Why spend lots of money on travel gear and gadgets to lighten the load and keep you organized. There are plenty of free and cheap alternatives in your kitchen and bathroom, hardware store or office supply store.
Here are my favorite free and cheap travel gadgets –
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. This is much more accurate than simply placing the bag on the scale, and the bonus is you find out how much you weigh, too.
Zip top bags – Instead of spending up to $10 apiece for fancy, colored packing pouches or compression bags when you can 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 out the last bit of air before 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,
- Tip – Pack some extras for wet bathing suits, and other needs on the road.
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 in the Grand Canyon.
- Tip – If you don’t want to pack an entire roll, tear off a few strips and tape them inside your bag.
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.
- Tip – Prescription drug containers work equally well. Just be sure to remove the label.
Bungee cord – A $2 bungee cord from the hardware store or housewares department is a lot cheaper than a $10 “flex-line” to string up in the hotel bathroom to hang your clothes to dry. Also cheaper than a $20 luggage strap to attach a second bag to your larger one.
What are your favorite cheap tricks for travel?