Whenever I go on big adventures that take me to places that are a little outside of my comfort zone, I always tend to pack a few more items that make me feel extra prepared should I be without easy access to a shop, doctor, or other resources. A couple extra components fit into my medical kit, a small multi-tool makes the final packing list cut, and a tiny roll of duct tape gets tossed in my bag.
Yes, duct tape. It’s like the swiss army knife of the TSA-friendly world. A guy even once brought it with him as his one survival item on Naked and Afraid, so you know this stuff is good.
How good is it, you ask? Let me share 20 reasons to pack duct tape on your travels.
1. Put together makeshift bandages and splints. Let’s hope you don’t ever need to, but in a pinch it’s possible. For a wound, clean and cover with tissue before applying tape. For a splint, use popsicle sticks and duct tape.
2. Protect your feet from blisters. All that walking when traveling can catch up if the shoes aren’t right. Once you feel the rub starting, apply a strip of duct tape to calm those worn patches of skin.
3. Use as a clothes line. Forgot your stretchy braided version at home? No worries! Get a long strip of duct tape and fold it in half, sticky side together. Attach with duct tape to two end points, and wah-lah, clothes line!
4. Fix holes in… anything! This includes your backpack, your jacket, your shoes, and let’s not forget the bug net in your mosquito-infested tropical bungalow. You can also temporarily fix ripped seams in your dressy skirt or top without anyone ever knowing. It’s versatile I tell ya!
5. Remove lint from clothes. It’s extra sticky, and definitely more multipurpose than packing a lint roller.
6. Mark your luggage. Get a bright roll of duct tape and stick a line on your suitcase or backpack for easy recognition on the baggage claim conveyor belt.
7. Attach extra gear to your luggage. Out of space in your suitcase or backpack but need to haul a yoga mat or snorkel and flippers? Duct tape it.
8. Produce an extra security measure for your luggage. Apply duct tape over zippers when in transit so opportunistic thieves have another barrier to get through, hopefully deterring them in the process.
9. Create flypaper. Hang strips of duct tape and wait for the buggies to disappear.
10. Waterproof your shoes. Those breathable running shoes aren’t the best when it’s raining cats and dogs. Tape up the leaky parts of shoes and keep your feet dry!
11. Build a barrier to wind, cold and rain. It’s probably not the most economical or practical of ideas, but if you find yourself in a survival situation, a lining of duct tape inside your jacket and shoes can help to block out cold and trap your body heat inside.
12. Fashion yourself a bag. We talk all the time about packing stuffable bags for extra bag needs, but you could instead just make whatever bag you need… with duct tape! Need an impromptu beach bag or clutch for your night out? Yep, there are people making those. (As cool as this may be, we recommend packing those stuffable bags as a more reliable option.)
13. Create rope. Just like the clothes line, all you have to do is fold a long strip of duct tape on itself, sticky side together. This stuff is super durable.
14. Tighten up loose power plugs. Ever notice how your chargers and adapters like to be (scarily) loose in other countries? If your gears’ plugs are falling out of the outlets, simply tape them to the wall.
15. Tape bottle caps closed. Avoid leaky nightmares in transit by applying a small strip of duct tape.
16. Hide valuables. Use duct tape to secure your passport or small valuables under your bed, nightstand, or other random place.
17. Seal food containers in transit. For extra freshness and to just keep it from spilling.
18. Tape curtains shut. If you want to block out the morning’s brightest rays in your hostel or hotel room, just add duct tape.
19. Make a sink plug. Forgot your universal sink plug at home? No worries! You can still do laundry as you go by putting tape over the drain.
20. DIY some fancy luggage tags. They’re durable and potentially cute if you invest in the right color tape!
How to Pack Duct Tape
Obviously, a giant roll of duct tape will add some weight and bulk to your luggage, and those pre-made travel versions are not as cost-efficient as we like. So, we recommend making your own travel size roll of duct tape.
You can simply wrap duct tape around a pencil or drinking straw until you have a desired amount. If using a straw, clip the excess plastic for a nice concise roll. Another option is to wrap duct tape around an old plastic card (like a keycard, membership card, or ID card) until you have the desired packable amount. Throw the whole card into your bag!