8 Household Items You Shouldn’t Travel Without

When packing for a trip, you probably automatically reach for your passport, your iPod, or perhaps a travel pillow, but what should you be packing? What gadgets, items or tips will make you life easier on the road? Here are a few unusual household objects that will make packing for your next trip a breeze. They’re also great for situations that require you to travel light, since each one serves multiple purposes on the road – and best of all, you probably already have most of them at home! Browse the list, read the tips and don’t leave home without them!

1) Ziploc Bags: Useful for far more than packing snacks, I never leave home without at least a few re-sealable bags. These provide handy waterproofing for backpacking trips (I place each ‘category’ of clothing in a separate bag for ease of searching) and make great see-through organizers for make-up, first aid, or writing supplies. Re-sealable bags are also perfect for corralling the small loose objects that seem to multiply in suitcases (e.g. loose jewelry, souvenirs, batteries, etc.) no matter how long the trip!

2) Safety Pins: This one is a little more obvious, since safety pins are practically designed for quick clothing or luggage repairs (they even make good zip-pulls in a pinch). They’re also great, however, for setting up an ersatz clothesline or keeping socks together in your suitcase or the laundry. Backpackers can also use safety pins to affix clean clothes to their pack to dry. In a pinch, a sterilized safety pin can double as a first aid tool.

3) Multipurpose Bar Soap: I’ve sung the praises of solid cosmetics, in these days of carry-on liquid restrictions, but a multipurpose bar soap should have a place in your inventory even if you’re planning to check your bags. One brand, J.R. Ligget, claims to double as a shampoo, laundry soap, dish soap, and body bar – a great boon to those with luggage weight or size restrictions. Solid soaps also eliminate excess packaging, making them a great choice for environmentally conscious travelers.

4) Extra Socks: This popular piece of mother’s wisdom may seem like a no-brainer, but socks actually have many uses for the traveler beyond warming your toes. Mismatched or partnerless socks make great protective covers for electronic items (think cell phone chargers, GPS units, or even iPods!) and can also be used to corral small items like batteries, cords, or jewelry. I’ve even used spare socks as impromptu mittens on particularly frosty hiking trips!

5) Sarong: Right behind the humble sock in usefulness is the sarong. More than just a women’s beach accessory, these large rectangles of flowy fabric can be tied to make clothing (even men wear them in some parts of Europe!) or used as a blanket or a towel. I’ve slept under them, spread over a low-hanging tree branch, or used them for picnic blankets on sunny days. A well-placed sarong can also provide a bit of extra privacy in a crowded campsite or help to darken a poorly shaded hotel room.

6) Dryer Sheets: Here’s where it gets a little unusual, but if you’ve never used your Bounce sheets for anything but laundry, you’re missing out. These sheets make great deodorizers when tucked into shoes or suitcases, and are also useful for eliminating static in recently unpacked items. Gently rub the sheet over charged clothes to dissipate the static electricity and do away with clinginess.

7) Suction Hooks: Possibly the most valuable packing tip I’ve received is to bring a pair of hooks with suction cups attached. These are perfect for use in the bathroom or kitchenette, where handy hooks aren’t always supplied. They’re even more useful in communal living conditions, like campsites or hostels, when the sheer volume of other travelers spreads facilities thin or where amenities are limited.

8) Shower Cap: A staple of hotel freebies, the shower cap also makes a great travel accessory. Tuck shoes into separate shower caps before packing to protect clothes and other suitcase items, or use as a germ-free cover for your hotel remote. A modified shower cap can protect your camera from rain or dust, so you can get those all-important vacation shots whatever the weather.

Now that you’re aware of the many travel-worthy uses of common household items, there’s no need to look beyond your own home when packing for your next trip!

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