Indispensable Travel Tools
I'm taking a "French for Travelers" class, and one assignment is to bring in an object that you never go traveling without.
Well, I immediately thought of a particular knife - it's sharp and versatile, it's a good size, and it's one we can count on. We've spent enough time in vacation kitchen hell to know that you can't depend on the contents of the utensil drawer to get your food cut up. While we're at it we usually also throw in a vegetable peeler and a wine bottle opener :-)
The more I thought about it, the more I wished we could bring several items to class :-\
What else is on my "must have" list?
Well, in Costa Rica, I absolutely had to have a fan (hand held); it was most useful during non-air-conditioned bus trips and after walking into town. For our France trip, I'm not so sure. We'll have a car, and the weather will likely be cooler, but we will be walking around a lot.
Because we're on the road so long, we usually do laundry once a week. Some places don't have do-it-yourself laundromats - you hand them a bag of clothes, and they wash it. To reduce loads, and the possibility of clothes ruined by color-bleeds, I put a Shout® Color-catcher sheet in each load. I haven't seen these readily available in too many places, so I bring some along. I also make sure to explain the reason I want the piece of paper washed...
One item that is not so much a practical luxury (more of a necessity for peace of mind), is an emergency contact and health information card, in multiple languages. It has:
Emergency contacts (several names, phone numbers, countries)
Health insurance (company, phone number, policy number)
Travel companion (name, relationship, phone number)
One item that our class was specifically told to not count (probably because it is so ubiquitous) is a phone/tablet. The tablet technology has definitely reduced our travel load! I remember more than one trip where we had an entire suitcase dedicated to books - now, we rely on ebooks and language apps. We always brought photos to share, and maps to navigate - again, the tablet takes care of that.
I remember compiling our pack list for our first trip to Costa Rica - I found so many different recommendations! As time (and trips) went on, I found that what many people felt they needed to bring, I could do without or easily buy there - and simply leave behind. I've done this with clotheslines, hand towels, electric fans, cutting boards, and extra kitchenware. One time, I made the mistake of following a light-packer's advice, and didn't bring shampoo - I ended up using bar soap, and spent a good chunk of my first day of vacation looking for toiletries...
I'm very interested to see what my fellow traveling classmates consider indispensable :-)