What's a passport cover for?
May 14, 2010 12:01 PM   Subscribe

What travel products do you actually use?

As I'm getting ready for a first-time trip to Paris, I'm about to buy some travel stuff that I know I'll need and use, like a power adapter and some packing cubes. What else do I need from the travel section? What has made your life easier when spending a week at a hotel in a foreign city?

And please, someone tell me what a passport cover does. There are a billion cute ones available, but I don't want to buy one unless it has a practical purpose.
posted by donajo to Shopping (54 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
A power adapter, batteries for whatever you have, comfortable shoes, clothes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:03 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: I fly about once a month for business.

The only products I have exclusively for travel are a good set of over-the-ear headphones and a power adapter kit.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:05 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: A little clothesline with suction cups on the ends and a couple of small packets of woolite make their way into my luggage on most trips of over a week. Pack less stuff, but wash what you bring in the sink or the tub and dry them on the line. Makes for carrying less in your luggage, and possibly means you can get away with a smaller suitcase.

Another trick? Get yourself a duffel bag that will pack completely flat, and stick it either at the bottom of your suitcase or in a side pocket. Trust me, if you buy souvenirs, you will thank me for suggesting bringing along the extra bag.
posted by LN at 12:06 PM on May 14, 2010 [5 favorites]

Best answer: ...unless it has a practical purpose.

Do you dress primarily in dark colors and mindlessly toss shit in corners like I do? A lime green/hot pink/whatever passport cover will make it harder to lose.
posted by griphus at 12:07 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some passport covers claim to block people from scanning the biometric information on your passport's RFID chip.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:08 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: Neck pillow for the plane.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:13 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I regularly use a power adapter, a large wallet thingy for keeping all my travel documents (including my passport) together, earplugs and eyemask, a small phrasebook, and packing cubes. I've never seen the point of a passport holder. Sometimes I wish I had one of those umbrellas that fold up really small, but I make do without.
posted by jonesor at 12:13 PM on May 14, 2010

Copies of your passport are good to have around. More cash in small bills than you think you need. A small notebook, so you can jot down directions, get people to draw maps, journal, etc. A good map of Paris.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, and earplugs.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: someone tell me what a passport cover does

Makes you take longer at Passport Control because the immigration officer has to take the passport out of the cover to scan it.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2010 [3 favorites]

If your passport is one of the new ones with the RFID chip in it, there are passport covers that supposedly block that. Otherwise I don't much see the point- customs authorities will usually ask you to remove it from the case to make sure it's legit, so a cover just seems like an extra step with no real benefit.

Something to wear on the plane that is presentable and comfortable. For me this means bringing along some nice thick cozy socks because my feet always get cold. Seconding the noise-canceling headphones and the power adapter kit.

Are you traveling for work or vacation? If it's work, is there an expense account situation? Hotel laundry can be astonishingly expensive if you have any accidental spills, so it's good to know if you can blithely send something off for cleaning or not. If it's vacation, though, pack for four days and hand wash stuff in the sink. Then you will have more room in your luggage to bring stuff back with you.
posted by ambrosia at 12:15 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: My most recent trip, the only things I needed to plug in were phone charger and netbook, both of which were dual-voltage anyway, so all I needed were the little physical adapters for European plugs (one of which actually came with the netbook anyway). Voltage adapter (heavy brick) was not needed. This will vary, of course, depending on what you need to travel with.
posted by gimonca at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2010

Eyemask and earplugs to sleep on a plane.

Melatonin for jet-lag.

A granola bar in case you get stuck somewhere and the stores are closed.

A plastic bag. You always end up needing one, whether for your laundry or something else. Seriously.

Small change purses to keep my currency separate.

I have a passport cover, but always take it out at immigration. I like it because it is cute. It holds my little cards for my immunizations and shots etc. It goes into a bigger sleeve with my tickets, itinerary and money.
posted by typewriter at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I agonized over spending the $22 or whatever it was for a mesh zipper bag to hold all my electronic odds and ends, but I decided it was worth it and now I don't know how I did without it. It's bright orange with a zipper, and everything that is a cable or a charger or a widget goes inside it and it goes inside my laptop courier bag. I got the gussetless case on this page. I also like having a good non-glowy travel alarm, earplugs and some moisturizer that I carry in my bag so I can freshen up a little if I feel that I've been out and about too much and am run down.
posted by jessamyn at 12:21 PM on May 14, 2010 [7 favorites]

Also, w/r/t travel adapters--if you're planning on bringing an iPod etc. the power charger converts the current (or whatever the lingo is), and so all you need is the little adapters that let the plugs fit in the European sockets. You would only need a converter for, say, a hair dryer (but NOTE: you don't need to bring a hair drier).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:22 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: Big vacu-lock bags that you can put your clothes in, and then compress down to really flat sizes. I think it only works if you don't mind wrinkly clothes.
posted by Think_Long at 12:24 PM on May 14, 2010

You wouldn't be able to get this until you get there, but one of my best travel purchases ever was a very small hair dryer that I picked up in Germany for around 8 Euros. Since it has a European plug, I never have to worry about having the proper voltage adapters--hair dryers use a lot of power and tend to be more finicky than other devices that only need a plug adapter. Of course, most nice hotels will probably have built-in hair dryers, but if you're staying at inexpensive places or with friends, it's nice to have your own.

Another note about adapters--most of your stuff will be fine with a plug adapter like this. Phone, iPod, and computer chargers are usually rated for a range of power inputs--check your plugs, if they say "Input: 100-240 VAC" they'll be fine with just the plug adapter.
posted by Jemstar at 12:25 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: I bought some of these packing cube things and used them for the first time on a two-week trip to the UK. I was skeptical, but they were on sale, so I figured why not. And I love them. They made it way easier to pack, unpack a little, repack, keep track of clean vs dirty, and do things like pull out a pair of socks and a clean shirt without creating chaos in the suitcase. For shorter trips/lighter packing, it may not make a difference, but I'm a convert.
posted by rtha at 12:27 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: Earplugs.

A quick-dry towel.

Bandaids and moleskin for blisters.

A big ziploc bag.
posted by punchtothehead at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: Inflatable neck pillow for the plane. Those ones filled with little beads, whilst comfortable, take up a lot of space. You'll get an inflatable one at the dollar store.

Also at the dollar store buy a one-size-fits-all drain stopper. There's nothing more annoying than wanting a soak in the bath and there's no stopper.

A TSA lock is also one of my essentials.
posted by essexjan at 12:30 PM on May 14, 2010

Don't carry too much crap: that's the novice traveler's classic mistake.

Take some sudafed and/or sleeping pills for the airplane (or both), a couple of photocopies of your passport's photo page (kept in different places), a couple of hundred euro in cash, some earplugs, sunglasses, and your most comfortable/multipurpose shoes. You're not going to the outback, here: you can buy anything you forget in Paris, one of the world's half dozen great metropolises, after all. And shopping in Paris is one of the prime activities, so you won't be short of opportunities.

The lighter you travel, the more free space you have left over in order to bring back things you find on your adventure. And stop spending money on silly "travel things", too. More to spend on useful items when you get there.

I'm a man, with less to carry than your average girlish girl, but even still I manage trips of up to two weeks with only a carry-on. (I wear my nicest outfit on the plane so it doesn't get mushed up, and hang/press it again when I arrive. I get better service that way, too.) Remember: You can buy it when you get there!

PS: A passport cover keeps your passport from getting beat up, water-soaked and coffee stained like mine. Some (a very few) can also block RF readers from stealing your info, but this is a paranoid/silly concern right now, given how many people you already trust with that info in the course of a trip.
posted by rokusan at 12:35 PM on May 14, 2010

2nding the vacu-lock bags. I put dirty clothes in them as I go to keep stuff organized. Hard to tell clean underwear from dirty after a week or two traveling.

I also use a neck wallet similar to this:


My wife and I got jumped in Barcelona, and I didn't lose a thing because I had my cards and most of my cash in one of these around my neck under my shirt. I put a small amount of spending money in my front pocket for easy access and extra cash and a credit card in one of these. If you get a beige one and don't overstuff it you can't even tell you're wearing one. I've had the same inexpensive nylon one for 15+ years now. Just throw it in the washing machine when it starts getting grimy.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:35 PM on May 14, 2010

Copies of your passport are good to have around.

Also scan a copy and email it to yourself.
posted by jgirl at 12:36 PM on May 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

a one-size-fits-all drain stopper. There's nothing more annoying than wanting a soak in the bath and there's no stopper

Also useful for plugging the sink (standard in even the cheapest European hotel room) when you do your laundry -- an almost daily occurance for me, while back-pack, in order to minimizre the travel wardrobe.
posted by Rash at 12:40 PM on May 14, 2010

If you are staying at a hostel, you need a way to set an alarm (travel sized alarm clock; your watch; your cell phone if it works abroad), and a lock (because you'll probably be keeping your valuables in a locker, and you may need to provide your own lock. At a hotel, neither of these should be necessary.

I second the recommendation of bringing a copy of your passport - just leave one in your suitcase (your passport should be locked in the hotel's safe). Also, leave a copy of your passport at home somewhere accessible.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:41 PM on May 14, 2010

My usuals:
~$100 in local currency to take taxis, buy gum, etc... less of an issue now with ATMs everywhere. Bring double or triple that for Russia.

Big wallet with tickets, passport etc...

Electronic copies of ticket info, hotel reservations on my phone (and stored in gmail, incase I lose my phone). You can get boarding passes on your phone now too which is so cool.

Two copies of any files I need to bring: one flash stick in my carry-on, one in checked luggage.

Toothbrush etc... in my carry-on so that I can survive the day it takes my checked luggage to arrive.

Power adapters, battery chargers, extra AA batteries in a mesh bag in my carry on.
posted by bonehead at 12:42 PM on May 14, 2010

I don't know whether they're even allowed on board nowadays, but a little spritzer bottle of water is really useful after a long flight, when the cabin air has dried out your skin and left you feeling groggy.
posted by holgate at 12:42 PM on May 14, 2010

rokusan: Don't carry too much crap: that's the novice traveler's classic mistake.

This, a million times over. Remember: Paris is a major metropolitan city. There are banks, drugstores, etc., all over.

donajo: someone tell me what a passport cover does

Nothing. The odds of someone stealing your identity via snooping the RFID of your passport are unbelievably low. Has a case of this even been documented?
posted by mkultra at 12:46 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: I picked up a travel alarm clock after I spent two nights in a French hotel room that did not have one provided for me.

I also have a bag for my non-liquid/non-gel toiletries. Depending on your electronics situation, you may want to bring a larger, or second, memory card for your camera.
posted by knile at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2010

Baby Wipes. For when your hands get gunky and you can't wash them. For when you're stuck somewhere and want to freshen up. For when you spill something on your bag.

Those things have a million uses.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:53 PM on May 14, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I splurged on a pair of noise canceling headphones on our the last trip to Japan. They are kind of big and bulky to carry around, but man, they've made long haul flights so much more enjoyable. Between those and an eyemask I can pretty much block out anything happening on the plane.
posted by snowymorninblues at 12:56 PM on May 14, 2010

Passport covers are dumb, some countries want you take them out of when you go through immigration. Put your passport in a zip-loc bag with a pen and the stub of your boarding pass. You'll need the both to fill out paper work before you go through customs.

A wash cloth, for some reason, european hotels seldom seem to have them.

A small bottle of dish detergent so you can wash your water bottle (or whatever).

A pair of flip-flops or similar so you can take your shoes off on the plane.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:58 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: I second that a packable duffel like REIs can be very useful to take souvenirs home. Often the shoulder strap is bulky and removable, if you really want to save space.

I also use a small drysack like this to keep some stuff in. It's a great multitasker since it's just an organizer bag until that time comes when you really need something waterproof to keep your camera in. (Or you can just bring extra ziplock bags, depending on how much you like your stuff.)
posted by smackfu at 12:59 PM on May 14, 2010


Get cash ahead of time, preferably at a favorable exchange rate. Don't try to get it at the airport.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:04 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: I don't use any travel gadgets. My theory is if I don't need something at home I don't need it on vacation either. They are mostly useless crap.

I do have an adapter and I take it if I'm going to need an electronic gadget but usually I just leave all that stuff at home. That way you don't have to worry about losing it.

I haven't been in a hotel in the last 10 years in Europe or the US that didn't have a hairdryer, so I don't bring one.

European hotels don't usually give you washcloths so if you want one bring it. Low end European hotels don't always have shampoo so you might want to bring that. Americanized European hotels will have shampoo.

I do usually bring some ziplock bags so I have something to put wet stuff, pills, etc in, but I just use whatever I already have in the kitchen.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:10 PM on May 14, 2010

Earplugs, good earphones/noise cancelling headphones for your iPod, travel size toothbrush/paste for freshening up in airports. Email your itinerary/scans of tickets to your Gmail for access. Encrypted stick with a copy of your passport page.

Depending on the airline's ability to lose your bags (Air France, I'm looking at you!), stash one day's supply of spare underwear and a t-shirt in your handcarry if you have space.

Don't put house/car keys or valuables in your hold luggage, the amount of times I've seen people crying because their bag was lost beggars belief. Depending on the destination, I do have a small wallet with a lanyard to hang inside my shirt.

Passport cover - don't bother. Like any major city, watch out for the pickpockets who specialize in tourist areas. No need to be paranoid, just standard precautions.

Enjoy your trip!
posted by arcticseal at 1:12 PM on May 14, 2010

I have so much crap to plug in these days, I bring a power adapter but then also a simple POWER STRIP. plug that into the power adapter than all your other stuff can plug in just like at home.

I'm probably a fire hazard buy i can easily plug in my cell phone, laptop, and camera VERY easily. I've used it traveling in the USA and the UK -- I'm always happy I have it with.
posted by thilmony at 1:15 PM on May 14, 2010

I travel a lot. As in, in the past month I've been in San Francisco, London, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome and Florence. Slightly atypical month but not excessively so.

Mainly agreeing with rokusan. You can get anything you need in Paris. Still, sometimes its best not to waste time going out looking for stuff, i suppose:

-Power adapter. I carry an all-in-one but its because I own UK, Euro and US electronics.

-Food/Power bars/Chocolate bars. A slight hiccup with food provisioning on my last delayed flight meant I could have traded my chocolate bars for Gold.

-A good book to read.

-An unlocked mobile phone - to get a local SIM card. Note: phone can also be used as a travel alarm clock.
posted by vacapinta at 1:29 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: If there is only one thing you invest in, get a money belt.

Here is a nice mini surge protector with 3 outlets and 2 USB charging outlets.

Re Rokusan's suggestion of Sudafed: Only bring it if you've tried Sudafed before. It gave me a heart arrythmia that landed me in the ER. You don't want the first time you try it to be on a plane.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: Earplugs, but not for the plane necessarily. You never know when you'll end up at a club, bar, concert, etc that is too loud. I recommend these Etymotic ER20 Hi-Fi Earplugs. I bought two pair and keep one in the glove box of my car. You just never know.

Another thing that I found indispensible while traveling was a money belt. I settled on the Eagle Creek All-Terrain Money Belt, but I replaced the cheapo plastic (and hokey-looking) belt buckle with one like this.

A very small super absorbent and quick-drying pack towel comes in handy, too. There are many brands around. I prefer the ones that are soft. Some brands are scruffy. Be sure to buy this in-person (i.e. at an REI store) so you can touch it.

Like others have said, don't take too much. You really don't want to lug around a ton of stuff. Unless you're going to a very remote location, you can buy anything you need anywhere. You can also do laundry, so there's no need to pack more than 3-4 days worth of clothes. Ditto only needing a few ounces of shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Don't take the whole bottle.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 1:33 PM on May 14, 2010

Money belts? About as useless as passport protectors.

Again- the asker is going to a major metropolitan city, not a Den of Thieves. The inconvenience of using one far outweighs any benefit. Just use common sense- don't walk around with large sums of cash (use your credit card wherever possible, you'll get the best exchange rate) and don't flash it around. Keep it in your pants pockets, not your jacket. Make use of the hotel safe if there is one.
posted by mkultra at 2:24 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: My last passport was really beat up from being unprotected in my pocket for many trips before I started putting it in a zip-lock bag. It got to the point where the lamination on the photo page had bubbled up enough that you could touch the photo from the edge. I kept waiting for a border guard somewhere to accuse me of tampering with the photo.

When it expired, I resolved to be nicer to my new one, so I got one of the RFID blocking passport covers for my most recent trip. It makes the passport so bulky that it no longer fits nicely in my pocket, so I no longer carry the passport around nearly as much. So, um, mission accomplished?

I think for my next trip I'm going back to the zip-lock bag.
posted by aneel at 3:30 PM on May 14, 2010

Seconding the packing cubes. Clothes line is handy, but more so when backpacking from city to city.
posted by backwards guitar at 3:33 PM on May 14, 2010

Packing cubes for clean clothes, travel-sized space bags for dirty clothes. I got a pick-pocket resistant purse before a trip to Prague a couple years ago because all of my European friends assured me I would immediately be robbed blind as soon as I stepped off the plane. Luckily I was not. (I have a PacSafe--it doesn't look too "touristy" but is durable -- I've carried it on day hikes and traveling stateside, too). I also bought one of those big wallets that holds a passport and plane tickets and my itinerary, which was useful, but not strictly necessary. Also, the extra duffel for bringing home souvenirs is a good idea. Neck pillows make sleeping on the plane easier. I tend to get chilly, so I always wear a light sweater or something on the plane. Shoes that are easily removed and not wearing a belt buckle make getting through security easier.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 3:39 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: A compass is great to have while on a trip. I always feel slightly silly with it, but it's great to be able to figure out which direction I'm facing when I come out of the subway in an unfamiliar city, or to be able to easily orient myself with a map. Can't believe nobody mentioned this already!
posted by number9dream at 4:06 PM on May 14, 2010

Blogger Not Martha was in Paris recently and had lots of observations and tips.
posted by belau at 4:23 PM on May 14, 2010

Not a travel product per se, but those spendy philosophy 3-in-1 body wash/shampoo/bubbly things? I never buy stuff that expensive like ever, but I make an exception for one of those for traveling (and hence it lasts FOREVER). It's simple (only ONE toiletry bottle has the potential to get goopy as opposed to having 6 little vials all mixing and congealing in unidentifiable grossness at the bottom of a Ziploc), doesn't take up a ton of shower ledge real estate (at a premium I find on the scant space provided in hotel bathrooms) so, you know, a bunch of tiny bottles don't all fall at the same time or get forgotten when I leave, and it feels treaty (to a chick who normally only ever uses Dial or whatever's $2 at the grocery store) which I find oddly reassuring when in unfamiliar settings. It's that a razor, and that's all you need in the shower.

I suppose the negative would be losing something relatively pricey along your travels, particularly if you're flying, but I haven't had bad luck yet so I guess I just hope that never happens. It's nice. It's one more little thing that makes you pumped about going on a trip, when you start packing.
posted by ifjuly at 4:34 PM on May 14, 2010

I travel for two and three weeks at a time, with camera equipment. I haven't checked a bag in ten years, even between Canada and the US, with the new super-restrictive carryon policy.

I always take these things:

- couple of zipper sandwich bags
- four or five shop towels (if you haven't met a shop towel, it's like a paper towel, only made of cloth). These can clean up a spill, dry off a reasonably patient damp adult after a shower, pick up a dead mouse, shelter a camera from waterfall mist, keep wet hair from grossing up a motorcycle helmet, and if you soak one, wad it, and put it in your sandwich bag, you've got a bathtub plug. You can throw them out, or they're semi-washable once or twice.
- black wide fabric hairband, doubles as eyemask and earphone-holder-inner
- two hair elastics (you got hair? if not, you could skip 'em)
- iPod touch and earphones
- a load of gutenberg.net free books on the Instapaper app, plus airport terminal maps pre-loaded in case of no wireless
- Wisp disposable toothbrushes. They're single use, but you don't have to listen to those guys.
- two black pens, one that I don't mind losing when my airline seatmate can't resist lending it to someone else or tucking it into their sudoku book
- Passport cover, yeah. It's cute, highly-visible, water-resistant, has a pocket for my boarding pass stub and my cab fare, and as mentioned above, is a different colour from my travel wardrobe. Without it, I tended to stick my passport in "safe places" like in my book, or other stupid head-scratcher locations.
- Envelope of handwash detergent, which I superstitiously drag along but have never used.
- I fly in ugly plastic comfortable easily-removable shoes that double as hotel slippers and beach shoes, and keep one good pair in my luggage.
- my nerdhat
posted by Sallyfur at 5:44 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

mkultra: Money belts are not useless, no matter where you are traveling. I guess it depends if you're a guy or a girl, but I find that the money belt I have goes well with any of my pants and doesn't look weird so I tend to wear it as my only belt when traveling. I always keep $100 equivalent in it (usually in $10 increments) and it HAS come in handy. I've had several occasions where my wallet was either empty or short on cash due to unforeseen circumstances (even in a big city), and since I had a backup in my belt, I didn't have to worry about it (this only works if you replace the money in your belt ASAP).

And, wallets/purses/money do get stolen. Everywhere. You can never be too safe.

Yeah, using a money belt AS your wallet is kinda dumb and inconvenient. Using it as a "just in case" backup is good planning. Being stuck in a foreign city without enough money to take a bus or taxi back to your hotel, or to the closest ATM, sucks. Plus you never know when the closest ATM is miles away (maybe not in Paris, but what about the countryside?).
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 6:48 PM on May 14, 2010

Best answer: I second Jessamyn on an gadget kit I just throw in the suit case automatically. It has a phone charger and an adapter but also a small flashlight and cable to plug my ipod into a TV or stereo in the hotel.

This may not apply to you, but the only real travel item I use is a tie wallet to keep my ties nice and fresh.
posted by shothotbot at 7:24 PM on May 14, 2010

Nothing. Travel stores are largely scams.

Okay oaky, that's a little extreme, but the more I travel the less I carry. Probably the most indulgent thing I have now is active noise canceling headphones. They eliminate the mind-numbing drone of the plane which is a life save on long-distance flights. (They're around $100 though, so maybe not worth it if you're not going to fly more.)

Some of the little single serving Woolite can save your butt if you just have to clean some clothes. (Wash 'em in the sink.) Usually don't need the suction-cup clothes line though. Just put 'em on a hangar and hang 'em on something. I've seen quite a number of travel hotel rooms with a retractable clothes line.

Several Zip-loc quart bags for damp moist things or miscellaneous things (souvenir ticket stubs, etc.)

I ditched all of my wall chargers for USB charging cables and charge from my laptop. I don't have to mess with the voltage converter, and they take less space. (Most laptop power doodads have power conversion built in.)

A pretty passport cover/travel document case is pretty much what thieves look for when they're trying to find someone to rob. The only thing that would mark you as a vulnerable tourist more is if you had a map out and looked confused.

Since its your first time there I'd get some eruos before you go. Not a ton, maybe $100 worth so you don't have to worry about trying to find cash while you're still figuring out everything else.

And make sure you bring two pairs of comfy shoes. If it rains one day you'll be glad to have a dry pair. Take care of your feet.
posted by Ookseer at 9:37 PM on May 14, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! Best answers were given to anyone who recommended things that can be bought* at in the travel section of a store or who answered the passport cover question, but I appreciate all of the tips and will report back with what came in handy for me.

*I don't intend to buy all of this stuff.
posted by donajo at 6:24 AM on May 15, 2010

I check the plane beforehand online to see if the seats have power outlets. If it does, I bring an airplane power converter to run my laptop.

Other than that, and the standard in-country power adaptor, I bring:

- a cheap 3 outlet cube-shaped outlet splitter from the local hardware store. The outlets are on separate faces, so it's possible to fit two wall warts and a regular power cord on. This splitter lets me power three devices off of my in-country adapter.

- one of those squeezable seal-a-meal type bags for compressible clothes like socks and t-shirts

- a 3 or 4 band GSM smartphone for which, once in country, I buy a PAYG (pay as you go) SIM with an unlimited data plan.

The rest is the normal stuff I'd bring on any domestic trip.
posted by zippy at 9:45 PM on May 19, 2010

Late to the party here, and not that this hasn't been addressed ad nauseum, but re: passport covers...I work for an immigration attorney. If you're filing any kind of immigration paperwork, you need to submit copies of every passport you have ever owned, so I've handled quite a few very well used passports that probably could have used covers back in their heyday. My favorites: the Brazilian dude who fell in love with an Iraqi woman and had three passports over the two years he was courting her...they all have coffee/tea stains on them and smell heavily of cologne; the Irish guy's, which I'm pretty sure he dropped in a bog somewhere.
posted by phunniemee at 6:16 AM on May 25, 2010

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