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Must-Pack Items from Our Readers

Passport? Check. Guidebook? Got it. Clean underwear? We'd never forget that!

suitcases travel familyMost travelers remember the big stuff when they're packing for a trip. But what about those little things that could make your travels easier or more convenient -- like a night light for your hotel room, charcoal capsules to prevent traveler's tummy or colorful sticky notes to flag important pages in your guidebook? These are just a few of the must-pack items that our travel-savvy readers bring when they go on a trip. Read on for more practical suggestions to include on your next packing list!

In the Air
"When I'm flying, I always pack earplugs. Many times there is a poor child who is frustrated with being stuck in a tiny place for too long. Crying can be difficult to deal with for hours. Put the earplugs in and then the earphones. Find some nice music and voila! The sounds become relaxing. The other item is an inflatable neck cushion. It takes away the neck cramps when the music lulls one to sleep!" -- Verna H.

"I always pack an empty water bottle to be filled once I cross over the security line." -- Mae in San Francisco

"I have eyeshades with built-in speakers. I can plug in a CD player or my iPod. Great for long flights!" -- Valerie C.

"Bring a camera if it's a daylight flight and you've reserved a window seat. You never know when you'll be over the Grand Canyon (yes, that has happened to me). Bring extra [camera] batteries and make sure they're name brand, not drugstore brand." -- RichardNika

The Ultimate Guide to Travel Packing

At the Hotel
"A tiny LCD pocket light can be used to light stairways and walking paths at night, as a night light to find the bathroom, as a reading light on night flights or in hotel rooms, to light hard-to-read thermostats in hotels, to read maps when it's dark, to find something in your purse ... the list goes on!" -- Fran G.

"I pack a small, portable, battery or plug-in sound soother machine from Brookstone with 10 different sounds. It weighs just a few ounces and ensures a peaceful night's sleep." -- RVSkald

"Bring a breakfast 'tools' bag (size 20 x 20 x 20) containing: boiler, two mugs, tea bags, Nescafe, concentrated one portion milk, sugar. (You can find a packet of croissants anywhere.) You can have breakfast as you would at home -- without getting dressed, no makeup, etc." -- Fabio S.

"I have half of a sheet I bring when I travel. If the hotel does not enclose its blankets, I put it over the top of the blanket nearest to me. That way I never have to touch the blankets that have been used by who knows how many people before me." -- Teresa B.

"Take a plug-in night light for those middle-of-the-night potty trips. A dark and unfamiliar room is not always easy to navigate when you're half asleep." -- EPATFOX

Expert Packing Tips for Four Common Trip Types

Clothing and Accessories
sundress "I have a cute whimsical dress made of light fabric that I can scrunch into a ball the size of a tennis ball. I can always fit it into my bag, it weighs nothing, because of the whimsical pattern it actually looks good wrinkled, and if I decide to go out to a fancy restaurant or a show or something, I've got something pretty to wear." -- Wanderlust28

"Pack a pashmina shawl for cold, air-conditioned restaurants, drafty planes or cool evening walks on the deck of a cruise ship." -- RVSkald

"Shearling slippers with textured, rubber soles are great for padding onto a wet ship's deck or dashing to a motel newspaper vending machine. They're also great for plane rides. Also, try rubber flip-flops lined with those rubber-band loopy things. They stay cool to the foot on the hottest beaches and the sand washes right out of them." -- Margot K.

"Pack a rain hat that fits in a pocket." -- Fabio S.

"For women, one lightweight little black dress that you can dress up or down is all you need if you need to look a little fancy." -- gypsychick


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