And in my bag I packed

Peak travel season approaches, so I wanted to post a few items I've learned about that have made me and friends more comfortable. Cosmetics are a whole other category, I've limited the choices here to travel gear, including one thing I'm curious about.

Bon voyage, and please comment to share your own wonder products!

For feet that walk too much

- Extra insoles: I carry as few pairs of shoes as I can get away with; if I'm footsore from a day of trudging, fresh insoles are (almost) like a new but already broken-in pair.

- Whether you're moving around in sandals, hiking boots or heels, Band Aid Blister Block Stick keeps you moving comfortably. It's an amazing product that lays down kind of a second skin where your shoes rub. If I'm worried about serious blisters, I pack Band-Aid Blister Cushions.

Coping with weather

- Thai raw silk shawls (30" x 66" inch size) More travel-friendly than pashmina, because you can wash and dry these overnight.
These provide a light layer, sun cover, privacy or just a colour accent, and might also be brought as gifts. They're sometimes called 'silk pashmina', but there is no wool in their light, breathable fabric. Available on eBay from seller gazlannathai, among others; about $25 each, or less if bought in a lot of six pieces.

- Cobber neck wrap is a lightly-padded rolled scarf-type device that lowers your core temperature to keep you comfortable when exploring literal hot spots.

You soak the Cobber, made with non-toxic crystals,
in cold water for about 30 minutes. The crystals expand to a gel that lasts for three days and does not require refrigeration. Once back to its original form, simply soak again to renew. Placed it around your neck, the Cobber® cools the carotid arteries, keeping you cooler and more comfortable. Available from Tilley Endurables.

The sturdy Knirps X1 Folding Umbrella is 6 inches long, weighs 8 oz. and will not flip out in the wind. Far better than a raincoat that doesn't fully dry if you're packing and moving every few days. Well worth the price, about $48 from various vendors, including Irv's Luggage.

Personal safety

- Personal bra stash by Lewis N. Clark, $6.50, from Cooler than a waist wallet, and a bit more refined than just shoving bills into my bra, which I resorted to on an uneasy walk alone in London. Big enough for some bills and a credit card; passport goes in hotel safe.

- WedgeGuard Doorstop Alarm; not to be too 'alarmist", but for some destinations, this would be wise. $19.99 from Student Travel. Works on any door, uses 9v standard battery.

A good night's sleep

Silhouette breathable eye-mask.
Do you have a stash of airline giveaway eyeshades? Don't take them to a warm climate, you'll wake up bathed in sweat. Here's a light, breathable, washable, one that comes in its own pouch. From Dream Essentials, $9.95.

Travel Sound Conditioner, Ma
rsona TSC 330 (i)
I'm wondering about this- anyone try it

The next step in my sleep arsenal might be this little number. I wake easily to scooters, voices, birdsong; a pillow over my head and earplugs no longer suffice. This device plays white noise or other sounds (surf, rainfall) to mask noise, including that from the snoring travel companion. 5.625" wide x 2.25" deep x 4.125" high; $80 from Dream Essentials.

Grace Notes

Deodorizing room scent
Even good hotels sometimes smell musty, or previous travelers leave smoke or even less-pleasing hints of habitation. Le Papier d'Armenie is a small booklet of specially-coated sheets of paper. You fold the paper, light it briefly in the room's ashtray or on a saucer, then blow out, to release the pleasant, light scent.

Also good for tucking into your suitcase if it gets funky
in humid climates. Available online from, or BeautyHabit , about $6 per booklet of twelve sheets.

A generous (16-oz.) flask

I've posted on the delights of traveling with a flask before; if you're with a group, a 16 oz. size allows for convivial sharing. This flask is functional; made of tough Lexan, it has a leak-proof silicon seal inside the shot-sized cap. $12.95 from Excalibur Cutlery.

Lacy yet practical under

After a day's touring, it feels wonderful to bathe and change for dinner, and that could mean bringing lots of lingerie. With Wintersilks' washable, quick-drying silk panties (shown, the "Lacy Spunsilk Panty", 3 pairs for $12.95 each), I can pack lightly. The 100% silk is breathable, too.

A nightgown you can be seen in

When room service arrives, if you're a guest who must navigate the house to reach the bathroom, or when you want to
lounge on your lanai but are in sight, you'll appreciate a non-sheer cotton or cotton jersey nightgown that makes you 'almost dressed'. Shown, from Garnet Hill, the Asian-Wrap Cap Sleeve. Or, if you can sew, make your own simple caftan as a pre-trip project.

A cool cotton square...

Fabric hats are hot, and I would consider the indescribably ugly Tilley hat only on an jungle expedition replete with Burmese pythons.

The versatile cotton scarf folds into a wide band, or ties into various head-covering styles. It can also keep the su
n off your neck, stretch a wardrobe, or make a picnic cloth.

In the country, a simple cotton bandana will do. For resort or city wear, I'd choose this Pucci 17.5 inch cotton square, $120 from

...or a packable hat

If you'll need a brim to keep sun off your face, Berkeley Hats crushable Belle Straw Cloche comes in an array of colours, has an elegant shape, and fits in your purse, for only $16. See Berkeley Hat to order.


Susan B said…
Duchesse, you continue to amaze with your well-thought-out selections. I'm off to check some of these out for our upcoming Alaska cruise vacation!
lagatta à montréal said…
Those are lovely - though a pashmina can be worth packing if you are somewhere it gets a bit chilly in the evenings, among the old stones, provided you have a place to hang it to dry, if need be. I find some kind of shawl can also be a help if you don't have an ensuite bath or toilet (the nightgown you show is lovely, but not a style that flatters those of us who are busty). You have a gift for finding online shops I've never heard of, and I presume they ship to Canada. Garnet Hill seems to have nice things - how is the quality, and the fit? They have a lot of beautiful greys and greiges.

By the way, our old friend Thoughtful Dresser has a much more serious, if not to say grave, travel story today.
mette said…
Thanks for sharing ! These are all new ideas to me, but then I do so little traveling. Good shoes for walking are a must. If I travel, I´ll take along some fine jewelry, but no spare ones, only the ones I can wear day and night. Now what fun would it be not to be able to look your best?
materfamilias said…
Can't believe the price on the silk undies! I'm going off now to check those out.
Duchesse said…
lagatta; I don't always check whether every vendor I list ships to Canada (or to other countries). Info is usually on customer service area of web site.

Garnet Hill requires Canadian customers to order by phone. (You can search on the web, then call their customer service number.) Their bed and bath products are terrific, and all I buy anymore. One person ordered a raincoat and commented that she did not like the quality.
studioJudith said…
Hmmm .. . I've wondered about that Blister Block. My husband's taking off for two weeks of hike/raft in the Grand Canyon - it sounds as if it might be worth tossing in his pack!

Thanks for all your excellent suggestions -

Duchesse said…
materfamilias: I omitted the "each"; I'm sorry and have corrected it.
WendyB said…
I need to get that blister block stuff!
Anjela's Day said…
I love the neck wrap soaked and worn...Especially with my neuro problems. Thanks for posting this-I had no idea and seem to wilt after about 5 minutes when outsid ein the sun or humidity. This is a lifesaver.
Duchesse said…
Anjela: In India, some of my companions were fainting and vomiting from the heat; this lowered my core temp and I did much better than they. Not a magic cure but it helps.
Anjela's Day said…
Yes, I am definitely going to buy some. I find the humidity worse than anything for triggering the brain responses and having a coolness about the neck almost centers one. Unintentionally I used to wear paper towels dipped in cool water against the back of my neck-One could also use witch hazel or other liquids. Now I have this. How can I thank you!!

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