Most Useful Things I Brought On My Cruise: No. 1

Not pretty but it worked.

Not pretty but it worked.

We’ve reached the end of the countdown, the point where I tell you that the absolutely top, number one item that I packed for our 16-day cruise was: a roll of travel duct tape.

Over the years, my travel duct tape has temporarily fixed many a travel problem. It has secured a broken zipper on a checked bag, patched torn window screens and held together torn seams and hems. I recently created a travel wallet to tuck into my running shorts with a zip-lock bag and duct tape. My daughter hiked across half of Spain with a duct tape patch where her jeans ripped on barbed wire.

On this trip, the travel duct tape was called into service when the side panel of my husband’s point-and-shoot Canon pulled off, the screws apparently stripped by the weight of the camera hanging from its strap. When we checked my identical camera, we found one of its screws missing, too. Out came the travel duct tape to hold the cameras together until our return.

Now you might think that you could substitute regular duct tape, but you’d be wrong. Not only does it come in big, bulky rolls, but it requires scissors to cut. Travel duct tape comes in tiny, lightweight rolls and is made to tear easily by hand. You can buy two 4-foot rolls from Magellan’s for $5.85.

Here’s a tip: A new use for travel duct tape emerged a few years ago after video of celebrities in their hotel rooms began to appear on the Internet. Tape over the peephole in your hotel room door, especially if you’re a celebrity.

Here’s a trick: Travel duct tape isn’t just for repairs. You can use it to temporarily mark luggage or other items for easy identification, which comes in handy if your suitcase or iPad case looks exactly like everyone else’s.

Here’s a cautionary tale: Years ago my husband and I were in a hotel room without a safe in a foreign city where we didn’t want to carry our passports. So we put the passports in a plastic bag and duct-taped the bag to the underside of a dresser drawer. When we went to retrieve them, the duct tape had come loose from the dusty surface and our passports had fallen inside the dresser. Because the drawers wouldn’t pull all the way out, we spent half an hour fishing the passports out with a hanger.

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