Top Ten Tools for Macgyver Moments on the Road

We all know that the Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.” But after 5 years of scouting, I couldn’t tell you what the Girl Scout motto is. I think it’s something like “Be nice and sell cookies.” So, I had to learn the whole “be prepared” thing on my own. When I’m traveling, being prepared means carrying objects that have enough uses to balance out their weigh. I carry a pretty small pack, and I’m not trying to haul something around for weeks or months and only use it once.

Besides ziplock bags, these are the most useful things in my pack:

10. Hairbands. Of course you can use them to put your hair in a ponytail. At this very moment, I am also using hairbands to hold a bag of pumpkin seeds closed, keep my chargers from tangling up, and as a zipper-pull on my now overstuffed backpack. Can also be used as a keychain in a pinch.

9. Safety pins. Good for wardrobe malfunctions, popping blisters, and opening the SIM card slot on an iPhone.

8. Binder clips. I saw this brilliant idea on LifeHacker a few years ago and have been wrapping my headphones in a binder clip ever since. They are also awesome for holding together curtains so you can sleep late.

7. Dental floss. Keep your dentist happy…or make emergency clothing repairs (maybe stay away from mint).

6. Duct tape. Everyone knows how awesome duct tape is. I’ve seen it used to repair luggage, shoes, and…cars.

5. Notebook. Yes, it’s great to be able to jot down brilliant ideas without turning to a device. Yes, it’s nice to just rip out a scrap and hand someone your phone number. But in the land of BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper), aka most of the world, it’s nice to always have extra paper on hand.

4. Tote bag. I loooooove my reusable tote bag. Not only do I save a cool 5 centavos on plastic bags at the store, I can schlep my laundry in something a little more solid, avoid taking my messenger bag to the beach or to yoga class, and never worry that I’m going to buy too many souvenirs to carry home. Mine folds up to about the size of a pair of socks.

3. Tweezers. Fix jewelry, keep your eyebrows in shape, or get a grip on illegal substances, if that’s what you’re in to.

2. Altoids box. I have seen these used to hold money, condoms, first aid supplies, and chargers. They’re like the traveler’s file cabinet. (Mine has my SIM card collection in it.)

1. Swiss Army Knife. I don’t actually carry this any more because I hate hate hate to check my bags, but back in the day it was THE BEST THING EVER for opening cans and bottles and giving impromptu hair cuts. I actually often wonder how I get by without it.

What else should I not leave home without?

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2 thoughts on “Top Ten Tools for Macgyver Moments on the Road

  1. I use clips for everything. My favourite hack is to use a ziplock bag and a couple of clips to hang your tablet for handsfree (and tray table free) viewing on flights. I’ve also used them as pegs. Also to clip stuff I don’t want lost onto the side of my bag for quick access.

    I saw a comment recently saying safety pins are a waste of luggage space cos you can buy them if you need them!!! Because they take up so much room. Also, if my bra strap breaks (and it has), I don’t want want to walk around all crooked until I find somewhere that sells them. Also, with the bra strap incident, I could only find them in a costly sewing kit so wished I’d packed some.

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