Despite being a marketing professional in the real world, I still fall to gimmicky adverts for the next travel changing gadget or multi tool. In the excitement of prepping for my most recent trip, I got lost in the allure of things like solar powered external battery charge (stopped working after first use) and wireless Bluetooth headphones (battery life sucks, especially if your solar external battery stopped working on Day 3). After months of traveling, I’ve found that many of my most useful tools were the cheapest and most obvious. Here’s a list of my faves, all or most available for under $12.
Duct Tape – it saved Matt Damon’s life on Mars and it’s otherworldly adhesive power fixes everything. I mean everything.
Baby Powder – While you can’t make the dude sleeping on the bunk bed above you shower more than once a week, you can neutralize the stench of your own gear, and baby powder reigns supreme in this department. Bonus points for its ability to prevent itchy situations if you’re stuck in the damp livelihood of a monsoon season.
Tupperware – this cube/sphere shaped miracle has been my most versatile accessory on long backpacking trips. This underrated household commodity provides safe housing for the croissants and lunch meat you steal from your hotel’s buffet breakfast or coverage for salads, fruit and any other snacks on a day hike. A HUGE money saver if you’re on a tight budget. Best of all, it’s lightweight, and can hold loose accessories, saving you room in your pack.
Spork – how else are you noshing on the chia seed, kale and quinoa salad packed tightly away in your Tupperware?
Ziplock bags – another underrated, versatile household commodity that provides a cheap organizational tool for loose accessories.
Carabiners – gives the impression you know what you’re doing. And practical when you need extra storage outside your bag.
Sriracha – I put that shit on everything. or is that Frank’s Red Hot? Can’t remember, but I’m Team Sriracha all the way.
Baby Wipes – because a baby wipe shower beat no shower.
Yoga Mat – provides extra cushion when sleeping on plywood hostel beds, the ground, 3rd class train seats. Or, duh, you can use it for working out or yoga. Can be strapped to the outside of your backpack to save space and to show the world you’re working towards enlightenment.
Power strip – let’s just say most of the world is not as connected as others, and you’re likely to only have one outlet in your hotel room. Having a power strip that converts that one into three or more saves you deciding who you love more – iPhone, non-solar charging external battery, or your electric toothbrush.
Water purifying tablets – because you’re thirsty that stagnant puddle water in the middle of Delhi probably isn’t clean.
Activated Charcoal – in case you do drink that Delhi puddle water, activated charcoal is a cheap over the counter drug that absorbs toxins in your body and mayyyy ward off the belly bugs.