April 24, 2014

9 Adventure Travel Items You Can Buy at the Hardware Store

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Need a cheap place to buy some gear for your first adventure travel experience? Hit the hardware store. Box hardware stores offer great prices on numerous items suitable for adventure travel enthusiasts. Here are a few of my favorites:

Door wedges.

Rubber door wedges provide extra security when staying in low budget accommodations. Use them for security in your room, a questionable public toilet or even the single shower room at the hostel, depending on the set up.

S-hooks.

For anyone who’s ever found themselves short on infrastructure to hang their purse or day pack while traveling, s-hooks are the perfect travel hack. Use them over the edge of a stall or door knob to provide the off-the-ground storage real estate you’re looking for.

Key tags.

These are a dirt cheap alternative to traditional luggage tags. Available in numerous colors for pennies a pop, these things are great for attaching to your zipper pulls. Suitable for rolling offices, checked baggage and even day packs. Be sure to practice appropriate luggage tag security measures.

Bead chain.

This stuff can also be picked up for pennies to cut to whatever length you need it. Pair it up with the same little clasps / findings you see on military dog tags and you have a dirt cheap DIY way to multiply the number of loops in your luggage. I use several in the inside of my day pack to attach things that don’t come with a key ring and aren’t suited to one. These little do it yourself loops are great for those items that are tough to store and clip on elsewhere, but that do have a slot or hole for the purpose. You can custom adjust the lengths so not all your items are bunched up in the same section of your pack, possibly making it difficult to close. Five or ten of these will do you on your average adventure trip. When I bought the supplies to do mine, both the clasps and the bead chain were in the same section of the aisle at Ace.

Rubber sink stopper.

The thin, flat and flexible rubber disks with no hardware are the kind I recommend. If you get the ones that are supposed to fit down the drain and pull out with a chain, they either rarely fit properly from country to country or take up unnecessary space in your pack. Mine is one of the thinner flat disks that is larger than a regular sink drain. This makes it more than big enough for any sink I need to use internationally, and functional on most tub and shower drains as well.

Carabiners.

Obviously, if you’re planning on rappelling down the side of a major cliff you’ll want to spring for the expensive kind from a specialty store. Otherwise, the basic ones will do just fine. I like to have one extra large one on the top strap of my pack. Then I can clip it over the handle grip poles on tuk tuks and other similar modes of transportation, keeping my hands free for not falling out of the open sides. There are other travel uses for carabiners as well, including interior backpack organization.

Ear plugs.

A reasonable supply of the foam ones should come with you on any trip. They are great for protecting your ears on extremely loud city streets and having a prayer of getting any sleep on the plane.

Padlocks.

Using padlocks as travel gear is savvy move, especially for those serious about adventure travel. The ones with the thin, long u-shaped tops are the most universal in my humble opinion. They fit the greatest variety of train station lockers and hostel doors. It’s nice to also have a handful of miniature ones for securing zipper pulls together on travel days when your pack will be bouncing around a fair bit.

Electrical adapters.

While it’s a good idea to have a set of European ones (available at numerous department stores), what I’m talking about here is strategic combo purchase of three separate items. First, a three prong adapter to fit directly into the wall or floor socket that you find at the airport. If it has two separate sockets itself for both three and two pronged chords, all the better. Second, a two prong adapter to put on the end of that one if said available socket is for two pronged chords only. Third, a multi socket piece that allows for four separate chords to be plugged in. (One on each side, and one on the top edge.) It helps if that third piece allows for three pronged chords on all of its openings. This way, either two-pronged or three pronged chords will fit. My husband and I like to travel with one of these combos in case we are only able to find one outlet. That way, we only need to take up one chord socket and can leave the other one for fellow travelers. With 4-5 sockets available from adding our plugin combo to the single wall socket, we are both able to get grooving with email checks and work.

These items are ones I have personally used, and can all be purchased for between one and five dollars. Do you have any hardware store items you like to use on the road? Don’t forget to sound off in the comment section below, and leave a link if you’ve posted about it online.

Related Readings: Ten Universal Travel Skills, Six Exercise Tips for Travelers, Extreme Travel: How to Go Light and Low Budget, High Tech and Homeless: My Life as a Cyber Nomad, Zero Waste Lunch Kits and Going Green on the Road.

Want to save even more money? Consider house swapping like travel writer Shelley Seale, whose idea of an affordable vacation means a free place to rest your head.

Photo Credit: Net Efekt

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