If you’re anything like me as a traveler, you’ll like having all your things organized and packed just right. I like my shoes separated from my clothes, my gadgets protected, the cords wrapped and tucked in neatly, and my clean clothes arranged logically. We’re fortunate that we live in a time where travel is normal and we can easily buy travel accessories and organizers for every kind of trip. But buying so many types can add up in cost and not everything is reusable so I want to give you some ideas for some easy DIY travel accessories that you can make just from stuff you already have lying about at home. Many of the materials used here you’ll probably hoard like a pack rat or throw away without a second thought.
Wonder if you really need any of these items? If you want to be able to pack like a pro, you probably will.
1. Old Pillowcases
Travel packing cubes are great and I recommend them for sorting types of clothing articles or separating clean and soiled clothes. However, when it comes to organizers for travel, shoe bags and cubes can range in price from $8 to $30 and each only holds one pair, unlike those for clothes.
Instead take an old pillowcase, a piece of string or cord, and with a needle and thread quickly sew a drawstring channel at the open end to create a drawstring shoe bag in minutes! This can also be used as a laundry bag to bring home dirty clothes.
If you’re carrying more than one pair of shoes or using multiple bags like these, stitch an identifying mark on one front corner to help you distinguish each one from the other. If you have decent embroidery skills, you can embroider a useful phrase like “casual” or “heels” on it. Just throw the bags in the laundry when you get home to reuse them for your next trip!
2. Clear Plastic Zippered Bags That Comforters and Sheet Sets Come In
If you want to completely avoid travel packing cubes even for clothes, the zippered clear plastic bags that you buy comforters and sheet sets in are quite similar. Of course, you won’t be able to get different sizes, but they are free! You also have the advantage of being able to see through the bags without opening them to know which bag holds what.
3. Bubble Wrap and Old Towels
Everyone buys something breakable once in a while and it always comes in bubble wrap. Pack a nice big sheet or two in your suitcase to bring back any breakable souvenirs or that fancy bottle of wine from duty free. Also pack duct tape (something I always take when traveling) and rubber bands to secure the ends of the wrap. Like the idea but already threw out your bubble wrap? Here’s a seal-able bubble protective wine holder that you can buy.
Old towels work well too but they can be bulky and take up a lot of space in the suitcase.
4. Old Hair Bands
If you don’t already roll your garments instead of fold, you should. It saves luggage space and causes fewer wrinkles. However, you still need to stack the rolls on top of each other and while digging in to find a particular piece, the other rolls can slowly become messy. To avoid having to re-roll your garments every time you repack for a multi-leg journey, use old hair bands that have become too loose for your hair to keep each roll intact till you need it.
5. Yogurt Cups
Wash and save the small yogurt cups that come with clear plastic lids. They can be used to pack rolled up ties, scarves and panty hose and they’ll be wrinkle-free throughout. These cups are also good for holding safety pins, bobby pins, earrings, rings and chains. Just make sure that the lid is secure or cello-tape it shut to make sure your jewelry doesn’t vanish in a corner of your bag.
6. Travel-sized Free Samples or Complimentary Hotel Toiletry Bottles
After you use the free samples you get in the mail or mall or those complimentary ones you get in hotels, don’t throw the bottles away. The small ones can be used for a 2-3 day trip, while the larger ones can be used for longer trips as they are all travel-sized or smaller and can go in your carry on bag on planes. Even if you don’t use the lotions, shampoos and other liquids for whatever reason, empty them out and wash to fill them up with your preferred brands.
7. Garment Elastic Bands and a Mouse pad
If you don’t feel like crafting something for all your gadget accessories, the Grid-It Organizer is a clever way to keep all your smaller gadgets, batteries, cords and other business paraphernalia neat and tidy in your laptop or business bag.
You can also save some dollars by making one. If you or your kids have an old pair of elasticated waistband pants lying around that is beyond useful to anyone, remove the elastic band before throwing the pants out. Then take an old mouse pad and a scrap of fabric that’s big enough to cover the pad. Cover both sides of the pad with the fabric by tightly sewing up all along the sides. Cut the elastic into several pieces of four different lengths and sew them onto the fabric covered pad. You now have lots of holders for gadgets and accessories of various shapes and sizes.
8. Potholders and Buttons
Make your own cosmetics pouch in five minutes! Okay, this is not something you can make from old and dirty potholders, but even if you buy new ones from the dollar store you’ll save money. For each potholder, find a button that’s big enough for the potholder’s fabric hanging hook to hook over. Fold the holder into thirds with one end overlapping the other and sew the open ends together. Sew the button on the flap opposite the hook after positioning it properly and that’s it! You now have a cool and inexpensive cosmetics bag for travel.
Do you have a neat idea for throwaway items to use specifically for travel? Do share them in the comments area below!