On-the-Road Travel Tips (part 11)

By Randy Keck
This item appears on page 31 of the February 2021 issue.

Thanks to the ongoing quality contributions of our loyal readers, we herein offer Part 11 of our series of On-the-Road Travel Tips (each followed by my own comments). We went a bit over the 125-word limit on a couple this month, but that’s the number we ask you to try for when sending in your tip, which is anything that makes the travel experience work better for you while actually traveling.

Dorothy Allen (Colfax, NC) — I enclose in plastic zipped sandwich bags my oldest, thinnest washcloths. Hotels and most ships don’t provide these. Most washcloths dry enough overnight to put them back in the suitcase the next morning.

Dorothy, I cannot believe that after all these months of travel tips, you are the first to suggest this simple solution to the lack of washcloths in hotels in most countries. (The “thin” part is important to ensure overnight drying.) While acknowledging that some uniquely American habits don’t have much application in other parts of the world, I would vote to make bathroom washcloths universal.

Thanks, Dorothy, and I hope we hear from you again later this year when your age reaches three digits. (Yes, readers, you read correctly.) — RK

Katherine Keller (Atlantic Beach, FL) — I am enjoying the travel tips. I particularly liked the tip for using Command™ Brand hooks (Sept. ’20, pg. 28). While I use them at home copiously, I never thought to take them on the road.

What I do take on every trip are locking suction-cup hooks. They are very useful for hanging washcloths, bath puffs and towels. They will only adhere to smooth surfaces, but there is often a mirror to which they can be affixed. The trick is to warm up the silicone with hot water before affixing it. 

I advise against suction-cup hooks without locks. They never hold on long enough or with enough power for my needs.

Locking suction-cup hooks can be purchased at home-goods stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, and I’ve seen them in dollar stores. 

Sometimes those suckers can make a loud noise when you pull them off! Also, some people need a reminder protocol to make sure the hooks aren’t left behind when departing. (Brave of me to bring up the topic of leaving things behind when traveling. Keep reading.) — RK

Joan Campbell (Reynoldsburg, OH) — I’m a duvet hater. Except in a cold room in winter, I detest the increasingly common duvet. It allows for no gradation of warmth and is almost always TOO MUCH. Sticking an arm or leg out from under it leads to a cold limb and a still-overheated body.

Some hotels don’t even have simple blankets available on request, so I take along a silk sleep sack, which is very lightweight to pack and provides a thin covering that in summer is often sufficient by itself. It can be supplemented by using the duvet cover as a second layer. If you need more, housekeeping may be able to offer additional duvet covers, without the down inserts.

This has saved me from many a sleepless night due to overheating.

I contacted Joan and asked her where these silk sleep sacks could be obtained. She wrote, “I got mine years ago, the YALA-brand DreamSack, through TravelSmith (travelsmith.com), but I see they’re no longer carrying such a thing. They’re currently unavailable on the YALA website (yaladesigns.com) too.

“There are some silk sleep sacks of other brands on Amazon.com (YALA is ‘unavailable’), but you have to be careful to read the specs; some that use ‘silk’ in the name are made of something else.

“One that looks much like what I have is ‘Cozysilk 100% Mulberry Silk Sleeping Bag Liner,’ for $99.99 on Amazon — about what I paid for my YALA. Like mine, it’s machine-washable.

“I like something that’s over 40 inches wide, which the Cozysilk liner is. Some liner sacks aimed at users of sleeping bags are much narrower, some even ‘mummy style.’

“A rectangular liner at rei.com ($99.95) is only 36 inches wide, although it claims to have stretchable side panels, which might make all the difference. What you’ll prefer depends on what kind of a sleeper you are.

“My sleep sack has been a truly worthy addition to my travel arsenal, even before COVID.”

Thanks, Joan. I really like the idea of using a sleep sack. My wife, Gail, is concerned about me leaving it behind when checking out, however. I have done the “leave behind” before more than once with my mini feather travel pillows. This ceased when I started using a bright, quad-color Mickey Mouse pillow cover. Mickey is threadbare after many years on the road but remains a loyal travel companion.

Gail also reminded me of color therapy basics, that bright colors can interrupt sleep patterns. My counter (I am only allowed one) was that I would find a sleep sack in a restful color but attach some type of very colorful tagging that would make it difficult to leave behind. I’m in! — RK

Contact Randy at 80 America Way, Jamestown, RI 02835; 401/560-0350, randykeck@yahoo.com.