Now that summer is coming and many of us will be traveling to vacation destinations, taking day trips to the beach, or just driving a lot more with kids in the backseat I wanted to put together some ideas for using recyclable items to make your time in the car, plane or train a little easier. Traveling smart does NOT require a trip to the Container Store! Note: some of these ideas have already been published on this site, most have not.
Baking Tray Magnet Games
An old metal tray or cookie sheet makes a great travel activity. Pack a container filled with magnetic letters and numbers, or make your own picture magnets following a particular theme such as family pictures or furniture for a magnetic doll house.
Breath Mint Container
Breath mint containers are ideal for reusing as miniature travel containers. They are often made of metal, which doesn’t break down like plastic does, are easily washable, and have lids that securely close. Use a label machine or a Sharpie pen to clearly label with the new contents and fill your containers with:
- aspirin or allergy medications
- salt and pepper (use a two to one ratio)
- sugar and/or powdered creamer
- cotton swabs
Stashing your jewelry in the small compartments of an egg carton keeps them from getting tangled together and keeps small items from getting lost. To keep items from trading compartments place a 1/2-inch thick piece of foam cut to fit the inside of the carton across the bottom section before closing. Hold the entire carton together with one or two large rubber bands.
Fill each compartment with snacks for little ones. While this takes up more room than zip-lock baggies, the carton will keep the snacks from turning into a crumbly mess.
Egg Carton Toy Holder
Fill each compartment with small toys or craft items. The lid becomes a play or work surface.
Empty deodorant casings make great travel containers. Toss the empty casings along with the lids in the small item basket in your dishwasher. Allow to thoroughly dry then use one (or more) of the ideas below:
• travel case for crayons
• first aid kit: fill with bandages, aspirin, trial size first-aid ointments …
• fill with sewing supplies for a travel sewing kit
• hide money and other valuables in it when traveling
• hold small items when traveling
Emergency Trunk Kit for Your Car
Pack the following recyclable items in a large empty coffee can stowed in your trunk. Evaluate according to the type of driving and terrain you will be driving.
- 2 candle stubs for starting a fire in damp conditions
- Wooden matches who’s heads have been dipped in melted candle wax which makes them moisture resistant. Store in a small box so the wax doesn’t get rubbed off. Or bend back the front cover of a book of matches and dip the entire batch of paper matches in candle wax. Bend the cover back around and to protect the matches. Waterproof matches are better than a lighter as a lighter must be warm to work and if the lighter is left in the trunk long enough the fuel can evaporate.
- Unopened bottle(s) of water.
- Granola bars or other nonperishable high-energy food.
- Shoe laces to make an emergency tourniquet.
Wrap a quilt made from old blankets (doesn’t matter if it’s ugly – ugly will still keep you warm) around the coffee can and secure with a pair of old pantyhose or tights which can be used for a variety of emergencies such as:
- replace a broken belt in your car’s engine
- a tourniquet
- filter liquids
secure a splint to a broken arm or leg
Bathing Suit Storage
Place wet gear in plastic grocery bags, twist and tie off to keep the wet gear from dripping all over everything else in your tote bag or suitcase.
The plastic bags that your newspaper comes in (also grocery produce bags) are great for placing shoes in when you travel. Handled grocery bags work also but I like to use the newspaper or produce bags so that I can see which shoes are in them.
Purse You No Longer Use
A purse with pockets is great as a toiletry kit. I especially love that you can hang it from a hook in a bathroom or just over your shoulder while standing at the sink so you can easily grab what you need as you need it.
Fill with toys and activities for your child(ren). Use the handle or strap of the purse to hook it over the back of a car, train or plane seat. Your child now has easy access to their favorite toys and it’s easy for them to put them away when their done playing.
Use old rugs to line a pet travel kennel or place on the floor of your car. These rugs can be easily removed and shaken or even hosed down and if they’re beyond cleaning you can just through them away.
Slightly Off Topic
Have you ever wondered what they do with planes that are no longer able to fly? Good news – there are many ways to recycle old planes.