The 5 Essential Items You Didn’t Know You Needed In Your Carry-on Bag

I am one of those people who believe in being prepared for as many situations as possible and this slight fixation escalates when I travel. A lot of people find my preparedness, talk of preparedness, and obsession with preparedness a bit off-putting. I say, when the zombie apocalypse strikes, you’ll feel differently. 😉

To that end, here are the top 5 items I always toss in my carry-on tote.

Let’s break it down, we have (clockwise from left) mini rolls of duct tape, gallon zip top freezer bags, wooden clothes pins, a spork, and 4 mini bungee cords. Each one of these is multi-purpose and takes up very little room in a carry-on or small suitcase. All the uses below have been tested personally, except where noted.

Duct tape can be used to:
– repair bags
– tack a hem
– brace a twisted ankle
– secure your bag (after security) by taping down zipper pulls
– mend a ripped tent
– bandage a wound (after it has been cleaned and ALWAYS have cloth or gauze between the wound and tape and be sure to seek medical help immediately)
– secure valuables to your body (it helps to tape the bag of valuables to a hairless area to avoid an incredibly painful removal of said valuables 😁)
– remove lint
– baby proof a hotel room (haven’t personally tried this)

Gallon zip top bags are useful to:
– store wet bathing suits
– keep passports, maps, and papers dry
– segment socks/underwear
– contain smaller items so they aren’t rolling loose around a bag
– use as an air sickness/motion sickness bag (thankfully, I haven’t had to test this but my traveling companion did when our catamaran decided to bounce across the water rather than glide)
– cushion souvenirs (blow some air into one bag as you’re sealing it and then, place that in another bag)
– separate jewelry (use smaller bags, suck the air out to avoid necklaces tangling, put in the larger size)
– act as a tiny washing machine for your underwear (fill it up a little less than halfway, add liquid soap or soap shavings and garment, close it tightly and shake)
– protect your camera from mist or rain

Wooden hinge-style clothes pins are great to:
– close pesky hotel curtains that always seem to have a gap
– corral a mosquito net when not in use
– secure electronic cords
– raise a toothbrush off the sink
– weigh down the edge of a shower curtain
– seal up non-resealable bags (chips/crisps, loose tea leaves, etc)
– hang clothes up to dry (obviously 😉)

While not as multi-purpose as the other tools on this list, a Spork can be used to:
– eat anything for which you’d need a spoon or fork
– stir beverages or soups
– comb/fluff your hair (I perfected this skill in college)
– cut soft fruit
-retrieve small items from a pail of water of indeterminate quality (just be sure to sanitize the spork afterward)

Mini bungee cords are handy to:
– serve as an emergency belt
– stretch across a doorway as clothesline
– keep an auto-closing sliding door open
– add extra layer of security to a bag/backpack in crowded areas
– bundle things in a towel (sunblock, cover-up, book, etc go in a beach towel then, fold it up and secure it with a bungee cord)
– secure your door from the inside (sort of like a sliding chain lock)

There you have it, the 5 most useful travel items I take with me. I hope this list helps you prepare for your trip. I’d love to hear some other uses for these items or what items you find essential, so leave a comment below.

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