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Travel Five common household items you should always bring on vacation Images/iStockphoto


You’d be surprised how often this humble fastener comes in handy. My top use for it: Pinning together gaping hotel-room curtains so I’m not woken up by sunlight streaming directly into my eyes. But it can also act as a bag clip (I often have unfinished snacks) and attaching skirts or pants to regular hangars. In a pinch I’ve used it to hold back my hair.

Nail clippers

Think of these as a teeny pair of scissors and you’ll find they have many uses besides the obvious (am I the only one who seems to always break a nail on vacation?). They can cut price tags off new clothing, nip off a hanging thread and snip the corners off hair-care and skin-care samples. Get one with a built-in nail file and it can also double as a screwdriver sometimes.


I am recommending this solely for one purpose, but it’s still worth it: A bit of sponge removes deodorant stains in a flash. So if you put on a black T-shirt only to see it streaked with white, fear not. You can buy a sponge specific to this purpose, but I’ve found that any dense variety with tiny pores works. It’s also good at removing pet fur from clothes.

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Zipper-seal bags

If you ignore all the other suggestions, heed this one. You will find these in the suitcases of every frequent traveller. They can hold snacks, a wet bathing suit, a leaking bottle and countless other things. They can act as an impromptu ice pack and organize pamphlets and maps. They provide waterproofing for electronics and can keep dirty shoes contained. Pack a couple of different sizes and you’ll wonder how you got by without them.

Safety pin

I vowed to always carry a safety pin after I borrowed a stranger’s to dig a grain of rice out of my cellphone’s charging port while hiking in the Scottish Highlands (long story). Since then I’ve used one to hold up a fallen hem, replace a busted zipper pull, cut into packages and eject a SIM card.

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