By: Gianni Jaccoma
You know that feeling you get when, just as you get to the airport, you realize you forgot your phone charger? Well, while it's a heart-sinking feeling, it's not a matter of life and death. Except for your cell phone battery, anyway. But when it comes to matters of life, death, and just general safety on vacation, some of the smallest investments can reap the greatest rewards.
To help you spend and pack wisely, we've put together a list of 12 travel accessories under $10 that will absolutely save your bacon -- because no bacon should ever be squandered.
Rubber door stop
Yes, those little things you see propping doors open all the time. Consider this: something used to hold a door open might be just as good at holding it closed. Then consider that not all hotel rooms (particularly ones without electronic keycards) are as secure as your bedroom back home. Lastly, consider what might happen if an intruder -- say, some creep who saw you at the hotel bar -- picked their way into your room while you're asleep. Even if an ill-intentioned weirdo never actually tries to sneak into your room, the peace of mind these things offer is well worth the price.
That saying about "the best camera is the one you have with you" applies to an even greater extent to tools. A good multi-tool, like the Leatherman Wave can set you back upwards of $80, but there's no need to spend that much if all you're after is a portable solution. Keychain multi-tools come equipped with pliers, screwdrivers, scissors, and pretty much everything the full-sized versions have, except in a smaller package. If you'd rather have something you can keep in your carry-on, the TSA-compliant Gerber Shard (pictured above) gives you two screwdrivers, a pry bar, and a bottle opener -- all on a keychain that won't fill up your pocket.
Beyond using them to transport TSA-approved liquids or bury your phone at the beach, Ziploc bags can mean the difference between a fun surprise rainstorm and the heartbreaking realization that your phone and passport are hopelessly waterlogged. They're also a great cheap option for keeping smaller items separate from the rest of the crap inside your carry-on, so you're not forced to root around in there for your ChapStick like a lady with a purse.
A first-aid kit of some sort is a vacation must, but what if you get a really bad cut? Like, "we're gonna need a bigger Band-Aid" bad. That's where QuikClot comes in: this military-grade, chemically treated gauze acts as a hemostatic agent, speeding up the clotting process and ensuring that you don't bleed out before you can get to a hospital. Are the odds SUPER remote that you'll need this level of emergency medical care? Yes. Should you absolutely drop $10 on it just in case? Also yes.
In addition to the myriad miscellaneous uses of rubber bands (building a makeshift clothesline in your hotel room/launching them at unruly airplane passengers), you can defend yourself from thieves by wrapping them around your wallet -- the bands, not the thieves. Doing so makes your wallet approximately 83 times harder to pull from your pocket, both for the prospective thieves and for you.
Granted, a suitably skilled pickpocket can probably snatch your wallet regardless of how many rubber bands you've wrapped it in. There are some things you can't entirely prevent -- but taking proper precautions puts the bullseye on some other mark.
You don't realize just how handy a mini flashlight can be until you don't have one. Yes, everybody's phone has a built-in light these days, but why drain your precious battery life and run the risk of accidentally dropping/shattering the most expensive thing on your person when you can just as easily use a dedicated, much brighter LED torch? For the amount of space one of these things takes up, the ability to see in the dark whenever you want is an absolute steal -- whether you're rooting around in your carry-on or alone in a strange place when the power goes out.
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