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"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train."

- Oscar WildeThere are some things one simply cannot leave home without.

For Oscar Wilde, it was a sensational diary; for the more pedestrian types among us, it could be a Swiss army knife, a lucky charm or a blankie.

Whatever, every traveler has something he or she always packs, whether it be for security, safety or simply because it might not be available in Outer Mongolia or Sioux City, Iowa.

(Years ago, I was in a London department store when a clerk overheard my accent and asked where I was from in the United States. Just outside Los Angeles, I responded.

"Oh, I'm going there!" she said excitedly. She and her husband, she said, had saved for years to visit the city where her sister now lived. Then, her voice dropped and with some hesitation, she asked a question which, she said, she just could not bring herself to ask of her sister.

"Could you tell me," she asked shyly, "do they have talcum powder in America?"

You just never know what that foreign place will have, do you?)

Believing that our readers would have some worthy tips on what is essential, we asked them to share their travel musts (aside, of course, from clothes, tickets and toothbrush). And, boy, did we get some surprises!

Did people write to us about the benefits of water purifiers or the virtues of bombproof eyeglass cases or crushable hats? Hardly. Most people, it seems, have more basic needs. We heard a lot about portable coffee pots, night lights, neck pillows and that favorite teddy bear. Several people also said they carry spiritual books, such as the Bible, and inspirational tapes.

Here's what else readers told us they could not leave home without:

- "Regardless of where we go, Scandinavia, Alaska or through the Panama Canal this year, we always take, couldn't live without six gallon-sized freezer bags (and) six quart-sized freezer bags," write Loren and Lorraine Switzer of North Hollywood.

"The plastic bags are great for keeping things together; keeping gown, slippers, small robe together on top of suitcase; dropping in the gifts you pick up along the way; packing underwear and personal things; jewelry; plastic bottles that might spill."

- "The one thing that's always in my suitcase is a corkscrew - don't leave home without it," says Dave Johnston of Simi Valley.

- "I always carry a small jar of peanut butter in my suitcase," says Jean Russell of Tujunga. "No matter where you travel in the world, you can always get crackers or bread, but in foreign travel, you will not find peanut butter."

- And also on the snack side, "Small bags of Fritos," writes Jayne Barnhart of North Hollywood. "I learned many years ago that not only are they good for munching on in foreign countries, but they can become breakfast, lunch or dinner. ... Once, when I was on a bus tour of Greece, we had an early morn trip to the Acropolis and I had missed breakfast, so grabbed some of my handy-dandy bags of Fritos and ate them on the way."

- And in the sports category, "I never leave home without rugby boots!" writes Nolan Day of Los Angeles. "I've been able to pick up matches in 26 countries to date and have met the most interesting people of my life this way."

- Mary Stermer of Temple City focuses on safety items. "The one thing that I would not go traveling without is my pepper spray." She also packs a Kubato key chain, whistle, flashlight - and a 7-inch barking dog.

- Carolyn Noble of North Hollywood says she always takes "my trusty yellow foam earplugs. ... Getting a good night's sleep makes all the difference in having the energy ... to see all the sights."

- Nancy Mandelbaum always carries her bathing suit - in her purse. "One time, many years ago, I went to Nassau in the Bahamas, but my luggage went to the island of Eleuthera. I was in my New York City clothes for a day - hot and grumpy. A woman just can't go and buy a bathing suit on a moment's notice. It takes a long time to find the perfect one."

- Janet Ballin of Canyon Country says she always takes a tin of Swiss Mocha coffee - and 40 $1 bills. "These are essential. If you want to purchase a small item in a foreign country and only have $20, your change will all be in that currency. With ones, you can eliminate this problem. Also good for tips and for headsets or cocktails on aircraft where they never seem to have change. But I never leave home without my Swiss Mocha."