Regardless of your folding technique, stuffing a full vacation wardrobe into a single carry-on is tricky. But clothes aren’t the only things you might need to bring along during a trip; if you’re someone with chronic aches and pains, a massage chair or ergonomic pillow can help, but they probably won’t fit in your luggage, either. You could have better luck packing a common item that’s roughly the size of your fist. According to Travel + Leisurea tennis ball is essential for anyone who gets stiff on long flights.
Many people have at least one tennis ball sitting in their garage, but they would never think to bring it on a journey unless they’re traveling to a place with a tennis court. Though it’s designed for sports, the object serves a different purpose when you’re stuck in cramped quarters. Rolling the ball along your shoulders, legs, back, and other tight parts of your body can help relax muscles and relieve pain.
In addition to feeling great when you’ve been sitting in the same position for hours, a tennis ball massage can be good for your health. The pressure stimulates blood flow, which wakes up the cardiovascular system during extended periods of inactivity. Getting up to stretch your legs in the aisle every 2 to 3 hours is ideal on flights, but when the “fasten seatbelt” sign is on, a tennis ball makes a handy alternative. The trick also works on long car rides and train trips.
Space is limited in your carry-on, but there are a handful of items you should always remember to pack no matter where you’re headed. After squeezing a tennis ball (or three) into your bag, add these travel essentials to your packing checklist.
[h/t Travel + Leisure]