10 Little Things I Won’t Go to Europe Without

While packing for a trip to Europe, I took a break for a little photo session of my favorite take-alongs. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff — backpack, day bag, toiletries kit, and packing cubes. No, these are the little odds and ends that 15 years of European travel have taught me to always bring along.

Every seasoned traveler has a little bag of doodads stuffed deep in their suitcase, “just in case.” But I’m evangelical about packing light. So I’ve narrowed my MacGyver bag of tricks down to items that are practical, useful, and light enough that even if I don’t wind up needing them, they’re still worth packing along. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 little items that I may never need in Europe…until I definitely do. (You can download or print the list here.)

 

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1. Two types of tape. In a previous post, I mentioned how I use a little roll of black electrical tape to cover up annoying little lights in a hotel room. I’ve used it for dozens of other things, too: band-aiding a fraying headphone cable, de-linting a sweater, fastening a plug to its adapter so I don’t leave it behind in the socket, and on and on. I also bring another type of tape: a very small roll of white duct tape. I often ship a box of accumulated dead weight home midway through a trip, and this tape is essential for sealing the box and reinforcing its seams. Duct tape has so many other uses, too. For example, I’ve used it to help keep stubborn drapes closed to avoid an early-morning sunbeam wake-up call.

 

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2. Vapur Water Bottle. Of course, you could just buy a bottle of water, then re-use the bottle throughout your trip. But an empty plastic bottle takes up more than its share of space in a tightly packed day bag. Instead, I carry a collapsible Vapur water bottle, which you can roll up and tuck (unobtrusively) into any pocket until it’s needed. The plastic carabiner-type hook on the cap is handy for attaching it hands-free to my camera bag or a belt loop. And they’re durable — mine has survived several multi-week trips.

 

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3. Trader Joe’s “Just Mango Slices”. On an hours-long plane or train ride, junk food is tempting. But instead, I carry a couple of bags of Trader Joe’s dehydrated, unsweetened “Just Mango Slices.” They’re explosively flavorful and hearty enough to cut through any jet lag-induced hunger — and they’re more nutritious than a candy bar.

 

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4. Resealable Plastic Baggies (Various Sizes). It can be hard to find these in Europe. And even if you do, why buy a dozen when you really just need one or two? To save time, I pack away a little bundle of zippered baggies — a mix of gallon, quart, sandwich, and “snack” sizes. I never know just how I’ll use them…until I do (sticky snacks, wet swimsuit, edible souvenirs with a potential for leakage, somewhere to safely stow my phone when I hit the beach or pool, and so on).

 

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5. Sea Bands. I’m fortunate not to have too many problems with motion sickness. But you never know when you’ll wind up on a plane through heavy turbulence, or a bus ride on a serpentine mountain road, or a boat on rough seas. These elastic bands slip onto your wrists, with little beads aimed at pressure points related to combating nausea. This non-medicinal cure has earned many loyal fans among cruise enthusiasts, morning-sickness sufferers, chemo patients, and the perennially carsick.

 

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6. Go Toobs. I’ve tried all different types of little bottles for my shampoo, laundry soap, and other liquids. Most have failed — often messily. But a few years back I discovered Go Toobs, and now that’s all I use. The silicone bottle is sturdy yet flexible, and the cap is firmly built and stays on well. By the way, I always seal little bottles like this in “snack-size” plastic baggies before plane trips — just in case the pressure changes trigger any problems.

 

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7. Starbucks Via Instant Coffee. If your accommodations don’t provide breakfast, it can be a pain to go prowling the cobbles, bleary-eyed at dawn, just to caffeinate. A few packets of Starbucks Via Instant can save the day. (I also carry single-serving packets of sweetener and powdered creamer. ) This is especially handy if you’re renting an Airbnb-type apartment that comes with a way to heat water, but nothing to put in it. A cup of Via (and maybe a couple of mango slices) tides me over just long enough to get ready for the day and go find a real breakfast.

 

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8. Airplane Barf Bags. I’ve never used one of these for their intended purpose. But I never leave one behind when I get off the airplane. I have quite a collection of these practical little enclosures, which are just the thing for organizing receipts, postcards, or other random bits of paper…or for just about anything else.

 

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9. Earplugs. As I mentioned in a previous post, I am an absurdly light sleeper. I’ve tried every possible kind of earplug (believe me), and I’ve settled on this as my favorite brand: Mack’s, which are soft (comfortable) yet substantial (soundproof). Even if you are a heavy sleeper, you never know when you’ll check into your hotel and discover that the new nightclub next door happens to be holding its grand opening rave…tonight. (This actually happened to me once.) Pack along a few sets of earplugs, and you’ll increase your odds of sleeping soundly.

 

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10. Plastic Sheet Protectors. Magazines and assorted papers tend to get beat up when you jam them into a bag, or when you’re fishing around in that bag to find something. For years, I’d eventually succeed in ripping off the cover of any magazine I brought along. But now, to keep papers and magazines organized and tidy, I slide them into plastic sheet protectors. I can see just what’s inside each one: This one has my trip schedule; some extra screen protectors for my phone (which tend to wear out on a long, intense trip); a few of those handy barf bags; and postcard reminding me of my travel motto. Also, did you ever think about how much gross grime and germs live in those seat-back pockets where you stuff your iPad? If you slip it into one of these first…then you never have to.

 

Minimalist packers would say this is all just clutter: “You might not ever need that stuff! And if you do, why not just shop for it in Europe?” But when I’m traveling, every moment is precious. And anytime I have to go on a wild goose chase around a supermarket or department store to find some obscure little item, that’s a museum I didn’t tour, or a gelato I didn’t lick, or a park bench I didn’t get to people-watch from. Each of these items has saved me time, money, stress, or all three. And even if you add them all up, the combined weight and space they take up in my bag is negligible.

Also be sure to check out a related post — my list of affordable, lightweight, and handy electronics-related items I’d never go to Europe without.

What are your favorite clever packing extras?

242 Replies to “10 Little Things I Won’t Go to Europe Without”

    1. Easy: Soap and hot water. I rinse it out very carefully every couple of days, and do a deep-clean wash when I get home.

    2. I happened to buy this exact bottle a few days ago! It says it is dishwasher safe. I however handwashed it by putting a drop of dishwashing detergent in it and sloshing around warm water a few times. The cap unscrews completely for faster drying (which I discovered only a day later when I saw water still in there). It’s also a great option for when you can’t take a water bottle through airport security and must buy expensive bottled water at the airport.

      1. There is a great app called TAP where you can find clean filtered water anywhere. After you go through airport security there should be a station. They are near restrooms or water fountains.

        Last July 4 was a flying nightmare. I was flown and rerouted to 3 different states. It was so early in the morning none of the shops were open. I’m really glad for TAP

        1. Sorry to hear you got “off track ”with your studies . I use Comcast as a launch ramp for the more highly visible shows.
          Vacation is is a great way to sample new places and enjoy new experiences, but you do need to put your contribution, in the mix,

  1. I always take the tapes but wrap a good amount around a flat toilet paper roll. I also use empty prescription bottles for shampoo, etc. and just toss when they are empty! Even with the child proof caps…I do put them in a ziploc bag!

    1. Craft stores sell flat sheets of duct tape in solid colors —black, white, silver—on a non-stick backing, so they lie flat in a suitcase. I take two or three with me. I cut one into strips and slip them into a zip lock bag and keep the others whole and cut strips or bits as I might need them.

    1. I did not like the Starbuck’s instant coffee, too much residue. I also take an international heating coil, with my other brand of coffee, & tea bags..

      1. I dont love the Starbucks ones either, but I find Nescafe instant espresso tubes are really good. (But I like DARK coffee). I can make it espresso size, or more like an American cup of coffee with more hot water.

      2. We also take an immersion heater, along with two plastic Starbucks mugs and Via packets, so we can make our coffee anyplace, anytime.

        Another thing we take are some emergency backpacking meals. There have been a few instances where the immersion heater, the cup to heat the water in and the backpacking meal becomes our emergency meal either in an airport or in a hotel/B&B. Oh yes, and 2 long plastic spoons for stirring and eating.

  2. I put my shoes in separate plastic “sleeves” that I save from my newspaper delivery. They are also good for damp underwear or sox; at least until you can hang them up to air dry!

    1. Like the electrical tape. So frustrating when I can’t reach those “mile-high” flashing smoke detectors, though!

      1. Went to Europe this summer & took 2 things that made our stay better. One was wash rags. Most hotels in Europe do not have them. I packed old ones that I had on hand. One for each hotel we stayed. When we would check out of a hotel, the rag stayed there. The other was a bed sheet. Again, most hotels use duvet covers which are very hot. Took one & used it the whole trip. Stored it in the front compartment of our suitcase. This trip we had all the pleasures of home!

        1. I use to take my old wash cloths and just trash them as I went. I discovered disposable ones that are shaped into a tablet and expand when wet. They are good for a couple of uses. Very compact tube shaped container.

        2. I absolutely agree on the duvets. The first thing we do is to take them out of the cover they’re in and just use the sheet. Sometimes when the A/C is still a bit cold for me (my wife loves a cold room), I’ll also spread out a towel in addition. Even in the winter we find the duvets too hot, but most hotels will send a blanket if there isn’t one already in the closet.

  3. One item I always bring on planes is a small packet of Wet Ones (antibacterial wipes. They lay flat and are great for wiping down the tray/seat belt/etc. before a flight or any place that is questionable.

    1. Yes, “The Doctor’s” TV Show did a “swab test” (for germs) at the airport, and determined that the kiosk screen held the most germs; I used my wipes first thing, on it!

  4. I pack a few “in case” medicine pills into a small plastic 7 day pill minder. ( a couple of bucks at CVS) Why carry an entire bottle of Zyrtec when you may only need a few. Make notes with a sharpie on each little compartment. But you can identify every pill you have using the code imprint on it. http://www.webmd.com/pill-identification/

    1. I buy a package of small plastic zip top bags, about 3” x 3” (at the pharmacy, where the pill boxes are) and put my medications in them, labeled for each day of my trip. I put the filled bags in a bigger zippie. They fit easily into my carryon, and I can make sure I don’t miss a day. They’re the perfect size for a handful of almonds for a quick snack, hair clips, or other small items easily lost in the bottom of my purse!

      1. I save the tiny plastic bags they put extra buttons in, or if you buy earrings or something. I put my daily pills in those

        1. Don’t you have to carry pills in the original bottles? We are going overseas for 23 days and I’ve been stressing about all our pills. If I can use a pill carrier or baggies I definitely will, as I take 8 pills/vitamins a day, and my husband more. Am I behind the times? Can you just pack them in baggies?

          1. You can pack pills in anything….original bottled not necessary. I travel frequently from EU to USA and use an old Altoids tin!

          2. I peel the lable off the bottle and put it on the ziploc bag. My doctor also prints off a list of my meds on the office letterhead.

          3. TSA has never questioned me about medications. I have always just put meds in a 7 day pill organizer. Or 2 if I am to be gone longer.

          4. I put meds in weekly pillboxes, but carry the little labels that come with the info they staple to your prescriptions that contain your name, name of med, etc….Never had a problem. Never been questioned.

          5. Travel Europe a lot and I’ve never had anyone check for pill bottles-just use a pill minder or baggies

          6. I ask the pharmacist to printout labels for each of my meds and then buy small plastic pill bags, stick on the pill’s label and done!

          7. I take pictures of the prescription labels with my phone and save the pictures until we get home- just in case I need these for security or an emergency hospital visit.

      2. You can buy a package of 100 of the tiny bags in the craft department at WalMart for $1.00. They come in various sizes. I pack a day’s worth of pills in one (marked A.M. or P.M.), earrings, necklaces (so they don’t tangle), extra earplugs, “emergency” ibuprofen to carry in my purse, rolls of antacid (so once the roll is opened they don’t go all over my purse), etc. etc.

      3. I also put my jewelry in these little pill bags. One necklace in each. Couple of earrings in one. One bracelet in each. Then all of the go in a sandwich or quart zip lock bag. With the air squeezed out this “jewelry bag” takes up very little room, and no tangled chains.

    2. Carol – Some countries will not allow medications into customs without the original prescription or over-the-counter packaging. Just FYI.

    3. I thought I was the only person who did this! Tylenol for me, ibuprofen for my husband. Anti diarrhea pills, allergy pills, antacid pills. I have two holes empty, or I load up on more Tylenol.

  5. I carry a few smaller claw-style hair clips to secure drapes that allow too much light to enter. Especially helpful at times of the year when the sun sets late at night.

    1. Great idea! Curtains that don’t fully close are another pet peeve of mine. (And by the way, it’s also another smart use for duct tape!) I may have to just start carrying a claw hair clip…

      1. Metal binder clips are useful for keeping curtains closed — and also weighting the bottoms of shower curtains that cling!

        1. Metal binder clips are the jam. I’ve used them as makeshift clothes pins for laundry (stronger and better), to wind/hold electronics cords tightly, for drapes, to keep opened packages of snacks closed tightly, to the their luggage together, for wardrobe malfunctions, you name it.

      2. I’ve used the pants hangers from the hotel closet to hold drapes closed. Now I keep a couple of clothes pins in my bag for all trips. Good for that, drying hand washed items, and more.

      3. I found duct tape by the 81/2×11 sheet at the craft store. I cut it into strips, still attached to its backing paper and slip it into my bag of baggies.
        I also toss in a couple of binder clips. Great for closing the curtain gap and clipping together souvenir maps, etc.

      4. Some of you may remember one of Ricks old tips about bringing a 3-5 gallon zip bag. We’ve used them a lot for doing laundry in with a washing machine pod or woolite packet when you don’t have time for a laundromat. Also for wet swimsuits or getting caught in the rain.

        1. I always carry at least one of the extra-large zip locks and do laundry. Friends we travel with call it the “washing machine” and borrow it all the time!

      5. Cameron, In a pinch, I use the one of the hotel’s pants hangers to close gaping draperies. It works great – just turn it. vertically, clip, et voila! Darkness.

  6. If I don’t have one of the handy items mentioned above to completely close those pesky hotel draperies, I use a skirt/pants hanger from the closet; turn it vertically and clip the curtains together in 2 places. Works great.

  7. A few envelopes can take the place of the barf bags for organizing things like receipts. I agree that ziplock bags are essential! And I just bought one of the Vapur bottles, so I’m glad to see you find it useful.

  8. A disposable plastic dry cleaning bag. If the washing is damp and I am ready to leave, I lay it across the top of my case. Spread the item carefully on top, zip the case. When I arrive the heat accumulated during the day on that travelling bag has dried and pressed my garment.

  9. I am very particular about toothpaste and the kind I prefer is unavailable in a travel size. Those “go toobs” are prefect because they have wide enough openings for transferring toothpaste and have a small cover perfect for dispensing. Happy travels!

    1. I discovered it’s very easy to refill the little travel size toothpaste tubes (with whatever kind of toothpaste you like): just put the openings together and squeeze from one tube to the other. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another small tube.

  10. A sailor told me that all you need for motion sickness is ONE earplug and you won’t get sick (in either ear). No need for the wristbands! It really works….I used to have horrible motion sickness issues (cars, planes, trained, boats/ships). No more.

  11. Good info & ideas, but travel is an individual thing, and everyone has different needs.

    I’ve been to Europe around 18-20 times (I’ve lost count) and I’ve literally never needed any of the things he listed, except for the zip-lock bags. You GOTTA have some of those!

    An 8- or 12-oz water bottle doesn’t really take up that much room, and one tough plastic bottle lasted me a whole summer once.

    I’ve tried bringing small Swiss Army knives or small leatherman tools, but I invariably get them taken away at airports when I forget they’re in my carry-on bag. Skip them.

    Bring some slippers; you can wear them on long flights as well as in the hotel rooms (or wherever you stay).

    Now stop reading this and pack up your own stuff and go!

    1. Great advice, Dave! I am European and travel a lot. Afrika, Asia, US. I don’t take HALF of the stuff suggested in this thread!
      Ziplock bags are a must , there I agree. Meds you need or may need are also a must.
      I like to take a few tea lights for evenings in hotel rooms or out on a balcony.
      My leatherman lives in my suitcase even though I have had a few taken, same reason as you.
      For Europe you don’t need much.
      Some things listed here would qualify for an episode of Criminal Minds, lol
      But I don’t judge, really I am happy to read how many of you like to come to Europe!
      So pack what makes you feel safe and prepared, whatever that may be and Happy Travels!
      Everything else

  12. I always bring my European heating coil, along with packs of instant coffee & tea bags. I can always find a cup after I arrive, some I keep as a souvenir.

    1. where did you get your European heating coil. I have water issues (get sick even in the USA) and so always try to make my own coffee.

  13. I take tape as well, but not on the roll. I wrap it around something I’m taking anyway–a pill bottle, a tube of sunscreen, or a pen. In addition to duct tape, I pack a length of paper tape. It’s great to keep “hot spots” from developing into blisters. On dive trips, where I’m barefoot, I’ve also used it to tape a stubbed/broken toe to its neighbor.

    1. This trip I packed several wash cloths because many European hotels don’t supply them. I pack old ones and throw them away when I’m done with them, leaving more room in my luggage for souvenirs on the way home.

      1. This made me laugh because on a recent trip to Montreal, my Airbnb had no washcloths. I ended up using a clean gym sock. HA!

      2. I brought along a pre-sanctified aka holey sweater on a trip to Oaxaca to throw away upon departure. Imagine my shock some weeks later at home to receive it in the mail, neatly darned. I have made sure ever since to dispose of ratty underwear and such in unmistakably trash receptacles (not in my room).

      3. i take old handtowels cut in quarters as washcloths. Throw away as I go. I take old underwear/sox and dispose as I travel.

      4. A few years ago, I bought a dozen white washcloths at Walmart for about $5, thinking that at that price, I could easily just leave a wet one behind in a hotel any time I wanted to. It’s a good idea (I hope), but I can rarely bring myself to part with one. I make do without it on the last evening so that it will be dry when I’m ready to go. Silly, I’ll admit. But I think my initial idea was sound.

        1. Not silly. There is an adverse environmental outcome to throwing textiles into trash and landfills. Most can be repurposed if donated. Find a better solution than someone else’s local landfill.

          1. I fold VIVA paper towels for washcloths and for quick afternoon refresher. Get several days use out of one.

        2. I usually take several scotch brite household cloths to use as wash cloths. They are much easier to dry than a wash cloth and take less space in suitcase.

      5. Or buy a cheap stack of 10 at Walmart, and toss as you go. Absolutely must have wash clothes. I also like the packs of dry facial cleanser/makeup remover disposable cloths (Ponds?) Great for removing the dust of the day from your face, but can double as a washcloth if necessary.

      6. I use baby wash clothes from the dollar store. They are small and can be discarded when necessary. A small mesh scrubbie is always in my bathroom kit.

  14. My local independent pharmacy carries a product called “pill pouches”. They are very small zip plastic bags and come 50 to a pack. I filled a bag with my daily vitamins for each day on my trip and then put all the bags into a quart size plastic bag. Weighs nothing and the little bag was easy to grab each morning as I went to breakfast. No sorting, no bulky pill boxes. The bags have a label space if you need to write down contents.

  15. I always bring several sizes of TYVEK envelopes with me to Europe. They are water proof and do not tear. Great for receipts paper maps etc. Also I always make a 1 page summary with all my flight info, reservation #’s, hotel addresses and telephone #’s, emergency #’s and any other information I would need if I lost my luggage or purse while traveling. I always keep this folded in a hidden pocket with some extra cash and credit card, so I can always get back to a hotel or even home if an emergency occurs.

  16. I travel 100% of the time, living in Airbnb apartments 1-2 months in each city. I always bring the following items:
    1. Velcro strips that I can cut into smaller pieces
    2. Blue painter’s tape
    3. My favorite cooking utensils
    4. Quart, gallon and a few super large plastic zip bags
    5. Adapter plugs, a backup power pack and my mifi device
    6. Small Tupperware container with dried fruit, nuts and granola
    7. A roll of heavy duty foil and good quality plastic wrap
    8. Fabric-covered hair ties (better than rubber bands)
    9. Reusable shopping bag with shoulder-length handles
    10. Sharpie markers

  17. A battery operated fan is always with me for travel. On the plane, in hotel rooms with no air conditioning, this is such a relief! There are so many types, but the important thing is something that is positionally adjustable, for the many variations of nightstands, or perhaps none at all! I also take along a small electric fan in case I luck out with an outlet beside the bed.

  18. Sometimes the list seems endless but oh so useful.
    thin mole skin and tiny scissors for toe repairs,
    plastic sleeves from newspapers for shoes,
    2 pairs of shoes to give sore feet a break, scarf for airplane and several to dress up outfits and look less American in Europe, pampers, yes pamper wipes for spots on clothes, Bounce to put under pillow and mattress to ward off bugs in those 3 star… hotel rooms, chlorox wipes for tv remote, light switches, door knobs…., stretchy type ace wrap, chrystal light with electrolytes in powder packets to add to a bottle of water, a few rubber bands, food poisoning meds…and yes, I have taken and USED them all.

  19. 1 extra week of prescription meds. Wish I had it when I broke an ankle and was hospitalized for a week (after passing out from dehydration caused by food poisoning) and the hospital did not have my brand of prescription Prevacid. In addition to the surgery, cast… I also had a week of heartburn till I could get home to my prescription.

    1. I take clothes and shoes and underwear that I can toss at the end of my trip. Depending on where I’m going, I’ve taken a fake wallet w expired cc and license w a few dollars to give to muggers or pickpockets.

  20. I always pack a flat disc-type drain stopper, in case a bathroom sink has no stopper when I want to do some hand laundry. Also a small container of powder laundry detergent.

    1. Also essential if you wear contact lens that need cleaning and storage every night (gas permeable hard lenses). Unfortunately I can’t get soft lenses with my prescription.

  21. I usually bring most of what’s on your list. Also must brings for me are 2 Liquid Tide Packets, 2 sets of good quality plastic “silverware”, 2 black alligator clips, Rick Steves braided clothesline (needs no clothespins), microfiber wash cloth, as most European hotels don’t supply them.
    Lots of other good suggestions from others. Thanks.

  22. I like to bring those slippers that hotels give their guests onto the airplane. I have so many pairs that I can bring a set for each overseas flight. Airplane restrooms have dirty floors and socks just don’t cut it for me.

    While on subject of reusing amenities that hotels give away, lets discuss reusing those little amenity kits that airlines give 1st and business class passengers. Those little zip bags are perfect for storing chargers and their cables. I also use them for converter plugs. One really doesn’t need converters anymore, but the adapter plugs are very necessary, especially in 4 star or less hotels.

  23. Pack what’s on your list. Add to that, a “spork” for impromptu picnics.

    I have used sheet protectors for years. Put them in a 1/2″ or 1″ polyflex binder – fits in front pocket of my carryon. Has printed copies of daily stuff (backup copies of tickets, tour reservations, etc.) with daily pages of itinerary notes created in Word – noting the pages in Rick’s guidebook with added info copied from web. Then I take an extra sheet protector, insert the current day’s page(s), fold in half, and put in my handbag. Easy to refer to during my day.

    I also got a 3 ring binder pencil case from my dollar store, that I put into this flex binder – store receipts, papers, ticket stubs or whatever that I want to keep.

  24. I wrap a Cole of feet of duct tape around an ink pen and take that along-worked great to repair a suitcase that was damaged in transit. I also take a small insulated lunch bag (a promotional freebie one)for a picnic lunch and then use it to pack any breakable I may purchase. If I don’t need it for the trip home, I can leave it.

  25. My multi-function digital wrist watch is my saviour. Alarm clock and reminder. (A mac smart watch would be even better.) My little digital watch tracks multiple time zones to keep me on track, as well as “home-city-time” (so I don’t phone those less fortunate friends in the middle of their night) and acts as alarm clock for those pre-dawn cheap flights. A one-page printout of the entire schedule (yes! you can make it fit!) of my entire trip plan, flight data and accom reservation contact numbers provides quick and easy reference – much smaller and more convenient than a book-sized “tablet” that many lug around – and no batteries! We condensed an entire one month England/France tour, flights, transport and accom onto one page of reservations info! Store it in a plastic sleeve. And take a small roll of duct tape for its infinite uses.

  26. When I pack I like to leave some empty space in my bag, and fill it with bubble wrap. Then when I buy something, I have room in my suitcase. No more cramming!

  27. I pack many of his items for trips. One more tip that came in handy for me back in the early 90s backpacking through Europe was I put some cash (now would put an extra credit card) under the insert of my sneakers in case I lost everything. I figured I’d always have my shoes on (or nearby) in case of emergency. Now, I also make copies of passport, credit card numbers, important contact numbers, etc. and scan it into a PDF and load it into Google docs so that I can access it anywhere, or someone I trust back home could help out and access it.
    Thanks for all the new ideas everyone!

  28. I love all the suggestions-and have used many of the items/ideas mentioned. I take along tape and bubble wrap, to protect my precious souvenir items that I purchase on my journey. It has really saved me on many occasions! I love Mack earplugs, but would recommend the small silicone discs. They work much better for me than any other type.

  29. I have ordered pill pouches and a Vapur water bottle from Amazon, both work great and using Amazon takes less time than driving around trying to find them. Starbucks also has fruit flavor refreshers in the same size packets that are a nice change from plain water.

  30. I take a couple of bungee cords of various lengths. Found them useful various ways, clothes lines, holding something together, attaching something to my day pack, etc.

  31. Several people have mentioned tape(s) wrapped around something else. A more simple method (saves the exercise of rewinding tape) is to tear out the cardboard inside the roll and flatten it to save space!

  32. Along with all the above, & learned some new tips so thx a bunch! I put the “website addresses” of all my bills, and credit card, banks into one email & email it to myself. I then keep that email in a saved folder where i can always access it. When i’m in other countries its sometimes difficult to do a google search for your credit card company back in the u.s. due to firewalls and keeping searches within the same country. And i want to make sure it is a “secured correct website.” That way if i forgot to pay a bill, need to transfer funds, get a unexpected email from a utility company or my bank, i can easily go into my email folder & find it, i call it my “accts” email and there are all the url’s to every company i would need to correspond to, click on the url, sign in, and check up on whats going on. Very quick & secure! Has saved me so many times!

  33. Nestle makes Tasters Choice coffee in individual packs which are much better than Via.. Also, I take a small light powered by small button batteries that you can sleep with on a lanyard around your neck. No fumbling around for a light switch in the dark unfamilar room.

    1. I also like Tasters Choice packets (Colombian). We also bring a flashlight and a nightlight. I love the bedbug proof laundry bag l the air can be pressed out of it to save space for the trip home. We bring a small jar of peanut butter in our checked luggage. Two disposable bowls for eating cereal and yogurt in a hotel room.

  34. On a hiking/walking vacation to Turkey in 2001, Overseas Adventure Travel advised bringing a walking staff. Get it before the trip and learn to use it correctly. I did and have used it ever since, especially when walking my 3 dogs. One of the women without a staff in Turkey had a nasty spill that would not have happened had she been using the recommended staff.

    1. I took a walking stick to Scandanavia this summer. I was having some hip trouble before we left. Best thing ever, walked 7 to 14 miles a day with no hip pain and no falling over uneven pavement.

  35. I always throw a few zip ties in with my ziplock bags. Came in handy several times, especially for securing papers you want to take home but keep in deep storage. They are lighter than binder clips and you don’t have to worry a metal detectors.

    1. I “lock” my carryon (and my rare checked bag) with zip ties, and take enough extras for every leg of my trips. They are weightless and take almost no room. It’s also good when leaving a bag or pack at a hotel for the day after checking out but before leaving the city. If officials needs to get in, they can, and I can tell if anyone has been in the bag. Also good for some kinds of repairs.

      1. Don’t you need scissors to cut them? I find that those small combination locks work perfectly. TSA can get at them if needed.

  36. All of the above. I would point out that you can get the lttle zipper bags at craft stores, where people use them to store beads or earrings they make.. Very useful.

    I”ll also speak up for the Kindle versions of RIck’s books. Carry one on your phone or tablet and you don’t need to tear up a book or store papers. It’s available with you all the time as you walk through the castles or museums, and you don’t look like a tourist. I have also found that the app Ulmon’s City Maps to Go is great; you can download maps for offline viewing but if you don’t as you walk around you can see yourself on the map as a little dot – that saved me several wrong turns when I explored cities. While we’re thinking of tablets and phones remember that your smartphone or tablet has a flashlight. It has a compass, a timer, an alarm clock, a calendar, a watch, possibly a decent camera.. Carry your plane boarding passes. A wi-fi finder. A weather app. A phrase book. A currency converter. Skype. And more books and games to read and play on the plane than you can ever get through.

  37. These items worked well on my latest Europe trip:

    RETRACTIBLE CORD ID TETHERS. I used one for my cellphone and one for my wallet. I attached the end with the retractible cord to my purse and the other end to my phone/wallet. That way you you can never accidentally leave your belongings behind, and if you drop your phone, it won’t hit the ground.

    BEACH BALL instead of neck pillow. Much lighter, more versatile and easier to deflate.

    TINY PLASTIC CUPS for making ice cubes in my Airbnbs.

    3-IN-1 LAUNDRY SHEETS. They hardly weigh anything and contain both detergent and conditioner. Just throw ’em in with the clothes.

    I solve the pickpocketing problem by wearing an anti-theft crossbody purse on the front of my body. Valuables are in zipped pockets next to my stomach, never out of sight.

    Enjoy your travels!

  38. Color Catcher laundry sheets come in handy when you want to mix clothing colors at the laundromat and want to make sure dark colors don’t ruin your light clothes. I pack a few in my bag.

  39. On a recent one month trip to Europe I used 3 of the medium size “Space Bags”. 1 for my tops, 1 for my shorts/long pants & 1 for underwear/bathing suit/exercise wear. I was able to store my bags very easily in my backpack by rolling them up tight and squeezing all of the air, thus taking up less space. It was so organized and easy to do!

  40. I take an empty Rick Steves medium size mesh cube. When I get to the hotel, I put the contents of my 3oz liquid quart TSA bag and all the bits and pieces from the pockets in the suitcase and backpack. Then it is all in one pace and I don’t have to search for a razor, hair tie, bandaids, …. LOVE those Rick Steve mesh cubes. I pack 3 in each carry on suitcase and just take out the cube I need wether it be undies and socks, tops, slacks, shirts blouses -all easily accessible and most important easily re-packable when changing hotels.
    I like my particular bar soap. I cut a bar in four and just take out 1/4 of bar per hotel.

  41. Thanks for some great new tips to add to my arsenal! A couple more…I have dozens of old contact cases but had Lazik so no longer need them for contacts. They make great containers for small amounts of things like hair goo, face goo, etc. I keep double backed tape for loose hems, slipping straps and holding curtains to the wall or each other to block light. The smaller, lighter and double duty, the better!

  42. Greetings Cameron and savvy travelers:

    Thanks for your great suggestions!

    The bottom of my suitcase has a lining with a zipper to allow me to stuff clothes and other goodies between the metal handles. Then I put two plastic boxes with lids to store shoes, shirts, sweaters, and clothes that I don’t want to get wrinkled. Packing rolled up clothes around them fill up every spare inch. On top of the boxes I use two of Rick’s handy mesh bags for other clothes.

    Extra plastic grocery bags and ziplock bags of various sizes come in handy especially with wet or smelly items.

    My passport, a credit card, and most of my cash is safely tucked in my Rick Steves neck wallet with a whistle attached. Another credit card and more cash is in my RS moneybelt. I carry a very thin wallet with one days currency in my front pocket. An empty decoy wallet (for any pickpockets) is in my back pocket.

    Happy travels,

    Doppelganger

  43. I like to bring a nylon “string” backpack that rolls up to take up next-to-nothing space in my purse. In the mornings we start out wearing jackets, and as the day warms up and we shed the jackets, I pull out the backpack and can still be hands-free and not have to carry the coats. It also works to carry purchases we pick up throughout the day, or a few groceries.

  44. I have read in several blogs you no longer need a converter, just the 2 prong plug in Europe?

    I know cruise ships have dual voltage but I am not aware of not needing a voltage converter in hotels???

    anyone have the facts?

    1. You definitely need two round (not flat) plugs for Europe. So you do need an “adapter” to help the plug fit the socket. However you don’t need a “converter,” which used to be necessary to convert the current. (Most US electronics and appliances are now designed to “auto convert” the current.) That’s probably what you were thinking of. For more on this topic, see this article on Rick’s website: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/phones-tech/electric-adapters-converters

      1. NOTE: The exception seems to be electric toothbrushes. I fried my charger the first time I plugged it in. If I’m traveling for a week or less, I leave the charger at home. For longer trips, I use a brush that uses standard AA or AAA batteries. They last at least 2 weeks. I have never run out of juice with this kind of toothbrush.

    2. The 2-prong plug adapter just changes your plug shape. Take a voltage converter with a plug adapter included. They are hard to find and can be expensive, but you’ll save your electronic equipment from exploding into flames.

    3. Sorry joann, I responded to Mr. Hewitt by mistake.
      The 2-prong plug adapter just changes your plug shape, not the foreign 220 VAC going into your U.S. 110/120VAC appliance. Get a voltage converter with a built-in plug adapters included . You plug your battery charger or appliance into the voltage converter, then select the prong on the converter that fits into the plug of the country you are visiting. They aren’t cheap, but you will avoid damaging your electronic equipment, you can use it all over the world (except South Africa) and it will last a lifetime. One final note: Most converters are for low amperage electrical appliances like battery chargers or motorized appliances up to 50 watts. Don’t use a hair dryer with one.

      Re dual voltage electronics…. A few years ago I paid a lot of money for a small dual voltage travel hair dryer with a two-prong plug adapter attachment. Noticed it got hot the first time I used it; then it burst into flames the second time. Went to the nearest department store and paid $15 for a European model.

      1. Virtually all electronics sold these days work perfect well dual-voltage. A cheaply made “travel” hairdryer is a rare exception (buying a true European hairdryer, bought cheaply in Europe, is a great solution).

        I don’t want readers thinking they need an expensive, hard-to-find, bulky converter to use their electronics in Europe. Please believe me: for charging phones, iPads, camera batteries, etc., all you need is a plug adapter.

  45. The best thing my husband and I discovered is Ex-officio underwear. Light weight and quickly dryable, we just pack three pairs for a long trip, wash a pair daily in the shower, and then it dries overnight. Now we have much more room in our luggage for other things.

    1. Take old underwear and throw it away every day – use the little paper bags Europe’s hotels provide in their bathrooms

    2. Take old underwear and throw it away every day – use the little paper bags Europe’s hotels provide in their bathrooms

  46. As others have said zip lock baggies of all sizes. They can also be used to keep your receipts for the whole trip.That way when I get home all my receipts are in one place and I don’t have to carry them around. I use my credit card as much as possible to avoid carrying around much cash. Another thing I like to do it take what I call “disposable clothes”. If you’ve got an old t-shirt, under clothes or socks that are ready to go use them until you need the room and then throw them away to make room for souvenirs to fill up the suitcase. Also, the small bottles of shampoo and bath wash are great to throw away as the trip goes and you have more room again for those things you pick up.

  47. Be careful with those barf bags on the plane. I went to open one up one time, thrusting my arm in it, thinking I may have to use it quick. Guess what. It HAD been used a bit already… It still was quite flat so who knew!? I found out…

  48. Ever since my daughter sprained her ankle in Arles, I’ve carried an ace bandage. You wouldn’t believe the pitiful excuse for one that I bought at the local drugstore!

  49. Paper clamp over razor blade end. Then it can be used for curtains instead of tape and can organize power and electronic cords.

  50. I don’t leave home without a doorstop, a small flashlight, and a USB converter that fits into a car/truck electric plug — what used to be called a cigarette lighter. The doorstop stops anyone with a spare key from entering the room while you are asleep or showering. The small flashlight hanging from your belt will light your way in dim corridors, show art work in ruins with dark niches, and help you escape in the event of a hotel fire or blackout. The good quality USB converter (Belkin is a good brand) will charge your electronic cameras and batteries, phones, etc. while you are traveling in a vehicle. Mine came in very handy while on a trip through the parks of South Africa. For some unknown reason, no electrical converter has a plug that is compatible with South African plugs, so fellow travelers found themselves with dead or dying phones, tablets and cameras until I pulled out the converter (mine had two USB ports). The driver was kind enough to plug it into the cigarette lighter plug, and fellow travelers used their charger cords to charge their devices as we drove down the road. Computers have universal voltage so USB ports are compatible with every computer device worldwide.

  51. We carry 2+ inch diameter suction cups with hooks that stick very well to glass and smooth tile. We primarily use them for our hand towels when hotel and B&B bathrooms have their towel racks across the room from the sink and there is no convenient place to put the towels while you are washing, etc.

  52. Xerox copies of the two important pages at the front of my passport. This makes it much easier to get a new passport if you lose yours.

    1. Or scan your passport and email it to yourself, and then put it in an email file labeled “passport”. No xerox copies needed, ever!

  53. I always pack a couple of wine bags. Works great not only for wine but also olive oil, fragile items. I buy the ones that are either in a small type of bubble wrap or that have a thin absorbent “interior layer” in case of leaks. Lightweight lifesavers. Also carry a three plug adapter for those times when there just aren’t enough electric outlets, which is usually the case.

  54. I can’t believe no one has said this but dollar bags of baby wipes, these are way better than carrying a roll of toilet paper and have a million other uses.

    I relied on them heavily for two years of travel in West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer.

    I also never leave home without a small headlamp and a small DIY first aid kid. I do wish they made a ceramic blade travel knife!

  55. I have read all most all of these and didn’t see the following: I pack a 3-4 plug extender mini surge protector. How many times have you found a bedside lamp and clock plugged into an outlet and none available to plug in CPAP machine, charger etc. IKEA sells one that have a short cord.

  56. Wow, lots of great ideas. We don’t check bags (ever!) so even for 2+ months it has to all go in a carry on. This forces me to really scrutinize everything I bring and decide if I really need it. Mostly what I don’t bring is a lot of clothes. There are a number of items listed here that I think are so smart I will add them to my list. On a recent trip I brought a collapsible silicone cup. My husband thought it was the dumbest thing to pack but we used it every single day for wine on our picnic lunch. I also bring a tiny highlighter felt pen so I can mark our route on a map if it is a driving vacation.

  57. Great suggestions. I also carry two or three cloth shoulder/shopping bags for places (like the UK) that will charge you for shopping bags. They are small and light, and they have saved me money at grocery stores and other shops.

  58. An inflatable beach ball. As I am short, I use it on planes as a foot rest. Don’t inflate it all the way. You can get them pretty cheap – I got mine for a dollar.

  59. Fels Naptha soap in a baggie. Great for hand laundry, solid, so won’t spill like powder can! I use a Hefty 2.5 gallon ziplock as my washing machine; no worries about sink plugs.

  60. I have a ton of allergies plus extremely low blood sugar, so need to eat something immediately upon waking. I always take about half a loaf of the bread I can eat, tiny to-go type containers for the jam I am not allergic to and some peanut butter so I have something for a couple of mornings before I have found a grocery at the destination. These items I pack in a clean, spare cardboard shoe box (I save them when I buy new shoes.) When the food is gone I trash the box or sometimes save it to pack unique treats from the destination. Also, I always take lots of the flat-pack HandiWipes. There have been many times on an airplane where a fellow passenger had a food or drink mishap and my HandiWipes came to their rescue. I always take a couple of snapper clothespins, binder clips, duct tape as mentioned by previous people. Also, an extension cord for too distant electrical outlets if I must take my laptop. One tip: I email to myself my travel info and copies of my insurance both medical and vehicle, and a copy of my passport. Even if I lose my laptop, I hope I can always go to a public library to access the internet and my email! Additionally, I label every charger device I take with my name and cell phone in case I forget them in a hotel room or a host’s home. Makes it easier for them to know the chargers belong to me.

  61. I always take a powerboard and an Aldi travel adaptor with 4 USB charging ports. That way we only need one PowerPoint to charge our phones, tablets and laptop. Perfect for cruises and all hotels. No need to crawl around to find spare plugs.

    1. I could not travel without small ziplock bags. So handy at breakfast buffet to pack something for mid morning snack.

  62. Leaving today for Europe. You have some good tips. I have one for you….I line the top and bottom of my suitcase with large garbage bags. Helps keep my stuff dry if bag is caught in the rain, and the best benefit is…I use as laundry bags to keep my dirty clothes separate from the clean ones. Comes in handy on longer trips.

  63. Bring a few “post ems”
    Stick one on door to remind you to empty safe before checking out. Actually we empty safe the night before in case there is a problem opening it.

  64. Thank you so much for your list. I live in Florida and have had to evacuate for hurricanes several times including last year. I have used several of the items on your list when I had to pack for evacuation.I actually made myself a list of items that I might need in a hotel and found several new items on your list. Thank you again.

  65. We are never without small zipper topped sandwich bags. The best use for them is at our hotel breakfast buffet we make a sandwich out of the meat, cheese and bread on the buffet table. Peanut butter and jelly works too. This is not just for international travel. Cross country road trips sometimes find us in the middle of nowhere at lunchtime and having a PB&J sandwich along helps until we find a place to stop.
    If there are nuts or muffins or fruit, we put some in a zip top bag. When we start to lose our energy around 10:30am, we find a shady spot and have a snack left over from breakfast. Then we can power through the lunch hour when the cafes are crowded and have a nice late lunch.

  66. Laugh all you like, but an ice cube tray. That and my hydroflask saved me this last July. I stay at apartments or AirBnBs, so its emptied on the morning and lasts all day, and then in the evening to rehydrate.

    Also a clip-lock plastic container. It can hold the messy stuff or leftovers or it keeps a pinch from getting squished.

  67. Ex Officio air strip shirts (long sleeve). I get the bone-white ones – they don’t show the sweat as much. Sink wash and hang – it’s dry in the morning. I take a spare, but I have gone on multiple 2+ week trips where a single shirt was used throughout the trip with daily sink washing. I have some Ex Officio pants (no longer available) which also dry out overnight after sink washing.

  68. Great tips Cameron. For me: nail clippers, zip lock baggies, rubber bands, bandaids to head off blisters, and my beloved noise reduction headphones. My mango slices are a baggie of almonds. Happy (light) travels!

  69. Thanks, everyone, for sharing such great ideas! By way of reducing physical items, consider using your smartphone for photo backup of: credit cards, passport, medical id, itinerary, tickets, etc. (Even if the phone goes missing, it can be accessed through the Cloud.) I also take screen shots of Google routing accessed via wifi the night before, and snap photos of trailhead maps and other stuff posted at entrances, plus keep useful travel phrases handy in my phone notes, and try to keep current with trip journaling by creating an outline/chronology of activities to update while waiting for transportation, food, or when taking a break. The possibilities are kind of endless–just be sure to have a pocket charger with you, as well. Happy travels, all!

  70. Years ago I was advised to take a roll of strapping tape in case my suitcase decided to pop open if the latch failed. I do use the heck out of ziplock bags. Another thing is an inventory of your packed suitcase and a Xerox copy of your passport front page. Packets of laundry detergent and a stretchy travel clothesline. This all from a seasoned traveler to Europe I went to college with. The inventory was before cell phones, chargers and other electronic devices. I leave it in my suitcase to refer back to what I need to take for the weather.

  71. I found some large elastics at a dollar store that came in very handy for making our packable down jackets even smaller. I love the idea of using tiny zip lock veggies for meds/vitamins! We spent 7 weeks touring Europe last year with only carry on. We planned, budgeted for, shipping all souvenirs and items no longer necessary back home. Made our luggage and our lives so much easier!

  72. I take my prescription medication in original containers but use a small plastic pill box for daily use. That way I have pills handy all day and evening when sight seeing and going to dinner.
    A highlighter pen is quite useful, important items on the to do and see list are more visible.
    Rick’s packing cubes are the best thing to keep your suitcase organised. Never travel without them.
    I also take a couple of Rick’s light weight one time use plastic locks in case I want to check my suitcase instead of using carry on.

  73. Whew! I read this just in time to leave (in 1 day) for our trip to France! I had forgotten to pack my Vapur water bottles. We use them for ice packs (we stay in places with kitchens) to ice down body parts and also to use as an ice pack to put in the foil-lined cooler bag that we take (when we’re on a driving trip).

  74. After losing a screw in my glasses and having to find an optical shop that was open, I’ve included one of those little eyeglass repair kits in my “must pack” list.

  75. Be careful about that. If customers goes through your bag, they want all pills in their original containers . I got a random inspection at the Canadian border and they scolded me for having a pill case.

  76. I always carry Pepto, Imodium, Tylenol, aleve, Benadryl, a thermometer and my favorite cold medication. I don’t like having to find a pharmacy if I’m sick. But maybe that’s because I’m a doctor.

  77. Ok Cameron, two things…as a flight attendant I ask you not to take the airsick bags off the plane, or use them to put anything else in it except their intended use. Think of the next person sitting in that seat needing an airsick bag for real, and there isn’t one! They do not get replaced after every flight! There isn’t time for that! Also, just use the hangars in your hotel room that have clips on them to clip the curtains closed. Easy peasy.

    1. Also, can you imagine the germs on these bags from being in the pocket along with dirty Kleenex that people put in there.

  78. Great list – many of these items are on mine. However, as a UPS Store owner who has handled hundreds of thousands of packages – duct tape does not adhere well to cardboard and is not recommended for shipping purposes! Bring duct tape for all your other taping needs, but clear shipping tape is your best bet for sending packages home.

  79. When traveling with small children, the “must have” list includes:
    duct tape or painters tape for covering outlets in hotel rooms, and keeping drawers closed
    grippy shelf liner cut into the size of airplane tray tables (keeps drinks from sliding and toys from rolling)
    sippy cups or cups with lids and straws
    ziplock bags and snacks
    extra shirts for Mom and Dad in carry-on/day luggage (just in case)

  80. I like to take a snack size zip lock bag with a plain sponge in it. You can wet the sponge, freeze it, and use it as an ice pack. It lasts a good part of the day, and you can throw away when you come home if you need suitcase space.

  81. Water, I use a Platypus water bottle. Old contact lens cases are great for carrying small amounts of lotion (insect repellent) and they don’t leak! Soap I take a bar of Dr Bronner soap—-truly all in one. I take the single Nescafé packets from the hotel rooms (I’m bad) no need to buy Via I’ve at least 10 in a small plastic bag

  82. I take quite a few of these items. I also make my own mini first aid kit which fits into a snack size ziploc: bandaids, single use ointment, blister pads, pre-cut moleskin, ibuprofen, Tums, chewable Pepto, and anti-itch cream. I also take a tiny bottle of Downy Wrinkle release (which works as a wrinkle release but also helps to freshen up a garment you need to re-wear) and those tiny laundry sheets that look like mouthwash strips. They’re perfect for washing undies or socks in the hotel sink. Years ago, I received a sample vial of my perfume (the super teeny ones you used to get at makeup or perfume counters). I keep the vial and fill it up before a trip. It takes up virtually no space in my precious 3-1-1 liquids bag.

    1. Emily, please do not wear perfume on planes or in other confined spaces. For those of us who are allergic/sensitive it is debilitating, resulting in migraines, severe nausea, trouble breathing, etc. Even though I might love the actual smell, my nervous system can’t handle some perfumes. Thank you for your consideration.

  83. Great ideas here. We are in the Netherlands right now for 3 months. Extension cord has been our best what if we need it item. A lifesaver with all our electronics and few and far between plugs! We also pack tea bags as our fave morning caffeine boost instead of coffee until we can get to grocery store. Zip locks bags and plastic sheet protectors also a must. And post it notes!!!! Man have those come in handy! Happy travels all.

  84. One I didn’t see mentioned: empty Cool Whip (or similar) containers w/lids, stacked and filled with whatever when packing. Use as a cereal bowl, mini-plate/cutting board, to haul fragile snacks like grapes in daypack, store leftovers in hotel room fridge, and so on. Can also protect small, fragile purchases for the trip home, or simply be discarded/recycled instead.

  85. Our most important extra are the tubes/packets of Drip Drop (from Walgreens), a powdered electrolyte drink we pour into water. It helps stave off dehydration after strenuous exercise or hot weather, and gives us an extra boost to keep going.

  86. A tip for the duct tape and electrical tape: crush them flat to save space (unlike the round shape in the picture). In addition, heavy duty 1/2″x3″ elastic bands can help keep them flat too, and you then have a few elastic bands.

  87. We bring an insulated Whole Foods Bag with pasta salad and healthy snacks for the plane in disposable glad or ziplock containers. Along with frozen solid ice packs. We use them daily for snacks from the market or leftovers. Salami and cheese in one, almonds in one and olives in another are our typical daily snacks. I find that I make better local dining choices when I’m not desperate and starving. The ice packs must be frozen solid to pass airport security, so we typically toss them before returning home or have them confiscated.

  88. Crocs are great to wear on the airplane. You can slip your feet out of them easily to stretch and they’re great for slippers in the hotel.

  89. While you are at TJ’s, getting mango slices, pick up a box of their instant coffee packets (10 to a box). Each one comes with coffee, creamer and sweetener, all you have to do is add hot water. Tasty and cheaper than Starbucks VIA.

    1. YES, the it’s coffe packs are awesome if you like your coffee with cream and sugar like I do. I’m forced to pack the via because husband likes his coffee black lol.

  90. I laugh when I read these tips for travel. I have discovered I can basically live without most of life’s little luxuries. The only thing I really need is my glasses, passport, credit card, & good walking shoes!

  91. I take my “little bag of tricks”…. it contains hand sanitizer, pocket Kleenex, pain and allergy meds, small nylon bag for carrying groceries, fingernail clippers, eyeglass screwdriver, chapstick compeed blister pads, bandaids, travel toothbrush, floss, sewing kit and sanitary wipes. It’s 2 inches thick by 8 inches square. It lives in my car’s glove box when I’m not traveling. It has saved me many times and it’s small enough to go into my day bag.
    Lots of great tips on this thread…thanks fellow travelers!

  92. Great ideas, thanks for sharing! I’m heading to Europe in a couple of weeks, and had planned on taking some Starbucks Vias. You’ve given me some other great ideas. I am curious if the Trader Joe’s Mangos will pass through customs?

      1. Eric, yes, it should pass through both security and customs. It’s not a liquid, and because it’s packaged and sealed, it doesn’t count as fresh produce.

  93. We always bring along very large zip lock bags to stuff into the airplane seat pockets. Those places tend to be the dirtiest places in any aircraft. So we just stuff in a bag in each of the seat pockets and put our airplane things inside them, instead of in the dirty seat pocket.
    We also take along handiwipes to clean off the tray table, handles and arm rests. These are covered with unmentionable germs and filthier than the bathrooms. So with the high-alcohol content handiwipes, they can be wiped clean and fresh. Viola!

  94. On flights I always use the airsick bag as a garbage bag at my seat. Easy to hand to the flight attendant at the end of the flight.

    And I always make sure to have an airsick bag in my daughter’s daypack with her seabands and zofran. One I have from Iceland Air is the best – with a cheery message to add the bag to your air memorabilia collection…

  95. Enjoyed reading all the useful hints. Reminds me of our 1st trip, which was 9 months long. We did not bring the most important items, rain protection, warm jackets, meds of any kind. BUT we had a ton of unnecessary junk. 1st b&b,we unloaded lbs of items we did not need. Since then, we have made over 22 trips to EU., keep my backpack under 20lbs. Each trip we change what is important and what is not. And each trip we do something stupid. The fun of travel!

  96. I always pack the little Starbucks via coffee too. I also always carry a few packets of instant oatmeal for when I need something substantial to eat and usually have a light weight coffee mug and spoon and fork. Also I always bring travel packs of Clorox wipes for plane, train, hotel tables etc. And always my little travel slippers and if possible my own little blanket.

  97. YES, the trader joes coffe packs are awesome if you like your coffee with cream and sugar like I do. I’m forced to pack the via because husband likes his coffee black lol.

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