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There's a Tide-to-go pen in there! 

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Having experienced enough travel mishaps for a small army, I have learned to keep a kit on-hand for minor misfortunes. It’s easy to stash in your backpack/bag/purse, but don’t go too crazy. Keep in mind that many places you travel to will have convenience stores, and you don’t want to take up too much room. So try to keep this to small quantities of things that you might need immediately, or that can tide you over until you pick up more. Without further ado:

  • Eye drops—incredibly useful on planes, even more so if you have contacts, which have a chance of getting dry/falling out/getting slept in. A travel-size moisturizer is also useful since planes tend to dry out your skin.
  • Drugs—no, not that kind of drugs. We’re talking about painkillers, allergy pills, prescription meds, and anything else you might need. Make sure to keep them in their original packaging if you’re crossing foreign borders, because some border patrols will confiscate unmarked medications.
  • Band Aids—your middle school teacher was wise. Carry these in case you stub your toe or prick your finger or scrape your knee. They’re especially useful if you’re traveling with children.
  • Mints/gum/travel toothbrush—you never know when you might try some exciting new garlic-based food and not want to torture everyone you talk to for the next hour. I find a travel toothbrush too bulky (and, of course, that’s dependent on finding a sink), so I carry mints as a temporary breath-freshener.
  • Safety pins—in case of any malfunction on your clothes or rips in your bag. While a travel sewing kit might seem appealing, I never end up actually using them, especially when safety pins will solve most minor malfunctions.
  • Hair ties—in case you need to put your hair up. Also useful for anything you might need a rubber band for.
  • Tissues/handkerchief—if your nose starts running, or your makeup runs, or you spill something and need to clean it up. It may seem old-fashioned, but a practical handkerchief can take up less room and be more environmentally friendly than a travel-size pack of tissues.
  • Fashion tape—optional. If you’re at a work conference, it doesn’t hurt to bring some in case that shirt starts slipping down more than you remembered, but if you’re kayaking you can probably leave it.
  • Tide-to-go pen—optional. If you’re camping, you may not need one of these, but if you’re on a two-week trip through Italy drinking red wine and trying to make do with four outfits, it’s going to come in handy.
  • Granola bar and a spare pair of socks—if you have space in your bag, pack these. You’ll be glad you did.
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