Bathroom scale – Instead of paying as much as $25 for a digital luggage scale, you can avoid paying overweight charges by weighing your bag on the bathroom scale. Here’s the trick – stand on the scale holding the packed bag, then put the bag down and weigh yourself without moving the scale. The difference in the two numbers is what your bag weighs. Trust me, this is much more accurate than simply placing the bag on the scale.
Zip top bags – Why spend up to $10 apiece for fancy, colored packing pouches when you do the same thing with re-sealable zip-top bags from the supermarket for pennies. I use sturdy freezer bags in various sizes for everything from socks to sweaters. They make it easy to pack and unpack, easy to separate the clean from the dirty, easy to squeeze the last bit of air before completely sealing for a space-saving vacuum pack. When my kids were little, I packed one entire day’s outfit in a plastic zippie, and at the end of the day the soiled clothing went right back in the bag Use smaller zippies for carrying some bathroom tissue in your travel handbag,
Duct tape – Travel gear websites will sell you a travel-size roll of tape for $10. Ridiculous. I always have a few strips taped inside my bag, because you never know. Over the years, I’ve taped split seams on a bag, wrapped a piece around zipper pulls for security after my luggage lock went missing, even used a piece to smooth a spot inside a pair of shoes that was giving me a blister on a hike into the Grand Canyon.
35mm film canisters – What, you didn’t save any plastic film canisters when you switched to digital? Foolish you. I use my old, coveted and reusable 35mm canisters from Kodak and Fujifilm for vitamins, antacid tablets, earrings, even spare batteries. They click closed into tightly sealed waterproof containers. Sadly, I’ve never seen anything as good as these 35mm canisters in any sporting goods store or travel gear website. Presceription drug containers work equally well.
Rubber bands -Unless you get free travel size toothpaste from your dentist when you visit, don’t bother buying them at your local CVS or Wallmart. Too expensive. My trick is to use the half-empty tube from the bathroom at home. Just roll it up from the bottom to reduce the size, and secure with a rubber band or clip. Voila.
What are your favorite cheap tricks for travel?