Are These on Your Packing List? Top Unusual Vacation "Must-Haves"

LOS ANGELES – July 5, 2011) – As vacationers get set to fan out across the U.S. and beyond for summer, the Automobile Club of Southern California asked its travel agents and counselors to recommend some unusual “must-have” items for road trips and vacations. Here’s what they shared:
  • Bags, bags and more bags: Luggage is on top of any travel must-have list, but extra empty bags are also quite handy.
Disposable plastic grocery bags are great for collecting trash from a car during a road trip. Large trash bags can also be used for this, for storing dirty clothes and even for emergency rain ponchos.
Zip-sealed plastic bags of all sizes are useful for everything from storing toiletries to damp swimsuits to leftover food for a later snack. “I use a big one to keep all the brochures and postcards I collect along the way in one place,” says travel counselor Angel Smith.
Vacuum space-saver bags can be used to pack outfits compactly in luggage. An extra empty duffel or tote bag can store souvenirs for the return trip.
  • Comfort is key: Pillows and blankets from home provide comfort to passengers on road trips and could help with a good night’s sleep in a hotel room as well. Another alternative is a pillowcase. “A satin pillowcase keeps the pillow cool and your hair neat as you sleep,” said travel counselor June Peirce. “At the end of your trip, you can use the pillowcase to carry delicate souvenirs.”
A neck pillow can be a must-have for an extended plane flight – make sure you research before buying to get one that actually works for you.
A small mister spray fan helps keep travelers cool in hot summer temperatures.
Folding chairs in the car ensure you have somewhere to sit during road trip stops.
  • Widgets for gadgets: Vacationers take along cell phones, digital cameras, music and game players, eReaders, laptops and a host of other electronics. They all need power. You can buy a power inverter that plugs into your car lighter and charges anything with a USB port or power cord. And don’t forget extra batteries.
  • Be ready for the unexpected: Bring along photocopies of all travelers’ identification in case they are lost or stolen – this is particularly important for passports when traveling outside the U.S. “In case of loss or theft of their passport, they can have a temporary passport issued overseas at an American Embassy with this copy and continue their travel,” said travel agent Jeannette Hufnagel.
A travel-size sewing kit, safety pins and duct tape can help cover minor repair emergencies, and a laundry stain stick can help with spills on clothes.
Raincoats, small plastic ponchos and/or travel-size umbrellas keep you ready for rain.
  • Practical but often forgotten: A night light makes it easier to find a hotel bathroom in the dark.

An extension cord helps with plugging in personal care items. “Many times, the outlet is not in a convenient location, so the extension cord ‘moves’ the outlet to where you actually need it,” said travel agent Denise Weed.  “Also, for international travel, you only need one adapter/converter, and the extension cord provides you three outlets.”
Clothespins and a plastic hanger can help with drying hand-washed laundry items in the hotel bathroom, and clothespins can also help keep unruly hotel curtains shut.
For laundry at the Laundromat, bring all-in-one sheets that include detergent, fabric softener and a dryer sheet. These sheets or regular dryer sheets are also helpful for keeping your suitcase and clothes smelling fresh. And travel-size household sanitizer spray can help get any area clean quickly.
Walkie-talkies can be useful for families when visiting attractions to keep track of everyone.
An ice cooler allows you to bring along sandwiches, snacks and drinks on the road.
A highlighter pen allows travelers to mark places of interest to visit on brochures, AAA TourBooks and maps.
  • Preserve vacation memories: The problem with vacation photos is that one person usually takes most of them and ends up being pictured in none of them. A small collapsible tripod is inexpensive and can help get everyone in the picture if your camera has a timer.
To prevent damage to a nice camera, you might want to bring along a less expensive disposable or waterproof camera to camera-risky vacation locations like the beach or the pool.
Bring along a travel diary, which is a handy place to store brochures and postcards as well as record details for use in photo albums.