More Tiny Travel Helpers

Some of the best things you can pack are the tiny travel helpers, which I wrote about in my last piece. I got a big response from readers, who shared their own must-haves on a micro scale. Some I already use and some were solid, new ideas. Here are the highlights of reader feedback for tiny travel helpers.

Fingernail Clippers

I have long fingernails, so I don't always bring nail clippers unless I'll be gone a very long time. Many people, however, need to clip often. Even if you don't use them often, clippers can be used in place of scissors to snip string or cut into packages. The kind of clippers with the metal nail file inside are particularly useful for filing nails or as an impromptu knife, screwdriver or saw. In these days where we cannot bring a Swiss Army Knife any longer, this can be useful. For those who long for the days when they carried a Swiss Army Knife, the company that makes those knives also makes their own fancy-schmancy clippers.

Duct Tape (or Duck Tape)

The fixer of all things when in college, this useful tape is better than ever. You can get it in colors and sizes now, I'm thinking of all the ways that I can use the glow-in-the-dark variety when I travel. A few readers mentioned making their own small spools, wrapping the tape around a pen or pencil. Genius. Others mentioned that you can buy it in a flat square. I carry a big square of Tenacious Tape, which is sold to repair fabric but can fix lots of things.

Ziploc Bags

Oh, Ziploc bags, will I ever stop finding good uses for you? Many readers mentioned them and yes, I bring them too. I use the quart sized ones for my contact lenses and medicines, and bring the gallon sized ones for isolating stinky or wet clothes. I've also used them to separate receipts and clean up my bag when it gets disorganized. I recently had a tour member stay in for the night after feeling ill and one delightful woman in the group was determined to bring him food. To-go is not really an easy request in Italy. She whipped out her stash of Ziplocs at the end of dinner and brought the leftovers back to the hotel. I strongly recommend the freezer bags with the actual plastic zipper on the top. They seal far more securely and tend to last a little longer.


I don't tend to get blisters, but my tour members do. Cut these fuzzy strips in advance and put them in your first aid kit, extras to hand out as gifts will make you new friends. Nothing ruins a day of travel more than sore feet!


If you're from Seattle, you probably have a drawer of these at home. If not, you may not even know the beauty of these clips. Carabiners are climbing gear, clips used to secure ropes in mountain hikes. They are pretty simple, just a loop with a spring-loaded latch, but they are strong and can be looped onto anything. I use mine to attach wet shoes to the outside of my backpack or to attach my water bottle to my bag. You can also latch your rolling bag to your handbag with them.

Twist Ties

I keep the twist ties that come in toy packages and stash them in my junk drawer. They are a good travel item for securing zippers. Give 'em to kids and they will sculpt for hours on a plane, thieves love them for picking locks. Endless fun.

Binder Clips

From a reader, those strong clamp-like clips can be used to hold all kinds of things together, other than paper. I've taken them apart when I needed a strong piece of metal to make a hook with. Genius idea- use them to clip fussy curtains together.

Wet Wipes

I keep a pack of Wet Ones in my bag and use them often. This comes from my mommy days with messy babies. Other than the obvious use of cleaning your hands, you can wipe down suspicious toilet seats or counters with them. They feel great on my face on a hot, dusty day in the Roman Forum. I suggest bringing them if you are a Purell user, since they actually clean your hands, not just disinfect. Only caveat here is that the packet that reseals does not reseal well. The liquid inside has leaked all over my bag and made a big mess. I keep open packages inside of, wait for it....a Ziploc bag.

Contact Lens Case

This idea comes from a tour member. Buy a small contact lens case for any creams that you need a small amount of. I recall that she said she put concentrated deodorant in one half and sunblock in the other. Compact solution that doesn't leak!

Small Backup Battery

I bought my first backup battery when my iPhone 4 started to die. Wouldn't leave home without it now. There are many to choose from, I like the little ones about the size of a lipstick. I like the Anker Powercore mini, a light and compact model that holds a strong charge.So many good ideas out there, thank you for sharing yours. Keep sending me ideas and I'll store them for the future.