Experienced travelers share their 'Why didn't I think of that?' packing essentials

Ziplocs and rubber bands? A Sharpie with duct tape wrapped around it? Here are some less common travel essentials people swear by.

man packing a suitcase

People who travel a lot have some solid insights into what's essential when packing.

As an Amazon Associate, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Have you ever been on vacation and realized you need something you wished you'd brought? Unless you travel frequently, it's inevitable that you'll have some packing regrets, either over things you packed that you didn't need or things you didn't pack that would have come in handy.

Someone who was planning a long trip to Southeast Asia asked in the /travel subreddit, "What do you regret bringing or not bringing when you have travelled? (so I can learn from your mistakes lol)" and experienced travelers delivered a goldmine of wisdom from their personal packing lists.

Here's a roundup of some of the most helpful things to bring along on any trip, and the one thing savvy travlers say not to pack.

A Sharpie with duct tape wrapped around it—yes, really

duct tape and a sharpie pen

Duct tape and a Sharpie may not seem like travel essentials, but they are.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

It sounds strange, I know, but Sharpies are always good to have on hand and so is duct tape. (Fixing a broken strap in a pinch, mending an unexpected tear in a bag, using a tiny bit to keep a chip bag closed, stopping the vent from rattling in the hotel room—so many uses.) No one wants to pack an entire roll of duct tape, though, so wrapping a length of it around the Sharpie gives you a usable amount without taking up any precious packing space.

A Ziploc bag full of Ziploc bags and rubber bands

ziploc bags and rubber bands

Ziplocs and rubber bands = no regrets

Annie Reneau

My family recently traveled to Europe, and on our way out the door, I grabbed a handful of Ziplocs and rubber bands, just in case. I've traveled enough to know I always want a Ziploc for something, and the rubber bands were just a whim because they were within eyesight and they weigh almost nothing.

We ended up using every single Ziploc and rubber band I grabbed during our travels. They're useful for so many things. Opened a packet of nuts or chips and want to save what's left? Ziploc or rubber band. Favorite beaded necklace broke and you need a place to keep the beads together so you can fix it when you get home? Ziploc. Your travel lotion lid suddenly leaks after never leaking before? Ziploc. Want to keep track of whose glass is whose in the place your rented? Rubber bands. Bought a fragile souvenir? Wrap it up in a piece of clothing and put a rubber band around it. So many uses.

Universal adapters and extra long charging cables or an extension cord for devices

woman on couch with extra long charger attached to her phone

Having an extra long phone charger makes a big difference.


Along with a universal adapter (a must if traveling internationally—take two in case you lose one), it's a good idea to pack an extra-long charging cord for your devices in case electrical outlets are located in inconvenient places. An extension cord works too, but takes up a bit more space and weight in your luggage.

A waterproof bag (aka dry bag) that can be used for multiple purposes

waterproof dry bag

A dry bag can be used for far more than just water adventures.


Not only does a waterproof dry bag handy keeping your stuff protected during water adventures, but it's also how you can keep the wet swimsuit you inevitably end up with from touching the rest of your luggage. It can do double duty as a laundry bag and you can even use it as a makeshift washing machine for a few small items you want to wash—just toss in part of a laundry detergent sheet, some water and your clothes, and shake. (These come in a variety of sizes, so decide which size you'll need.)

Laundry detergent sheets

Insogreen laundry detergent sheets

Laundry detergent sheets make travel washing so much easier.


At some point in your travels, someone in your party is going to need to wash something, and it's super helpful to have your own detergent on hand. These laundry detergent sheets look like paper, take up practically no room and weight almost nothing, plus no liquid messes to worry about. Just toss a few into a Ziploc bag and you're good to go.

A clothesline—but not just any clothesline

two travel clotheslines

Hang your swimsuit and handwashed laundry up to dry.


Theoretically, you could use any kind of string or cord for a clothesline, but these braided ones are ideal for travel for a few reasons. One, the suction cups make it easy to use in a shower. Two, the clips make it easy to use wrapped around poles or trees. Three, the braided cords eliminate the need for clothes pins because you can just tuck a bit of fabric in between the cords to hang things.

A small container of over-the-counter medications and electrolyte/hydration packets

liquid i.v.

It's easy to get dehydrated when traveling and it's not always easy to find OTC medications.


Even if you're not someone who usually takes pain reliever or needs extra hydration, traveling can do weird things to your body, especially when you're visiting another country where everything is unfamiliar. Plus, a lot of over-the-counter medications we're used to may not be easy to find elsewhere, and you definitely don't want to be trying to figure out how to find antidiarrheal medicine when you desperately need it. As for electrolytes, people swear by powdered hydration packets like Liquid I.V. for getting over jet lag quicker, but they're also good to carry especially in places that are hotter than you're used to, where it's easy to get dehydrated.

Thin, compact, reusable grocery sacks

reusable grocery sacks

Thin sacks that pack tightly always come in handy.


Specifically, ones like these BeeGreen sacks that fold down super tiny, taking up almost no packing space, come in super handy for shopping, laundry, beach, souvenirs and more.

Leave the extra sweater at home

What do people regret bringing? Too many clothes, across the board.

Sometimes it's a matter of being overly prepared, thinking you might need a sweater while you're in Indonesia, only to be met with the reality that it's always a million degrees and a thousand percent humidity there. Sometimes it's a matter of thinking you need more shoes than you do or that it will be harder to wash things than it is. Sometimes it's realizing that you want to buy the cheap, beautiful clothing you find at your destination but don't have room in your luggage to bring them home.

But pretty much everyone who said they regretting bringing anything said clothes. So pack light on the clothing, heed the "must haves" above, and you'll be golden wherever you end up traveling.

Tony Trapani discovers a letter his wife hid from him since 1959.

Tony Trapani and his wife were married for 50 years despite the heartache of being unable to have children. "She wanted children,” Trapani told Fox 17. "She couldn't have any. She tried and tried." Even though they endured the pain of infertility, Tony's love for his wife never wavered and he cherished every moment they spent together.

After his wife passed away when Tony was 81 years old, he undertook the heartbreaking task of sorting out all of her belongings. That’s when he stumbled upon a carefully concealed letter in a filing cabinet hidden for over half a century.

The letter was addressed to Tony and dated March 1959, but this was the first time he had seen it. His wife must have opened it, read it and hid it from him. The letter came from Shirley Childress, a woman Tony had once been close with before his marriage. She reached out, reminiscing about their past and revealing a secret that would change Tony's world forever.

Keep ReadingShow less

More parents are taking 'teen-ternity leave' from work to support their teenage kids

Parenting through the teen years takes a lot more time and energy than people expect.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

Raising kids through adolescence is not for the faint of heart.

When you have a baby, it's expected that you'll take some maternity or paternity leave from work. When you have a teen, it's expected that you'll be in the peak of your career, but some parents are finding the need to take a "teen-ternity leave" from work to support their adolescent kids.

It's a flip from what has become the traditional trajectory for modern parents. Despite the fact that the U.S. is the only developed nation in the world to not have mandated paid parental leave, most parents take at least some time off when a baby is born to recover physically from pregnancy and birth and to settle into life with their tiny new human. Many parents then opt to have one parent stay home full-time during their children's younger years, as full-time childcare is often cost prohibitive, and raising babies and toddlers requires an enormous amount of time, attention and energy.

Parents often return to work when their kids are in school full-time, and many feel a bit of a respite from the relentlessness of parenting as their kids become more independent and capable of doing things on their own. It's not that older kids don't need their parents, but their needs are different. Physical parenting gives way to more complex emotional parenting as kids get older, and for a while, those emotional challenges are somewhat simple.

Then the tween years come along. Then the teens. And for some parents, a realization hits that parenting kids through puberty takes almost as much time, attention and energy, as toddlers do. Only now, those needs are much more complicated and consequential.

Keep ReadingShow less
Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

The Wilderness Society

You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)

Keep ReadingShow less

People are debating the merits of a 24-hour daycare and the discussion is eye-opening

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about the need for this.


Are 24-hour daycares a good idea?

Millions of American parents utilize daycare centers while they work. Since most people work during the day, most daycare center hours fall somewhere between 7:30am and 5:30pm. It's rare to find a daycare that's open after normal working hours.

But one "24-hour" daycare in Houston captured people's attention—and sparked a debate—when a mom posted about it on TikTok.

Adventure Kids Playcare in Houston isn't actually open 24 hours a day but it does offer childcare up to 10:00pm during the week and until midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. In the video, the mom drops her daughter off and we hear the employee tell her they close at midnight. The mom later says she picked her daughter up at 11:55pm.

Reactions to the video rand the gamut from "24-hour daycares are a brilliant idea for parents who work odd shifts" to "Moms shouldn't be leaving their kids at a daycare late at night just so they can go out," sparking a fascinating and eye-opening discussion.

Keep ReadingShow less

A dad is looking for a little more respect at home.

The title of dad or father is a sweet and respectful way to acknowledge a child's special bond with their male parent. It signifies love and respect and shows appreciation for his role in their life. But the title works both ways. The term dad reminds fathers of the responsibility to guide and protect their kids.

The importance of the unique role dads play in their kids’ lives is why a father named Steve was upset with his wife for repeatedly using his first name when referring to him with their preteen children.

The father vented about the situation and asked if he was wrong in a Reddit post with over 10,000 responses.

“My wife recently started using my first name when referring to me to our preteen kids, as in ‘Steve's gonna pick you up from school tomorrow,’” the father wrote on Reddit’s AITA forum. “I asked her not to when I first heard it, saying I don't really like when you use my first name to the kids. Can you say ‘your dad’ or ‘dad’?”

Keep ReadingShow less

Husband's portrait of wife is so bad that she nearly stops breathing

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but what if what your eyes behold is objectively...not good? In what appears to be a creative way to spend quality time together for a married couple, things go hilariously wrong. Ted Slaughter, uploaded a video to his TikTok page of an activity he and his wife did together.

Slaughter's wife seems to be holding the phone so you can clearly see what appears to be a painting of Slaughter, who is sitting at the other end of the table in front of an easel. The text overlay on the video says, "husband and wife paint portraits of each other (gone wrong). But what could possibly be wrong, sure his wife's attempt isn't art gallery ready just yet but it's not bad.

Based on the critiques the man had of his wife's painting, surely his looks much closer to professional level work. Right?...Right?

Keep ReadingShow less