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BellaOnline's European Travel Editor

Travel Essentials

As you pack for a vacation, business trip or to see the family are you also keeping in mind that you could be packing for an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane or fire? Unexpected contingencies can happen anywhere at anytime. Adding a few simple items to your suitcase will make you better prepared to handle any unexpected difficulties.

Adding a few items into your carry-on bag or suitcase could help ease your troubles in a difficult or dangerous situation. Most items can be bought for less than a dollar or two, but they can prove invaluable.

A rain poncho can do more than just keep you dry during an unexpected shower in a theme park. You can also use it as a ground cover or blanket.

Flashlights can do more than help you out in a power failure, use one to help navigate poorly lit hotel corridors or during unexpected sightseeing difficulties, such as lava tubes in Hawaii, or interior castle stairways.

A multi-purpose utility knife, such as a Swiss Army knife can aid in all kinds of ways, even opening a bottle of wine for your impromptu picnic. Just make sure that you pack this in your checked baggage!

Small backpack or fanny pack Ė this will keep your hands free, an added bonus in unusual situations. My favorite backpack converts to a fanny pack and can even be slung over a shoulder as a purse.

First aid kit should include any medications you take on a regular basis and some basics such as pain relievers, antihistamines and tummy soothers. Donít feel that you must pack the entire package Ė just one or two (with instructions) to keep you going until you can find a local pharmacy.

Make sure you bring an extra few days of your prescription medications in case of delayed flights or other contingencies. Quite a few people were stranded when the volcano in Iceland cancelled flights all over Europe from too much ash in the atmosphere.

Donít pack prescription medications in unmarked bottles. Thatís an excellent way to have them seized by an overzealous customs official.

Take time to make photocopies of your passport, identification, and credit card numbers. Pack these separately from the items themselves so they donít go astray if the originals are stolen. Replacing your identification or credit cards will be much simpler if you have the numbers at hand. If you donít want to carry these with you leave a set at home that could be faxed or emailed to you in an emergency.

A few ounces of prevention will keep you concentrated on having fun and not worrying about what could go wrong.

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