12 Multi-Function Items You Should Never Travel Without

Whether you’re planning a four hour road trip or catching a flight to the other side of the world, you have limited space in your suitcase.  So pack these practical, space-saving, multi-function items and you’ll always be prepared without the hassle of lugging around additional gear.
1.  Smart Phone with GPS – A smart phone is an information and communication portal that will likely save your rear end someday.  My smart phone has certainly saved mine a time or two.  Here are some of the basic functions of most modern smart phones:
  • Phone
  • Maps and GPS
  • Internet access (Google, email, etc.)
  • Camera
  • Can be used in the dark as a flashlight
  • Clock (with an alarm)
  • Calculator
  • Note taking (voice recorder)
  • Music and movie player (for entertainment)
2.  Hand Sanitizing Wipes – In my mind, hand sanitizing wipes are essential tools that prevent me from infecting my body with germs on a daily basis.  They have several practical functions:
  • Clean hands and other body parts
  • Disinfect small cuts and scrapes
  • Clean various surfaces (public toilet seats, gas pumps, windshield, etc.)
  • Remove small stains from clothing, upholstered furniture, etc.
  • Remove makeup
3.  Spare Wallet with Identification and Cash – Let’s recite the Boy Scout motto: “Always be prepared.”  If you lose your primary wallet when you’re hundreds of miles from home, it’s nice to have a back-up plan.  Find a safe, hidden place to stash your spare wallet when you arrive at your destination. While this isn’t a multi-function item in the traditional sense, it can save you so much grief when disaster strikes that it’ll seem like the most functional item in the world.  There are four things I keep in my spare wallet:
  • $100 cash
  • Spare photo identification
  • $100 prepaid visa
  • Emergency phone numbers
4.  Credit Card Size Survival Tool – It’s the size of a credit card, made of rugged stainless steel, and has several practical functions including:
  • Knife edge
  • Screwdriver
  • Ruler
  • Can opener
  • 4 position wrench
  • Butterfly screw wrench
  • Saw blade
5.  Large Zip-Lock Bags – A large zip-lock bag has hundreds, if not thousands, of practical functions when you’re on the go:
  • Keep leftovers fresh
  • Keep dry things dry when you’re around water (wallet, electronics, etc)
  • Separate dirty, smelly clothes from clean clothes in your suitcase
  • Lunchbox
  • Organize things like socks, toiletries, small electronics, etc.
6.  Rubber Bands – Rubber bands are simple, functional and versatile.  There is an endless list of practical uses for a rubber band including:
  • A simple wallet replacement – Just wrap a rubber band around your cash and cards and stick them in your pocket.
  • Keep any wires or small objects in your suitcase organized and untangled.
  • A bookmark
  • Use a rubber band to strap an injured finger to a firm stick or piece of cardboard until it can be properly casted.
  • A safety strap for eye glasses
7.  A Bottle of Water – Water is essential to life, so it’s probably a good idea to keep some with you wherever you go.  And similar to an empty zip-lock bag, water has hundreds, if not thousands, of practical uses:
  • Drink it when you’re thirsty
  • Cleaning/rinsing agent (lots of possibilities here)
  • Pour it into your rental car’s cooling system if it’s overheating.
  • Put out a small fire (non grease or electrical).
8.  Leatherman – It’s the all-in-one multi-tool you should never leave home without.  These little tools can handle a plethora of different jobs.  When traveling, I try to keep my Credit Card Size Survival Tool on me at all times (except in airplanes) and my Leatherman secured in my suitcase just in case I need it.  I personally own the Leatherman 830039 (linked above) and I love it.  Here are a few of it’s functions:
  • Screw driver
  • Bit driver
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Knife
  • Scissors
  • Wood/metal file
  • Ruler
9.  Multi-Use Car Charger – Because a cell phone with no battery juice is useless when your car breaks down on the side of the road during a long road trip.  My multi-use car charger (linked above) allows me to charge up to four devices at once.  This unit turns one auto cigarette lighter port into two, has two USB charging ports, and provides a heavy-duty 20 amp capacity.
  • Charge your phone
  • Charge your camera
  • etc.
10.  A Lighter and a Candle – It’s always a good idea to have the capability to create fire just in case you need it.  This one is simple:
  • Light
  • Heat
  • Cooking
11.  Large Ace Bandage – Lots of practical uses including:
  • Compression on a injured limb
  • Bandage for an open wound or burn
  • Tie things together
  •  Scarf
  • Makeshift glove or grip
12.  Small Roll of Duct Tape – Duct tape solves everything.  ;-)  If you’ve tried using duct tape and you’re still having problems, you just haven’t used enough of it.  Duct tape may very well be the second greatest invention after the hammer.  I’m not even going to attempt to summarize the extensive list of practical applications for duct tape.