Little things

15 Sep

15 September 2022.

Every traveler has some things they tuck into their bag, items they cannot imagine doing without or items that make life on the road more comfortable. Some things I take may seem silly to you, and I am sure some of your habitual inclusions would also make me shake my head. 

Bear in mind that we travel for 6-10 weeks at a time in Europe, that we cook in vacation apartments, and we check bags because our trips usually involve hiking and apparently one could hijack a plane with a trekking stick. Still, we are light packers. Our 24” rolling duffles weigh about 24 pounds each, which is manageable on-and-off of the myriad trains we take. 

A Swiss Army Knife.* This utilitarian device — a very small one BTW — comes in so handy to open a package, trim a loose thread, or even divide up some cheese and salami for a trail-side lunch. Goes in checked luggage. I have surrendered at least two to TSA when I forgot they were in my purse. 

Bag Clips. IKEA sells these amazing little bag clips of various sizes. Leftover potato chips? Check. A bag of rice? Check. Haven’t quite used up the whole bag of salad mix? Check. Love ‘em!

BeesWrap. Do you know about this stuff? It is waxed cloth you can use to wrap some foods. I love it for cheese, bread, covering a bowl of leftover food, wrapping a sandwich and much more. Treat it kindly and it is reusable indefinitely.

ZipLoc bags. I reluctantly use these plastic wonders more than I should, but there are few decent options for stashing leftover bits of this-and-that when cooking in an apartment that has no storage containers, for keeping your body wash from leaking all over your snacks, or packing a lunch for the train or trail. A few gallon, quart, sandwich and snack size will serve us for two months. I actually wash them out with dish soap and dry them if they aren’t greasy and reuse them.

Wine stoppers. In case of leftover wine. Who has leftover wine you might ask? We do. Sometimes. Especially when we are holding out for grappa after dinner. (See below.)

Knives for cooking.* Most vacation apartments have crappy knives. They barely cut butter. A few years ago, I bought a set of those multi-colored knives with blade guards and packed along four: paring knife, bread knife, chef’s knife, and santoku knife. Game changer for cooking in a rental! They are usually good for a couple of trips, but sometimes I “gift” them at the last stop and often they are there when we return the next year. I still bring a new set each fall.

Corkscrew.* You might think every apartment would have one and every hotel could find one for you. Not always true. And it is such a small item, why go without? When you want it, your want it. 

Benadryl and Benadryl Gel, Imodium, Tylenol, Advil, Antiseptic Ointment, bandages and various other things-I-might-need-in-the-middle-of-the-night-when-the-pharmacy-is-not-open. Diarrhea on the flight? I’ve got you covered. Rash from unknown substance? Got that too. 

A flask for leftover grappa. Sadly we abandoned about 12 ounces of Ric’s favorite grappa last year when we changed locations and could not see carrying the bottle in our stuffed backpacks. I gave him a flask for Christmas. Problem solved!

A pashmina. Mine is pale pink on this trip. On the flight it is my blanket. (Those airline blankets? No thanks! Who knows how they are cleaned?) The pashmina can also be a wrap on a chilly evening or a lap blanket in the apartment. 

What do you pack along to make your travel life special or easier?

*Goes in a checked bag. 

We have been hiking in some amazing places. Lovely weather overall. Other then the trip in an uncovered chairlift when strong winds moved in with driving rain. Luckily a short ride!

Clockwise from upper left: Aletsch Glacier; View from our balcony in Bettmeralp; Train ride through the valley; Evening patio at Hotel Waldhaus in Bettmeralp; Ciadanet Hütte in the Val Gardena with view of the Stella Group.

Below is the same glacier view on September 21, 2021. We are getting out of Bettmeralp before snow is expected on Saturday!

8 Responses to “Little things”

  1. nigewelly September 17, 2022 at 14:42 #

    I agree that those Ikea clips are wonderful. In our home kitchen we have a container full of them, always in use.

    The knife set looks great. I like the idea of taking decent kitchen tools. I’ve never seen a set with sleeves. Love it. I’ll see if we have anything similar in England.


    • Laurel September 17, 2022 at 23:16 #

      The sheaths are great! If you cannot find such a “travel set” you might be able to get cardboard ones where knives are sold or sharpened. I hang onto those when I get them to ferry my home knives to the sharpener.

      I hate dull knives! So hard to prepare food and dangerous because they are so hard to use. LMK when you are in Switzerland. We are here until the 15th of October.


  2. lori5124 September 16, 2022 at 11:38 #

    I always enjoy your posts. Your trip looks lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. chloe erkenbrecher September 16, 2022 at 05:23 #

    I always take a small, down pillow. My answer to a security blanket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel September 19, 2022 at 07:53 #

      We often feel “pillow deprived” and have to beg for more at our lodgings. I love a thick, firm, pillow though, so hard to carry along!


  4. Laurel September 16, 2022 at 01:17 #

    Marcia what a great list! We have bemoaned not having a few clothespins when using a drying rack on a windy terrace! I will add those to my list.

    We actually started packing two bandanas that I bought in Switzerland last year to use as cloth napkins so we don’t go through so many paper towels and can have them on the train when we carry a lunch on a long trip.


  5. Marcia September 15, 2022 at 09:27 #

    I am still in awe of the beauty in your hiking areas. God really was doing great work when he created all of this. Your take along suggestions are great and we also have that kind of list itself. Here are some of the things we always take along:

    plastic ziploc bags (like you)
    plastic garbage bags (the white ones with draw strings)
    clothes pins (we use these to close up packages, hang up clothes to dry, etc)
    light weight string backpack to carry stuff in
    bandana (you know, the western kind – we use it to wipe off our faces and necks if sweaty, to wrap around my hair or neck – all sorts of uses)
    tiny scissors (you take the swiss army knife – same idea)
    pens & a little pad of paper (always needing to write stuff down)
    Benadryl and Benadryl Gel, Imodium, Tylenol, Advil, Antiseptic Ointment, bandages (yes! we definitely always have this)
    pashmina (ALWAYS have one in my bag – normally black)

    I’ve never heard of beeswrap and it sounds like a GREAT idea! Thank you.


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