If I show you my vibrating alarm clock will you think I’m getting fresh with you?

Packing makes me happy and after last week’s picture deleting debacle I sure needed cheering up, so I got busy packing for our next trip.  Packing light is one of those things that’s great in theory but in practice I want to stuff too many things in my backpack.  Here’s what I’ve learned is worth schlepping around overseas:

booklghtkindle

Kindle and book light

I’m proud to say I’ve never paid for an eBook: I get them all free from the library (with an occasional free classic from Amazon.com).  This is my dream—dozens of books always on hand, without the backpack bulk.  A book light is super handy too.  I can read in the hotel room at night without waking up HOB and it also serves as a flashlight.

clothesline

Plastic bags and a clothesline

I stuff a handful of plastic zip-top bags of various sizes into my pack and end up using them a lot, especially for picnics.  One jumbo size bag is for washing clothes.  Clothesline twine from the dollar store is just the thing for stealthy hotel room clothes drying.

soap

Soap and DIY washcloths

No way am I washing my face with that creepy pink liquid soap all the cheap hotels seem to use, so I bring my own.  I also rip up old towels to make tiny disposable washcloths.   European hotels don’t supply washcloths which kind of makes sense—do you want to rub your bits with the same cloth as countless strangers?  (If the answer is yes, please don’t share details).

not-impresonal-tissue

Toilet paper and hand sanitizer

Bathrooms are often poorly stocked so I carry emergency toilet paper.  And while nothing makes me feel more self-consciously American than whipping out a bottle of hand sanitizer, after the 1000th time encountering a soapless public bathroom I no longer care.

flipflops

Flip flops

My favorite curse on despicable people is “I hope they catch an incurable foot fungus.”  Not wishing to curse myself, I wear flip flops in hotel rooms and showers.

sunblock

Sunblock and bug spray

These go in my day pack for frequent reapplication.

alarm-clock

Vibrating alarm clock

Most people will tell you to pack ear plugs and they’re right—you should pack earplugs for sleeping in noisy places.  However, I never used to wear them because I worried that I’d somehow manage to be sleeping deeply when the alarm clock went off and we’d end up missing a train or a flight.  (HOB never worries about this, he just sleeps with earplugs and relies on me to shake him awake in the morning.)  Thanks to this tiny but mighty vibrating alarm clock, I now can wear earplugs to bed without worry.

Old underwear

(I’m sparing you a picture on this one.)  I find it weirdly satisfying to pack old underwear, you know, the kind that need to be retired in the very near future.  They go with me on the trip and get tossed out along the way, leaving me with a lighter bag on the return flight.  I recommend you try this too—-hey, you’ve got to throw those old undies out anyway, right?  But first, a cautionary tale: our guest house in Tbilisi had a washing machine that HOB I filled in the morning and then stepped out to find something for breakfast.  Breakfast took longer than we thought and when we returned, Irakli, our helpful host, had hung all our laundry neatly on a clothesline.  For the rest of the day I avoided eye contact with Irakli, horrified at the thought of him handling my holey unmentionables.

So tell me, what are your must pack items?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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38 comments

  1. Extra SD cards for pictutes😄 I sometimes take more pictures in day than my sd card holds so I always pack a couple extra. Oh, and tennis shoes. Not sexy but definitely useful for having fun on long treks through the town. Last- a small package of wet wipes. Handy for cleaning toilet seats, dirty tables, camera lenses, sticky ice-cream fingers, or your face after a long day hiking/walking in a windy day. Alway take at least a package a day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My husband would be high fiving you for mentioning the extra extra SD cards, deceptivelyblond. This is the sort of thing he fusses about and he’s usually right. I like those individually wrapped packages of hand sanitizers too.

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  2. A kindle makes so much sense. I decided to buy one after I spent a summer hauling books around two continents, and leaving them with various friends along my tour.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back in my pre-Kindle days I would carry paperbacks from the thrift store and when I finished them I’d swap out a new book from those book exchanges they used to have at hostels and cheap hotels. That was fun too but you’re right about the hauling getting old fast.

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  3. Amazingly like my list! I add big noise cancelling earphones and a free smartphone app like SleepPillow–I can listen to rain or waves instead of dumb conversations
    of other people. Also serious knee-high support socks bought at a medical supply store–unbelievably helpful for all-day walking and standing. I hope both you and HOB feel much better!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the tips Claudia. I’ve been thinking we should get some of those support socks after I read a scary article about blood clots from flying. Glad to know we can use them for day-to-day walking too.

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  4. Nice to see we’re not the only ones who pack our own wash rag and soap. And it didn’t take long after moving to Europe to learn (the hard way) to always stash unused napkins or extra tp in purse and pockets!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, those are other things you learn fast—don’t expect unlimited napkins and ice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I always carry a hand sanitizer, I used to get the -don’t do that in public- look from my French husband but now he is the first one asking me if I brought one with me when traveling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do they sell hand sanitizer in France? I recall unsuccessfully searching for it in Carrefour market. HOB is like your husband but with coupons—he’s embarrassed that I carry them but when it comes down to it, he’ll discreetly ask me if I have one.

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      1. The be sure to find hand sanitizer is to go to a pharmacy, they always sell it there.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m definitely with you on old underwear!! The book light is nice! Looking forward to hearing about your next trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rotwein Wanderer. I’ve met some people who are offended by the old underwear concept, but really, who is going to know, except for the guy who hangs your underwear on the clothes line and the occasional overzealous airport security agent.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What happens in Tbilisi/AP stays in Tbilisi/AP!
        I always take essential oils with me – lavender for anything: relaxing, good sleep, burn, sanitizing etc., eucalyptus for a cold, throat esp. in aircraft cabin, and tea tree for disinfecting and sanitizing.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. If you know you’ll be washing clothes frequently, try the Scrubba wash bag. They now have a version that converts to a day pack. It’s like a kayaking dry bag but has little plastic nubbies on the inside to scrub clothes clean. It’s amazing! We have two now since we couldn’t agree who got custody when he went sailing and I went to Spain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the tip about the Scrubba wash bag, Eileen—that’s a new one to me. I looked it up on amazon and it seems great! I love the idea of fighting for custody of a wash bag. 🙂

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  8. I never feel self-conscious about my personal toilet supplies—public toilet hygiene is something the US does right! (Other countries too, just not the one I live in.) Public toilets should have soap and ideally warm water as a public health policy, it’s science, period!

    Also, I love my Kindle, though I miss how my older one (which is now kaput) used to be able to connect to Whispernet anywhere and buy a book instantaneously. Now I need wifi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve encountered some skanky public restrooms in the US too, but agreed that soap and hot water are hygiene necessities.

      I’m with you on coveting the old school Kindle—I’m concerned about mine finally kicking the bucket too. Because of my insomnia I’m not supposed to use lit screens at night and it seems like all the new models are backlit.

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  9. Compression socks for the flight over, eye mask & earplugs, my awesome Turtle neck “pillow”, my dry in 2 hours underwear (2 pair), trash bags (for multiple uses one of which is not trash), reusable water bottle, plug adaptors, no wash clothes but a shower puff that gets pitched at the end of the trip. So where’s your next trip?

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    1. Super, thank you. Need more information about the Turtleneck Pillow please. I’ve never found one that works yet, but haven’t given up hope. Where did you buy it?

      Next trip is a surprise—stay tuned! 🙂

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      1. It’s actually the Trtl Pillow. Bought it on Amazon. Basically it holds your head up and keeps it from flopping. The only “pillow” I’ve ever been able to sleep with on long haul flights. Plus it keeps you neck warm since you wrap the soft micro fleece around your neck.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Ha ha I have just stopped for a rest from packing suitcases to go to Germany & Switzerland on Wednesday and I am so glad you mention the little travel light and toilet tissues……so I will have a hunt for a light tomorrow. We always take a small travel kettle, teabags and hope there is bottle water to buy somewhere. We are taking the car, so its not too bad. But in October we are travelling to Italy on the train, so we will have to carry everything, so it will have to be super light. Glad you are feeling a bit happier 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m feeling confident that Germany and Switzerland will have the best stocked bathrooms in the world, but I hope the book light will be helpful. Do you usually use bottled water? We used to, but lately we’ve been going to places where it’s hard to find so I just try to boil it and hope for the best.

      Yes, you’d better pack light for the train trips, esp. for tight connections when you’ve got to sprint. Also, parts of Italy have a lot of pick pockets so having your stuff be manageable is a must!

      Hope your Germany and Switzerland trip is spectacular—what a perfect time of year to travel!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am sure you are right about the German and Swiss bathrooms, although I have yet to come across shower gel in the German hotels we use. Yes, I really want one those little lamps now, its a good idea, as I can’t sleep sometimes and also good for the car at night. Water, well being a Brit, we are really funny with our water, convinced that everyone else’s water is rubbish. Maybe it was years ago, but we find it very difficult to drink tap water even here in the UK. At home all the water is filtered before we drink it and we only drink bottled water when out. I know we are strange animals ……but you are right, boiled water should be ok. I am aiming for really light for Italy, as you say about the connections and the pick pockets, I haven’t been for years. Hopefully we will have a good time, and I hope you are soon on your travels 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I love packing, I never feel like I’m really going anywhere until I start packing. You seem a lot more organised about it than me though XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To pack really light you have to organized. Glad I’m not the only one who enjoys the ritual! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Flip flops! Not getting in a hotel shower without them. Also, some T-shirts. When I traveled around Scotland, I packed one thick sweater and several light T-shirts. Layering was the best thing to do so I didn’t have to pack a bunch of thick and heavy shirts. Overall, it helped to save on a lot of room and I only carried one backpack with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you ever noticed the amount of people who walk through airport security barefoot? Those are the same people who probably take hotel showers without flip flops. COOTIES!

      Agreed, layering is the thing, especially off season.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes!!! Haha! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting discussion. I recently found the minimum travel requirements when I travelled from the UK to Roma by new sports motorbike so I had space only for my waterproofs plus the essentials for the trip. You would be amazed how little you REALLY need.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you’re enjoying the discussion simonroma. I admire your bravery—-I am too afraid to get on a motorbike anywhere, let alone Rome!

      I do find that a pack a bit lighter every time as well.

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  14. Think we are pretty much the same with lacking essentials but the Vibrating alarm clock is a new and good idea – I use my phone alarm. Earbud headphones are my absolute essential – I usually pack two sets In case I lose one! Also power plug adapters for each country we will visit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HOB makes a big fuss about those plug adapters. Whenever we enter a new room we’re staying in I can see his eyes scanning the room, looking for the place he’s going to plug in. One time we stayed in a room in Germany that had a large, spinning tube of outlets—-I was pretty sure HOB was going to marry it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Think it’s a boy thing!😀😀

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  15. “packing” not “lacking” 😄😄

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  16. Ear plugs. Camera and phone chargers and loads of SD cards. Spare eyeglasses. Bandanas (aka- fancy man-sized handkerchiefs bought in Japan) which I carry in my pocket for: toilets without towels, lunches without napkins, neck-sun-screener, perspiration wiping, etc. Swiss Army knife (in checked bag, of course!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never thought to bring bandanas—thanks for the tip!

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