“Of course duct tape works in a near vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped.” — Mark Watney, The Martian
Duct tape belongs in every traveler’s suitcase. Every time. It’s one of the most versatile items you can pack. After all, if it can help an astronaut trapped on Mars get back to Earth, it can help you!
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- Secure suitcase tabs and zippers. For checked bags, this can prevent zippers being caught and pulled off during handling. (Of course, if TSA opens your luggage, the tape is gone for good.) If you’re doing carry-on, after you’ve cleared TSA, use it to tape zippers down, as a safety measure.
- Run a strip around the suitcase, too, to deter would-be thieves. They are less likely to bother your belongings–too much effort.
- Mark your luggage. Make a design (it comes in pretty colors and fancy designs) that will make it easy to identify your suitcase when it rolls out at baggage claim. Write on it with permanent marker, if you want.
- Seal bottles to prevent leaks. Unscrew the lid and cover the bottle with a square of tape. Replace the lid. Voila!
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- Suitcase and handle repair. Baggage handlers aren’t kind to your possessions. When they rip the cloth, break the handle, or destroy the zipper, use duct tape for a quick fix–sometimes it’s enough to get you all the way back home.
- Raincoats, camera bags, backpacks: Same thing as above! Duct tape is strong and waterproof. (That’s why it was originally called “duck” tape.)
- Mend clothing and shoes. Tape a hem or seam, Repair a hole or rip. If the sole of your shoe starts to detach, run a strip of duct tape around the shoe. I’m not saying these are attractive measures, but they can help in a pinch.
- Lint and fuzz remover: Use the sticky side to tidy up your clothing.
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- Duct tape is perfect for holding window curtains in place, especially when you’re trying to darken the room. You can even block light from the hallway by taping the door edges.
- Speaking of darkening the room, use it to cover any unwanted night lights.
- Seal the sink drain when there’s no stopper. If a vent is blowing in an annoying way, cover it with a few strips of tape.
- Hide valuables by taping them under a desk or table. No one looks there! Then put a smidgen of tape on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself…
- As soon as you suspect a blister is forming, apply duct tape to the area. When I walked the Camino de Santiago, I wrapped a piece of tape around my foot every day before putting on socks. Never got a single blister during the 500 miles.
- You never know when uneven pavement or an unexpected tree branch will strike. Duct tape makes a great bandage or splint. It seals a wound, stops bleeding, and provides support for sprains. For an extensive list of ideas, check out The Duct Tape Guys: HMO on a Roll.
- Use it to remove a splinter. Soak the finger in water, then cover the area with duct tape. Wait about 30 minutes, then peel the tape off. The splinter should come with it. Ta-da!
- It can even save your life! If you’re in a fire, use it to seal the door to prevent smoke from entering your room. Works better than wet towels.
It’s also easy and cheap to make your own. Go to your favorite hardware store and get a big roll for about $8. Then simply wrap the tape around a popsicle stick, short pencil, crayon or expired credit card.
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