It’s easy to find free and cheap alternatives in your kitchen, bathroom, hardware store or office supply store.
You’ll save money, and save the planet because you are recycling, re-using and re-purposing things you already have.
These are my top travel hacks for free and cheap travel gadgets, especially for those of us who have not traveled for a while and are out of practice.
Forget 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 ecoxplorer “how to” 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.
Forget 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.
Use sturdy freezer bags in various sizes for everything from socks to sweaters, and spare face masks.
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, and avoid flushing your budget away with pricey “travel-size” TP packages.
- ecoXplorer Tip –
- Pack extras for wet bathing suits, and other needs on the road.
Forget spending $10 for a tiny travel-size roll of tape from a travel gear website. Ridiculous, when you can purchase yards of the stuff for a couple of bucks from a hardware or home improvement store.
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 world-class blister on a bucket list hike in the Grand Canyon.
- ecoXplorer Tip –
- If you don’t want to pack an entire roll, tear off a few strips and tape them inside your bag, or roll a strip of tape around a paper tube that formerly held paper towels or toilet paper.
What, you didn’t save any plastic film canisters when you switched to digital?
Foolish you, since these freebies replace the need to purchase travel-specific small containers costing as much as $5 each.
I use my collection of old, coveted and eco-friendly reusable 35mm film canisters from Kodak and Fujifilm for vitamins, antacid tablets, earrings, even spare batteries.
They click closed into tightly sealed waterproof containers, which means you can also use them for liquids like shampoo and conditioner, hair gels and body lotions. Perfect travel size!
Sadly, I’ve never seen anything as good as these 35mm canisters in any sporting goods store or travel gear website.
- ecoXplorer Tip –
- Prescription drug containers work equally well. Just be sure to remove the label, for reasons of personal security.
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 it’s a good deal cheaper than a $20 luggage strap to attach a second bag to your larger one, and it works just as well, although it doesn’t look as good. I’ve used them both ways.
What are your favorite cheap tricks for travel?
This article has been published and re-published periodically since 2017, and updated for travel in 2022