Useful Things to Travel with - What are Yours?

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

  1. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  2. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    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me a year ago, and because I've had the card a long time, all the info like workplace, work phone, home phone was all out of date, so it took a bit of doing to sort it out.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.
     
  3. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

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    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 ;)
     
  4. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    Well, the first thing you should bring is ME! :D
     
  5. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    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 ...
     
  6. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  7. 4rkidz

    4rkidz plotting, planning and travelling

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    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..
     
  8. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    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:
     
  9. star_gazer11

    star_gazer11 practising choreo

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    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.
     
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  10. madm

    madm Active Member

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    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!
     
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  11. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    ^^^ 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.
     
  12. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    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).
     
  13. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  14. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    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:
     
  15. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  16. smurfy

    smurfy Well-Known Member

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    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!
     
  17. BittyBug

    BittyBug Kiteless

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    Layers are your friend.
     
  18. madm

    madm Active Member

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    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.
     
  19. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Heading for Helsinki

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    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.
     
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  20. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Get off my lawn

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    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.
     
  21. Artemis@BC

    Artemis@BC Well-Known Member

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    They may dry faster ... but there are so many other things wrong with synthetics for travelling imo. The clothes don't breathe and you're more prone to skin irritation. Not to mention stinky polyester syndrome. :eek: Nope, I'll stick to my natural fibres thank you very much.

    This works! Also, hang the clothes up in the bathroom and leave the lights on all night. The heat from the lights will help the clothes to dry.

    Not an option in a hostel or somewhere with a shared bathroom, of course -- but hostels often have drying rooms.
     
  22. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    If I'm doing my own washing (which is not always) I always wash "smalls" (undies, socks, bras) in the shower. I'm in there getting all wet anyway, and it's the most effective place to make sure you get all the soapy water rinsed out properly.
     
  23. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Heading for Helsinki

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    Not to mention the fun of stomping on your soapy undies. You can pretend you are stomping grapes, or tomatoes, and do a Lucille Ball routine. Another game I like to play (TMI, I suspect) is washing the smalls while sitting in a hot bath. I can create a wonderful whirlpool of socks swirling around me....

    I mean, you have to find your fun where you can, right? And hand-washing in a hotel sink begs for some comic relief.

    ETA....If you are really lucky your hotel bathroom will have a heated towel rack. If you are diligent about wrapping and re-wrapping your socks and undies every few hours, they will be perfectly dry by morning.
     
  24. JasperBoy

    JasperBoy Heading for Helsinki

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    I traveled on Swiss rail for a few weeks. The trains all had a space near the door for luggage. We once sat at the very front of the train, with nothing between us and the mountains but a picture window. It was freaky...and memorable. The train staff was very helpful, even held a train for us when we were struggling with our luggage....we did not travel light on that trip and learned a valuable lesson.
     
  25. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Rep for this :respec:
     
  26. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Rep for this :respec:
     
  27. madm

    madm Active Member

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    A useful website is www.rei.com under the Travel tab. There are lots of useful gadgets, luggage, and travel clothing.
     
  28. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    Having clean clothings to wear and looking somewhat fashionable are definitely among of the biggest challenges when travelling for 2 or more weeks and on a budget. For the most part, I think those synthetic shirts and pants - especially the ones that unzipped into shorts - sold at places like REI just scream "TOURISTS", LOL. I do see some people that manage to look quite presentable in those types of travel clothing, but I just usually look like a complete slop by day 2.

    I have a Scottevest for hiding money and small things while out and about in the city, but it does get too hot to wear in warm weather. When I do wear it, I find that it's safer to hide and get money from the vest than from a money belt.
     
  29. madm

    madm Active Member

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    Clothes from REI are mostly for people who are going on an adventure/outdoor type of trip. They are not intended to be fashionable, just practical. They would have been perfect for my trip to NZ where we did a lot of hiking and sightseeing in a car. If you are going to spend a lot of time in cities, these clothes may not be right for you.
     
  30. ballettmaus

    ballettmaus Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't he have to take his shoes off anyway, at least if the plane was evacuated via the emergency slides? :p

    I always have an extra set of underwear and a fresh t-shirt in my carry on luggage on the way to my destination in case my suitcase gets lost.