Travel Packing Hacks: Unconventional Multi-Use Items

January 11, 2018


These items might not be high on your packing list; however, take them on your next trip and they will make your journey exponentially easier. Each item made this list because of its multi-use or indispensable nature. As an added bonus, none have a significant footprint therefore they won’t take up precious room in your suitcase.



Make it a habit to travel with six to eight feet of braided cord or rope. Several of the more common uses include:

  • A clothes line. Laundry can be expensive or not accessible. You might have to go old school in the sink and air dry on the rope.

  • To bind or attach items. Not only will you be able to tie your bursting bag for extra assurance, you will be able to attach items like water bottles and shoes to your backpack.

  • Unexpected applications. An example pops to mind from my recent world trip. As my wife and I made our way through Asia the rice diet had an unexpected effect on me; I started losing weight. Having forgotten to pack a belt, the rope, to laughter from my wife, came in handy to keep the pants on my waist.

Note that a ‘braided rope’ can be uncoiled into several smaller strands thus increasing the number of uses. Furthermore, don’t get carried away with its diameter. You are not trying to tie down a ship. Something the gauge of an extension cord (or smaller) should be sufficient.


Wet Wipes

Wipes make great refreshing towels for your hands and face during the long days of travel. Furthermore, they are a savior when in desperate need of toilet paper. You never know when nature might call or your Airbnb host forgets to leave enough bathroom tissue.

Pack an additional type of wipes, the disinfectant ones that kill 99.9% of all germs, for even more applications. You’ll be able to disinfect your hands before eating even in the absence of facilities.


Zip-Lock Bags

Invaluable in your travels, zip-lock type bags will serve to;  

  • Protect your valuables like a wallet, passport, tickets, money, etc. They are especially handy while enjoying water sports or during downpours.

  • Keep you organized; from loose coins to shell collections.

  • For its intended purpose; to keep your lunch or other food items secure, safe and in one place.

Travel with a few different sizes of zip-lock bag to provide you with options based on need.



Never leave without packing a scarf or small blanket. If you have ever rented from Airbnb or stayed at a hostel, you know cleanliness can be a hit or miss. When you are not comfortable with the freshness of the bed sheets, a scarf will make a perfect pillow cover. In cold rooms or on planes it can serve as a blanket to keep you warm. Finally, it can be used to cover knees and shoulders at religious monuments where showing these body parts can be a sign of disrespect.


Canvas Tote Bag

Invest in a durable canvas tote bag which can be easily folded up and stored in your existing luggage. The bag can be used as; 

  • Your personal item on planes. Most airlines allow a carry-on item and a personal one that fits under the seat. Expand your packing breadth by having a tote handy as a personal item for things you pick-up along the way.

  • A bag for groceries. If you intend on cooking during your travels, the tote will make a handy grocery bag. It will save you money in many places that charge for bags…not to mention helping the environment along the way. 

  • Sack for beach days and other informal outings. The portability and compressibility of the bag make it ideal for multiple occasions.

Bonus Tip: If you plan on carrying valuables, purchase a tote with a zipper across the top for added security.

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