Posted August 28, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Yes, your passport and wallet (and probably some clean underwear) deserve to be at the top of your packing list. But in the rush to remember the essentials, travelers sometimes underestimate the power of the nice-to-haves. Humble objects, ranging from an empty reusable water bottle to bandages, can save time and money and go far toward boosting the quality of your travels. Here are the items we often forget to pack—and always regret not having in our suitcase.
Reusable water bottles are worth their weight when you travel. Throw your empty water bottle of choice into your carry-on, then fill it up post-security at the airport (if you prefer to avoid water fountains, just ask at a cafe or restaurant) and you won't have to depend on the flight attendant to keep you hydrated. When you arrive at your destination, your next refill is as close as the tap, as long as the water is potable. Even if the water is questionable, you can opt to purchase one large plastic jug of water instead of dozens of smaller ones and just refill your reusable bottle as necessary.
Not only is a reusable water bottle sturdier (and it leaks less) than a convenience-store bottle, it also keeps your water tasting more like water and less like hot plastic. For travel, consider getting a slightly smaller water bottle that fits easily in a purse or bag. There are plenty of aluminum, glass, stainless steel, and hard-plastic options in the 12-ounce range.
Suitcases are tight quarters. One dirty sock or wet bathing suit can turn an entire vacation wardrobe into a dirt-smeared, olfactory mess. Don't make your clean clothes rub elbows (or knees, or feet) with your dirties—pack a small laundry bag that can contain wet, soiled, and smelly clothes. A simple grocery bag will do, but if you want to get fancy you can also find reusable options such as Flight 001's resin-coated Go Clean Wet Suit bag or nylon Go Clean Laundry bag. And if you forget a bag, check the closet of your hotel room; many still stock a plastic bag for in-hotel dry-cleaning services.
First Aid Supplies
Blisters happen. So do scrapes and scratches. Don't be that person who ends up spending $7 on a pack of five bandages because you forgot to throw a few in your bag when you were packing. In travel destinations, basic first aid supplies tend to be overpriced, and it's not always convenient to hobble to a store post-injury in search of emergency supplies. Instead, make yourself a little first aid kit and keep it with your toiletries. You don't need anything complicated, just a few bandages, some antibiotic ointment (look for the individual-use packs), and maybe some moleskin if you have a tendency to injure yourself with your footwear.
Reusable Shopping Bag
Extra Memory Card
The CDC recommends frequent hand washing to prevent illness. Since hygiene standards vary among destinations, and because the hand-washing trinity of water-soap-drying implement is not always available, keeping a small bottle of hand sanitizer in your day bag is your ace in the hole. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60 percent alcohol), rubbed on your hands until they are dry. While hand sanitizers aren't as effective when your hands are visibly dirty, they can be very handy when you're on the go and need a quick clean.
Copies of Travel Documents
The last thing most people want to do when packing is scan and print or photocopy their passport and other important documents. However, in the unlikely but serious event that your passport or visa is lost or stolen, it's a big help to have an extra copy on hand. Stash the copies in a separate place from the actual documents, so if you lose one, you'll likely still have the other. At the very least, write down your passport number and email it to yourself or simply email the scans of the documents. Losing your passport is panic-inducing and can potentially ruin a vacation, so this is one of those times when it pays to take a few extra just-in-case steps.
Flip-Flops: We're not suggesting flip-flops as a fashion statement, but rather as a hygiene measure if you're headed to any spas, pools, shared bathrooms, or other moist and warm environments where a bit of extra foot protection might matter.
Stain Remover: Last year, editor Caroline Costello reviewed the Tide to Go Stain Eraser and found that it saved her from walking around all day with a giant coffee stain on her shirt. Stain-erasing wipes and pens take up little space and offer quick fixes for messes—a big plus for travelers with limited wardrobes.
Host Gifts: Whether you're visiting old friends, meeting business associates, or will be invited into a home during your travels, it's always nice to come prepared with a small gift. Gift-giving practices vary by country, so before you choose a gift to pack, do a bit of research to make sure it's an appropriate item.
Read the Entire Story: Easy Things You Should Pack but Probably Won't
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