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Posts Tagged ‘carabiners’

Nepal, April, '15

Nepal, April, ’15

Backpackers are, as a species, short on money and space. We’re also often short on time, what with needing to make tight bus (see above), train, and janky plane connections, awakening still drunk at check-out time, or urgently needing a toilet (or bush, rock, or roadside) after eating dodgy street food.

Thus, things like showers, laundry, and basic hygiene often fall by the wayside. In my 15 years as a travel writer, I’ve oft found inspiration amongst fellow nomads- as well as come up with a few genius ideas myself- with regard to repurposing items or turning specific-use products into multitasking workhorses.

Presenting my top five travel hacks for dirtbags, tested and approved by yours truly. Happy holiday weekend!

Photo love: Elite Daily

Photo love: Elite Daily

1. Airline-size booze bottles for shampoo and body wash

While it’s shocking I didn’t come up with the idea myself, I recently discovered this hack after several dirtbag chef friends crashed at my apartment. I wasn’t remotely surprised to find a mini bottle of bourbon in my shower; what amazed me is that it was filled with castile soap (perhaps the most epic multitasking product on earth). Brilliant.

Photo love: Amateur Outdoorsman

Photo love: Amateur Outdoorsman

2. Carabiners to carry extra items on your pack

I draw the line at stuffing sweaty, smelly, muddy hiking boots in my pack. That’s why I like to clip ’em to my day pack for transit (because only fools entrust their pricey footwear to the random sketchballs who handle checked baggage). Does it piss off my seatmates, who are forced to huff the fumes (see Hack #5)? Of course. Tough shit. ‘Biners are also ideal for holding wet swimsuits, shopping bags, and other stuff.

Photo love: ToysR'Us

Photo love: ToysR’Us

3. Baby wipes

Not just any brand will do. It’s Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes or nothing (especially if you have, you know, sensitive skin…or a vagina). It was my tentmate on the Inca Trail who turned me on to this basic travel hack. Not only ideal for an improved version of the so-called Mexican (insert minority slur of your region’s choice) shower, they’re also aces at removing road grime, makeup, sunblock, deodorant marks from the tank top you’ve been wearing almost daily for a month, degreasing hair, and blotting up the gallon of cooking oil (?) that exploded all over your pack while it was in the hold of a clapped-out Cambodian bus. Wiping the backsplash from your ass after using a fetid squat toilet? Priceless. If you travel with nothing else, make it these puppies.

There is a point to this photo. Keep reading.

There is a point to this photo. Keep reading.

4. Sarong

For a few bucks, you have a lightweight, non-bulky souvenir/beach towel/bath towel/blanket for over-AC’ed buses/sunshade/pillow/sling/tourniquet/face mask for choking developing nation pollution/on-the-fly changing room/padding for the hematoma on your tailbone from an ill-fitting pack. Bonus: It will last forfuckingever.

Your average Bolivian toilet

Your average Bolivian toilet

5. Free sample sizes of perfume/cologne

Beyond handy for travel hook-ups (carry in your pocket!) and destinking clothes, stanky hostel rooms, befouled restrooms, sweaty shoes, midewy backpack interiors, your hair and bod after one too many days on the road, and to use in place of deodorant when you run out, mid-trek.

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Photo love: Mike, Flickr

I know. You’re thinking, why would I not want to climb? I get it, you obsessive slab-clinging freaks. But honestly carabiners aren’t just for climbers, and they’re one of the most reliable travel companions you’ll ever have. And, unlike climbing partners or significant others, they don’t get grumpy when they haven’t had their coffee yet.

  • Speaking of coffee, one of my favorite uses for ‘biners is to carry my travel mug. It’s tough to find versions with handles for some reason, so if you see one at the store, snap it up. Then snap that handle onto a carabiner, hitch it to your day pack, and you’ll never have to worry about wasting paper on cups and Java Jackets again. Also works well with water bottles.
  • Tote your groceries. I always carry a nylon shopping bag with me (check out Chico Bags– shout-out to my alma mater- which are lightweight, and about the size of a computer mouse). After I hit the farmers market or grocery store, I clip my bags onto the carabiners on my daypack, and I’m ready to walk home.
  • Make a kick-ass key chain. I get a lot of grief from friends for using small carabiners to carry my keys…probably because I’m a petite, heterosexual girl, and I clip them to my belt loop. Does it bother me that this is apparently dykey/dude-like? No. Because when my friends inevitably lose their keys (or purse containing keys), I can say, “You should really get a carabiner for those.”
  • Haul your shoes, wet swimsuit, or baseball hat. Or ski/snowboard/bike/skate helmet. Whatever. When I fly, I usually don’t have room in my full-size pack for my running or hiking shoes, so they end up clipped to a carabiner on my carry-on. Yeah, I’m sure it’s a bit of a bummer for seatmates after I’ve worn them on a trek, but that’s what travel-size Febreze® is for.
  • Jerry-rig a broken zipper, or use as an emergency closure on bag. I’ve used carabiners to hold together the handles of overstuffed tote bags brimming with alpaca-wool textiles and other travel souvenirs and as stand-ins for broken zippers on duffel bags. Plainly put, ‘biners rock.

 

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