There's no shortage of advice concerning the latest and greatest tech gizmos that purport to add ease and convenience to travel. Too often, these become just another widget that breaks, another charger cord to misplace, or an additional weight in your backpack. When you pack for your next adventure, eschew the complicated in favor of these five lightweight, versatile, and inexpensive items that really will make your trip better.

Three Outlet Wall Tap

You've got an hour long wait at the airport gate, your laptop battery is low, and all of the electric outlets are in use. What to do? Whip out your Three Outlet Wall Tap. Unplug, replug, and now there's juice for the plug squatter, you, and somebody else. You're a hero. 

Cotton Hanky

You've just driven past the exit to Bonneville flats on I-80 in Utah when the lid on your coffee cup pops loose and coffee spills down the front of on your jacket. The next freeway exit is 37 miles away. Now what? Some hankies are just fashion statements and some are worth carrying. A decent hankie will not feel scratchy when you wipe your nose or mop your brow and is absorbent enough to blot up spills. In an emergency, it could even be used to stop bleeding. Travel hankies should be cotton, not synthetic, and thick enough to be useful. [$20 for a three pack;]


How many times have you tried to go to sleep in your hotel room only to be kept awake by some odd noise coming from the air conditioner fan or squeak from the bedframe? Or worse, you're trying to fall asleep in a cruise ship cabin sailing and squeaking through heavy seas. Often, a short burst of WD-40 into the right nook or cranny makes quick work of annoying creaks and squeaks. Squirt, squirt, sleep, sleep.

Bungee Cord

You've just arrived at airport. Your bag tumbles down the baggage conveyor chute, and the zipper gives way, producing an scramble of socks and underwear on the carrousel. How are you going to keep everything together? Use your bungee cord as an emergency binder. You can also use it to secure your briefcase to the top of your rolling suitcase. And, it makes a handy clothesline in your hotel room bathroom or on the balcony.

Mechanical Pencil

A once-in-a-blue-moon inspiration hits you while you're flying at 25,000 feet. You need to record this flash of brilliance while it's still hot, but your pen is out of ink and you want to conserve phone battery so you can call your buddy who's picking you up after you land. You've got plenty of paper (and a paper bag), but where will you find a writing implement? In your pocket, that's where. There is a reason that NASA takes such a ribbing for inventing the space pen. It's a silly technology. Use a pencil and don't sweat it. If you're not in the backcountry and won't have a knife handy, go mechanical. Let that be your one concession to modernity.