April 21st, 2014
Pack Light: Choosing Travel Products that Multi-Task
Opting for items that have multiple uses will save you space and weight in your travel bag. Here’s how to find the ones that cover all your bases.
Chronic overpackers always have a similar story: We end up packing far too much in our travel bags because we’re worried that we may really need that fifth pair of jeans, water filtration device, or extra pair of hiking boots once we arrive at our destination—and would otherwise have to go without.
The result is that we’re those people at the airline ticket counter—the ones crouched in front of our overstuffed suitcase, desperately trying to unpack and repack our bags so that they meet the airlines size and weight restrictions (if you’ve ever worn an extra layer or two of clothing just to make your bag weigh in at under 50 pounds, we’re talking to you!).
The obvious solution might be to take less stuff, but we overpackers know that’s a pipe dream. A far better way to ensure you have everything you need—whether you’re a chronic overpacker or a lean and mean traveler who simply wants to eliminate every ounce of extra weight—is to pack travel products capable of meeting multiple functions. Pants that zip off to become shorts. Soap that can work as shampoo, laundry detergent and dish soap. Digital devices that can store your travel documents and provide you with hours of entertainment.
Below, we’ve outlined the true multi-tasking road warriors, products that will help lighten your load—while leaving you prepared for every possible travel scenario. Stock up, and you may never come close to tipping the scales at the airport again.
Double Duty Clothing and Accessories
Convertible clothing Multi-function garments that can be worn dozens of ways.
Zip-off pants Adventure travelers will appreciate these pants, which can be worn both as shorts and pants with a simple unzipping. They’re often quick drying, too, so you can hang them at night after washing and use them first them again first thing in the morning.
Scarf Women can use lightweight scarves as a sarong or a lightweight blanket. It can also be used to cover your head and shoulders in mosques, temples, or cathedrals.
Bandana Both men and women can appreciate the multilple uses of the basic bandana. It keeps your hair out of your face while hiking or can be used as an eye mask when you’re sleeping on a plane. You can also use it as a sink stopper if you’re washing your clothes on the road.
Leggings These can be worn by female travelers for many different purposes, such as thermal underwear in colder climates, under a skirt in a conservative country, or as pajamas.
Camping soap Some forms of liquid soap can be used for dozens of purposes, including shaving lotion, laundry detergent, face wash and shampoo.
Vaseline Another all-in-one item is Vaseline, which serves as lip balm and cuticle cream, or even to fix a squeaky luggage wheel.
Multi Purpose Electronics and Extras
Tablet Use it as an e-reader, type documents, watch movies, and play games.
Smartphone With the use of a few useful apps, your smartphone can function as a camera, address book, map, video player, e-reader and much more.
Reusable Water bottle A reusable water bottle can transform into a flask, hot water bottle or storage for your toothbrush.
Pocket knife The right pocket knife can have plenty of features, like a nail file, corkscrew, bottle opener, pliers, etc.
Travel pillow A travel blanket like the Cat Nap Blanket can fold into a pillow and has feet pockets to keep your feet cozy and warm.
Flexible Luggage Solutions
Convertible bags Your luggage should also be as multifunctional as possible so it can be used in any travel situation. The Morphus 22 rolling suitcase that also becomes a backpack, so you can adapt for buildings without elevators or long hallways at airports. The 2-in-1 Tote/Backpack and its cousin, the 2-in-1 Backpack/Duffel are ultra-lightweight bags that can be used as a convertible carry-ons.
No matter how multi-functional your gear or how light you’ve packed (or think you have!), always check the final weight of your luggage before you leave for the airport.
Caroline Eubanks is a freelance writer and travel blogger who spent a year living, working and traveling in Australia. She writes about her travels on her site, Caroline in the City. www.carolineinthecityblog.com