Travel Hacking Tips: 13 Travel Bloggers reveal their MacGyver tricks

Last Updated on July 30, 2021 by Christine Kaaloa

13 Travel hacking, tips, travel hacking tips, travel tips by travel experts
13 Travel Hacking Tips by Travel Bloggers


There’s a travel MacGyver in every one of us.

Often, it emerges during  times, when the adventure and unpredictability of travel, serves up a dose of “the unexpected”.  As travelers, limited to the mundane contents of our backpack, some tight situations call for quick thinking, resourcefulness and ingenuity. Born out of necessity and travel survival, the solutions we arrive at can also feel like “the best of the worst” workarounds.

It’s when your slipper thong snaps in the middle of a Mumbai street and you only have a safety-pin in your backpack to hold it together, until you return to your guesthouse ( FYI… I did it and wouldn’t recommend it!). Or when you’re returning to your hillside guesthouse during a Nepalese blackout and all you have is the small penlight your parents got from a health fair day for senior citizens. …And it’s when you have a leaky air-conditioner dripping over your bed, during the sweat of summer and the only thing that manages to stop the drip, is a handy tampon.

As the smartest dumb (or “unconventional”) idea, these oddly, witty hacks keep our travel plans in tact and prove, where there’s a will, there’s most certainly a way!

13 Travel Hacking Tips by Travel Bloggers

I put a shout out to the travel blogging community for travel hacking tips.  There was some confusion about what I was asking for. I had to decline some tips, because okay, …some were just too “smart”. I’m not averse to smart travel tips, but as a traveler of “imperfect solo adventures“, I’ve found not every situation in travel can be perfectly or neatly-wrapped. Travel can occasionally catch you with your pants down, push you to work with flawed situations and test your ability to find workaround solutions. The best solution doesn’t always feel like a very bright one; ironically though, they perfect MacGyver hacks for the situation. Enjoy!


I used dental floss to slice cheese.”   –  Talon Windwalker,


”  I have a long, thin scarf I’ve had numerous uses for.  Aside from the obvious uses (scarf, turban, headband, etc.) I also used it as a towel when I lost mine, as a belt when mine broke, a way to carry a bunch of food when I didn’t have a bag, and as a way to lash things together.  It’s one of my favorite travel accessories! ”  –  Nathan Anderson, Open Road Before Me


“My favorite travel hack is a sarong. It’s multi-purpose! You can use it as a blanket, bed cover, towel, scarf, head cover, hippie bag (just tie the edges and sling it on your shoulder!) and something to lie on when you’re at the beach. I love it! I’m sure there are a dozen other ways to use a sarong, but that’s how I use it mostly.”    –  DJ Yabis,  DreamEuroTrip

dj yabis, dreameurotrip dj yabis, travel bloggers for europe
13 Travel Hacking Tips : DJ Yabis shows us how to hack a sarong


“I have an aversion to taking utensils on camping trips. Or anything really that isn’t necessary (mostly to cut down on the weight). Over the years I have become good with chopsticks and when I’m roughing it in the wild I tend to eat any food with sticks collected from the ground. My handy Swiss Army helps both for creating this simple stick utensil and with the actual eating.”   –  David Thompson,   Dave’s Travel Corner


Read Ultimate Packing List for Solo Travel


“I used a gallon ziploc bag once as a camera hoodie–but that wasn’t a spontaneous creative hack on my part, it was something I’d read about online and decided I was just cheap enough to try (instead of buying a real camera hoodie).  It worked, but it was a PITA. I never did it again.”  –  Gray Cargill, Solo Friendly.

travel hacks by solofriendly
!3 Travel Hacking Tips: Gray Cargill shows us how a plastic bag is perfect raingear for equipment


“Either I travel super light and therefore I leave my towel behind or I don’t want to carry a wet towel with me that will become a stinky item if I won’t be reaching my destination soon enough. Using bed sheets at hostels as a shower towel, on the day I am leaving the premises, has proven to be a great resource so far!  – Inma Gregorio, A World to Travel.


” When I travel I use to take my laptop on a postcard envelope. Those ones with bubbles. They not only offer the same or even better protection than those fancy sponge protectors, but also discourage stealing. Also they’re extremely cheap and offer ultra light weight.”  –  Nelson Mochilero,

nelson mochileros, cheap laptop case
13 Travel Hacking Tips: Nelson Mochileros transforms an envelope into a budget case and anti-theft disguise


“We are duct tape fanatics. My husband duct taped both his shoe and his pants. And my waterproof bag and bicycle handlebars…” –  Nancy Sathre-Vogel, Family on Bikes.

family on bikes, ways to use duct tape, family travel bloggers
Family on Bikes’ Ways to use Duct Tape: Patching torn pants


” I  leave the plastic ring attached to the price tag on my swimsuit when I rip off the price tag because then I can attach the key to my swimsuit.  I also use guyline thread meant for tents for a travel clothes line.
”  –  Kate Voyage‬ ,  RTW Travel Guide


“I once realized I had no spatula for a beach BBQ. In fact, I had nothing, but a tiny keychain pocket knife. Used the knife to cut both ends off a beer can, then flattened that into an aluminum sheet, bending it over a piece of driftwood to give it a handle. Voila, spatula. ”    –  Mike McColl, Ethical Traveler


“I was walking down a boardwalk to take a ride on the Skimmer Salt Marsh Safari in Cape May, New Jersey.  The wind was blowing and threatening to take my straw hat with it.  I got tired of holding it on and didn’t like that my hand was getting extra sun exposure, so my brain went into overdrive.  I removed my neck scarf and tied it on over the hat and under my chin.  I looked kind of silly, as the picture shows, but it did the job. ”    –  Carole Terwilliger Meyers,  Travels with Carole 

How would you use a scarf?
13 Travel Hacking Tips: Caroline Terwilliger Meyers show us how you can use a scarf fashionably & sensibly.


“On a recent hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas, I tragically left my wide-brimmed Tilley hat in my car at the airport. This was a big mistake as I was hiking over 18 miles across the Chihuahuan Desert with very little shade. Fortunately, I did have a baseball cap, duct tape, and a dish towel. With these three accoutrements, I was able to create this concoction to protect my neck and ears from the hot desert sun.”    –  Ted Nelson, Traveling Ted


 I know its not allowed to wash clothes in hotels, but I wash them anyway in the toilet using plastic bags, if there’s no pail/bucket. You fill the plastic bags with water from the faucet and  soak your clothes,. Then put soap powder. This is pplicable if there’s no sink or if there is no water stopper in the sink.”    –  Grasya Bangoy, Grasya on the Road


Have a travel hack tip you want to share?

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  • Many of these are just gross and disgusting

    • Christine Kaaloa
      July 27, 2014 2:36 pm

      @Phyllis S: The hacking tips are not meant to be neat or perfect. It’s to show you how travelers can be survivors. Travel forces us to be resourceful, using anything you can find to survive.

  • larry mcyberry
    July 15, 2014 3:53 am

    great tips

  • I discovered that the bubble wrap works wonderful even for long trips. It takes many travels to get old and thin, and when it happens you can find a new one at any post office for just a few cents. 100% reccommended instead the typical laptop protectors.

    Wonderful collection of tips Christine! Is nice to see all this interesting reccommendations in a single post.

    McGyver rules!

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 21, 2014 9:31 pm

      @Nelson: I’ll have to try your tip. I’m always worried about folks stealing it. I remember seeing you with it and thinking it was a brilliant idea. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Take along one of those metal clamp clips normally used to hold piles of papers together on your desk. It’s the perfect thing to hold curtains together that don’t want to stay put AND weigh them down so they don’t blow open if you have the window open. Also take along a flat sink stopper – plastic and about 5″ around. This will stop up any sink no matter the size of the drain hole so you don’t have to resort to hand washing your clothes in the toilet. Ew.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 21, 2014 9:36 pm

      @Karen: Haha. At first the toilet washing idea really threw me too. I had to read it over and over because I figured I had to be interpreting it the wrong way. Guess not. The flat sink stop;per is a good idea.

      • Toilet in this instance translates to bathroom in American English. So he was washing his clothes in the bathroom.

  • I’ve seen laptop sleeves that look like those bubble envelopes. What a twist to get an actual bubble envelope to be used as a laptop sleeve! I’mg going to test this out with my Macbook Air! Hopefully it doesn’t rip!

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 5, 2014 10:46 pm

      @Glamorous- Interesting that you’ve seen an actual case like that. I’ve seen Nelson with his… it looks like it works pretty good. It gets worn but that just makes it more unattractive to steal.

  • Great post ! i always bring both a sarong and large scarf – soo versatile !

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 5, 2014 10:42 pm : yes, I’m a fan of those two tips too. Always bring them.

  • Great tips! I’m going to be using some of these on my next trip, that’s for sure. Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

  • Thanks for featuring my MacGyver like travel tip. I now have 12 new good ideas to use in a pinch next time I am traveling.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 3, 2014 8:29 pm

      Thanks for participating, @Ted. There have been times I’ve considered one of those sunscreening hats. Think I’ll save myself the money and make a temporary one like yours!

  • Love the postcard envelope idea too! My favourite travel hack is putting all my belongings into packing cubes (takes up less space in suitcase, great for organization), then sticking dryer sheets inside. They help keep clothes smelling fresh!

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 3, 2014 8:39 pm

      @Tamara: Ah, that’s a “smart” travel tip. Drat, I can’t use those. 😉

  • Using postcard envelope to put your laptop in? Man, that’s the best idea I’ve ever heard!!!! You’re so creative!.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 3, 2014 8:41 pm

      @Agness : Right? That’s the travel poetry of blogger, Nelson Mochileros.

  • Recently wore a thin leather belt to china and it was great for shopping, lashing, first aide if needed, I hung all our gear from it safely without having to wear a hot multipocket best. And zip off pants, one travel pair, too, all you need.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 5, 2014 10:44 pm

      I’m a fan of the Northface zip-off pants too @Connie! Your belt idea is interesting though.

  • My son uses an iPhone charger cord as a belt. The days I could do that have long passed.

  • HannahontheMap
    June 3, 2014 10:31 am

    The one about the post card envelope is genius! I’m traveling next month to Bolivia and was actually worried about this very problem. I’m going to buy one as soon as possible!

  • ZipLoc bags make great makeshift waterproof bags when you’re traveling in places like Costa Rica during the rainy season.

    I normally dumo my iPod & headphones in one when heading out to the gym so it doesn’t get soaked on the way there. For bigger items like laptops etc. I usually double bag them in small refuse bags before putting them in the sleeve to make sure that they are dust proof & rain proof.

    • Christine Kaaloa
      June 3, 2014 2:49 pm

      @Bronson: Yes, I’m a fan of ziploc bags too. Never brought a refuse one but I can see how that would come in handy! Thx for sharing.

  • Nice collection of tips there. I’d heard the sarong one recently and thought it was a great and versatile tool for any traveller.

    I also like the bubble wrap idea for protecting your computer.

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