Matthew and I love to travel. Having spent so much time in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts I've learned some packing "hacks" that are my go-to when I get away. Here are some of my must-haves.
1. Oven Mitt
I've found that the only heat styling tool I need for my hair is a good quality straightener. I can straighten my hair and make curls with it, freeing up some much needed space in my already crowded suitcase. Although they sell travel cases for styling tools, they can get a bit pricey, and I've found that a spare oven mitt works just as well.
2. Deck of Cards
When we have the space to bring an extra bag of board games we usually do, but sometimes you're pressed for elbow room. That is when a simple deck of cards is a great thing to pack. You can play an endless variety of games from one little deck, and they are a very travel-friendly size.
3. Luggage Tag
When we took a train to California we had to put luggage tags on our bags, per Amtrak requirements. I've ended up liking them so much that I keep them on my suitcase 24/7 now, just in case of accidents or emergencies. We found ours at Walmart for around $4 each, but they also have them at dollar stores for $1. You can read my blog post about packing tips for overnight train trips by clicking HERE.
4. Travel Bags
These adorable bags are one of my greatest dollar store finds. They only cost $1 each and they are just as sturdy as any other cosmetic bag I've ever had. I can fit all my makeup in one, and my hair wrap in the other. Think outside the "bag" as you shop. A pencil case could be perfect for makeup brushes, or a binder bag work for a travel towel.
5. Door Stop
I recently watched a video on vacation security on Snapchat. In the video they said that a simple rubber door stop can be one of the most effective tools of travel safety and they are super inexpensive. (Once again I found mine at the dollar store for only $1). Little did I know how soon this would come in handy. Staying at a historic hotel, we were awoken in the early morning by someone pounding on our door and trying to open it. (Thief, confused construction worker, who knows). Even though there was an old fashioned door knob with a lock on the door, there was a four-inch gap at the bottom and a less than tight seal. I am so glad we had the door stop, it helped prevent the door from budging or the lock from being tempted to give way.
6. Bottled Water
All of my years as a renaissance festival performer has instilled within me a very diligent need to always have drinking water nearby. I have also gotten sick more than once from drinking the water from our hotel room's tap. So now, I always bring enough bottles of water to drink. My goal for this year is to get a larger gallon and refill a reusable bottle to save on waste.
7. Rechargeable/No Battery flashlight
I've been in several situations where it has been handy to have a flashlight. However, trying to remember to keep batteries in one you don't use all the time can be a hassle. The large batteries required for most flashlights also make them very heavy; and when you're hauling your suitcase up four flights of stairs, every ounce counts. I keep this wind-up flashlight in my suitcase at all times, so it's ready to go and I never forget to pack it.
Whether you're on a train, bus, or sharing a room with a bunkmate, headphones or earbuds come in very handy. They allow you to hear your entertainment device over the noise around you, and keep the peace if someone nearby is trying to sleep.
9. Chargers/Power Cords
Of course with all of the electronic gadgets we bring with us now a days it is essential that you bring the proper chargers and power cords. To conserve space you can use adapters and all-in-ones.
10. Travel Clock
Hotel clocks for some reason always seem to have the loudest and most annoying alarms ever. So I bring my own. I've had this little travel clock for about 20 years now. It was actually a reward for selling Girl Scout cookies back when I was a preteen! A small, convenient travel clock with an alarm sound you like, and a night display or snooze button is a great thing to bring. Instead of having to learn how to use the clock in the room and risking oversleeping, bringing your own ensures you will not only get a good night's rest, but will wake up on time as well.
I hope this article has given you some new ideas or can be helpful as you get ready to hit the dusty trail. Have a great trip and happy adventuring!