23 unusual must-pack items

Duct tape: don't leave home without it.Let me start by saying I believe in packing light; your back and your nerves will thank you. I usually get by with a single backpack or smallish bag.

That said, there are a few everyday things that might not seem essential, but I can’t imagine not having along. For instance, my husband and I love to sample local wines, but we rarely finish a whole bottle in one sitting. So we always pack a good bottle stopper. A few more things that we or other seasoned travelers can’t do without:

  1. Duct tape: What list is complete without it? Repair luggage, clothes & hotel shower heads, tape luggage to discourage theft, hide valuables under hotel bed or table, child-proof hotel rooms, remove lint, make a bandage with tissue. To save space wrap some around a pen.
  2. Plastic ziploc bags: for food, seashells, keeping money/electronics dry. Invaluable to hold liquids and prevent messy spills.
  3. Safety pins, rubber bands, twist ties, clothespin: for quick repairs, closing window drapes or snacks.
  4. Dental floss: incredibly strong, works as heavy-duty thread for repairs (make sure you have the right needle) or to tie just about anything. The cutter works for regular thread, too.
  5. Small flashlight: a must-have in an emergency, but also great for reading maps, finding lost items and checking for bed bugs.
  6. Small tape measure: helps with foreign sizes if you’re shopping for friends.
  7. Wire coat hangers: hang clothes to dry; run over clothes to remove static cling; hook to retrieve items lost under or behind heavy furniture or pull down hard-to-reach branches of fruit; bend into circle for a giant bubble blower, or cover with old pantyhose for a fishnet; skewer for an impromptu marshmallow / weenie roast (cover handle with duct tape to prevent burns).
  8. Blister bandages and blister stick: life-altering if your feet are prone to blisters. Rub the stick on problem areas to reduce friction and prevent blisters. Blister bandages are waterproof, last for days, and have extra-thick gel cushion to protect you after (or before) a blister forms. Or use duct tape!
  9. Small pack of tissues: keep some with you at all times. Good toilet paper substitute.
  10. Wet wipes: great for clean-ups; indispensable to cool off in hot climates.
  11. Small inflatable beach ball: pillow, cushion, lumbar support or foot rest, or to play with any children you meet.
  12. Window screening or sheer curtain: if your hotel isn’t air conditioned you may need to keep a window open, but much of the world lacks window screens. If you’re like my husband, that means every mosquito within 10 miles will be drawn to your room. With a lightweight fabric screen, duct tape or safety pins, the existing curtains and a little ingenuity, you can cover just about any kind of window.
  13. Rubber doorstop: for security, push as far as possible under hotel room door (near handle, not hinges).
  14. Sleeping mask & earplugs: good for crying babies, thin hotel walls, and inadequate curtains.
  15. Color copy of passport, driver’s license, credit cards, etc. Also email yourself a copy.
  16. Plastic utensils or small metal spoon
  17. Water bottle: carry empty through airport security and refill at a water fountain or bathroom sink.
  18. Flip-flops or light waterproof shoes for shared bathrooms, on the plane, or wet weather.
  19. Sarong: towel, beach blanket, sheet, sunshade, tote bag, rolled or folded as a pillow or cushion, or of course worn as a beach cover-up, dress, skirt or shawl.
  20. Bandana: scarf, sweatband, small bag, washcloth (dampen and carry in ziploc bag for on-the-go cooling), napkin, bandage.
  21. Business cards or calling cards: for friends you make along the way.
  22. Lavender oil: DIY spa in the bath or shower; sniff as sleep aid.
  23. Playing cards: great for bad weather or when you just need a break. One of my best memories is a rainy day card game with friends in a New Orleans laundromat!

What can you absolutely NOT travel without? Please share in the comments!

Image source: flickr (mellow cat)

This entry was posted in Travel Tips and tagged , , , by Tanya. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tanya

Tanya is the project manager for Pic4Pass, with over 16 years experience in project management, customer service and marketing for high tech companies. An avid traveler who grew up in a bilingual German-American household, several years ago she, her husband and cat left the US for a chance to work in Austria. She enjoys traveling throughout Europe as well as exploring her adopted home town of Vienna. And she loves living without a car or TV.

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