Sunday, July 28, 2013

Travel Essentials You Didn't Think to Pack

Travel Essentials: Things you didn't think to pack but you'll be glad you did!


I have yet to master the art of packing - I always seem to pack too much of the wrong things and not enough of the right ones. I have however, mastered the art of packing items that are actually helpful during my trip and I have an idea of Travel NON Essentials – Things you think you need to pack but don’t.

Before we begin I would like to state that I have no relationship with the companies that sell the products I am about to endorse. I paid for each item and actually use these things during my travels. Are we clear? Excellent! Let’s begin.

Packing Cubes

I love my packing cubes, absolutely love them! I know they seem frivolous; they are just soft fabric containers for your clothes, right? WRONG! They are soft fabric portable drawers!
You don’t keep all your clothes in one drawer at home, do you? So why stack all your clothes in one pile in your suitcase. We’ve all been there, we need a pair of pants at the bottom of the stack and no matter how hard we try, we end up with a tornado of clothes once we’ve pull them out.  
With packing cubes you can pack all your shirts in one cube, pants in another, dresses in a third, and so on. You can easily move the cubes around without disturbing the others. Open up one cube, pick out your shirt, zip it back up and all your clothes remain neatly folded. They are also easy to unpack. I like to remove my cubes from my suitcase and place them on shelves or in drawers.  

I use eBags, but there are many packing cube brands to choose from. I like the medium sized bags the best for clothes and the small size for socks, undergarments and knick knacks like cords or belts.

Hand Held Scale

I am a self-proclaimed over packer, so needless to say, once I’ve added a few souvenirs to my luggage, the weighing process at the airport can be a stressful one! As I set my suitcase down on the scale and the numbers being to tick up and up I start to sweat…Oh god, please don’t let me go over 50 pounds!
So to alleviate some of that stress, I always bring a hand held scale with me. I use it to weigh my suitcase before I leave on my trip and again once when I’m ready to fly home.
Knowing if you need to ditch a few items, or move them around, before you get to the airport is priceless! Imagine having to rummage through your dirty laundry and nesting dolls in front of a crowd of travelers. Not cute.

I use one similar to this but you can also get a fancier digital version if you want to be super exact.

Travel Pillow

Like most of us, I have to fly coach, and we all know that those seats are basically torture devices. No matter how hard you try, you can never get comfortable.  My personal flying strategy is to have a glass of wine and perhaps a little sleeping aid and try to snooze through the torture.
In an attempt to feel reasonably comfy, I have tried numerous travel pillows. The simple blow up U shaped pillow, the U shaped pillow with those squishy balls, the super thick pillow that you strap around your neck…well you get the point. Then one day I tried The Travel Rest Pillow and my life was forever changed.
It still features that familiar U shape design up top but it extends even further forming a long candy cane shape. Looks insane I know, and I felt insane blowing it up on the plane, but once I was asleep, guess what, I didn’t care how silly I looked!
The trick here is that you can cuddle and hold on to the shaft of pillow, which is already a comfortable feeling, and because you are holding on to it with some force, the top that cradles your head actually stays in place! There is a strap you can wrap around your headrest too but I have found that I don’t need it. It also stores nicely once deflated, you just roll it up.

Quick Absorbing Twist Hair Towel

This one may sound strange, especially for the fellas, but ladies, hear me out. How often do you get to a hotel and there only 2 tiny thin little towels that you have to share? Or giant towels that weigh your head to one side? And they always fall out, always. When I’m traveling I don’t like to dilly dally and I have found that if I wrap my hair up quickly and keep moving, I save a lot of time. I keep it in my hair while I put on my make-up, have some breakfast, whatever, and let it dry for a few minutes before I blow dry it. And you don't have to waste an extra towel for your hair. I bought mine about a million years ago, but here's a popular one.

Small wallet

If you’re anything like me, your day to day wallet is filled with credit cards, IDs, cash, checks, a few Starbucks gift cards, a subway pass, grocery store membership card, and that’s just the stuff I can remember! You don’t need all that crap when you’re traveling, so lighten your load! I have an extra thin, light weight wallet that I use just for traveling. It holds my credit cards, ID and cash – that’s its. I have the Lodis "Astor Slim Credit Card" wallet which is no longer available online (I got mine at Nordstrom's Rack!) But here is a similar one.

A catchall

It comes in handy for both men and women. Use it to toss your wallet, keys, watch and jewelry in. It’s a contained place for you to keep track of smaller items instead of leaving them sprawled around your hotel room. They also fold flat making them very easy to travel with. Since mine was a present, I'm not sure where it came from but here's a decent looking one. 

Do I have the things I can’t live without?

This phrase is a travel essential.  When my suitcase is all packed and I’m about to lock the door, I say “Do I have the things I can’t live without?” If the answer is “Yes” then I go on my marry way knowing that if I forgot a toothbrush or socks, I can buy those items wherever I’m going (most of the time anyway). This is really to make sure you brought the items that would be very difficult to obtain while on vacation. Things like contact lenses, glasses, prescription medication, passport etc.

The Right Attitude

You knew this one was coming! It’s the best of piece of advice a traveler can follow, making it a travel essential! Something is going to go wrong, deal with it, laugh it off and move on. You are on vacation for goodness sake, don’t let little annoyances get in the way of your adventure! Keep an open mind, be patient, polite, understanding and know it’s not always going to go your way. So smile like Dino Ferrari and don't be a grumpy Mini (as can be seen in the background)!

Happy Travels and happy packing!

If you liked this post, or just want to share your thoughts, please leave a comment! For more travel tips check out Travel Safety - 12 Easy Tips , Are Vacation Rentals Right For You? and Travel Nightmares! How to avoid them & how to deal with them !

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