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13 unusual things you should always pack when traveling

A trash bag is more useful than you think.

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As fun as travel typically is, it can also be stressful. No matter how much you plan, in some way or another, there's always going to be some oversight. You'll inevitably leave behind your toothbrush or maybe your favorite shoes. Of course, you can often pick up menial things left at home when you get to your destination. But some things are easier to just bring with you.

Here are 13 things you might not think about but definitely should bring with you on your next vacation.

Read more: Getting for your next trip like a pro with our best travel hacks.

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A power strip

There are few things worse than getting to your hotel room to only find one outlet. You're left to choose between having a lamp and alarm clock or charging your devices. That is, unless you bring your own power strip.

You don't need to pack a full-size power strip either. Belkin, Philips and other companies offer power strips that are compact and built for travel. They turn one outlet into several and typically come with some USB ports built-in as well.

For anyone with more than one device, travel power strips and portable surge protectors are a must.

Portable power banks

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Aukey

When traveling, you're likely going to be using your phone more -- pulling up boarding passes, looking up places to go and directions to those places, keeping in touch with friends and family back home and so on. Plus, you might be in and out of coverage areas, which can drain your phone's battery faster than usual. And when you're traveling, access to power outlets is never guaranteed.

That's why it's best to bring your power with you. Power banks are commonplace by now, but it's best to invest in one that's not only reliable but can also charge your phone multiple times before needing to be charged itself.

Read more: 5 phone accessories that make travel easier.

An empty bottle

You may not be able to make it through airport security with over 3 ounces of liquid, but no one said you can't bring an empty bottle through TSA and fill it afterward.

You never know when your flight will be delayed, leaving you with nothing but overpriced airport water.

Towelettes

If you want a quick way to sanitize your hands or clean your face or devices, make sure to bring towelettes with you. They should make it through security checkpoints and will allow you to sanitize and clean without needing to make trips to the restroom during your wait or while you're exploring the town.

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A quick-dry towel

You never know when you're going to need a towel. Maybe you got caught in a freak rain storm and need to dry off. Or you arrived at your Airbnb only to find they didn't provide towels.

Quick-drying towels may not be the softest or most comfortable to dry off with, but they get the job done without adding too much bulk or weight to your luggage. Best of all, because they dry quickly you won't be waiting long before you can stash it in your bag and head out.

A packable backpack

I always end up carrying a lot on me when I'm traveling. If you're anything like me, your carry-on backpack gets full pretty quickly, usually with tons of things you don't want to carry everywhere with you. This means it's usually a great idea to bring along a separate bag -- one that you can pack down and maybe stow in your back pocket.

Bring this lighter pack instead, so you don't weigh yourself down while exploring and just in case you purchase any souvenirs and want to keep your hands free.

Trash bags or plastic bags

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Taylor Martin/CNET

Bringing trash bags in your suitcase may seem awkward. Hotel maintenance tends to empty the trash before you could ever fill up a trash can or bag.

However, you won't be throwing garbage in a trash bin. Instead, you can use spare trash bags to separate dirty clothes from those that are still clean in your suitcase. Just remember to place the trash bag in your suitcase so house keeping doesn't mistake it for actual trash.

If you're not comfortable with using a trash bag for laundry, consider packing a mesh laundry bag instead or checking to see if your hotel room includes a disposable laundry bag.

Lip balm

During the late fall, as it nears winter, the climate is dry in a lot of places. With increased outdoor activity and climate changes in the plane and during travel, you may find that your lips will get chapped quickly.

It's wise to bring some lip balm to keep your lips moisturized and free from chapping. To be safe, just buy an extra tube and toss it into your first aid kit so you won't forget to bring it.

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Bottle protectors

If you think you may want to bring a special bottle of beer, liquor or wine home with you, make sure to also bring protection for the bottle.

If you think the ol' wine-bottle-in-the-sock trick will work, you can try that instead. However, a protective bottle bag with padding and a zip-lock top will help protect your clothing should one of the bottles break.

Dryer sheets

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Alina Bradford/CNET

When on vacation, you tend to do a lot more walking than normal -- to train or subway stations, through the airport and through the city. Your feet will feel the added stress, and you may find that your shoes (and nose) will pay the price.

Upon returning to the hotel at night, place a dryer sheet in each shoe to mask the smell and help aerate your shoes. You can also use dryer sheets for mild cleaning of surfaces and for freshening up the entire room by placing a sheet behind the grille of the room's AC unit.

A universal plug adapter

You don't want to find yourself traveling abroad without a plug adapter. If you go anywhere overseas without an adapter, you will be hard-pressed to charge your devices without buying an expensive adapter. You'll thank yourself if you do so before you leave, as it will save you a lot of stress and potentially money.

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A travel router can help you stay connected when your hotel Wi-Fi is spotty.

TP-Link

A travel router

Internet connections are always hit or miss when traveling, but one thing is certain: A wired connection is almost always going to be more reliable than wireless. This is especially true in hotels.

Packing a travel router might seem like overkill, but they're so small and helpful that it's worth bringing one along if you need to stay connected. You can buy one for anywhere between $15 and $50 and they're usually not much larger than the wall adapter for your phone.

A packable down jacket

No matter how often you check the weather before you leave on a trip, you can never fully know what to expect. Even if you're not expecting brisk evenings, it's wise to bring a jacket.

One of the best ways to do this without adding weight and bulk to your luggage is with a packable down jacket. They're lightweight, warm and often pack down to the size of a softball.

Have an overflowing suitcase? Learn how to pack your luggage the right way.

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