20 Reasons to Never Leave Home Without Duct Tape

items to pack that solve problems

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.

Mark your luggage with duct tape. This example is from Duck brand website.
Mark your luggage with duct tape. This example is from Duck brand website.

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.

Duck Tape brand beach bag (image from Duck brand website).
Duck Tape brand beach bag (image from Duck brand website).

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.

Duct Tape luggage tag
Duct tape luggage tag DIY from Crafty Soccer Mom

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.

Travel duct tape rolls- diy
Duct tape wrapped around keycards. Source

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!

Easy.

Written by Brooke

Brooke Schoenman runs the show at Her Packing List. Inspired from years of travel experience, Brooke decided there needed to be a travel gear site focused on the needs of a wandering female.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Melody says

    Duct tape is amazing stuff!

    When the biting Asian Ladybug invasion exploded into our region it became an all-out war. I live in the country, surrounded by fields, and the house was overtaken by the stinky, biting, little devils. I forget how exactly I discovered it, but I noticed that the ladybugs are attracted to duct tape. They were congregating in the windows, so I took a strip of tape and stuck it to the window by the ends so the middle was up in a loop. As soon as it was there, the ladybugs started migrating towards it. They’d crawl onto the tape, get stuck in the sticky, and die! When there was a bunch of dead ones, I’d toss the tape and put up a new piece. Out of all the wonderful uses that duct tape has, ladybug killer is my favourite!!

  2. Michelle says

    I got lucky last weekend. As my boyfriend and I were driving to Santa Cruz for a 16 mile hike, I was wrapping duct tape into small rolls to go in his emergency kit. Five miles into the hike and my shoe completely came apart (about 3/4 of the sole was dangling off). I was able to duct tape it and complete the rest of the 16 miles (I had to re-duct tape once more towards the end).

    It’s going with me everywhere now!

  3. Karina says

    I like the key card wrapping idea. Mine is wrapped around a tiny ikea pencil so two uses !! and fits in my sewing kit.

  4. Linda Schur says

    Repair hems in slacks, jeans skirts, remove splinters by slapping it on tip of splinter and yanking quickly. Holes in hotel screens and tents can be repaired. Make a cup for drinking water and repair leaking water bottles. Need a head cover to enter a church or religious site- duct tape paper napkins and you have a scarf. Temporarily Patch bicycle tires and water hoses on autos. Use as bandaid by placing Kleenex under. Best lint brush on earth.

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