10 must-haves for thrifty travelers

10 must-haves for thrifty travelers

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Okinawa

Seasoned weekend trippers know the value of traveling light. But even those winging it on a budget airline flight know there are some things it pays to have along in a travel kit. Here are ten things you might find handy to have along on your next weekend getaway:

Safety pins: when buttons fall off, there’s not always time to sew them back on, so it’s essential to be able to perform a little wardrobe first aid when necessary. Pinning a bag closed can make its contents slightly less susceptible to theft, as can linking the two zippers on the compartment of a backpack together. Pinning keys to the inside of a pocket is a good idea when visiting an amusement park with lots of twisting and turning rides. Other uses for safety pins include holding together first–aid bandages, retrieving lost drawstrings in hoods and sweatpants, or as a stand-in for clothespins or fish hooks.

Dental floss: Not only essential for removal of kebab from between the teeth, but dental floss also makes a fine makeshift clothesline, thread for emergency sewing jobs, or a shoelace. Use it as fishing line, or as a quick fix should the screw affixing an arm to a pair of eyeglasses go missing.

Spoon and fork: the cheapest place for a meal on the go is often the supermarket. With cutlery in tow, you can always enjoy yogurt or a pre-made salad on a bench in the closest park. (A plastic knife is also handy, and won’t be taken away at the airport security check like a metal one would be.)

Plastic zip baggies: these are essential for putting your liquids in when passing through airport security. They’re also great for taking away the leftovers of a great meal, eking another day’s use out of a nice-smelling bar of soap, or storing the beach glass or pretty rocks you collected on the beach. They can also double as a drain stopper for the sink, or protect a mobile phone on a boat trip. If there’s access to a freezer, fill up a couple baggies the night before and you’ll have ice packs the next day.

Elastic bands: these are handy for emergency repairs to bicycles or sports equipment, or as part of a first-aid kit. They can serve as wrist straps or hands-free holders for telephones or flashlights or can be used to bundle clothing into tiny wads, keep books closed and their pages neat, or organize essential travel docs.

Small thin towel: a towel bigger than a washcloth but smaller than a hand towel won’t take up much space but can prove invaluable as something to dry off with after a swim or to sit on at the beach. It’s great for wicking sweat off the face, and with a wet corner, it becomes a facecloth. A dry one, in a pinch, can work as a scarf to ward off a fierce wind. A linen dish towel in a waffle weave might just become your best travel companion instantly.

Kitchen dish sponge: the uses of a dish sponge are many, from washing stains off of clothing to whisking the raindrops off a picnic table. Shoe rubbing in the wrong place? Borrow a pair of scissors, cut off a chunk and place the makeshift pad where it’s chafing. Anyone who’s ever tried to get clean just by rubbing shower gel over his or her body in the shower might wish to pack an extra one to use as a shower scrub.

Duct tape: not only handy at home, wrap a wad around a pen or pencil to have an emergency store of this wonder material allowing you to patch or attach virtually anything while on the go.

Kern soap: imagine a type of soap that works equally well for the body, dishes or laundry? Such is the wonder of Kern soap, a German product that’s been around for ages. It’s free of fragrances or dye, costs only a euro or two, and is readily available in drug stores. In desperate times, it can even be used to clean teeth.

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