Most Useless Pre-Trip Purchase

Old Feb 1st, 2002, 03:01 PM
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Hi Julie.
Some watches have built in alarms, as an alternative to alarm clocks. When our hotel forgot to send us our wakeup call, the alarm watch saved us from missing our early a.m flight.

If you really can't stand wearing a money belt, try one of Eagle Creek's products...whatever you do, never, never leave your passport and credit cards in any bag that you'll be tempted to put on the floor.
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 04:32 PM
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Sorry, this won't help the original poster much, but WHAT in the world are you all talking about with these pack-it compressor things, and freezer bags in place of them? This sounds like something that *might* help me in my travels, but i don't know what either of them are used for...
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 04:37 PM
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They are food storage bags that "zip" closed and are air tight. You seal them closed with your fingers. If you close them almost all the way, then squeeze out all the extra air, then seal it, you will have vacuume-packed clothes, etc. and they will take up less space.
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 05:13 PM
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Wheeled backpack: a good idea to and from airports, hotels, etc. But a small, lightweight one or tote bag is enought to hold maps, etc. and can be shoved anywhere while dining, etc.

Good loafers: I would suggest two well-broken-in shoes and/or sneakers.

Pack-It compressor: I just bought plastic bags from QVC which you roll the air out compressor or vacuum needed. I'm using them in my linen closet right now and fit a quilt in one and it squashed down to nothing. Terrific!

Money belt: I find them annoying. Bring two credit cards and an ATM card.

Laundry kit: I have a rule...NO laundry on vacations.

Alarm clock: Hotels usually offer wake-up calls. Save the space to bring home a gift for yourself.

Have fun.
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 06:00 PM
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Dear Author xyz: showed my kids your posts and they laughed. Do you know the Austin Powers scene where Elizabeth Hurley's stuff is all packed in plastic bags? That's us (or "we" to be correct).

We're a little less anal rententive, but not much. Since we only travel with one carry-on, whether it be three days or three weeks, compression is the key to our existence. We buy two-gallon freezer bags, stuff them, sit on them to squeeze the air out, and label them.

The benefit? Not only do you have more room in the suitcase, but when you're traveling to 8+ hotels in two weeks, you can go through all the stuff in the suitcase by just tossing the bags on the floor. Need to repack? Toss them back in.
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 06:08 PM
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Hey Posters, don't think most of you get the drift with the money belt...

I think many of us understand that there's temporary loss--credit cards, money--and permanent loss with permanent damage.

Losing your passport is not just your loss; it's a loss to your country. Ask any embassy official about what harm you may be doing.

God Bless those of you in Britain. Yes, you have a safe country. But there are people in your very safe country who are looking for American tourists. We are easy to identify and our passports are valuable commodities.

If I can afford to travel, I can afford the loss of cash or credit cards. I cannot afford as an American citizen the loss of a valuable piece of identification that can cause harm to my country.

If my hotel has a room safe, then I stick the darn money belt and airline tickets there. I can do that at the front desk, too. I am happy to take the loss of my credit card and ATM money on any subway; I am not happy to lose my identity and to lose my country's security.

Old Feb 1st, 2002, 06:32 PM
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Really interesting thread - we all have such different ideas on what is essential. Myself - I do bring a very small travel alarm. When I'm travelling on business, I always get a wake up call. But when I'm travelling on my own, I'm often staying in small places where we don't have a telephone in the room. I like to know that if I'm expected to catch a bus or whatever one morning, I won't sleep in. I always travel with earplugs - come to think of it, I often use them at home as well. I don't like to wear a moneybelt, but I always carry a small shoulder bag which has a built-in wallet. I learned my lesson when my wallet was stolen from my purse not once, but twice, while riding the streetcar in my home town. I also take an inflatable neck pillow. I'm fairly short and I find the headrest on an airplane is more than useless, it's uncomfortable. The inflatable neck pillow isn't perfect, but it sure helps and it takes up almost no space. This past Christmas, I got my husband an itty bitty book light for travel. We usually stay in budget accommodation. We both read in bed, but often the lighting is less than adequate.

That's my list, or at least some of it. Now if you were ask my husband, he'd probably have another list entirely!
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 08:41 PM
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Nan; Does vacuum packed mean that the clothes do not wrinkle?
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 09:06 PM
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The first time I visited Earth, I bought a gravity belt. Hah! Can you imagine? How dumb was THAT? You can bet I will never make that mistake again.

Old Feb 1st, 2002, 09:08 PM
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I bought a portable motion detector for my daughter's trip to Europe. She wouldn't take it...I can't give it away!
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 09:41 PM
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I take a small folding alarm clock - unwilling to rely on a wake-up call and quite a few rooms I've stayed in in 2-star hotels have not had clocks in them. Since I go to Europe at least twice a year, I bought a small hair dryer with Euro voltage and plug converters for it (which I take on an as-needed basis.)

I do wash a few things out in the sink, using liquid Tide from a sample-size shampoo bottle. (Find that this gets things as clean and fresh-smelling as possible.) Also take Febreeze in a travel-size pump hairspray bottle; it really helps to get the smell of smoke out of clothes and/or freshen up things you can't wash! (Spray clothes before you go to bed and hang to air overnight.)

I pack plastic bags flat in the bottom of my suitcase and use them to segregate dirty clothes from clean ones. But the concept of "compressing" more into less space w/ziplocks doesn't work for me - there's only so much weight I want to drag around!
Old Feb 1st, 2002, 10:08 PM
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Just a few comments. I agree that a rollaway backpack is something heavy trying to be two things. Since you already have one though the point is moot. Good comfortable broken in shoes are essential. Waterproof/gortex shoes are especially good. I think my wife and kids use Ecco. You also need a second pair to pack. I never used long underwear when I lived in England. Forget the compressor, Zip bags rule. I don't use a money belt as I use the room safe or the inside pocket of my gortex parka. I do not think that a money belt is a bad idea though. I think a waterproof/ gortex like parka is a must. I also use shampoo for laundry and just about everything else. I bring along a small alarm clock for backup. Lastly I have found useful a small nylon duffle bag that takes up little room but is something I can fill up with dirty clothes on the last location of my trip so I have room for purchases in my suitcase. Have a good trip. I also will be in England in March.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 05:55 AM
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We put our passports in the hotel safes, along with our credit cards when we didn't need them, so the moneybelts were a waste, as was the clothesline and laundry items and compressor bags. We had a washer and dryer the 2nd week of our trip and we'd taken enough clothes to last 1st week. Things I am very glad I had with me: zip-lock bags, Band-aids, moleskin for my blistered feet, wet wipes, Shout laundry wipes, lip balm, Timex Ironman watch with alarm and military time function as well as light-up face. I woke up by 5 am anyway, so I never needed and alarm, but I needed that light-up face for checking the time in the middle of the night. I never adapted to Italy time, but I got some great shots of Saint Mark's Square in the pre-dawn light - no one there but me, some pigeons and a couple of policemen.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 08:35 AM
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When deciding what to take think about the category of lodging you'll be staying in. we've taken 3 Rick Steves level trips in the past couple years. I can only remember 1 room out of all those that had a hairdryer. Some didn't have clocks either. Those mini reading lights are also essential for budget lodgings which are usually dimly lit. A couple things I always take that nobody else mentioned are a highlighter, a tiny 1st aid kit (yes you can buy that stuff over there but who wants to hassle trying to find a store and then explaining what you need in a foreign language), safety pins, and a tiny flashlight.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 09:28 AM
just me
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My Items:

- inflatable neck pillow
you *have* to sleep on the plane if you're going to beat jet lag, and I can't sleep without mine

- eye mask and ear plugs
same deal: significantly increases the chance that I'll get a restful sleep on the plane

Your Items (the ones I have comments on):

Pack-It compressor
- not effective enough to be worth bothering, IMHO

money belt
- rather than the cumbersome belt, I like a slim pouch that hangs from my neck under my jacket. Invisible and not so uncomfortable.

laundry kit
- don't need the line (use hangers) or the detergent (use shampoo as mentioned above), but that universal stopper is great for sinks and tubs

alarm clock
- better to have some other device that performs this function, perhaps (watch, cell phone?), but I *wholeheartedly* agree that you should not rely on devices or people at your destination to wake you up. Days get wasted and planes get missed that way.

Remember, you're not going to the wilderness. You're not even going anywhere where they speak a foreign language. (well, except for "lorrie" and "wireless" and such!) Therefore, as a rule of thumb, I recommend that you splurge on things that might be useful on the plane, but hold back on the things you would use after you land. If you end up desperately needing something, just buy it there.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 10:37 AM
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My Most Useless Pre-Trip Purchase:
One of those little universal door-locking gizmos - we put it on the door of our (4-plex cabana -type) room in Telchac Puerto, Mexico - on the Gulf of Mexico, FYI. There was a torrential rain during the night, and in the morning we couldn't open the door - the door was swollen from the damp and the gizmo had jammed. Took the knob off- no luck; finally stood on the balcony (2nd floor- too far to jump and rocks below) and hollered for help- the resort maintenance people had to take the door off its hinges!!! Ended up having the USD $50.00 charge for a new doorknob written off by the desk manager - and we were treated like family by all the staff at the resort during our stay, so security was never an issue. Incidentally, we now travel with a "multi-tool", so that we can, theoretically, remove the linch-pins from the door hinges if we need to.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 01:36 PM
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I bought two sizes of the compression bags at Walgreens. My husband had a blast vacuuming the air out of the one containing his Lands End-type knit shirts, causing it to become almost flat. However, not only did the shirts come out wrinkled but the air was back when we opened the suitcase. I do like them for grouping clothing, though, and they are bigger than ziplocks, but I use ziplocks for every group of smaller items now to keep the packing neat and articles easy to find.

I also wore my silk long underwear almost every day a few years ago in London in early April. I like my small, flat travel alarm but wish it lit up.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 02:02 PM
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Carol, you either pack way too many clothes or you stink if you don't believe in doing laundry on vacation! Either that or you just go for the weekend.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 02:16 PM
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Here's a new way to think about what to pack: what CAN'T you buy over there? Or, what can't you absolutely live without?

A few things that come to mind:

credit card/ATM card
tickets (plane, train, concert)
prescription drugs

Just about everything else you can purchase there. Even if you forget a camera, you can always buy a disposable one there!

My personal list also extends to the following:

1) facial cleanser (I know it sounds silly, but I have sensitive skin and really don't want to risk skin problems, so I always carry it in my carry-on luggage)

2) good walking shoes (although shoes are available anywhere, it isn't particularly easy for me to find ones that fit extremely well)

3) tissues (the thought of being "trapped" in a ladies' room with no tp is a highly unpleasant thought...)

4) map of area and credit card sized flashlight

5) camera on my body at all times (don't ask me why, but I feel naked without one!)

6) pencil and paper (as silly as it sounds, I always end up writing something down and am completely lost with them!)

Of course, the best way to find out your own personal list is unfortunately through experience. Oh well, you'll be all the more prepared on your next trip!

Bon voyage,

Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 06:00 PM
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Until recently, the only items I felt were indepensible when traveling to the U.K. were my ticket, passport and money of some sort. I've added a travel size Febreeze to my list. Whenever I'm over there, I spend almost every night in the pub. Consequently, my clothes smell horrible the next day, and so I couldn't wear anything twice. But now I just come home from the pub, and if I'm able to hold my balance long enough, spray my clothes and then I don't have to wash them so often.


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