Packing tips: useful travel must-haves from the junk drawer

by Dec 7, 2015Packing

packing tips find useful travel gadgets in the junk drawer

Aside from a few selective travel accessories, the really useful travel must-haves to pack on your next trip will come from the junk drawer, sewing cabinet or garage shelves at home.

Often, the most useful travel must-haves are not the cute and costly gidgets, tricky gadgets and techy wizdoodles that are all designed to make your life easier on the road. Aside from a few selective travel accessories, the really useful travel must-haves to pack on every trip will come from the junk drawer, sewing cabinet or garage shelves at home.


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Here is our list of all of those generic travel accessory must-haves that won’t cost but a few pennies:

Safety pins: just a couple or three for an emergency fix for a backpack or purse strap, pants zipper (yup!) or to secure a flimsy curtain in a room.

Zip-close baggies: life-savers in any size. Sure, you can buy the pricier waterproof travel accessory types for your tech items, but a few cheap grocery store baggies of various sizes can hold food on the road, collect small things inside a pack or tote, or gather up receipts in one place. A million uses, an invaluable travel must-have.

Rubber bands: can secure a lid on a leaking bottle or lotion tube for example or hold together all those local tour guides you picked up.

Plastic zip ties: use to “lock” zippers on your suitcase, carryon and backpack shut when traveling to and from your destination or in trains to keep out sneaky fingers. A true travel security must-have.

Mini carabiners: not the heavy rock-climbing type, but accessory ones sold as key chains and novelties. Use to attach extra bags to suitcases, e.g. any food you acquired you want to schlepp to the next stop, or to attach hats or bottles to a pack, purse or belt.

Tiny spring-loaded clips: One or two are always clipped inside Therese’s travel toiletry kit. Also useful for securing curtains in room, hanging something up to dry, or even tying up a room-darkening blanket or sheet over a window if needed. Can you say travel must-have?


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Garbage bag: depends on your travel destination, luggage and weather. If you do not have waterproof bags and expect to walk in potentially inclement weather, then a garbage bag tucked in a side pocket can be slipped over a pack or suitcase. Can also carry miscellany during the trip if needed. Or corral really dirty clothes.

Space blanket: extremely compact and lightweight, these aluminum foil-like sheets not only keep you warm in an emergency, they can also keep you dry in a downpour. And, here’s another benefit: if you are sensitive to light when you sleep, they can be tucked over a window to darken a room in a pinch — something we have done in rooms all over the world.

Duct tape: not a whole clunky roll, oh my no. Break off a short section of an old wooden chopstick and wrap it a few times with some duct tape. Use to save yourself if a shoe heel snaps off, or a shoe sole or upper or even a bag or pack gets a hole. Also great as a makeshift bandage (put a little tissue over the cut or wound first) or as a blister bandage on your foot.

  • Total price for these useful travel must-haves: a few bucks.
  • Total value for these must-haves: priceless
  • Total travel peace-of-mind when you pack these useful must-haves for travel: endless

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