Traveling for a day, a week, or longer? Sounds like a few genius packing tips are in order! Try not to get stressed or confused about taking too much or forgetting something important; this is a time to be excited about what lies ahead during your next adventure.
But when you’re tossing stuff into your suitcase for your summer getaway, you’re looking for things to leave out, yes? But when FIRST caught up to some super travelers, they said—surprise!—the key is what you leave in. Don’t forget these travel must-haves next time you start packing your bags.
1. Duct tape. Claire Paniccia knows a thing or two about packing light: She once traveled through Europe for five weeks carrying only a backpack and a purse. “Duct tape has saved me in many tavel situations,” she says. “I’ve used it to secure a DIY clothesline in a hostel bunk with a shoelace, to patch a piece of torn clothing, to create a makeshift luggage tag, and to hang a scarf as a curtain,” says Paniccia, who teachers her secrets to travel newbies at Explorography.org. Bonus: Duct tape eliminates the need to pack other tools like a sewing kit and lint roller.
2. A scarf. “I find scarves so useful,” says Lisa Perrine Brown, world traveler and owner of IntentionalTourist.com. “They’re a great substitute for a bulky sweater, but so much more versatile. I’ve used mine for extra bedding, a picnic blanket, even a skirt.” While traveling in India recently, Brown wadded up a large pashmina and used it as a pillow on flights and long car rides. On longer trips, she lays the scarf flat on the floor of her hotel room, piles dirty laundry in the center, and gathers up the corners to create a laundry bag to haul her clothes to the hotel’s laundry room.
3. A do-it-all cream. The one thing Cathy Decker, president of a travel-related public relations company, won’t leave home without: a tube of Boroleum, the petroleum-based drugstore ointment that her grandmother swore by. “For travelers, there’s nothing a small tube of this petroleum-based ointment can’t cure,” says Decker. Packing a single tube of the ointment means she doesn’t have to bring other toiletries like petroleum jelly, lotion, and lip balm. She has relied on the cream to soothe pollen-aggravated dry nasal passages, heal chapped lips, moisturize ragged cuticles ,and relieve sun-burn and razor burn on the road.
4. This soap. “Dr. Bronner’s Organic Liquid travel-size soap is the perfect multitasker,” shares Katie Leavitt, LetsWanderWell.com founder and former cruise ship dancer who has been to 55 countries. “It can be used as shampoo, body wash, laundry soap, and even mouthwash because it is made from all-natural ingredients,” she says of the cheap drugstore find. “The 2 oz. size is perfect for air travel because it fits with the security requirements for liquids in carry-ons.” And a little goes a long way. You only need 1/2 Tbs. to wash your hair, 2 to 3 drops for your face and a single drop to brush your teeth.
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