Travel Advice

Travel survival tips from the forgetful packer

I have a rather logical (scientific?) method of packing, a job that I take very seriously just before the husband and I go on our long journeys. I do have my flaws however, which is I often under pack, meaning that I’d rather forego the comfort of having certain things with me for the sake of the size and weight limit for our trips.

And I forget things.

So I’ve learnt a few practical things along the way for the days I forget to pack something. Here are just some of the tricks I know.


Use A Towel As A Toothbrush

The texture of towels make them great teeth cleaning agents. Just make sure you remove the cat fur off them first! (Image source: Morgue File | Credit to: sophisticat)


Yes, guess who forgot to bring a toothbrush to her latest work trip? But no one needs to know that I had used a towel as my toothbrush. Towels are extremely efficient at cleaning teeth, and you often don’t even need toothpaste (I forgot that too) because its rough surfaces make the best scrubbing medium.

Simply damp a corner with water and away you go!

If you don’t have a towel, you can also use socks. Sports socks are the best as they are thicker and have nice towel-like texture on the inside. You only need to use a small corner so for multi-day trips you can use the same sock over and over again.


Use Hair As Floss

The human hair is tough, and if you are in need of floss, or even temporary threading you can in fact use your hair!

Your hair has more use than you think! Sometimes a travellers has to take desperate measures… (Image source: Morgue File | Credit to: ana_c_golpe)


Cut (or pull, if you can withstand the pain) three strands of hair and twist them together. This should give you enough strength and width to floss with and the tough surface from the twisting will clean the gap between your teeth exceptionally well.

Oh, cat hair don’t work nearly as well. Trust me, I tried.


Washing And Drying Clothes


Ran out of underwear? I would say turn them inside out but you can only do that once and you might be a few days short!

So, hand washing is obviously the alternative.

Sometimes you can be left without modern necessities, you simply just have to be creative! (Image source: Morgue File | Credit to: dorne)


I have found shampoos are best for washing clothes. They lather easily and are usually very good at cleaning away dirt. And yes, for delicates you can use the conditioner as fabric softener. Just mix a bit of shampoo and conditioner together and you’ll be able to retain the softness of your fabrics, just rinse thoroughly to avoid itchiness afterwards.

Drying can be a problem, but one of the worst thing is to try to dry your clothes in the bathroom. I know most drying lines are located in the bathroom, but it’s not ideal. Bathrooms are damp and stuffy, you will get better results if you dry them in the room, just under the air-conditioning duct or near a radiator.

If you have access to the outdoors, by all means, hang them on rocks/trees/fences. Sometimes you may be in places without modern facilities, and you will just have to be creative!


Use Shower Caps For Storage

This is in fact, one of the most useful things ever. If you frequent hotels and are offered shower caps in your bathroom, take them.

Who still uses shower caps in the shower? They do however, make excellent packing material. (Image: Amy McPherson)


Shower caps are great in helping you pack, especially when you have a limit of one bag and have to attempt to pack muddy shoes with clean clothes. Shower caps are rimmed with elastic so they are able to wrap around things that plastic bags fail to hold onto, so make perfect coverings such as wrapping onto shoes or be used for the odd souvenirs that you need to keep together.

Same goes with Sanitary/Hygiene bags. Now my fellow male readers, don’t look horrified, they are just small plastic bags! Who need to know what they were intended for? Use them for keeping little things at bay, like USB sticks and cable so that they don’t get lost in your bag.


Scrub With Tea Bags / Coffee

Tea_bag_Wikicommons_public domain
Used tea bags can be used to clean or cool down sun burnt skin when cold. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain)


Need to scrub things? Such as dirt off your shoes or body/face? If you can get your hands on tea bags or coffee grinds, mixed with soap or shampoo they can make great scrubbing agents. Not full leaf teas, you’ll need the ground up stuff in tea bags. The crappier the tea in the tea bags, the better they are for cleaning.

By the way, ground coffee is perfect as facial scrub. Use cold tea bags are also great to cool down tired eyes or the sun burnt skin. Not only do they clean and sooth, they contain natural antioxidants that will rival any beauty products!

Not recommended on clothes, coffee and tea will stain. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Clean With Tampons!

Seriously, why are you all grossed out? Tampons are perfect for cleaning. Light weight and easily concealed. Think of a compressed sponge! Use in combination with the tea/coffee grinds for brilliant results.

The humble tampon has millions of uses!


Absorbent, they can be used to clear up liquid mess, clean the dishes and even used to brush your teeth (if you didn’t use the towel mentioned earlier). They can also be used as emergency cleaning product or wound dressing when you get hurt. What’s not to like about tampons?

Alternatively, you could just go out and buy your missing supplies, but what’s the fun in that? :)

Have you got a few tricks up your travelling sleeves? Comment to share!

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