdered soap and hang it up to dry overnight. A small clothes line and clothes pins are handy if you have room for them in your luggage. When we traveled in South Africa, none of the houses we rented had dryers and only a couple had washers. We packed lightly and did not take many changes of clothes, so we had to do laundry every few days.

    I agree with the other posters who suggested taking extra copies of passports and other important travel documents. You never know when your valuables might be stolen or lost, and having those copies will make replacement much easier.

    If you have not done so already, check with your phone carrier about paying for international calling for the time period you'll be gone. It is pretty cheap (e.g. $5/month) and may come in handy if you are in an emergency situation. While we were in Africa, we used our daughter's local phone (similar to a Go Phone) that she bought cheaply in Africa, and it was perfect for making hotel reservations while driving around the country. Also consider getting travel insurance to cover the unexpected.
  16. madm

    madm Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Messages:
    541
    When traveling to a foreign country, I like to take several forms of currency so that at least one of them will work. I usually take a major credit card (VISA or MasterCard), some US cash, some traveler's checks, and my checkbook. I sometimes exchange a little bit of currency for foreign currency at the airport, so that I can pay for a taxi or food right away when I get to my destination. My preferred method of payment is always a credit card, because they get better exchange rates than you will at a bank while travelling, and there's fraud protection.
  17. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2004
    Messages:
    9,815
    I think this will depend on the country you're visiting. I just came back from India recently, and all the guide books suggest avoiding using credit card for transactions unless you're using it at very swanky 5 stars hotels.
  18. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    Not to mention that so many places in India don't even take credit cards. I don't think I used mine once in the 3 weeks I was there.

    Even more developed countries can prove problematic with credit cards. When I travel in the UK I usually stay in B&Bs, and probably less than half take credit cards. Lots of smaller independent restaurants don't either, esp. when you get away from major centres.
  19. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    Well, a definite thumbs up on the Hey's Jetpack travel organizer. It works a treat. It does of course add a small amount of weight, and takes up on its own probably about the size of a pair of jeans. But so convenient. I can't wait to use it for a longer trip.

    One caveat though: you do actually need a place to hang it! If you're staying at your cousin's house who has her guest room closet crammed with all her extra clothes ... well, not quite so useful then. :D
  20. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    17,473
    Agreed with that advice. But FWIW a few years ago my boss at the time was in Colombia with one credit card, and for some reason the hotel she was at couldn't process the transaction. It took a lot of panicky and $$$ phone calls to our workplace to get the hotel paid some other way (I think that the finance dept at work ended up wiring the money to the hotel). Since then she has always travelled with two credit cards, each a different brand, just in case.
  21. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2005
    Messages:
    17,473
    Also re washing clothes in hotel room sinks - I do this a lot too, but I just work up a good lather with the bar of hand soap and use that, rather than bringing powdered soap.
  22. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    17,444
    re credit cards - good idea to call your card company in advance and let them know where you are traveling and when. They'll often reject transactions from an unusual place (ie outside your usual spending pattern) and put a hold on the card, and you have to sort through numbers and spend time on the phone proving who you are. This happened to me a year ago, and because I've had the card a long time, all the info like workplace, work phone, home phone was all out of date, so it took a bit of doing to sort it out. Happily I was able to make the call from a hotel concierge desk and save myself the international calling charges, but it's something you certainly want to avoid when every moment on vacation is precious.
  23. 4rkidz

    4rkidz GPF Barcelona here I come

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2001
    Messages:
    9,184
    Maybe I can hijack your thread slightly and also ask what everyone might pack for a month backpack trip in Europe (France/Swiss/Austria/Germany/Italy) using trains?

    thanks for all the ideas so far - I loved that luggage hang up thing and am going to buy one for my north america trips.. I also take photocopies of important documents and always remember to tell Visa because I learned the hard way and had my card cancelled! Now I always tell them ;)
  24. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    Well, the first thing you should bring is ME! :D
  25. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    I used to call my credit card(s) companies before I went on a trip ... but the last time I did I got a "why the hell are you telling us?" response from the "customer service" person. :confused:

    I think they'd take more notice and consider it "unusual credit card activity" if I was one of those people who uses their card about once a month, never travels ... and then suddenly has charges showing up in Berlin or Beijing. But since I put everything on credit card (AirMiles!!) and take 4-6 trips a year ...
  26. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Messages:
    4,862
    Will you be taking a smartphone or tablet? I can't say enough good about the various apps that are available for travel. City guides in particular, as well as phrase "books" for the various languages you'll be encountering.

    My absolutely favourite site/app for US and Canadian cities is HopStop. They don't have a huge range outside North America but they do have London, Paris, Moscow, and St. Petersburg -- I'm hoping they'll expand to offer more European cities.
  27. 4rkidz

    4rkidz GPF Barcelona here I come

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2001
    Messages:
    9,184
    I'm having an anti technology trip.. as I often have to travel for work and I'm connected to my blackberry and tablet 24-7 so have informed everyone I won't be taking technology with me but will catch up when I can in but our daughter is bringing her smart phone so can give quick updates etc., I associate technology with both of my jobs and I just want to unplug for a month - if that makes any sense? I'm literally on call all the time so am really looking forward to getting 'lost' for a month :) Now as I have spent a lot of times in many hotels with lots of luggage to be honest.. I have ABSOLUTELY no idea how I am going to pack a backpack for a month.. I have a 65 litre backpack.. just not sure what I will put in it.. figured if I forget something I can buy it.. also we are flying back from Italy so I wouldn't be surprised if I actually bought a piece of luggage for shopping there - at the end of the trip - so just for the 3 weeks previous will need to figure out how to survive with a backpack.. nobody thinks I can do it.. LOL..
  28. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2005
    Messages:
    3,973
    overedge - thanks for the tip about dripping taps. I didn't know about that.

    I travel constantly. It's been (and still is) a learning process. We've gone from 28 inch cases, to 25 inch to 21 inch. We carry many of the things mentioned the thread.

    We always inform our credit card companies of where we are. Our card was compromised in Sweden once. Charges appeared from Toronto. Because the credit card company knew we were in Sweden they immediately cancelled it. Also I carry an extra card for emergencies only. After years of travelling we finally were forced to use it when for unknown reasons the card we usually used was refused.

    I've read the thread but can't remember if anyone has mentioned headlights (flashlights that you wear on your head). They're essential if you're out at night in 3rd world countries where there's often power outages, or just no lighting at all anyway.

    Here's a complete (almost) list of what we carry
    http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/canberra-australia-part-1/

    One thing I forgot to put on that list, and hasn't been mentioned in the thread, is silk long underwear, top and bottom. They're light weight and take up very little space. Invaluable for cold nights, and when the climate can be changeable and brings some cold days. We travel with only light weight summer clothing. Wearing the silk long underwear underneath we're good for the colder times. The silk is knitted rather than woven so there's some give in them to make them comfortable.

    PRLady I want some of those anthropologie pants! :respec:
  29. star_gazer11

    star_gazer11 practising choreo

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    931
    You can do it! I'm a chronic overpacker and I managed to backpack with a 50 litre bag. In retrospect, I could've gone even smaller; your 65 litres is plenty - remember you are carrying your own bags.

    One issue I had on trains was lifting my pack onto the luggage rack above the seats. I'm about 5'3 and on some trains, was not tall enough to get the damn bag on the overhead rack myself. So, make sure you can lift your bag over your head.

    Also check your PMs.
    4rkidz and (deleted member) like this.
  30. madm

    madm Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Messages:
    541
    Of course you can do it! Just think like a boy scout and pack light with 2-3 sets of clothes that you plan to wash frequently and things that you can mix and match. Go to a backpacking store like REI to find lightweight and small items. And don't take things that you can acquire when you get to your destination. When we traveled to New Zealand many years ago, we consciously decided to stay in motels or huts rather than haul our backpacking gear halfway around the world. If you don't have to take your shelter or cooking gear and food with you, that saves a lot of space.

    My husband was an Eagle Scout, and he is a master of packing light. I tend to pack for unforeseen things, like differing weather conditions and social occasions that might come up. He tends to accept that one outfit can suffice for nearly all occasions. He was trained to lay out all his gear, cut it in half, and then cut it in half again. This approach makes you think about what's really necessary and helps you cut out the excess stuff.

    I learned a lesson 30 years ago on our trip to New Zealand that has stuck with me to this day. My bag was lost en route from the U.S. to Christchurch, and we were staying with friends in NZ. They offered to keep on top of the airline to get my bag while we traveled around. I had only the clothes I'd worn on the plane. I borrowed one pair of long pants to hike in and I bought one shirt and skirt to use in towns. When my bag was located many days later (it was stuck in L.A. when the tag ripped off), I realized that I'd survived 10 days with only two outfits and was able to wash clothes nightly. I didn't need all the stuff I'd packed, and promptly packed up much of it and shipped it back to the U.S. We had 3 more weeks of travel left and I wasn't going to haul all that stuff around with me!
    alilou and (deleted member) like this.
  31. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2005
    Messages:
    3,973
    ^^^ Great story about packing light. And one I needed to hear. We're still carrying too much, and we're already talking about what to cut down on.
  32. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2002
    Messages:
    12,772
    Traveling to places where the climate is consistently warm is a big help. Even if the climate is consistently cold. I find it impossible to pack efficiently when I need to be prepared for a least two seasons. I packed for winter and spring when I took a trip to Winnipeg at Easter, and got summer. Then I packed for summer and fall for a trip to Winnipeg in August, and it snowed (really).
  33. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    As a person who packs way too much, I do agree with the concept of packing way lighter. But, with regard to being able to wash the clothes you bring - that is not always easy. If you're staying with friends, you have access to a washing machine. In a hotel, washing/drying anything bigger than a swim suit or underwear is a challenge.
  34. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2002
    Messages:
    18,917
    I stayed in a hotel in Paris one time that had a sign posted in the room that "laundering clothes in the sink was prohibited". :lol:
  35. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    17,368
    They probably had a laundry service that they could pay for :lol:. I can see, however, where having clothing hanging all over the bathroom would make it difficult for housekeeping to clean the room. Not saying you would do that, but I am sure some people do.
  36. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2001
    Messages:
    4,749
    Always report to your credit card that you are traveling! And always have more than 1 on you. I keep them in 2 separate places.
    Sept 11 I was in Ireland walking down the street in Derry and my cell phone rang. It was from the credit card I was using - the guy asked if I made a charge at Target in Pennsyvlania. Me - No, so the card had to be immediately cancelled.
    So I started to use my other credit card - AAA through Bank America. When I use that card out of the country, I immediately get an email of the charge - and a link to contact if not legit. The email came very quickly, even while standing in the store waiting for my receipt. So going forward I will use for foreign trips.

    Laundering in the room - I was at a pensione in Germany and had done laundry and it was hanging in the bathroom and room. The maid had actually flipped my items for me - so they dried quicker. Very thoughtful!

    Also as I get older - I am a little pickier about certain amnenties - in warm climate - always require air conditioning. Also on long trips, I make sure when I am staying at many locations/hotels, that some have laundry. I just don't like handwashing certain items, like jeans, anymore. I don't mind small items.
    I don't pack light. But then I don't complain. I love my suitcases on wheels!
  37. BittyBug

    BittyBug Quadless

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2003
    Messages:
    15,094
    Layers are your friend.
  38. madm

    madm Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Messages:
    541
    I don't recall having access to a washing machine in the dinky motels we stayed in in little towns, but we might have gotten access to one occasionally. We only saw our friends once at the start of the trip and 10 days after our first driving loop on the South Island. I wore most of my clothes 2-3 times before washing in the sink, and I did a lot of layering (shirt, sweater, jacket combos). The outer layers don't really need to be washed. If you are uncertain of the weather, pack some lightweight shirts plus sweaters plus one all-purpose rainproof jacket with a hood. My husband has some nifty cargo pants he bought at REI that have zippers above the knee so that the bottom is detachable and the pants can be worn either long or short. Clothes that are synthetic material rather than cotton will dry much faster if you're doing hand washing.
  39. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2003
    Messages:
    3,012
    One problem with washing in a hotel sink is that the clothes don't really dry well. My usual plan is to pack for 4 days and wash as I go. This summer I was living in hotels for 12 days, and the weather was often very wet (London). By the end of the trip my clothes stank of mildew. Only one outfit was wearable in public!

    BTW, here's a hint to help clothes dry faster. Spread a dry bath towel on the bed and put your wet clothes on top. Roll up the towel and wring it out. The clothes will be pretty dry right then, and will usually dry completely overnight.

    My packing problem is always taking to many non-clothing items. I pack for every possible situation, and end up with bags of untouched supplies. It's a habit I find very hard to break.

    As for traveling light with a backpack, try to make one garment serve two purposes. A coat/jacket is a cover-up for beach/pool/hotel room. A pair of black trousers can be made to look dressy enough for a restaurant, with a black top and silk scarf.
    For women, using pantyliners means packing half the number of underpants. The best PJs are cotton "babydolls". They supply coverage with no extra fabric.
    smurfy and (deleted member) like this.
  40. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2005
    Messages:
    6,023
    Just thought of one indispensable thing that I bring on all trips - a pair of cashmere socks. If I can keep my feet warm, I'm warm.