Most Useless Pre-Trip Purchase

Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 06:09 PM
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I bought one of those buckwheat travel pillows (the u-shaped one) for my trip to Prague. Maybe it's just me, but I hated it. I used it for about 10 minutes on the flight from the US, and never used it again. Some people swear by them, and it wasn't expensive, but it was bulky and heavy -- took up most of the room in my carry bag. I was lucky though, because on the flight, I had a row of 4 seats to myself and all the pillows and blankets. I slept the whole way across the pond.

If anyone wants my pillow, you're more than welcome to it. It has a fleece cover, and as I said, only used for 10 minutes. Email me if you want it, and just reimburse me for the postage.

One of the most important things I carry with me is a water bottle -- saves on buying bottled water. And, I bring an alarm clock, even though I always call the front desk for a wake up call. Sometimes it happens that someone forgets to call to wake you up.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 06:42 PM
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Off the point but still sort of on: I have found a great answer to the washcloth dilemma - the one-use facial cleansing cloths. Not only do they clean your face, but they're sturdy enough to wash the whole body, then throw them away! No wet, mildewy washcloths to lug around; enough cleanser imbedded that you can manage a good washup even without additional soap; squishable and lightweight enough to pack easily.

I take a very tiny alarm clock no matter where I'm going (bought a $3 battery operated one with light up dial to replace the wind up one that fell apart after less than 15 years of use!); on long train trips where I might nod off, I set the alarm to wake me about 10 minutes before arrival so I don't miss my stop or have to scramble to get my bags and off the train in 2.6 seconds. Oftentimes we rent houses or apartments, and they don't always have clocks of any sort.

As for protecting your valuables, use something that's a little more secure than you use everyday. It's not so much there are more thieves in Europe than there are at home, but as someone pointed out, you're discombobulated when traveling - you're looking at the train departure board for your train, you're trying to get your luggage out of a cab, you're staring at the impressive buildings, all things you don't do at home so you're attention is diverted. If you did the same things at home, you'd be just as likely to be a target for a thief.

Instead of a neck pillow, I found a small "travel" pillow, about half the size of a sofa pillow, polyester filled. It's great on a plane or train, AND can be used on a bed that has that bolster thingy. A friend also uses hers at the beach (in fact, she asked me to make her a terry pillow case for it). We each paid - hold the phone, Andy - $2.50 for it at Walgreen's. You could make your own just as cheaply - buy polyfill in a fabric store, make a cover and stuff it. If you don't sew, take a tshirt, tie soft ribbon or cord around the bottom, stuff it, then gather the sleeves and neck opening into a bunch and tie it up. You can make it as hard or soft as you want, and you can wash it when it gets yucky.

Rain ponchos - we buy the $1.00 plastic ugly things in the camping department of Target. They take up no room and come in handy in a torrential downpour. We've only used them once (Ireland, of all places - go figure), threw them away, and bought new ones for our next trips. They're about the size of a travel pack of kleenex. A small umbrella and/or a waterproof coat (like a trenchcoat) are all we've ever needed at other times.

The best travel gift I ever got was a flashlight/halogen reading light combo. It's about the size of a cellphone so it's easy to carry as a flashlight, and the little halogen lamp, when unfolded, can sit on a table or clip to a book. Eck sull ent.

Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 06:53 PM
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After having a hotel in London, mistakenly call the wrong room instead of ours for our early "wake up" call, we woke too late to take a cab to the train station to take to the airport (is Stansted the one way North?), we had to cab it all the way.

We only made the flight to Prague by the skin of our teeth because I had packed everything the night before, and it was Easter Monday which meant there was not much traffic. That taxi ride cost us over $100.00 U.S. funds. We were nervous wrecks. Moral of this story. Never assume that you have set their clock radio correctly--never assume you will get that requested wake up call. Take an alarm clock--just in case.

Plastic bags are always useful, and I usually pack some bubble wrap--it's lightweight, but I may need it to wrap a "breakable" souveneir.

Liquid Dove poured into a small plastic travel bottle is great for washing out "undies" & small items.

Going to England? Then make sure to go to Marks & Spencer which carries the best underwear I swear--for men & women.

Have a great trip!
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 07:01 PM
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I forgot something. Several posters have said that they worry about how to convert $. If you go to, you can print out a currency table. I print one for figuring both ways and carry it in my wallet. It's a great way for getting "close enough" to what the cost will be so that I can decide if I want to make the purchase. Anything that is in Euros is really simple, but for those countries which aren't on that, this is very helpful.
Old Feb 2nd, 2002, 09:28 PM
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That wheeled backpack;be sure and never check luggage that,I've seen many of thoose ground up on the airport conveyer belts,they grab the belts and straps,.good luck.
Old Feb 3rd, 2002, 08:15 AM
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We have a very small pair of binoculars that we always pack. In addition to regular uses they are great when inside large cathedrals where you want to be able to see some of the architectural details. I don't know if I would make a special purchase of them. but if you have a pair, tuck them in.
Old Feb 3rd, 2002, 10:21 AM
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I'd have to second Elvira's recommendation for one-use facial cleansing cloths. You can pack one for each day of your travel and they take up very little space.

Silk long underwear is also handy as an alternative for nightwear. Instead of packing bulky pjs, an extra pair of silkk underwear will take up no room and keep you cozy and warm while you sleep. Plus they wash out easily and dry quickly.
Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 09:32 AM
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just finished reading all the posts - hilarious! I laughed until tears came, because I too have made some of the same mistakes. Basically, you need a lot LESS than you think you do, and you esp. don't need those special gizmos made 'just for traveling' - they usually cost alot, and will just take up room. I think what happens is that when we are eagerly anticipating our trip, we are most prone to being caught up in the preparations and buying of all these special items. Just pack sensibly- you yourself know what you need the most in your daily routine - and unless its prescription meds, you can usually buy it in case you forgot it anyway! Have a happy trip!
Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 09:43 AM
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Desert sue, for some reason I want to leave a good impression--something about decorum

"smell a little"? like you dont change your underwear? just because they dont know you doesnt give you an excuse to forget decorum
Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 10:13 AM
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Question for all of you who said earplugs - do you have a particular brand or type you recommend? I haven't found any that are comfortable. Please advise.

Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 10:16 AM
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I love the travel gadgets and have bought my fair share that sit at home. I have my favorite things to take. I have a small Seiko alarm/calculator/translator that I take and wouldn't part with. It also does metric conversion and currency conversion. I take an expandable clothes line and wash underwear and sox on the trip. One piece of advice is--take twice the money and half the clothes. I would not do without a money belt, though, I hate wearing it. There are 4 things you need on a trip--money, passport, tickets, and medications. Everything else can be lost without much hassle. I use the money belt for peace of mind. I know we've found a hotel employee sneaking into our room--he got caught because we had forgotten something and returned to the room--surprise. I always wondered what happened with the safe combinations that were forgotten or had to be changed. Surely the hotel employees have that ability. M.
Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 10:20 AM
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Buckwheat neck pillow, for sure. Too bulky (I do use it in the car now sometimes on domestic trips). I make sure I snag pillows and blankets the minute I get on the plane (including a second blanket to cover my head while I'm trying to sleep---nothing says "don't wake me" to a flight attendant like a blanket over your head).

Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 11:09 AM
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expensive new luggage
Old Mar 22nd, 2002, 02:20 PM
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Kat - Mack earplugs are the best-just wads of wax. Use as much or as little as you like and then toss.
The most useless thing I brought on a trip was a money pouch that went under my shirt. I wore it to a special audience with the Pope, who immediately thought I was pregnant & began blessing my belly in Italian (the thing was so bulky and hung down to my stomach as I could not figure out how to adjust the strap). Immagine the poor old dear's confusion when we (not knowing Italian or understanding the belly blessing) joyfully told him we were newleyweds. We laugh now......
Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 08:39 AM
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Thanks for the earplug advise. By the way, didn't you post a question about Tangier a few days ago. I'm serious about Gibraltar. It was one of our favorite places while visiting the Costa del Sol. Ronda is a must, too. Enjoy.
Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 08:53 AM
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i would take with you a small amount of any medicines that you tend to use regulaly(i discovered tylanol sp? on holiday in the states and always bring some back with me ,we have nothing to compare to it)it is such a pain to not be able to get your usual indegestion remedy or suchlike.and remember there are lots of things you can buy in usa drug stores that you can only get on pescription here.
im not suggesting taking the whole drug store just the few products you know and trust
Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 09:06 AM
Dallas, Texas
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I too love my travel gadgets. I know I buy way too many (and don’t always use them). For instance, I bought one of those alarm door stops – way to heavy to carry around, but for me, buying these little gadgets is a big part of my travel fun. I have to save for a couple of years before I can make a European trip, and in between vacations, I add to my travel gear. Some of it I use, some I don’t, but I love shopping travel shops just like I love reading this travel forum for my in between fix.

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