Travel Mugs

Think about packing a wide mouth travel mug in your carry on bag. Make sure it is one with a screw on lid.

Use it for the obvious…water or coffee or tea. But, it can serve a whole lot more purposes than just liquids.

Transport your sunglasses in it…they won’t get crushed. Pack delicate souvenirs to bring home. Store your extra cash in it in the bottom of your carry on bag. Keep your cords for your travel gadgets in it. Toss the extra change in it so it doesn’t weigh down your pockets.

If you’re traveling with kids, put their crayons or markers in it. You can even roll up some drawing paper and put in with the crayons.  Or, put their snacks in it so they don’t turn into crumbs.

I’m sure there are plenty more uses…what do you do?

Favorite Travel Tool

Do you have a favorite travel tool? One favorite could be your Swiss Army Knife. It has so many different tools in one handy piece.

We’ve used it as a screw driver, a corkscrew, a knife, a file, and so much more.

Be careful when packing it. Chances are, you won’t get it through security. Put it in your checked luggage to be sure it arrives when you do.

Travel Binoculars

When packing your gadgets, do you include a small pair of travel binoculars? They don’t take up much room and aren’t heavy.

They’re great for looking at things far away or outdoors. Now, think about using them indoors as well.

When we were in a museum in Italy, looking at the painting of the last supper, we were not allowed to stand real close. Understandably. Yes, it was close enough to see the whole painting. But, some of the details might have escaped us without the binoculars.

Ceilings in churches often have paintings, frescoes, or mosaic tile works…especially in Italy. Using the binoculars gives you a different perspective or the work involved on the ceiling.

Travel Extras

Sometimes, hotel staff, concierges, travel guides, or other people have provided special service when we travel.

For instance, the concierge who moved us to a different room…on the concierge level. Our original room was right next door to some people with some noisy puppies. Cute…but noisy. We didn’t have concierge status at that hotel, but he was making up for our noisy neighbors.

Then there was the server at a restaurant who brought us the chef to explain his recipe when I asked her to compliment the chef on the dessert.

These and other special treatments are part of their job…and much more. Sometimes a simple thank you is not enough. A fellow traveler takes a small pack of decorative post cards with her when she travels and writes a thank you before she leaves. Then she gives the thank you to the person the next day, or after the meal, or a little later. It’s unexpected and a nice gesture. And, it looks better than using the hotel stationery!

Traveling Like a Toursit

More on traveling like a tourist…


English is indeed widely spoken all over the world, but not making any effort isn’t in your best interests. Try to learn the basic phrases of please and thank you at the very least. More than that is even better. 

One frequent traveler says there are six major areas to educate yourself about before you go to a new locale: greetings, gift giving, exchanges of money (whether to put money in someone’s hand or on the table), handshakes, body language, and food. 

Carrying zero cash and using your debit card to pay for a bottle of water is growing more and more common in the U.S., but when you’re abroad, you can’t count on plastic. Credit cards may not be widely accepted in some countries. And, while it’s a good idea to bring a credit card or two, leave all unnecessary credit cards at home.

You can’t cancel out the bad behavior of every American doofus traveling abroad, but you can make a difference by being a positive example of a U.S. citizen. “Americans in general have a pretty bad reputation to try to live down,” Post says. “Any time you can go the extra effort to use every courtesy that’s available to you to show appreciation—like for the time that someone gives you in a shop—even if they don’t return it right there, I think that that is part of what it means to be an ambassador for your country when you travel.” 
Great ideas…what are some things you do or don’t do when you travel?

Gifts for Your Traveler, part 3

More gift ideas…

WakaWaka Solar Charger
Give a gift that gives back with this WakaWaka solar charger. The compact, seven-ounce device juices up a phone in just a few hours and has a built-in light that can shine for more than 60 hours. Best of all? For each charger purchased, the company donates one to the typhoon relief effort in the Philippines (; $69).
Moleskine Photo Notebook
Authors, artists, and travel writers all swear by Moleskine’s classically styled, durable notebooks. The latest offering retains the old-school open-flat stitched binding, ivory colored pages, and elastic closure but lets travelers customize, adding photos, notes, and quotes to the pages (; $50).

Gifts for Your Traveler, part 2

Check out these gifts:

National Parks Map
This Ello There print on 100 percent cotton rag archival paper celebrates the U.S.A.’s 59 protected parklands, mixing faux bois patterns and graphic print trees. It’s a lovely reminder to appreciate our cash-strapped national parks—and count off the ones you’ve visited (; $95).
BottleGuard Neoprene Double Wine Protector

There’s nothing more disappointing than toting around precious vintages for an entire trip only to arrive home to a suitcase full of broken glass and Bordeaux-stained clothes. Help the oenophiles in your life keep their bottles safe with this double-layered, shock-absorbent neoprene wine protector (; $34.95).

Dryer Sheets

When traveling, I put a dryer sheet in the bag I will be using for dirty clothes. It helps keep the dirty clothes smell from permeating my whole suitcase.

Another great idea for dryer sheets is to cut one in half and put each piece in your hiking or walking shoes. Remove it before you hike, however!

They’re great for removing static and pet hair, as well. Any more ideas?

Gifts for Your Traveler

Many publications offer their version of the best gifts for travelers, especially this time of year. Here are a few of my favorites from sites like Budget Travel, Fodors, Frommers, and Travel and Leisure.
4-in-1 Adapter
This handy Lego-like tool snaps together four plugs and one adapter to power up gadgets in 150 countries. The red, blue, yellow, and green components correspond to a color-coded map to help you quickly determine the parts needed based on your destination (; $25).

Artifact Uprising Postcard Packs

Great vacation shots tend to languish on hard drives and iPhones these days. Show them off instead by making a postcard book with Artifact Uprising. Its easy online tool helps you upload photos and edit them into richly designed postcard packs, photo books, even a wooden calendar made from reclaimed Colorado pines (; $16.99–$29.99).

Bentgo Containers
Culinary-minded fliers, road trippers, and car campers alike will appreciate being able to pack and go with these stackable plastic food containers. Inspired by Japanese bento boxes, the BPA-free plastic packs include two containers; a built-in knife, fork, and spoon; and a sealing strap. They’re safe for both microwaves and dishwashers (; $14.99).