For those who have been reading my blog for any amount of time or have had to collect my mail, will know that I’m an inveterate traveller. Sometimes they are short trips of a few days, sometimes a few weeks and then there was the bucket list of all trips where Mr Tiffin and I travelled Europe and the Middle East for 18 months with a splash of Florida and North Africa thrown in for good measure. We still refer to that trip as ‘when we went overseas’, despite the fact that we have travelled overseas many times since.
Nothing hones your packing and travel hack skills like living out of a suitcase and the boot of a car for 18 months. Having travelled for that length of time, it’s inevitable that people ask for tips*. I think they are expecting to learn about some secret picnic spot, hidden vista or insider knowledge on how to get across Europe when the planes are grounded and there’s a transport strike in France. Instead, they get my list of 4 must pack items. These mundane items cost nothing, are lightweight, take up barely any room and are absolute lifesavers. Get ready to MacGyver your way out of any situation.
Where to begin with this one?
- Over your head with your hat jammed on to protect you from sun/wind/cold
- As a wrap around your shoulders or as a scarf
- Knotted at the ends and slung across your body as a tote bag
- Covering up arms, legs, shoulders, neck, chest etc in culturally sensitive situations
- Acting as a curtain to protect you from the sun in the window of a bus or train
- Hung on a door or your bunk to create privacy. Now where did I put that tape?
- Draped over a tree or structure to create shade
…and of course as a sarong
2. Permanent Marker
- Grocery bags and food items in shared kitchens
- Bags and equipment in shared luggage rooms
- Creating signs in airports and train stations
- Addressing parcels or excess luggage you are posting home – you know they charge you to use the markers at the post office don’t you?
- Differentiating your hiking poles, water bottle and thongs (flip flops) from all the others that look exactly the same
Now tell me you don’t need one…
Where would we be without the humble peg?
- Keeping bags of food sealed in shared kitchens and in transit
- Securing sarongs or newspapers for shade or privacy
- Holding together paperwork and travel information
- Creative hanging of washing in your hotel room or dorm
- Preventing clothing dropping on the wet floor of the shower cubicle (hang your towel on a hook or over the door and peg your clothes to it!)
- Clamping the end of toothpaste and sunscreen tubes
Make sure you grab a couple that have a strong spring and some grab in them.
4. Masking Tape
Fixes a multitude of problems!
- Label clothing, camping or hiking gear, bikes, food… the list is endless
- Tape newspapers or cardboard up for shade or privacy
- Secure broken closings on luggage
- Use to wrap souvenirs, valuables and delicates in your luggage
- 101 repair jobs including temporary fixes to shoes, clothing, sleeping bags, travel diaries, mobile phones
- Tape your SD card so it will always write to the card (brilliant when the tab breaks)
BONUS – Ziplock Bag
My travel kit fits in a ziplock bag. This gives me a 5th indispensable travel item. Handy for
- Food – sugar, coffee, trail mix, open boxes and packets
- Washing powder – do you really want to pay $2 for a tiny cup of powder?
- Wet, dirty or smelly clothing – socks, underwear, sarongs
- Tickets, postcards, brochures and other souvenirs of your travels
- Your travel kit of course!
So there you have it – 4 everyday items you probably have at home at this very moment. What are you waiting for? No need to do a checklist. Get them together, pop them in a ziplock and you’re set to take on the world.
Do you have other suggestions how these must pack items can be used? What are your must pack items? How do you improvise when you travel?
*This post is part of my entry to the Virgin Australia competition for bloggers. The tips are my own and I truly do take these 4 items with me everywhere I travel.