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Spatulas. Good luck charms. Photographs. While we may follow a standard packing list for our travels, we often pack random items we can’t imagine leaving behind. Keep reading to see what our readers recommend as essential yet unexpected items to pack for an extended trip abroad.
Unexpected Things to Pack
Travel Fashion Girl help! A reader asks:
What are some atypical items you always travel with, especially if you’re staying in places for weeks to months at a time? Resistance bands, kitchen utensils, hula hoops, what? I’ve stayed in too many Airbnbs with horrible knives, so I’m thinking of bringing along a chef’s knife, and I always bring my crazy supplements.
Often, we talk about what essentials to bring, from clothing to beauty. But when you’re packing for a trip, it’s easy to forget the random, atypical items you may not realize you need until you get to your destination.
Here, our readers share their recommendations for essential yet unexpected items to pack for extended travel.
Several readers agreed that they’ve struggled with dull knives when staying at an Airbnb. If you enjoy cooking and aren’t traveling carry-on, a chef’s knife can make cooking so much easier.
One reader says, “I also struggle with dull knives! If I’m doing carry on then I find a place where I can buy a new sharp knife and leave it. Or carry a sharpening tool.” Another adds, “I hear you about good, sharp knives! I was thinking the same thing.”
Just remember that you’ll need to check your bag if you plan on taking a knife.
Swiss Army Knife
The beauty of a Swiss army knife is how many things you can do with such a small tool. Many Swiss army knives have nail clippers, a file, mini scissors, and a knife.
One reader says, “I always travel with a Swiss army knife, so I always check my rolling bag. My bag would fit overhead, but, well, I use the knife a lot and like to take it, so it’s worth it to me to check it.”
Like the kitchen knife, you’ll need to check your bag if you plan on bringing a Swiss army knife.
Rubbermaid Food Storage Container
If you plan on cooking at your Airbnb or homestay, Tupperware is an easily forgotten essential for saving food. You can take it with you in your day pack for days out if you want to save money and avoid eating out.
One reader also says they make for a great gift, explaining, “When I stay somewhere for a week, I bring some lightweight Tupperware because I often make food for new friends and give it away as a gift. Often I can’t find Tupperware when traveling.”
Foho Corkscrew Wine Bottle Opener
Corkscrew and Wine Stopper
Several readers say they always bring or buy at their location a corkscrew and wine stopper. As one says, “A corkscrew is a must!” with another adding, “I always buy one of those, too.”
Rather than purchase wine by the glass at a restaurant, you can bring a bottle back to your Airbnb and enjoy it over several days.
Multi-Grill Spice and Herb Assortment Shaker
A Mini Kitchen Kit
If you’re a big cook, you need your own kitchen kit. Not all Airbnbs or home rentals provide the kitchen supplies you want, such as spices or the right utensils. When packing for your trip, create your own mini kitchen kit with the essentials you never cook without.
One reader shares, “I am a long-term traveler and I have a dedicated kitchen packing cube: knife, can opener, corkscrew, spice mixes, and a few other odds and ends. It’s my traveling kitchen.”
Another adds that she brings “two sharp knives, a nonstick small skillet, olive oil sprayer, and a small spatula.”
For hot locations, it’s nice to be able to bring your own cold beverages and relax at the beach or a park. A foldable cooler can make this doable without taking up too much room in your luggage.
A reader says, “I recently bought a small cooler that folds flat, which I will bring on our next beach vacation in order to take drinks to the beach. For our trip to Thailand, we took a soft cooler with us, but it didn’t fold flat so we used it as a carry-on to transport our camera, lens, and snacks for my daughter. We used it quite a bit while there but I think one that folds flat will be better.”
It may sound random, but a Sharpie can serve a number of purposes. Plus, it’s tiny to pack, taking up very little space. Several readers say they always take a Sharpie with them on their travels.
One reader explains that she brings a Sharpie for labeling cups and other travel essentials. “We even wrote our name on a pool float we bought in the Bahamas so it wouldn’t get mixed up with other travelers’ stuff. A Sharpie serves as a pen and also a permanent marker that won’t wash off in rain.”
Cheap rain ponchos can serve a number of purposes far beyond sparing you from raindrops on your head. One reader says she always packs a couple of spare rain ponchos because they can work as an “extra layer over a rain jacket, or as luggage covers, picnic table covers, perishable item cushions, and a damp clothing wrap.”
Another reader adds, “it’s also very good if you have growing kids for whom you don’t want to keep buying the next size up in raincoats that you might never use again.”
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee
Instant Coffee Packets
If you’re someone who isn’t ready to face the day without a cup of Joe, our readers recommended bringing along a few instant coffee packets. One reader says, “I often pack Starbucks Via or Vietnamese instant coffee packets!”
If you really hate instant coffee but are traveling for an extended time period, you may consider a coffee system. One reader says, “I can’t do instant more than a day, so I take a travel mug with a filter basket that fits on top. Works just fine!”
Ziploc Freezer Bags
Never underestimate the power of a plastic bag! Several readers swear by Ziploc bags for long-term travel. One reader says, “Ziploc freezer bags, at least medium and large, are good for so many things including wet bathing suits and leftovers/snacks, as well as washing undies, socks and bras.”
Bringing a few different sizes makes it easier to pack your essentials. Small sizes are great for snacks, while gallon sized bags can easily fit wet clothing and dirty shoes.
It may sound random, but multiple readers swear by vegetable peelers for extended travel. One reader says, “definitely bring a good vegetable peeler. I’ve visited 34 countries and stayed in many apartments, and not a one had a decent vegetable peeler. If you use them often at home, I also recommend taking a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, a tablespoon and a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoons. None of the places I rented had any dry measuring cups in any standard of measurement.”
A vegetable peeler is small and easy to pack. Just make sure to check it if it’s metal and has sharp edges, as TSA could confiscate it.
Other Random Travel Necessities
Our readers suggested so many items to pack that seem random but all serve a helpful purpose when you’re traveling for a longer period of time and staying in an Airbnb or rental home or condo. Here are a few other items our readers recommended:
- “Always bring cold medication. After trying and failing to find cold meds in Paris while I was sick, I’ve always packed it since then.”
- “I bring Stevia packets. It’s hard to find abroad so I take them with me.”
- “Power strips and earplugs!”
- “Coffee singles packets and creamer packets. It’s amazing how many Airbnbs don’t have coffee and aren’t located near a coffee shop.”
- “A night light and a travel fan.”
- “A couple of plastic-coated wire hangers to hang wet items to dry.”
- “A plastic travel spork or spoon. I’ve tried to eat yogurt with a credit card more times in my life than I feel is reasonable.”
- “A couple of big paper clips. They are handy for keeping curtains closed!”
- “We took an aero press coffee maker on our around-the-world trip! It was our ‘luxury’ item and came in really handy!”
- “I bring one or two ice cube trays because I have to have ice with my drinks.”
What are the most random things to pack for long-term travel? Share in the comments below!
For more travel necessities, please read:
- 25 Random Travel Necessities
- 60 Travel Packing Tips from the Experts
- Best Money Belts and Anti-theft Travel Accessories
- 75 Packing Tips that Will Make Your Travels So Much Easier
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I save my empty Crystal Light (or similar) plastic containers to put Tide Pods in for travel. They are the perfect size and the pods do not get smashed. If you are headed somewhere with a pool or to the beach, the containers are also great for goggles.
Hi Meredith, thank you for sharing your great packing hacks with us!! Happy travels! ?
For. International travel, I always pack a smoke detector with a new battery, installed backward or taped to its outside. A small flashlight with fresh batteries is a must for all trips.
Hi Eleanor, thank you for sharing your travel unexpected essentials with us. Do you travel with a specific brand of smoke detector? Happy travels!
I wrap some duct tape around a sharpie marker and a TIDE spot remover pen. EZ to pack & all items r useful.
Hi Anne, thank you for sharing your unexpected items you like to pack for your trip!! 🙂
I pack a couple of battery powered tea light. I put one in the bathroom and one by the hotel room door. They save a lot of stubbed toes in dark and unfamiliar hotel rooms. I don’t have to turn on a too bright bathroom light in the middle of the night.
That is an awesome travel tip Jane, thank you for sharing this with us. I like to pack a few stick-on hooks for the bathroom so I can hang my towels, clothes and other bits on them!! 🙂
I just discovered a “travel-clothesline” to be my go to item no matter if hotel or now on a 6 month stay. It is expandable up to 2.5 meters, just needs something like a door handle to secure the hooks and it is especially handy for small items like socks or undies. Depending on how you us it, it can also help dry t-shirts (not too much tough it is just two elastic ropes). Weighs nothing and without the package fits every corner left in a bag!
Hi Diana, thank you so much for sharing your unexpected travel item! 🙂