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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.

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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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

America's Got Talent/Youtube

Kodi Lee has become an "AGT" fan favorite with his next level skills


Since 2019, Kodi Lee has wowed “America’s Got Talent” audiences with his next-level musical skills. That goes for whether he’s performing touching original works or putting his own personal touch on well-known songs.

For “America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League,” the music savant was guided by his mentor Howie Mandel to cover “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

It’s hard to imagine a version of this fan-favorite tune you haven’t already heard before, since the song has been covered quite a few times. But once again Lee delivered something epic and completely unique.


Even though judges Mel B and Heidi Klum still prefer Lee’s original songs, all applauded his haunting and emotional piano rendition of the rock-n-roll anthem.

Simon Cowell even said “You use these words ‘Star Quality’ a lot, but you genuinely, Kodi, over the years we’ve got to know you, you’ve just got better as an artist. You’ve never given up, and the Finals just wouldn’t be the same without you in it this year.”

Other viewers applauded Lee for one-of-a-kind performance, agreeing that he did freddie Mercury proud.

One wrote, “‘You can do whatever you want to do in my music, just don't make it boring’ -Freddie. What a magical performance.”

Another added, “Kodi has an amazingly rare talent to be able to sing across different musical genres. He owns them all!!!”

Last but not least, I think this comment sums up the general consensus pretty well: "This version is unlike anything anyone has ever seen before. It’s truly a masterpiece. Kodi is an amazing gift to our world. He continues to change the world just by being himself."

Watch below. And enjoy.

This article originally appeared on 2.13.24

Science

Bartender in Patagonia takes sustainability to a whole other level

Wait til you see how Federico Gil uses glaciers—yes, glaciers—to distill his signature gin.

Annie Reneau

Federico Gil puts his passion for sustainability into practice.

When people talk about sustainability in the food and drink industry, there's a lot of talk about plastic straws and reducing waste. But at Bar Pionero, the sustainability standard is set much, much higher. They do things I didn't even know were possible, and they don't do things a lot of people—those who put profit before protection of the environment—would do in the name of conservation.

And most of it comes down to the vision of elite bartender Federico Gil.

Gil and his brother founded Bar Pionero 14 years ago, after moving to Chilean Patagonia from Uruguay. The bar sits adjacent to the main lobby of the Las Torres Hotel, just inside Torres del Paine National Park, and with its wall of windows framing a towering mountain, just being in the bar is an experience. The food is good, and as someone who doesn't drink, I was delighted by the incredible mocktail offerings. But the highlight of the bar is Gil himself.


Watching Gil speak about sustainability was mesmerizing, even with him speaking in Spanish and me only understanding a few words of what he said. For the details, I needed the English-speaking translator, but Gil's passion for sustainability needed no translation; it was genuine and palpable.

bartender standing in front of a table full of drink-making materials.

Federico Gil shares how Bar Pionero creates its sustainable cocktails.

Annie Reneau

On a practical level, here are some of the zero-waste practices the bar has implemented:

- Not only do they not use plastic straws but they use signature copper straws. Chile is the world's largest copper producer, so the metal is plentiful. It's also naturally anti-bacterial (though they have a sanitation process they use to clean them, of course).

- They repurpose bottles and jars into drinking glasses and tools for the bartenders. Sometimes they even combine them with copper. Check out this gorgeous glass made from an upside down glass bottle top and copper.

Cocktail glass sitting on a table

Cocktail glass made from a glass bottle top and copper

Annie Reneau

- They make their own mixes, spirits, bitters, vinegars, etc. from the plants that grow naturally in the surrounding landscape as well as from the organic garden on site.

- They also make vinegar by capturing and repurposing the dribbles of beer that come out of the tap after a draft beer is poured.

- They brew their own beer using pure glacial water and hops grown in the garden. The byproduct of the brewing process then goes back into the garden as fertilizer.

glacier

Glacier in Torres del Paine National Park, part of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field

Annie Reneau

- They distill their own gin in small batches, using glacial water, 13 botanicals from the natural landscape and the clay left behind from the moving glaciers. Gil says his goal with the gin is to convey the "spirit of the ice." Glacial gin. Who knew?

The gin is so unique, Gil could certainly make money distributing it around the world, but he refuses. Same with the beer.

"The world doesn't need one more gin or one more beer," he says. The most sustainable way is not to sell it outside the hotel, where it would have to be shipped and transported. "We're not thinking about how much we can sell, but what impact we have," he adds.

It's literally putting their money where their mouth is, knowing they could have a lucrative product on their hands but not capitalizing on it because of the environmental impact that would have. And it's not just a guess—Gil says the bar actually keeps track and calculates their environmental impact using various measures.

bartender painting a rock held in tongs

Federico Gil painting a lemon extraction onto a frozen rock from Torres del Paine National Park

Annie Reneau

On top of all of that, watching Gil craft a cocktail is like watching an artist at work. He's as passionate about creativity as he is about sustainability, and it shows. I watched him light herbs on fire and set a glass bottle top over the flame to capture their essence, then paint a homemade cold extraction of lemon onto a frozen stone from the park, then shake together various liquids created from park botanicals and put it all together into glass made of layers of jar and glass tops.

I'd never seen anything like it, and I've rarely seen anyone who walks the sustainability talk so clearly in their work. It not only gave me hope for the conservation of Torres del Paine and Patagonia (which is stunning—a place bucket lists are made for, seriously), but also made me realize how much we have to learn from one another as we strive to protect our beautiful planet.

If you'd like to see Federico in action, check out this video from my experience there:

This writer was a guest of Las Torres Patagonia. This article was not reviewed by the hotel or anyone associated with it before publication.


Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

Representative image. Triplet babies in "Thing" outfits.

Many people believe that someone’s personality can be determined by their birth order within a family. Older siblings are often seen as more responsible and the youngest is frequently characterized as the most laid-back. Although there isn’t much research to back up these claims, there is evidence that birth order can affect someone’s intelligence.

So, does birth order have any effect on multiples? In a unique case like triplets, there can be a small, self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Parents and siblings may project stereotypes onto one another, such as, “You were born first, now you’re first at everything,” or “You were born last, no wonder you’re lazy.”

Triplets on TikTok are going viral because they were never able to have any squabbles about their birth order because they never knew it until they turned 18. Janie Hilbert, 18, shared a video in February featuring her triplet brothers, Luke and Wright, that showed their reaction to learning their birth order for the first time.


The video is touching, but it didn’t reveal the actual order, just their reaction and it was still viewed over 20 million times.

x3 🤷😆

@janie.banie4

x3 🤷😆

After the post, TikTok was shouting for a follow-up video that revealed the results. A few days later, Janie posted a video that revealed their birth order, set to the theme song from “Full House.”

triplet birth order reveal!!!

@janie.banie4

triplet birth order reveal!!!

The post showed that Wright is the oldest, followed by middle child Luke and then Janie. Janie was not excited about being the youngest. “I did not want to be the youngest,” Janie told Today.com. “That’s the one thing I really hoped I hadn’t been waiting 18 years to be the youngest and then here we are.”

The triplets’ parents, Stewart Hilbert and Clay Hilbert, told Today.com why they decided to wait until their 18th birthday to learn the truth about their birth order. The decision was made because Clayton, their oldest child, was born three years before the triplets.

“He was also definitely precocious, a rule follower and very literal,” Stewart said, adding that he would probably tried to enforce an “olest gets the bottle first” mentality when the triplets arrived. “We just didn’t want to play his game, and we were like, alright, let’s just keep it a secret. It’ll be fun. They won’t have to subscribe to any of the stereotypes of oldest, middle, youngest, all that.”

It was tough keeping the birth order a secret for all those years, especially with the children constantly begging to find out the answer. “They definitely wanted to know, and that made it even more fun,” Stewart explained.

“We tried to figure it out for so long. We begged and begged. They wouldn’t crack,” Janie added.

The funny thing was that their father secretly revealed the truth in the family group chat which featured the children’s names in birth order. But the triplets never put it together. "I was so excited to try to tell them that it was in front of them the whole time," Clay said.

Representative photos by Aaron J. Hill and Greta Hoffman

Women choose being alone with bear instead of man in interview

There are often hypothetical scenarios that people get asked just to see what their answer will be. In most cases, the scenario is something that has a very slim chance of ever happening in real life, but it can be fun to allow your brain to wander. A hypothetical scenario is taking over social media right now and it has women nodding in agreement while many men are left scratching their heads.

Screenshot HQ took to the streets and asked random women if they would rather be stuck in the woods with a man or a bear. Overwhelmingly women chose to take their chances with a bear, some providing the inquirer with a reason as to why they'd chose a bear over a man. Unsurprisingly to most women, the participants saw the bear as the safer option.

Some men had a hard time understanding why women would risk being mauled by a bear, but several men did understand and took to social media to attempt to explain.


Some men seemingly easily knew why women would choose to be in the woods with a bear when their partners asked them the same question but the hypothetical woman was their daughter. In the video, one woman makes her case for choosing a bear.

"Well I've heard about bears, they don't always attack you right unless you f**k with them? So maybe a bear," she laughs.

Luis Torio responded to the video with an explanation for men who seemed confused by the amount of women choosing a bear. In his video he asks, "why would a woman choose a man over a bear when the number one predator of a woman is a man and not the bear?" He goes on to explain that if a woman is put in the woods with the wrong man, she could be in a much worse situation than with a bear.

@yourtango

Women were asked if they would rather be stuck in a forest with a man or a bear - and their answers are sad #manvsbear

YourTango jumped in on the debate and dropped a few facts with the most staggering being, "the 750,000 black bears in North America unalive less than one person per year on average. Men aged 18-24 are 167 times more likely to unalive someone." The woman in the video also cites assault statistics for women.

That's not to say that all men would be dangerous if trapped in the woods with them, commenters and content creators point that out. The concern seems to be more about the predictability of bears verses the predictability of an unknown man.

You can watch the original video that started this weeks long debate below:

@screenshothq

The question of being stuck in a forest with a man or a bear is circulating on TikTok right now and sparking some interesting conversation.... we know what our answer would be 🐻🌳 #manvsbear #tiktok #tiktoktrend #trending #challenge #streetinterview #voxpop