My grandfather knew what he was doing when he told me to “always carry a pocket knife.” Spending the last few weeks of summer at the beach? You should take a knife. Traipsing off to a cabin the mountains? Take a knife. Spending some time in a luxurious hotel in the middle of a bustling city? Take. A. Knife.
Knives are technically weapons, but they’re also an important tool that you’ll need if you wish to prepare and/or eat some food. Hotel rooms don’t come with knives, and vacation rentals and remote cabins sometimes “have” them, but the knives within those temporary domiciles are never sharp. (Your knife should be sharp, obviously. If not, make sure you sharpen it before embarking on your trip.)
Even if you “don’t plan on cooking” during your vacation, I’m sure you plan on eating, and I’m sure you’d like to do some of that eating in the privacy of your room, cabin, or beach house, away from the prying eyes of the general public. Want some lovely, local, in-season fruit? I bet you’d really enjoy it if it was cut into pleasing slices (with a knife). Did you purchase a fancy cheese or salami earlier in the day? You’re gonna need a knife to cut it up. Sharing a celebratory cake with a loved one? It’s knife time.
Beyond food—which is always my primary concern—a sharp knife can help you open stubborn packaging, slice through a tangled knot, or turn an empty Pringles can into a sound-boosting phone speaker. (I pulled that last maneuver in a field after berry picking, and everyone was very impressed.)
You also don’t have to limit yourself to one knife. I usually take at least two—my Opinel picnic knife (which has a built in corkscrew), and tactical kind of blade that looks very serious (I forget the brand name, and don’t feel like pulling it out of my backpack to check). I’m going elk hunting this weekend and will be taking a third knife—my grandfather’s hunting knife, which is much larger than the other two.
No matter how many knives you take, make sure you pack them safely and legally. Do not put a knife in your carry-on bag, for instance, and type “is it legal to carry a knife in [whatever state or country you are traveling to]” into your favorite search engine before concealing it in your pocket. And don’t try to take a knife into Disney World, or any other theme park for that matter. (I’ve personally never stabbed anyone, but knives are considered a type of weapon, so treat them accordingly.)