Friday, July 7, 2017

Don't Leave Home Without it!

RHYS BOWEN: I've just spent the last two days doing thrilling things like unpacking, sorting mail and laundry. Now I'm wishing I was back on the ship where someone changed my towels every time I used them, I could order food and it appeared and I sent off a bag of laundry and it came back on hangers! Brilliant.
However this time I have to say that I packed pretty well. There were only a couple of items that I didn't use. I used the down jacket when I was freezing in England and I used the light summer dresses. I kept to a simple color scheme: navy and white. Navy sweater. White sweater. Layered a microfiber shirt over a tank top on not so warm days. And I washed things out in hotel sinks. The new Hanes underwear with the little holes in it is brilliant for drying overnight!

And while I was on the trip I found myself thinking :what is the one thing that I would never travel without? If I could choose just one thing? That's hard. Maybe the pashmina because it dresses up pants for evening, it keeps me warm on planes and when restaurants are too air conditioned (something that doesn't happen much in England). Ziplock bags hold all my cosmetics and toiletries. Very useful. Large ziplocks hold dirty laundry. But if I had to pick one item it would be my tiny flashlight. Only as big as my little finger but you never know when power will go out in a strange hotel room or you try to read a menu by candlelight. So yay for the flashlight.

How about you, Reds. What is your one item?

INGRID THOFT: Ear plugs.  A good night’s sleep is essential, and there are plenty of noises that threaten to disrupt it.  I’m not talking about ambulances or trucks rolling by; I hear that all the time at home.  I’m thinking of the man in the hallway of a London hotel who was wearing two pairs of boxers—one of his torso and one on his head—when I opened my door and requested he pipe down.  Or the person who watches the all-night Law & Order: SVU marathon at top volume.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when hotel staff stand right outside your door, the same door on which hangs the “Do Not Disturb” sign, and chat at length in loud voices.  Ear plugs guarantee that I’ll slumber like Sleeping Beauty.

Jenn: Ingrid, ear plugs are the best. When the hooligans were young and prone to wailing, I used to buy ear plugs and pass them out like lollipops to all of the unfortunate souls sitting around us on the plane. Rhys, ziplock bags were also used to dispose of soiled diapers. The flight attendants loved me for that!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Almonds. There's always a need for food. Almonds work with coffee, with diet coke, with wine. And it's so distressing and destructive to be hungry--especially when you need every bit of your adrenaline for every event. Also: yes, most definitely, black pashmina. Dove soap. Flat shoes. Seriously, I always have them.  And! A phone charger. Definitely a phone charger!

HALLIE EPHRON: Cotton socks! You need them on the plane along with the pashmina. Also a seriously comfy pair of walking shoes -- I have a 10-year-old pair of ECCO sneakers I hope never die.

Ingrid, so funny about the guy wearing his skivvies on his head. Not fun to experience. We once stayed next to a room that was being rented to team of telemarketers, making calls all night in Chinese. Even earplugs didn't help. Then there's the time we were in room 2126 at the Hyatt in NY and the phone kept ringing all night Ring. Hang up. Ring. Hang up. We finally realized it was guests trying to make area 212 calls direct without dialing 9 first.

JENN MCKINLAY: Laptop. I'm a workaholic so I need to have my laptop with me at all times, which is fine because the Hub needs his guitar. My other must have item is my enormous black Aerosmith hoodie. I bought it years ago at a Motley Crue/Aerosmith show that Hub was reviewing for the newspaper when it was outside and unexpectedly freezing. XXL was the only size they had. It has since become my travel cocoon - I pull the hood over my ears and eyes and burrow into the body of it to sleep on red eye flights or at airport gates or wherever. Very handy!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: : This is tough! But I think I have to go with my Coolmax travel blanket. I never go anywhere without it. It folds up to practically nothing, but will cover me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes on the plane. I use it to nap under in hotel rooms or flats, or for a pillow if I get stuck with a lousy one. You can also fold it up and wear it like a shawl.

Ingrid, still snickering about the guy with the boxers on his head. You must stay in much more exciting London hotels than I do!
RHYS: By an amazing coincidence I had just written this post when I saw that USA Today had asked seasoned professional travelers the same question. And only one of them agreed with us: plastic bags. The others were not what I'd choose at all. One woman said lipbalm. Lipbalm? Come on. I have lipstick in my carryon. Another said toilet water spray to make her feel fresh. Uh, not essential to my way of thinking. Nor were the noise-canceling headphones. I know they are good but they also take up tons of space. I did agree with the hand sanitiser wipes for that airline tray and bathroom.

So dear readers, what is your one indispensable item when you travel?

42 comments:

  1. Love the flashlight, Rhys! I have a similar one on my keychain because you never know when you’re going to need one.

    As for the traveling, I have to agree with the flat shoes and the Ziploc bags . . . I have often tucked several of those bags, filled with Folger’s Coffee Singles, into my suitcase . . . but I absolutely have to have a book [or two or three] . . . .

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  2. I agree with Ingrid and Jenn: earplugs. I am a deep sleeper at home but places with thin hotel walls and redeye flights are places where sleeping well can be a challenge while travelling.

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    1. But I need to know exactly what kind of earplugs? Most of them don't muffle much and are terribly uncomfortable to me...

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  3. I should travel with my own pillow from home because I have a hard time getting comfortable on hotel pillows. After all, they aren't broken in to my head.

    A book so I can ignore people rather than having to engage with them.

    But the one thing I travel with for sure is a change of clothes in my carry on bag, on the off chance the checked bag ends up somewhere other than my end destination.

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  4. So many good ideas! Like Jay, I always take at least a change of undies in my carry-on if I'm checking a bag, and there's always a book. I used to travel with an iPod and noise-canceling headphones, which can make a long flight much, much more pleasant. Good shoes are essential, too. But the one odd thing I wind up tucking into my bag nearly all the time is tea. A ziplock full of my favorite teabags can save a morning when I'm caffeine deprived and the hotel only offers herbal blends, or an afternoon when I'm tired of interacting with everyone, and just want to relax in my room. I don't drink coffee, and Americans generally don't understand tea, so I bring my own.

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    1. I always carry a few tea bags in a sandwich size ziplock, too.

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  5. So many good ideas!

    When I travel by plane--or anywhere, really--I make sure I have a reusable bottle rull of water. Sometimes there is rough air and the flight attendants can't move around to bring drinks, and I hate starting a trip by getting dehydrated. The air on planes is so moisture-draining.

    This habit started about 15 years ago, on the way home from Salt Lake City. Our plane was stuck on the tarmac, in 95-degree heat, with no services. Water would have made such a difference.

    And at the other end of the scale, a pashmina is so versatile, isn't it? Warm, cozy, packable, and can make the plainest outfit dressy.

    I always use a money belt, which I never remove except to shower and to sleep. Currencies get separated into ziptop snack bags, which fit perfectly into the belt. I also found a really cool infinity scarf with a zippered compartment big enough for essentials. It's only for cool weather, but so convenient when I don't want to carry a purse.

    Our youngest daughter is moving to Germany next year for a three-year posting, so we will have some travel opportunities coming up. Getting excited, and starting to take suggestions for side trips.

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    1. Karen, when I was in Portland on book tour in February, my souvenir from Powell's Books in downtown Portland was a Powell's reusable water bottle. Now I wouldn't travel without it!!! At home, I take my Yeti cup everywhere with me. It's amazing to be able to leave your cup of water in the hot car for a couple of hours and come back to find it still cold!

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    2. I've heard about the Yeti but was skeptical - this is a must for Phoenix!

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  6. Wow, these ideas are great! And I like our ideas better than USA today.
    I have never worn earplugs of any kind for any circumstance-- so interesting! Maybe I will try it.
    And I figure as long as I have my phone and a charger, I have all the books I need! I have now read many books on my phone, and weird as it seems, it is terrific.

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  7. Yes, MUCH better ideas.
    Earplugs fall out of my ears. I've tried.
    Karen, agree on the water: I bring an empty plastic water bottle and fill it after I'm through security. Sometimes I can even get a little crushed ice.

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    1. Julie buys us each a bottle of something after we clear security, although I have no idea why. So far the airlines are happy to serve me a drink, even an adult beverage, and I despise juggling a water bottle thru the airport. And ear plugs? Forget it. I can't hear with those things in!

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    2. OK, what's the deal with earplugs? Are my ear s just too small for them? I cannot put them in, no matter what I do. No matter what kind. I have tried to use them for listening to things on my phone and iPad, but they just plop right onto my lap.
      Nikki Bonanni once revealed to me that there are left and right earplugs, which I had no idea! So I was briefly elated, but still, that didn't work.

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  8. One thing only? Well my darlings, that would have to be my passport!

    But that's not really the question. It is obvious we all take changes of clothing, tooth brushes, walking shoes, all that. So the one non-essential essential in my bag is my Kindle Voyager. It weighs about 6.6 ounces, has both wifi and 3G, and is so thin I can stick it in a reasonably sized pocket. I can press either side of the frame to go both back and forward, and I love it with a passion originally reserved for my first-born as well as my second, third and forth-born.

    I can find clean underwear in any destination, large or small, clean water too. I can't bear ear plugs and I can't see to read on my iPhone, not well enough anyway. Plastic bags abound at all security check points and tea is available literally EVERYWHERE.

    The next thing I take if I have room is a very old past it years ago down pillow that I can squish down on top of my clothes in my bag. I am puffy pillow particular, and most Euro pillows are bricks. Except in France. When ready to return home, I pitch the pillow, replacing it with what my English friend calls "holiday buys," you know that shirt you couldn't resist and will never wear again but maybe it will fit your neighbor and you forgot to bring her un petit cadeau.

    But travel without my Kindle? I'd rather go nekkid.

    Ann in Rochester who finished SAY NO MORE last night and loved it. Thank you Hank xox

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  9. I'm trying to think and I simply don't travel enough to come up with anything other than what's already been said. What a sad comment on my travel life. LOL

    Mary/Liz

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  10. All the good ideas; we are such seasoned travelers. My choice? Nail clippers. Besides the obvious grooming features, they can open plastic bags, clip stray threads, and even with patience work as a screw driver. My other essential is hearing aid batteries, natch.

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    1. Yes - I've used clippers a million different ways!

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  11. Seeing the newer comments, I will also add a refillable stainless steel travel bottle as a travel essential. I used to take a plastic Camelbak bottle with me, but this new one can be used for both HOT and COLD liquids.

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    1. Do they allow you to carry a refillable stainless steel travel bottle when travelling by plane? Security would not allow me to bring a water bottle.

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    2. Yes, as long as it's empty when you go through security. I always look for bottle filling fountains, usually situated with the drinking fountains, also Sully near the restrooms. I've carried on metal and plastic both.

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    3. Usually, not Sully. Autocorrect is weird.

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  12. Extra pair of glasses. I am irrationally paranoid that I'll have an eyeglass emergency and be unable to function because I didn't listen to my mother and pack an old pair.

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    1. I always did that, too, Ramona. Now that I only need over-the-counters, it's much less stressful.

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    2. I do that, too, Ramona, as I suffer from the same paranoia. I also take an extra pair of sunglasses that fit over my glasses.

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  13. For years I've always taken a light sarong with me. Large, light, colourful. Similar in practicality to a pashmina, but even more so. It's bigger and rolls up smaller. Dries in no time. Weighs next to nothing. Bathing suit, cover-up, picnic or beach blanket, cushion when folded, shawl for warmth, head scarf for emergencies. Skirt or halter. In fact, I take two.

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  14. So I guess this is where it becomes obvious I'm a guy. Or an addict. My book. There's no way I'd get through that long plane ride without a book. And I have to have a couple of back ups in case I read faster than expected. Being without a book would be horrible.

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  15. I have a tiny flashlight on my keychain . . . always. It's about the size of a quarter. Oddest thing I have in my suitcase (according to my niece) is a plastic orange-peeler for the motel breakfast fruit, also handy for stirring coffee.
    I borrowed a flashlight just like yours from my next door neighbor so I could see the lockbox holding my emergency door key after she accidentally activated the spring lock; I usually only use the deadbolt to avoid getting locked out. I do appreciate our EMS for arranging these lockboxes at cost.

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  16. Now that I have a Kindle (since December, a Paperwhite) I wouldn't think of leaving home without it. But I still can't get on a plane without some kind of paper book. My security blanket!!!

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    1. me too on the paper book--must have one every time!

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    2. I have to have a book with me, sometimes two if it's a long flight! Variety is the spice of life!

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    3. Occasionally, I'll sit next to a person who does nothing the whole flight--no book, no snoozing, nothing. Who are these people? Are they meditating?

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    4. The worst thing is when people bring kids onto a plane with nothing to amuse them and they kick the back of my seat! When we traveled with kids I had goody bags of fun little items to open every half hour: crafts, puzzles, snacks etc. Always kept them occupied. Also people who don't bring a bottle for crying babies to suck?

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    5. Good idea to carry goody bags of little items for kids when travelling.

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  17. Like Rhys, I always bring a flashlight. Along the lines of the "toilet water spray" (why do the call it that??) would be scented candles ~

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  18. Like Rhys, I always bring a flashlight.

    This is really tough because there are a few essentials for me when I travel. A change of undies in my carryon, a pashima shawl for when the weather becomes cooler, a favorite book, a bottle of Tylenol, my renewable battery charger for my Cochlear Implant Speech Processors, and a converter for different electric outlets when I travel abroad. In the airport gift shop, I can get eye drops, toothbrush/toothpaste, among other necessities.

    Diana

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  19. Rhys, where did you find the new Hanes underwear? CVS or Walgreens?

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  20. I'm one of the Ziploc bag fanatics. Not only do I pack anything that could remotely spill or ooze out, but I take extras. I also pack my underwear in the plastic bags, as I tell myself that it will prevent strange hands from pawing through my underwear when I win the lottery for one of their inspection throw-alls.

    I usually have plenty of snacks in my carry-on, along with a water bottle in preparation for getting stuck on the tarmac and the plane running out of such items. No, I have never experienced this, but paranoia prompts preparation.

    And, of course, the first thing I pick out before a trip is what book(s) I'm going to take, printed ones.

    I also must have a sleeping mask. It only takes one time to find yourself in a hotel without black-out curtains or a chink in the blinds to appreciate having a sleeping mask along. In fact, I keep one in my suitcase at all times, never unpack it. I don't like doing earplugs when I travel alone because I'm afraid I won't hear my alarm.

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  21. Kathy, thanks for the reminder. I always carry my smartphone with the vibrating alarm so when my alarm goes off, it vibrates and wakes me up.

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