Saturday, June 15, 2013

Don't Leave Home Without It!

RHYS BOWEN:Several Reds, including me, have been on trips to exotic places recently, so I thought we might assemble words of wisdom on some of the essentials we always take with us on trips. I am a good packer. I travel as light as possible and base my wardrobe around a neutral color. But there are certain things I can't do without:
A pashmina in my carry on as I always freeze on aircraft. Also makes plain outfits look fashionable.
A flashlight which I place beside my pillow every night. Having been on the 75th floor of a hotel when the power went out, I've decided never to be without it.
I also take one of those super absorbent towels that divers use. It's only about a foot square but it can dry me off if I want an impromptu swim, or get rained on, or even spill water over myself.
Zip lock bags. I keep all my toiletries in several zip locks. Ditto dirty laundry, camera batteries, anything that might get ruined by being left on the tarmac in the rain. They weigh nothing and I can see instantly what's in them. And if anything leaks at 35,000 feet, I'm safe.
Garbage ties to secure my suitcase when I can't use locks. A few teabags for my English cuppa in case the hotel has none. And my Kindle, loaded with books I've been dying to read.
So Reds, which items can you not do without?

LUCY BURDETTE: Rhys, you are an expert--you should teach a class on the Jungle Red method! I thought I was a good packer, but I stumbled over this last trip--twelve days involving family occasions, two days visiting old haunts, and a book tour. I took too much stuff. And picked up extra books along the way, a fatal weakness. By the flight home, I'd broken my own rule: Don't pack more than you can lift into the overhead bin. Because not everyone feels sorry for you if your suitcase is a little oversize and too darn heavy. So now I'm in the market for a smaller bag that I can't possibly overstuff:).

Must haves: tiny purse that I can sling over my chest, books, phone charger, sandwich for the plane...

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm a carry-on only traveler, no matter how long the trip, and I admit I have never packed a towel. I always bring a long colorful scarf to dress up my black sleeveless jersey dress or black jersey pants and cardigan. And lately I've had to carry bungee cords just in case my suitcase dies. I do NOT recommend Ricardo brand luggage, unless you're into harvesting broken zippers and busted handles. Hoping my new TravelPro proves to be sturdier.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Almonds. I am always between food and starving, and almonds are good and healthy any time of day. I've had 'em for breakfast, I've had 'em for dinner.
A pashmina, me, too A black, cozy pashmina. Can be used at night as a wrap, on on the plane as a blanket.
Definitely tea bags. Phone charger--must have. Internet hotspot. Lucy, a sandwich for the plane--me, too! Just in cases. Rhys, yup, ziplocks.
And I only take a carryon suitcase, no matter for how long. AND, shhhh..I put my Longchamps purse inside a tote bag, so I can have two items in one place.

ROSEMARY HARRIS: I do the purse in tote thing that I can really have 3 carryons. Rhys has got most of my basic items covered. Ziplock baggies, scarf, check. I'd add flipflops. Lord knows when they last cleaned the rugs in your hotel.

RHYS: I'm currently writing about a sea voyage in the 1930s when everyone took several trunks with them as there were porters everywhere. When I was a child there were porters at every local station. And a maid to press the clothes, of course.
And I've just remembered another thing I can't travel without: a tiny international hair dryer. Having been caught twice with a hair dryer that died in my hotel room right before I had an important speaking engagement I'm now covered.

Does anyone else have a brilliant suggestion to share? 


  1. This post proves a theory of mine: Women actually love packing and preparing for the trip as much as they like the trip. They must, else why talk about it so much? My wife starts with the suitcase two weeks ahead of time, changing her mind every other day about the contents. Is it any wonder that, with so MUCH planning, she always forgets something because it got taken out and never put back?

    I have one travel rule. If I can't pack it in my carry-on, it's not coming.

  2. The JRW are experienced travelers!

    I do most of the above, and also have a change of shoes, and a couple scarves, depending on how long the trip will be.

    One thing I am never without on trip is a ziplock bag with several tubes of Bioron homeopathic remedies. Which ones depends on where I'm going: allergy, seasickness, traveler's trots, etc. They have saved many a trip with emergency self-treatment, and they are small enough that they take up no room. You must have some knowledge of homeopathy to use them effectively, but it's worth learning about, especially if you're a frequent traveler.

    I always have an extra layer, no matter what time of year it is. (In a pinch, the pasmina can serve.) And I usually take a teeny travel umbrella, which is good insurance for a rain-free trip.

  3. Ever since my luggage went one way and my plane went another, I only do carry-on. My cousin Greg did not learn from my mistake, and he is currently in Dublin with his family and the clothes they were wearing when they left Pennsylvania. Photo of them, he drowning his sorrows and she planning a new wardrobe, may be chuckled at on my FB page.

    I never heard of a pashmina until I started following Jungle Reds. I learn so much here!

  4. In addition to what has already been suggested, my suitcase always holds a Ziploc bag of coffee singles. Generally I switch from my standard Lucite box purse to one just large enough to hold the essentials. My Nook tablet has enough books on it to keep me reading, but I always chafe at the far-too-early airline request to turn it off before landing since I’ve probably already done the crossword puzzle during take-off before the airline allows the eReaders to be turned on . . . .

  5. I also only do carry-on, but truth be told, I love it when we drive to wherever we're going 'cause I love to take everything I could possibly dream of wanting or needing while we're there. I'm awful.

  6. I'm with you, Kaye -- but isn't it scary what we'll take with us when the restraints are removed.

    Forgot to say, for most trips I pack twice. First time with what I WANT to take, then removing everything I can manage without.

    I had the blissful experience a week ago of taking the train into NYC with NO LUGGAGE! A day trip -- just my little purse and a book.

  7. Hallie - VERY scary! I'm a nester and if I wasn't scared to death Donald would start considering a way to drop me off at the local looney bin, I would probably take "sit-abouts" too! You know - a favorite piece of pottery, a paperweight or two . . . Surely, I'm not the only one who feels this way?!

    As to the "Don't Leave Home Without It," I'd have to say my iPad.

    and cowboy boots.

  8. I consider myself an experienced traveler, but still, I have trouble monitoring myself...well, I might want to wear this...etcetera. This especially applies to European travel. I have a thing against looking too American. One of the best compliments I ever got was in Paris, on a sunny Sunday when all the world was out strolling. A hunky Parisian (oo la la, seriously) asked if he could walk with me. As soon as I started to speak my crappy French, he excused himself. At least he didn't know I was American to begin with! I felt oddly good about that...:-)

    Anyhow, I'm a light sleeper so I must have ear plugs and blindfold. Also, no one else, a fiber supplement?

  9. Ah, Karen, the homeopathic remedies -- yes! Of course, I often travel with my own personal homeopath -- my husband -- and that's extra nice!

    Surprised that none of the writers mentioned a notebook -- and two pens!

  10. Yes, Leslie, true! I always bring a travel journal.

  11. You can tell we're not high fashion because instead of a pashima we always travel with sweat jackets (aka hoodies). Good pillows or back support as well as keeping warm. The camera and binoculars go in a backpack that either of us can carry instead of a tote bag.

  12. Oh yes, Lisa. Always a notebook, although I carry my little netbook but I prefer to scribble on paper for ideas

  13. Shrieking: COWBOY BOOTS?!?!

    Honestly, shoes are the problem for the light packer.

  14. I'm going to Scotland in early September; it will be a self guided hiking trip and a few days of tourism in the big cities. So, I'm really thinking hard about what to bring. Hoping to fit everything into a daypack and a carry on suitcase. The hiking tour transports our luggage to each inn; just need the daypack. I think I'll do fine. It's my husband, who I nicknamed Mr Clean, who usually overpacks. We'll be taking trains when we're not walking. But you can't tell him anything, his being a man and a husband both!

  15. Oscar Wilde said he always took a journal on a trip so he'd have something sensational to read.

    And Hallie, yes: shoes are always the biggest packing problem.

  16. I wish I could pack in only a carry-on! I've never been able to manage that.

    Pashmina, check. I'm ALWAYS cold on the plane. As well as most of what's already been mentioned (lots of zip lock bags), I have a few clothespins. I hate window curtains that don't close and they can be used to close the gap.

    A few years ago I got off a flight from Puerto Rico in Boston. Standing at the carousel for the luggage I saw one bag come down the chute and it was open. Laundry everywhere - now following the bag around the carousel. Yup, it was mine! After I got over the initial Oh-S*&^ moment, I was able to gather up my stuff, with the help of many wonderful people, and stuff it back into the now broken bag. To make a long story shorter, Jet Blue was awful, I taped the bag up (without their help; they did provide the tape), missed my bus to Portland, and got home hours later. Because of that - and the point of this - is that I now have a 4 inch wide, colorful elastic band that goes around my suitcase. It helps identify it on the carousel and, god forbid, if the zipper breaks again, my underwear won't be circling Carousel B.

  17. Marianne, I'm laughing at the vivid picture you just described. And thinking how that so easily could've been me!

    I'm a much lighter packer than I used to be. Back in college when I would spend a semester in Europe studying, I packed everything but the kitchen sink. This was back before they got so strict about baggage. I'd have two huge suitcases full--probably about 60lbs each. Then large carpetbag and a backpack. I cannot tell you what a pain that was to lug up and down all the stairs in a London tube station!! All of you carryon only people are probably cringing at the thought. Luckily I was young and strong.

    Now I'm much better--just one 50lb suitcase and a carryon. :)

    I'm also a last minute packer. I start the night before and just start chucking stuff in the suitcase.