Cruise or land, don’t leave home without at least two of these items.
There are two facts to know about me with no uncertain terms. One: I travel a lot. Two: I’m not getting any younger. If I don’t pack to anticipate a certain comfort and safety level, I kick myself and swear that the next time I will remember.
My travel involves walking tours, overnights in hotels, climbing among the ruins, exposure to people coughing and sneezing in small enclosed areas and trying to avoid losing my possessions. No, I don’t pack paper hospital masks like people wear in Asia or handcuff my carry-on to my wrist. When asked, I always suggest these five unusual things to pack. They’re super lightweight, small and practical. Starting from the back row…
No, it’s not to clobber an obnoxious street vendor selling selfie sticks. Nearly weightless, it’s the perfect solution to sore feet after climbing/hiking/walking the streets or countryside here or abroad. The pipe is actually one of the legs to an old plastic shelving unit that was sitting in my garage. I had returned from an unusually long walk and was in dire need of a foot massage. As I was rummaging around my garage looking for something else, I saw eight of these poles lying around next to the unused shelves. Hm…
How to use it? With or without socks, sit in a chair and roll it under both feet. This immediately starts to work on the flat areas of your feet and somehow slowly you feel the stress of the day dissolve. But what about the smaller areas of your feet? Here’s item #2.
After using the plastic roller, place the golf ball under the arch of your foot and slowly roll the golf ball towards your toes and then to the heel. It’s a little tricky and the tiny ball likes to scoot away to roll under the nearest bed frame. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never travel without one.
I always pack a flashlight (with fresh batteries) and keep it on the nightstand next to the bed, whether at a hotel or on a cruise ship. Of course all of our mobile phones have a flashlight app on them, but in an emergency, why burn out the batteries on your phone?
I can’t tell you how many times this little gadget has come in handy. First, if you take trains through Europe and your suitcase is too large to hoist into the overhead, this item is essential. Be one of the first to board your train car. Quickly scout the luggage bin so that you can slide your suitcase into a spot that’s next to a steel support post. Attach cable.
I like to assume that everyone is honest. However, there’s always a chance when at a station stop, a passenger might accidentally leave with your suitcase. Or, while the train is stopped, someone boards the train as soon as the doors open and grabs whatever suitcase is within easy reach. Unless your assigned seat is right at the sliding glass doors that separates the seating area from the luggage and boarding area, it would nearly impossible to run after someone who’s just made off with your luggage.
This skinny steel cable extends about 3-feet, plenty of length to put through your suitcase handle and around a post. No post? Cable it to the grating that the luggage sits on or even your second suitcase’s handle. It’s pretty difficult to dash off of a train with two fumbly suitcases.
Whether in a hotel in a big city, a highway motel on Route 66 or a cruise ship stateroom, it’s another level of security beyond the turn-lock or a flimsy chain.
I’ve had one too many uncomfortable encounters on cruise ships with a crew person on a routine delivery in the afternoon (like a surprise plate of chocolate strawberries) or a maintenance person checking the air conditioning. Yes, they knock. But sometimes you’re in the shower or indisposed and either can’t hear or reply to the knock at the door. Suddenly, there’s someone in your stateroom, albeit for a legitimate reason, that you simply did not expect to be there.
Then there’s also the fact that certain hotel and cruise staff have pass keys. While many hotels, especially the major hotels in Europe, have a really sturdy secondary door-opening blocker-gadget, most regular hotels and cruise ships do not. Simply place the door alarm wedge right up to the edge of the closed door. Should someone try to enter, as soon as the bottom of the door touches the silver plate, the alarm sounds. Just don’t forget to turn the switch to off when you answer the door. It’s a eardrum-bursting decibel level.
What? Yes, cinnamon. Do some research on cinnamon. I was on a river cruise, sitting at a dining table with a random group of women, all in their 80’s. Everyone told me that they either traveled with cinnamon or took a cinnamon pill every morning. Apparently, it’s a tremendous boost to your immune system. Or maybe it’s simply a placebo effect. Nevertheless, these solo-traveling female octogenarians never left home without their cinnamon.
I sprinkle a bit into my cup before I pour the coffee. Cinnamon doesn’t totally dissolve because of the natural oils in it. Just sprinkle it into a hot beverage or on toast or whatever. Tastes great in green tea, too. I also bring dried garlic and cayenne pepper with me.
This is not medical advice.
I’m not trying to espouse homeopathic treatment for overworked tendons, bouts of paranoia or the common cold. The five items listed are always with me on my trips. Be sure to not pack the locking cable, however, as it doesn’t work when it’s inside your suitcase!
Happy and safe travels!