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Must-Pack Items from Our Readers

Safety and Health
tissue pack tissues kleenex "Purel, Kleenex packets and moist towelette packs -- with those you can cope with any bathroom situation anywhere, plus clean your hands before eating when a sink is not available." -- Sarah H.

"Charcoal capsules you can buy in a health food store. Since charcoal is what they give in a hospital for food poisoning, taking one before meals in a foreign country usually guarantees you won't be sick from different food or germs in foreign countries like your fellow travelers, and you won't miss your tour being sick in bed." -- Dr. Pat B.

"I bring along medical records (like a prescription list, EKG strip and info on any replaced body parts that might set off a security scanner) and insurance info -- just in case -- especially if traveling outside the U.S.A." -- Noel B.

"If you're going to a country with a lot of street crime, bring a good money belt that goes inside your clothes. I'd have lost my wallet a dozen times over in Italy if I hadn't had that." -- RichardNika

"Hand-sanitizing wipes -- you can get them at CVS or economy-sized at BJ's. Use them to wipe down airplane armrests and tray tables, handles of grocery store carriages, hands after portable toilet stops, etc." -- Doris B.

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Packing Aids
"Plastic bags of various sizes, and a permanent ink magic marker. The bags can be folded small and stuck in any pocket, and come in handy when something becomes wet or dirty. Zip-lock-type bags are great for snacks, personal liquid items and small items to keep from becoming separated. The marker is great for labeling items you may buy and don't want to lose or misplace." -- Lynn W.

"I like to travel with a hanging shoe bag, which is a wonderful organizer for small things such as hair brushes, sunglasses, sunscreen, shampoos and other miscellaneous toiletries, etc., especially on cruise ships, where space is at a premium. The convenient hook on the bag fits on the bathroom door and allows for easy and convenient storage, thus freeing up additional space for larger items. One need not spend a lot of money on shoe bags, since they are typically available at the many popular Dollar Store franchises. Another bonus is that the shoe bag will fold flat into a suitcase, thus utilizing 'next to nothing' space and weight." -- Jennifer C.

"I always take a heavy zip plastic bag, such as those that blankets or sheets come in. I pack things that may leak in them and then use the bag to wash garments in since most sinks don't have stops in them." -- Kathy D.

Carry-On Only? Yes, You Can!

Odds and Ends
"Pack a Tide stain stick; we traveled in China for three weeks and my stain stick helped out not just fellow travelers, but our guide too." -- Marilyn P.

"My must-have is a portable clothes line and universal sink stopper. I try not to do laundry through hotels due to the costs. These items allow me to rinse out my socks, undies and other items as need be when away from home." -- Catherine F.

"Mosquito towelettes: you never know when you'll need them, but when you do, you REALLY do." -- Margot K.

packing for a trip Share Your Packing Tips on Our Boards!

"Post-it Flags, preferably in two different colors, allow you to mark tour books and brochures in the places you want to remember, make notes on the tabs, and move them to the next section after you've visited a place. They also make great bookmarks for recreational reading." -- Janus M.

"I never travel without a small blow-up beach ball. It can become a pillow of any size, a back support or a soft seat on a long journey, and is a great connector with little kids around the world." -- Eileen H.

"Aren't zip-lock bags the best? My favorite travel accessories are zip-lock bags, dental floss (which works to mend a ripped backpack in a pinch) and duct tape. That and clean underwear and I'm ready to go!" -- CodeMonkey

"This tip can be invaluable. Don't forget to pack several clothespins. It is amazing how they can close drapes to keep out the light, etc." -- marydallas

"I borrow a good guidebook from the local library and return it when I come home." -- RichardNika

"A well-traveled friend advised me on packing for a trip and included this surprise: take a small zip-lock bag of rubber bands. I thought to myself, I never use rubber bands, but I packed them anyway. They don't take up much room in my toiletry kit -- and I've used at least one rubber band every trip since!" -- Sherry B.

Create your own list of must-pack items with our interactive packing list!

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  • Get the Free Independent Traveler Newsletter!

    --compiled by Sarah Schlichter

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