Here are a few must-have items for your next trip. (Vancouver Sun, Dec. 2016) White Noise Machine: If you’re a light sleeper and can’t wear earplugs and the sound you hear outside your hotel room is not the gentle lapping of waves, a white noise machine is essential. When I heard a strange sound emitting from my travel companion’s room that sounded like TV static, I couldn’t believe she actually paid for this noise. But she was sleeping soundly and I was awake and cranky, thanks to the party down the hall and the sirens outside.  Next day I downloaded a white noise sleep app (there are several) but the 2lb machine is much better and worth every ounce, even traveling light.  I bought a Marpac at Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $40. (It even blocks the sound of snoring.) Duct Tape: Never pack new shoes. After walking a few hours I tore off a few strips of duct tape (travelling light, I’d wrapped about a metre around my hairbrush handle) and stuck them on my blisters. That evening I was heading out for dinner, wearing the black dress. After the full-length mirror check I reached for the duct tape—my dog’s hair had also travelled to Paris. And one piece of that strip still remains on the corner of my cracked lap top cover. Travel Insurance:  Let me preface this by mentioning I was in my 20s. Soon as my friend and I checked into the hotel room in Majorca we popped the bubbly, danced and jumped about on the furniture. As our mothers would say, we were “acting up”.  Jumping from one bed to the other I missed and landed on the concrete floor, one heel upward. Long story short: I spent a few days in a private clinic after a complicated surgery—having broken my foot in several places. Luckily my friend was sensible: she had taken out travel insurance for all of us. The hospital bill was more than my college tuition. Sharp Knives: I considered packing a few sharp knives in my suitcase (not into my carry-on) because I bragged  to my hosts in Provence that I knew how to cook.  No need, they said, they had plenty of knives. Being close to Marseilles meant bouillabaisse so next morning we met the fish boats as they came into harbour. I needed some tiny trash fish for the stock and some big fish for the bouillabaisse. We returned with incredibly ugly monkfish (I decapitated it), red mullet and red snapper and the venomous evil scorpion fish, also known  as red rascasse. I gutted and deboned everything with essentially a butter knife. Never again will I rely on the knives of friends.