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:
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.
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 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).
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.
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 and bug spray
These go in my day pack for frequent reapplication.
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.
(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?