One Small Tube, Many Travel Uses

The trick to packing light is squeezing as many uses out of one item as humanly possible. That’s why I always take a small tube of petroleum jelly in my carryon. Just like hand-sanitizer, this inexpensive product has dozens of uses. Here are examples for personal-care applications:

  • Lip balmVaseline
  • Removes eye makeup
  • Stand-in for facial moisturizer
  • Wild-eyebrow tamer
  • First-aid for rashes, scratches, and wind-burned skin; prevent wind burn by applying on face before cold-weather exposure
  • Prevents chafing from clothing
  • It becomes an exfoliator when mixed with salt or sugar.
  • When applied to moist skin, it softens cuticles and smooths hands, elbows, and feet. (Wear socks to bed to keep petroleum jelly on your feet during the night.)
  • If you reach the bottom of your lipstick tube and have no time to go shopping, just mix the last bit of lipstick with a dab of petroleum jelly, and voilà, you’ll have enough colored lip gloss to tide you over. The same goes for gel rouge.
  • Rubbing a little on your pulse points before applying perfume makes scent last longer—if you’re sure you won’t be around anyone allergic to scents.

Some people object to using a petroleum-based product on their skin. Fortunately, petroleum-free alternatives exist. But whatever the jelly is made of, its usefulness doesn’t stop with a toiletries bag. Here are more ideas to try while traveling:

  • Stuck ring? Lubricate the finger with petroleum jelly, and the ring will twist off. (Be sure to clean the ring with a safe degreasing agent when you get home.)
  • Let petroleum jelly start to disintegrate chewing gum before you attempt to remove the wad from your luggage, hair, or other unfortunate surface.
  • Remove drinking-glass watermarks left accidentally on finished wood surfaces. Rub on some jelly, let it sit overnight, and wipe it away in the morning with a little more jelly.
  • Before laundering clothing that has lipstick stains, apply a little petroleum jelly as a stain pretreatment.
  • Restore leather clothing or the shine on patent-leather shoes or handbags by applying petroleum jelly and then buffing gently with a soft cloth.
  • Wipe petroleum jelly around the tip of a travel bottle you had trouble opening, and the lid won’t stick next time.
  • Use it to open or close a stuck zipper.
  • Stop guestroom door squeaks by applying petroleum jelly to the hinge pins.
  • For easy opening/closing of shower curtains, lubricate the rod.

Those ideas should get you started. Once you unleash your creativity, I’m sure you’ll be able to, er, squeeze many more from your own petroleum-jelly (or alternative) tube.


Fiercely Frugal Savage Sister Diana has gathered packing pointers over the years on numerous domestic and foreign trips. Most recently, she travels in conjunction with the publication of her latest book, 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

© 2014 The Savage Sisters

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