Whether backpacking in the woods or traveling the world in luxury one hotel at a time, here are some universally helpful items that are simple and cheap but provide sure-fire fixes in a multitude of predicaments.

1. Duct Tape


Photo by indigotimbre

Used to stop a tub drain, form a lint-roller, patch anything from a broken window to a leaking tire to a hole in a tent, make a band-aid, or even create handcuffs, this wonder product really does deserve any praise it receives.

Can’t stand your leaky hotel shower head that sprays everywhere but in the shower? Tape it up for a temporary fix. Going out dancing but afraid your low-cut shirt might reveal more than your collarbones? Use tiny inside-out rolled pieces like fabric tape to keep the edges of your fabric where they belong—against your skin.

Can’t get your travel buddy to stop talking? Maybe just show him or her the tape roll. Tapping into the versatility of duct tape takes practice but will yield years of mind-blowing solutions.

If you find the idea of the huge silver colored roll intimidating, purchase a smaller more travel-friendly size. If you are bold, buy it in neon green or pink.

2. Baby Wipes


Photo by telethon

Powerful enough to remove stains from your clothing yet gentle enough to wipe your rear, baby wipes make you feel young and clean no matter what kind of sticky situation you might find yourself in.

Use them for a spit bath, clean your hands after eating, or even wipe your computer screen with them.

Look for biodegradable, non-chlorine, hypoallergenic wipes that allow you to toss, flush, or bury to your hearts content.

You can never have too many baby wipes on hand while traveling.

3. Mini Flashlight/Torch


Photo by Yogi

An easily accessible flashlight can be your best friend. One that attaches to keys, fits in your wallet or just in your pocket can help you find the bathroom in the middle of the night, light your way in a hostel, alleyway, or jungle.

Even if it’s not for you, you might encounter someone who could borrow it for anything from checking a sore throat to fixing an engine.

Having a flashlight might help you save a life or make a new best friend. Try to get a flashlight that is waterproof, and comes on by twisting so you can avoid it turning on inside your pocket or bag.

If you are concerned about batteries, consider purchasing an LED light. While not as powerful as a traditional bulb flashlight, LED flashlights boast thousands of hours of battery life.

4. Anti-Diarrheal Pills


Photo by Eje Sociedad Publicitaria – 2008 Obie Award Winner, Multicultural Billboard

Pray you don’t need it, but if your new found passion for the local cuisine finds you caught with traveler’s diarrhea, you’ll be glad that you have them. Occasionally dubbed ‘The Delhi Belly’, ‘Hong Kong Dong’ or ‘Montezuma’s Revenge’, this unfortunate condition usually rears its ugly head when we’re least prepared.

If you don’t have the luxury of ruling out certain foods, questionably cooked meats, or water from unknown sources, keep anti-diarrheal pills handy. No reason to waste time feeling miserable on a trip where every minute counts!

Taking a widely available anti-diarrheal product such as Imodium or Lomotil should have you sighing relief as you no longer have to plan your sightseeing around easily-accessible toilets.

If you do use it, be sure to stay well hydrated and if symptoms don’t clear after 48 hours chances are you could have a more serious infection, so make sure to see a physician immediately.

5. An Open Mind


Photo by Kelly Rice

Think outside the box, watch, listen and speak without imposing your ideas. Be creative and learn to lower your expectations. Traveling with an open mind is free, it weighs nothing, and you never know when it could come in handy.

Sometimes something as simple as empathy can transcend a language barrier or a disagreement. Try it—even crying could get you out of trouble in a pinch!