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Are you going to Greece? Maybe you're actively planning, or maybe just daydreaming about getting there eventually. Either way, take a look at this list of my absolute essentials when I travel to Greece (and in some cases, any time I get on a plane at all.).
These are my non-negotiables for a reason.
1. Wine Skins - If you know me in the Real World, you know that I will not shut up about these.
You may decide you would love to bring back a bottle or two of that great wine that you KNOW you won't be able to find back home. Or maybe some local tsipouro or Kitron liqueur.
But what about the horror show in your suitcase if they break?
Enter the genius of Wine Skins.
Wine Skins are the best and safest way to travel with bottles! I have brought back many bottles over the years - from Greece and elsewhere - and not once have I had a spill or break in my luggage.
And they're not just for wine!
They are also insanely useful for jars of honey, bottles of olive oil, even beauty products - anything that can break or leak. You can put 2-3 small jars in each. Pack your clothes around them for added padding.
Because just think about what could happen to your clothes if something doesn't survive the tender ministrations of your average baggage handler.
2. Extra fold-up bag - Are you a shopper? Not to brag or anything, but I have a black belt in shopping!
Once in a while I get a little carried away, especially when I see stuff that I know I'm not going to be able to get back home. I buy it, stuff it in my suitcase, and whoopsie! The suitcase won't close.
Good thing I brought an extra bag. Fold-up bags are incredibly useful, both for bringing home unexpected swag, for using at the beach or on a day trip, or using as your carry-on.
And if you're visiting family, you may find yourself with unexpected gifts to bring back with you. I've been gifted everything from beautiful ceramics to homemade pasta. True story. You just never know.
Make sure to get something that can be locked, in case you end up needing to check it at the airport. This suggested model allows you to put a travel lock through the zipper pulls.
When you're not using it, you can just fold it up and pack it away.
3. Compression socks - The least sexy thing you will ever wear and guaranteed to make you feel 147 years old! But worth it on a long flight, as they can help with foot swelling, if you are prone to that when you fly.
They can also help prevent deep vein thrombosis. DVT can occur on both longer flights and flights as short as three hours. I wear them and whip them off as soon as I hit the Athens airport. (Privately, of course...no one need witness my shame.)
If you're young and/or have zero problems with circulation, congratulations on both counts! You probably don't need these.
4. Luggage strap - These are just a good idea in general, whenever you get on a plane. It helps hold your luggage together and makes it easier to spot on the baggage carousel.
5. Luggage scale - Don't get stuck paying extra for overweight luggage at the airport! Learn from my mistakes and avoid a frantic and embarrassing public airport-floor reshuffling of your stuff.
Nothing makes you feel more like a travel noob than swapping stuff out of your open suitcases with your travel partner so that you're under the weight limit while passers-by give you the smirky side-eye.
Did you know that airlines can charge anywhere from $35 to a staggering $400 for one overweight bag?
Avoid that trauma by weighing your suitcase before you leave. Then bring the the luggage scale with you so you can weigh your luggage for the trip back, too. That way you can make sure all that shopping and gift-getting didn't put you over the limit.
6. Packing cubes - These are genius. They're a great way to both organize your clothes and save space in your luggage.
You may have heard that rolling your clothes into tight rolls can help save space and avoid wrinkles. These cubes are a great way to do this. I tried them once a few trips ago and immediately became a convert.
Even if you're not a roller, these are great for organization and space-saving. There are even compression versions that save even more space.
7. Emergency charger - You know your phone will die at the most inconvenient time. Save yourself the aggro and bring this great little charger in your carry-on or purse so you're always charged up. I actually keep mine with me year-round, traveling or not. It has saved my bacon more than once.
8. Inflatable seating pillow - This is the pillow that got me through a fascinating but loooong performance of Aeschylus' "Agammemnon ". (The ancient theater of Epidavros is is glorious but sadly not exactly ergonomic.) It packs small and you can take it out when you need it.
If you're planning on seeing a show at any of the ancient theaters, this may really help. Otherwise it's butt-on-marble for a couple of hours or more.
9. Small empty spray bottle - Ladies and gentlemen, this is your 'travel iron'.
This is such a brilliant hack that I use it at home, too. Simple and effective!
Just take an empty bottle, fill with water at your hotel, hang your up clothes and spritz. Unless you're bringing linen or fine, fussy fabrics (And, really, why would you do that on vacation?), this will get rid of almost every wrinkle.
10. Small gifts. Are you visiting family or friends? Is someone hosting you at any point?
Custom dictates that you bring a gift.
You can certainly buy something there, but sometimes a small item that they couldn't get in Greece easily (or at all) makes a more meaningful present. I've brought everything from local college tee shirts to a bottle of American bourbon (which arrived safely, thanks to the Wine Skins!).
Just remember to keep anything you bring relatively small and lightweight.
And one bonus item you must bring to Greece....
11. Flexibility! Things will not go as planned all the time. "Greek time", as you may know, is a bit different than home. Priorities are not the same. Lunch may start at 3pm and end at 6pm (Yes, this happened, and it ended up being one of my fondest memories!).
Roll with it.
You're in Greece! What could be better?
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