I never would have thought to pack this. 

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated July 25, 2019
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The One Surprising Thing You Should Bring on Vacation
Credit: Amazon

Last year, I went on a quick weekend trip to Asheville, North Carolina for a reunion with some high school friends. The trip was low-key, with each of us just packing a backpack and sharing a hotel room. We didn't have any fancy events planned or big dinners out, so when one of my friends pulled out a portable steamer from her minimally-packed bag and started de-wrinkling her skirt for the next day, I was stunned. How did she think to bring a steamer on a two-day trip, and how did she fit it (along with her clothes for the weekend) inside one small backpack?

Fielding the barrage of questions, my friend (who's well-known for her polished, always wrinkle-free clothing, I might add) explained that her boyfriend had bought her the mini PurSteam Fabric Steamer ($30; amazon.com, for the updated 2019 version). She brought it along on her trip to South Korea last year, and ended up using it every single day. Plus, the tiny machine weighs less than two pounds, so it was easy to slip into her suitcase. After the trip, she said she decided to bring the small-but-mighty steamer with her whenever she travels (even if it's just for the weekend).

I'll admit, I was still skeptical, but after watching the machine heat up in less than a minute and witnessing it steam a skirt and top without having to be refilled with water, I was impressed. And the next day, the steamer worked its magic on another outfit. While I felt a little disheveled wearing a dress I'd just pulled out of my backpack (the rolling trick only does so much), my friend looked perfectly pulled together.

By the time we boarded our flight home, I was convinced and decided to order the steamer myself. Now, more than a year later, I can confirm that the mini clothes steamer has become an integral part of my morning routine. Whenever I pull a wrinkled linen top or dress out of my closet, I fill the machine with water and within five minutes, the item is wrinkle-free. As someone who's never been a fan of ironing, steaming my clothing has been a real game-changer. This is maybe the best $30 I've ever invested in my wardrobe.