I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to my toiletries at home and especially when I travel. I try to pack everything I need in the TSA-required quart-size plastic bag. I will also pack some miscellaneous travel toiletries that can come in handy on a tour.
1. Dryer Sheets: Packing a couple of fabric-softener dryer sheets in your bag will keep your clothes smelling fresh during your tour and you can use one to get rid of static cling in your clothing or in your hair. You can also stick dryer sheets in your walking shoes when you go to bed to cut down on their odor.
2. Vaseline (or petroleum jelly): Put some Vaseline in a contact lens case and you won’t have to pack a tube of lip balm. Vaseline comes in handy if your face gets wind burned (or sun burned) on tour. Put some on your heels at night to take care of your feet after all the walking you end up doing on a tour. If you wear leather shoes, you can put a quick shine on them with some Vaseline.
3. Dental Floss-Pack the non-waxed, non-flavored kind: You can use it to do more than just floss your teeth! Gone are the days when I used to travel with a handy pocket knife. If one of your students has a birthday on tour and you don’t have a knife to cut the cake, try using the dental floss. I can use dental floss to cut my food if I am having a picnic lunch. It also comes in handy if you have to sew a button on for yourself or for a student.
4. Washcloths: Since most European hotels do not provide washcloths, I like to pack one for each hotel. I will use the worn-out ones from home or buy the most inexpensive, thin ones I can find on sale. Before I leave a hotel, I will throw the washcloth away. You can also pack one body scrubber for your entire tour.
5. Thermometer: On every tour, I will have at least one student who will come up to me and ask if he or she is running a fever. That happens to me in the classroom, too, but I will send those students to the main office. You can’t send a feverish student away when you are on tour. Using a thermometer will take the guesswork out of determining if one of your students has a fever. When you pack your own thermometer, at least you will be able to read the Fahrenheit temperature. If you have to buy one in Europe, you will need to know how to convert the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
6. Stain-Removal Wipes: These individually packed towelettes will save the day if you get a stain on your travel clothing from food, beverages, or ink. I have had a pen leak on my clothes more than once while traveling. When you pack lightly for a tour, you are going to be wearing some of your clothing multiple times. You won’t have to wash the entire garment if you pack some stain removal wipes. You could just dress all in black, too.
7. A Sense of Humor: While this is certainly not a travel toiletry, this item should actually be at the top of every packing list. Traveling should be an absolute joy for you and your students. Having a sense of humor will get you through all kinds of situations. I tell all of my student teachers that they cannot have a long career in the classroom without a good sense of humor and I think all group leaders need one, too.
Readers, what are your own suggestions for miscellaneous travel items (and not just toiletries)?