You’re about to set off on a trip of a lifetime, and you’re pretty sure you’ve got the basics of packing down. Packing cubes, space saver bags, extra pairs of underwear — you’ve managed to compact weeks worth of clothing and necessities into a manageable size thanks to expert level Googling and a little suitcase Tetris. But before you zip up that bag for good, carve out a little space in the corner for these 5 essential travel items to pack that take up very little space, but will save the day in the event of an everyday traveling emergency.
There’s nothing more frustrating than traveling to an amazing destination and feeling like your body is all out of whack. Whether your feet are cramping after wandering the streets of Rome or your neck is in spasm thanks to the middle seat in the middle aisle of a long haul flight, a compact lacrosse ball is the perfect way to release muscle tension so you can get back to exploring.
At only 5 oz and a 2.5 inches in diameter, a lacrosse ball will comfortably fit not only into any luggage nook and cranny, but into all of your body’s tight nooks and crannies as well. Sit on a chair and place it under your hamstrings to help release a sore lower back, between the wall and your shoulders to loosen up a tight neck, or roll it under your feet to massage tired feet.
Carrying around a small container of salt while you travel may seem odd, but good ‘ol table salt comes in handy for way more than just seasoning your eggs in the morning (though that’s definitely one of the perks.) Salt acts as a surprising solution to many everyday travel problems. And it’s the smallest of things making it an easy essential travel item to pack. Get bit by mosquitos in the Malaysian rain forest? Throw a little salt paste on the bites and let salt’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties help relieve the itch.
Similarly, a little saltwater solution can help clean wounds and promote healing, which is important if you’re in an area with limited medical care. In the event of spills and stains, an immediate, liberal sprinkle of salt on a red wine spill will help soak up the offending liquid…and potentially save you an additional AirBnB cleaning cost.
Coming in at number 3, Google Chromecast is an essential travel item to pack. If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, at some point you are going to get (home)sick, bored, or just generally tired of being a tourist
When downtime calls and you want to hole up in your room with PJs and take out, plugging a Chromecast into your AirBnB or hotel TV is an instant way to stream your favorite shows and help you feel at home.
Life hath no emergency for which Duct tape can’t solve. From blistered feet to luggage repairs to hanging clotheslines, Duct tape is the cure all.
Large rolls are heavy and cumbersome, though, so look for small rolls that can be found in the camping section of your local outdoors store (and of course, on Amazon). You may not use Duct tape on a daily basis, but when you need it, you really need it, and you’ll be glad you tossed it in your bag.
Whether you’re caught in a sudden downpour in Portugal, sloshed with mud from a city bus in Croatia, or forced to wash your shirt in the sink because you spilled red wine all over it and now it’s soaked in salt, at some point during traveling you’re going to get unexpectedly wet. Dryers aren’t a thing in most parts of the world and you may not have a balcony to dry your clothes, so a compact clothes line is an essential travel item that will help get your belongings dried off as soon as possible.
Bungee clotheslines have loops that eliminate the need for clothespins and come with hooks on either end so you can string up your laundry from whatever is available. If there aren’t any fixtures to hang up your line, Duct tape will also do the trick. Now do you see why Duct tape is an essential travel item? We told you it would save you!
Brooke is a professional chef, writer, and thyme traveler currently meandering around the world. After co-founding and growing New York City’s Prohibition Bakery into a sustainable business, she decided to leave her predictable life and travel around the globe. Her workspaces of choice include cute cafes and shanty restaurants on the beach, though she’ll take a hammock if things get really dire.