June 20, 2018

5 Surprising Pieces of Travel Gear

Rolling luggage and hanging toiletry bags are fairly predictable purchases for frequent travelers, but these five items make my personal short list of must-have gear. What they are just might surprise you.

S Hooks:

When you travel light, it usually means you end up carrying most of your belongings near or on your person. A side effect of this is that during the course of your excursion, youíll need to create hanging space where none exists. For my money, the best way to do this is with an s hook. You can get large ones at the hardware store, but the ones with the wider curves tend to be thicker and heavier than necessary. I like to pick mine up at Ikea in the kitchen section. Theyíre thinner, still sturdy, and have a wide enough s curve to accommodate shower poles, restroom stalls, door knobs and the cross bars on a Southeast Asian tuk tuk. They also have the flat versus the round variety, which provides greater flexibility in my opinion.

Electrical Adapters:

Speaking of travel gear you can buy at hardware stores, electrical adapters are another extremely flexible vacation or business travel item. While the adapters that allow you to switch from a European plug to a North American one are helpful, what Iím talking about here are the adapters that allow you extend a single outlet into one that allows you to charge three or more items. This comes in handy during an airport layover when outlets are scarce. If all the outlets are taken, itís no big deal to ask someone to unplug their machine for a second while you expand the power access.


Thin, quick-drying and easy to pack, the travel uses for bandanas are many. Use one for a small picnic surface, to wash your dishes and even as a wash cloth. Of course, they also make great napkins for inexpensive street food purchases. If you have room, consider packing several. Youíll be surprised how often youíll need them once you get used to having them around.

Lip Balm:

Aside from its obvious use, lip balm can serve a number of uses on the road, saving you money and luggage space in the toiletry department. The key is to purchase an unscented balm with no color tinting. Once you do, you can use it for a variety of skin care tasks. Rub some on your finger to treat dry spots on your heels and elbows. Your balm will remain sanitary for lip use, and youíll have fewer cosmetic items to pack. The same idea applies if you need to moisturize the inside of your nostrils in dry weather conditions such as high-altitude villages or desert climates. Another great idea is to use your lip balm as a cuticle treatment. It saves having to pack nail oil, and doesnít need to be included in your one-quart bag of liquids required by airport security.

Bobby Pins:

Sure, bobby pins can help you have great hair for less. French twists, bang management and more can all be accomplished with hair pins in a color that coordinates with your natural shade. But have you considered allowing them to do double duty as bookmarks, emergency zipper pulls and on-the-fly paper clips? All these things are possible with bobby pins. They can also help you securely close bags of food in your hotel room, and are much more space efficient than chip clips.

When trying to travel light, packing multipurpose items that donít take up a great deal of space is crucial. These five items are among my favorites. What do you use to create a more streamlined life on the road?

Photo Credit: Lastonein


  1. Linda B. says:

    I would add a couple of clothespins and safety pins, a pashima and a little box of clorox wipes.