Little Travel Amenities

Beautiful Bellagio on Lake Como.

When we travel, I try to balance “packing light” with “being prepared.” Here are a few items I’ve found helpful on past trips, or are considering for our next trip:

Little Travel Amenities

lighted magnifying mirror for travel. More travel amenities at une femme d'un certain age. Travel-sized lighted magnifying mirror

Being nearsighted, I’ve come to rely on a magnifying mirror to apply makeup. Some accommodations have them, some don’t. (And in some, the mirror is mounted so high that all I can see is the top of my head!) I’m going to be packing this one to try out on our trip. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but it’s the same brand as the full-sized mirror I have at home and have been very happy with. It’s chargeable, can be held in hand or stand on its own, and the light is adjustable.

Here’s a budget-friendly option that is a little smaller and uses batteries.

Clothing Steamer

Clothing steamer for travel. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

On recent trips, I’ve relied on a combination of packing mostly wrinkle-resistant knits and hanging garments in the bathroom while I shower to keep creases to a minimum. But le Monsieur tends to pack more woven pieces, and in warmer months I do as well. Sometimes wrinkles are unavoidable. I’ve been road-testing this little steamer at home. It works quite well, is compact and lightweight. I’ll be taking it along and will report back.

If you don’t want to pack a steamer, we’ve also found that a wrinkle-release spray works moderately well (and removes most odors…helpful when you’ve been surrounded by smokers). The downside is that your clothes will be damp afterward, and you may need to give them time to dry.

Adapter Plug With Dual USB

Europe adapter plug with two USB ports. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

We always pack a couple of electrical adapters, but if you’ve ever stayed in an older hotel or rental, you may discover that electrical outlets are in short supply. At times, we’ve had to carefully coordinate our device charging schedules. But with this adapter, we’ll be able to charge two phones at once, as well as my laptop!

Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Wireless bluetooth speaker. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Listen to music, audio books, podcasts, etc. in your hotel room without headphones. I use this little speaker at home all the time too. It’s about the size of a tennis ball, and weighs only a few ounces. Runs for hours on a single charge.

Coffee

Starbucks Via French Roast instant coffee, one of my travel amenities. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I tend to wake up early, and want need a cup of coffee right away. Even if I don’t have access to a coffee maker, there’s almost always a kettle available to boil water. (Or, I can buy one at Monoprix for less than what it would cost to order room service coffee for two days.) These single-serving packets are convenient and pretty darn good for instant coffee.

What travel amenities do you make room for in your luggage?

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72 Comments

  1. Maryann
    May 14, 2018 / 3:50 am

    In the last few years I have packed a pair of Uniqlo room shoes. I do a lot of walking so when I get back to my accommodation I like to slip these on to relax. They are easy to pack and keep my feet warm (I usually travel in late autumn).

  2. Linda Boardman Kerr
    May 14, 2018 / 4:00 am

    Always a little sewing kit, slippers, mag. mirror, inst.coffee. Little straightening iron. Adapters, little portable chargers…That’s about it. If I need anything else I like to seek it out locally (Monoprix is a favorite.)
    Bon Voyage!

  3. Ann Marie
    May 14, 2018 / 4:24 am

    I always pack a pair of cheap rubber flip flops for walking around the hotel room. They are very light, pack easily, and can get wet if need be (like if I go to a spa, pool, etc.). I also always take tea bags because I like a cup of tea in the morning and sometimes to relax at night.

    • Nicole
      May 14, 2018 / 4:27 pm

      Me, too, Ann Marie – I always pack my favorite tea. Since I need milk in mine, it was quite a challenge to find it for my after dinner tea in my hotel room. Those times that I could get one from a coffee shop on the way back, made me a very happy camper. So much easier to be a coffee drinker where they provide the dry creamer, in a pinch. I wonder if I traveled to England if that would never be a problem! 😉

      • ruthslavid
        May 15, 2018 / 1:36 am

        No, you always get plastic milk in hotel rooms (maybe not if you are somewhere extremely swish, but I think we would be talking five-star). If the hotel is smart enough to have a minibar fridge, then you can buy some milk and put it in there.

  4. Jan
    May 14, 2018 / 4:38 am

    I line my case with a light cotton blanket which I can use for picnics, make-sift towel, evening wrap at outdoor events and any number of other things. Also tea bags (always!)

  5. Marie Fritz
    May 14, 2018 / 4:38 am

    These are great items to have! I pack similarly and love my wee steamer. After a very rainy trip to London, Dublin and Paris last year, I decided to invest in a clothesline. It’s hard to dry things out in these countries when the weather just won’t cooperate. I also carry small bag clips and collapsible hangers, as well!

  6. May 14, 2018 / 4:41 am

    I need that lighted magnifying mirror. Sometimes bathrooms have such poor lighting I’m convinced a man designed them!

  7. May 14, 2018 / 4:42 am

    Years ago, I bought a travel iron and never, ever used it. Either the lodging had an iron, or my things just weren’t that wrinkled. We have an iron and ironing board (as well as adaptor plugs and coffee and tea) in our AirBnB rental. I love your mirror and am putting it on my shopping list.

  8. Lisa
    May 14, 2018 / 5:29 am

    Great idea for the lighted travel mirror! I have an unlighted one that I keep in my purse, but I just now ordered an inexpensive lighted version from Amazon since lighting in hotels can be tricky and I can’t see up close anymore. When I was in Paris last time, even though I have a voltage converter and adapter, my T3 hairdryer started smelling like it was burning and I had to stop using it before it got damaged. I ended up buying a Babyliss hairdryer with the proper European voltage and current, so now I don’t have to worry about having bad hair on vacation!

  9. Jan D.
    May 14, 2018 / 5:47 am

    Always my travel hair dryer, just in case and Twinings tea bags when travelling anywhere other than the UK.

  10. candy
    May 14, 2018 / 6:05 am

    We bring Allerease hypoallergenic pillow protectors to encase pillows under the pillowcase. These zippered cases have helped reduce our reaction to any dust, mites or whatever in pillows in hotels or airbnb places. For me, no more red, irritated eyes, stuffy nose and irritated skin upon awakening. (We also have a checkout check list we go thru before leaving to make sure we dont’t leave them behind!) We also bought small inflatable seat pillows at REI to sit on during long flights. They really reduce the pressure on legs, lower back and tush and the stiffness and aches from many hours in those economy or even business seats. Deflated, they pack flat and weigh next to nothing.

  11. T.
    May 14, 2018 / 6:51 am

    For clothing wrinkles, I bring an empty spray bottle. I choose my clothes the night before, hang them on a hanger, and lightly spritz with water. By morning they are dry and most creases are gone. (I don’t do this on jeans.) This is the exact bottle I use. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005UHS6C2/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1 It is plastic, has a flat shape, is firm, and weighs nothing, so it is easy to pack. I always dump the remaining water out before I pack it.

    • May 14, 2018 / 7:33 am

      What a good idea, thanks! I’ve got the little spray bottle from my plein air painting kit, and now I know what to do about the wrinkles in my linen garments. My packing doesn’t have room for a steamer but this could work.

  12. Laurel Hill
    May 14, 2018 / 7:02 am

    That lighted mirror is genius. I find the lighting in most hotel room bathrooms to be painfully bright and unflattering, not to mention the shadows.

    I pack a foldable clothesline, but have found on my last trip to Italy that many of our rooms had one in the shower. Still, I needed it once. And I pack flat foil packets of Woolite for hand washing. Most of my other travel amenities are things I can’t find there – my eye drops, meds for colds/flu, etc. And this time I brought microfiber washcloths to clean my face. They dry really quickly and I loved having them since washcloths seem to be an American thing.

    • May 14, 2018 / 2:37 pm

      As opposed to the far superior gants de toilette? (available in Monoprix, HEMA and also posher versions).

  13. carole-lee wirshborn
    May 14, 2018 / 7:15 am

    Mini office kit-tape, stapler, staples, marker. Large baggies- for documents & receipts. Snack size baggies to separate euros from GBP ( both fit perfectly) so no need for heavy wallet. Ballpoint pens (black & red).
    Euro adapter for electronics. I-Phone camera lens kit.
    Oh & my husband

  14. Hiluhilu
    May 14, 2018 / 7:16 am

    That adapter plug is a great idea! Always in my travel bag are a stretchy clothes line and a few packets of laundry detergent (thanks to this blog, I found Forever New, which comes in powder form and is not affected by liquids limits), a dual voltage hot air brush,compression packing cubes, and a few plastic vacuum travel bags for dirty laundry. I also take travel slippers with rubber soles to use on the plane and at the hotel. Oh, and a short, lightweight travel robe.

    • Charlieg
      May 15, 2018 / 6:40 am

      Can you tell me what brand your dual voltage hot air brush is? Thanks.

  15. Eileen
    May 14, 2018 / 7:22 am

    Instant coffee, washcloth, mini scissors and sewing case, adaptors, sleeping mask, earplugs, pen, small notebook. Coffee is instant Starbucks!

  16. May 14, 2018 / 7:35 am

    I’m testing out an immersion heater this trip — for my morning cuppa in the absence of a kettle. I suspect I’ll find it too slow and will be in the Monoprix picking up an inexpensive kettle myself.

  17. MichelleTyler
    May 14, 2018 / 7:38 am

    Wahhh that magnifying mirror is brilliant! I will get one now, thanks for the recommendation x

  18. Debbie
    May 14, 2018 / 7:44 am

    Earplugs are a must. I also throw in four wooden clothes pegs – keeping wonky drapes closed is only one of the many uses I have found for these pegs.

  19. Suz
    May 14, 2018 / 8:10 am

    Hi
    As well as many of the items you and commenters have mentioned, we also bring a red (flat) felt valet to corral sunglasses, keys, etc. Like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Storage-Jewelry-Display-Organizer-Bedside/dp/B07234PC79/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1526310183&sr=8-5&keywords=felt+tray
    And we bring a packet of kids balloons from the dollar store. A blown up balloon inside a hanging item really assists in faster drying time by promoting airflow.
    BTW, we have a converter plug with the USB and love it!
    Thank you – Suz from Vancouver

  20. May 14, 2018 / 8:18 am

    I must have hair dryer with diffuser/director and they are hard to come by, so always carry dual voltage dryer. But I also bought a French outlet dryer that is fabulous but, of course, is only for France/continent. Ear plugs are also a must.

  21. May 14, 2018 / 9:04 am

    Not only do I find your posts valuable for all their information, but I love your commenters. They have such great idea! You’re a wionderful resource. I will be going to Israel this summer so I need all the help I can get. Thanks.

  22. Clariza
    May 14, 2018 / 9:10 am

    Purell hand wipes, has required alcohol content to disinfect, binder clips (for documents, closing chip bags, hanging laundry, hanging items on a hook), a cheap canvas tote like from Trader Joe’s for groceries, laundry which can be thrown in the washer, Turkish towel for blanket, towel, picnics, picture of my dog.

    I like things I can throw in the wash during the trip.

    • May 19, 2018 / 6:57 pm

      I use an app on my smartphone called, “Sleep Bug” for the same thing.

    • Alison
      May 15, 2018 / 10:44 am

      Suction cup for mirror — absolutely brilliant! Thanks so much!!

    • Susan Davis
      June 4, 2018 / 5:48 pm

      That’s what I do! Works like a charm!

  23. Lyn
    May 14, 2018 / 10:33 am

    Even better than the adapter is a one-piece European USB plug, just like you would use if you lived in France. You can get a dual-USB version. Look for the 2-amp ones — they charge a lot faster.
    The one-piece version has additional advantages. The plug-plus-adapter can get so unbalanced that I’ve actually had them fall out of the socket in older hotels. In addition, when you remove the main plug, it can separate from the adapter, leaving it in the socket where it’s easy to forget. Even worse, the little adapter is recessed in the outlet and a bit tricky to remove. My husband got a jolt of electricity the first time he tried to work his loose. We don’t know what he touched, but he was very very careful after that.
    By the way, I noticed European outlets on my last cruise. I hadn’t thought about bringing my European-friendly plugs, but it would have been nice to have had additional outlets.

  24. Eileen
    May 14, 2018 / 10:37 am

    Also a small pouch that converts to a tote bag get used a lot.

  25. Kay
    May 14, 2018 / 11:03 am

    Washcloths: you won’t find them in Europe. Rather than carrying around a wet washcloth I brought from home, I have been using those little disposable ones that “bloom” from little dry discs into full cloths when wet. I get them from Magellan’s. They aren’t fluffy or sturdy, but they do the job.

    • May 14, 2018 / 2:41 pm

      The European equivalent is the gant de toilette. Far more effective, in my opinion. I always bring back a few.

      • May 14, 2018 / 3:22 pm

        Here is a picture of the item: gant de toilette in French. The photo is not very pretty at all; mine are colourful. Like anything used for washing the body, they have to be washed frequently, but they are easy to throw into a washing machine, or even wash by hand if you have a place to dry them in the sun
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washing_mitt

        • Kay
          May 15, 2018 / 9:17 pm

          Yes, my French sister-in-law has these. Some are quite pretty, and I do use them when staying with her. My objection to carrying my own cloth around is that it might not have time to dry before I have to pack and go. That’s the beauty of the disposables to me.

  26. May 14, 2018 / 11:40 am

    Travelling starts soon for you! I won’t be seeing you. I will probably be cancelling my Spain holiday too. Hopeless knee.
    Greetje

    • Susan B
      Author
      May 14, 2018 / 11:43 am

      I’m so sorry, Greetje. I will miss seeing you. What a bummer about your Spain holiday too. 🙁

      • May 14, 2018 / 11:46 am

        I am going to make an appointment for a second opinion tomorrow. It is effecting me mentally as I am still not dead sure whether it is inflammation. Sigh.

        • May 14, 2018 / 2:45 pm

          Too bad you can’t go to Spain, as the climate is so much drier than the Netherlands. I hope you can confirm the source of your problem.

          • May 15, 2018 / 2:14 am

            I am not sure yet. The healing goes with ups and downs. I am hoping!

  27. Jo
    May 14, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    I am currently in Paris and have been amazed at how Stan Smith style sneakers have taken over the streets in just one year! My prized travel devices are my 240v EU hot air curler, extension cord, Ellis James jewelry case, and Bose noise cancelling earbuds.

    • Nicole
      May 14, 2018 / 4:17 pm

      I’m seeing lots of Taos Star sneakers and their related knock-offs and there are lots of good knock-offs! Target had very cute ones but sold out quickly and I wish I’d picked up the chambray ones, so cute. They’re very youthful looking!

  28. Elizabeth M
    May 14, 2018 / 12:51 pm

    I just purchased bag bungees for my husband and myself. I’m hoping this will solve the problem of the personal item sliding off my suitcase as I trudge through airports. I always pack Neutrogena make-up remover wipes and ear plugs for sleeping. I love your adapter and plan to order it.

    • Pat
      May 14, 2018 / 4:42 pm

      I love my bag bungees!!!!! Very helpful in many circumstances. I never travel without mine.

    • Mary
      May 15, 2018 / 11:54 am

      Once, in a pinch, I discovered that Neutrogena make-up remover wipes are a great stain remover for clothes.

  29. valletta
    May 14, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    My must-haves include: AirPods (plus extra!), foldable flats for my purse, melatonin for sleep, eye mask (wear every night even at home!), Living Proof Anti Frizz spray, plenty of chargers, black wrap dress to dress up or down.

  30. Nicole
    May 14, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    That mirror is sleek and beautiful, but 3x magnification is hardly noticeable. The cheaper one is 10x and that’s a magnification I need for seeing those hairs and details. I happen to have that one. It’s not bad and has the magnification but it’s not exactly compact (it has a thick profile). Worth it if you really need one and I tuck it in between clothes to keep it from breaking (the plastic would crack first, a little thin). I wouldn’t put it in my carry-on because of its size. I bought one with the suction cups and when I retrieved it from the zippered pouch in my suitcase, the suction cups had latched onto other things like barnacles and it gave me the giggles! The suction cup mirror works if there’s a mirror you can walk up to comfortably and then you need adequate lighting. Haven’t found the perfect scenario for that one other than in my own bathroom. It must be the gatherer in us that has us finessing these travel details. I rather enjoy it, and it’s fun to follow along with you, Susan. 🙂

  31. Sophia
    May 14, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    I dont go anywhere without my 10x magnifying mirror. Also, when traveling to Punta Cana, I tip housekeepers with kids toys and cosmetics.

  32. Paula Brogle
    May 14, 2018 / 5:31 pm

    Where was the picture above taken?

    • Susan B
      Author
      May 14, 2018 / 5:32 pm

      In Bellagio, on Lake Como in Italy.

      • Kay
        May 15, 2018 / 9:17 pm

        Ha! I guessed right!

      • Colleen Calver
        May 22, 2018 / 8:38 pm

        Stayed in Bellagio and enjoyed wine there twice this past week -end!

  33. May 14, 2018 / 5:59 pm

    No suggestions from me… just have a wonderful trip:)

  34. Debra
    May 14, 2018 / 6:05 pm

    Great ideas! The places we are staying have irons, but I just ordered the speaker as I love to listen to music when I am studying/working, which I will be doing on my upcoming trip.

    You must be leaving soon? I’m off to France on the 30th and have started working on my packing list – looking forward to seeing yours. Right now I am debating if I can make it four weeks with the smallest check-in size (24″), but every time I think of getting a bigger suitcase I think of hauling it up and down stairs, and vow to make what I have work.

    I read a great packing hint recently – “Don’t take anything that you don’t love wearing.” In the past I have been guilty of buying items particularly for my trip and “saving” them to wear at the destination. Then, when I put the item on at my destination I find I don’t feel comfortable wearing it and think – “Why did I buy this?” This is why I almost always “forget” to pack some of the things that I have brought with me. 🙂 So, on this trip I’m not bringing any item of clothing that isn’t tried and true – that is, that hasn’t made me feel good when I have worn it in the past.

    Can’t wait to follow you on your travels!

    • Susan B
      Author
      May 14, 2018 / 6:27 pm

      I totally agree about not packing anything you don’t wear at home, and don’t love wearing!

  35. Mary in MD
    May 14, 2018 / 7:20 pm

    This one originated when I traveled internationally to adopt. A roll up cutting board—the kind that costs about $1–always goes with me. It is my kitchen on the go. I put it down somewhere in my hotel and use it under any food prep, whether tearing a delicious piece of fruit. Then I pick it up and sweep the crumbs into the trash. It also goes into my daypack so I am ready for impromptu picnic preparation. And it weighs practically nothing.

    • Winnie
      May 15, 2018 / 5:36 am

      Best idea of all !

      One doesn’t want to make a mess in small rooms or big, Even in flash hotels it is difficult to cut up anything as all they give you is saucers or a small plate.
      I take a sharp knife on every trip and a lunch box to accomodate left overs or a fresh snack for travelling.

      I am a very frugal packer but there is no way I can travel under 7kg which is the carry on limit in Australia even for international flights. I have 10 kg.

      I have multiple outfits for every climate if I am on a long trip, carryon is minimal but our long flight times to anywhere means a decent freshen up in transit,meaning a flannel, cleanser etc and a great moisturizer. Fresh undies and you feel human.

    • May 15, 2018 / 10:17 am

      If you are in France, buy an Opinel (folding knife with wooden handle, at a street market or old-fashioned general goods shop. They are usually carbon steel and very sharp for cuttinng saucisson and cheese as well as fruit.

  36. patricia blaettler
    May 15, 2018 / 6:22 am

    Neutrogena facial sunscreen works like a push-up deoderant, but it’s great to use all over, not just on you face. It’s not at all messy (very tidy, in fact). I keep it in my purse. Arms, necks, chest…all covered.

    • Ellen
      May 15, 2018 / 7:02 am

      Me too. In my purse, all the time, even when at home. Plus, it never leaks into your purse!

      We have traveled several times to Asia and other places where there is third world plumbing. For those trips, I always have kleenex (because toilet paper is not provided) and hand sanitizer. I am 71, and my knees no longer permit squatting. I have a device called “GoGirl” which is like a soft silicone funnel that rolls up into a small tube, for those situations (I will let you imagination take over here). I have not needed it often, but it has been a lifesaver in a few instances. I bought it online and it was less than $10

  37. Jill Ann
    May 15, 2018 / 4:38 pm

    Just got back from 17 day trip to England. A few years ago, I bought a UK curling iron, because then I don’t need to bring the bigger converter. My small lightweight converter is great for charging phones, but will blow a fuse if you use it for hair appliances. I use Neutrogena makeup remover wipes, and Olay disposable facial wash cloths (neither counts toward the liquid allowance). I bring my own teabags except in England. After all that time in the UK, I’ve resolved to buy a silk or microfiber sheet before the next trip: as a lady of a certain age, I tend to run hot during the night, and European hotels have only a duvet and no top sheet. So I’m either under the duvet, and sweaty, or fling off the duvet and then get cold. Anyone else have this problem???

    • Alison
      May 16, 2018 / 1:10 am

      Yes, absolutely! On a small-group tour in France several years ago, when the weather was unexpectedly h.o.t. in mid-October, I overheard one of our fellow travelers ask the innkeeper for a plain sheet to sleep under. The innkeeper was happy to accommodate, and several of us followed suit for the rest of the trip.

  38. May 16, 2018 / 5:19 am

    I agree with most of the above. I just got home from Paris and did the packing cubes. I will never travel anywhere without them! I was organized and neat and happy. I also brought a variety of baggies and we used them all. I also have a black travel blanket with a reflector side. I even used it as a wrap on the way to the airport. The other item that I was happy to have was my down vest. Probably not necessary this summer, but a definite must for the other 3 seasons.

  39. May 16, 2018 / 9:57 am

    Even in the summer, and even in southern Europe – or Mexico – it can get surprisingly cold in any mountainous or very hilly area. It really depends on your specific destination.

  40. Belinda
    May 22, 2018 / 3:52 am

    I recognized the photo immediately as being Bellaggio 🙂
    Such a lovely place!

  41. KD
    July 6, 2018 / 3:04 pm

    Read a travel tip recently when you check bags: Pack 1/2 of your items in each bag (half of mine in yours and half of yours in mine). Then if a bag is lost, each person still has 1/2 their stuff. Brilliant!

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