Have you seen the movie “Wild” with Reese Witherspoon? That backpack is an excellent example of how NOT to pack for your upcoming trip. The size of her pack is ridiculous but believe it or not we actually did encounter travellers carrying the world on their shoulders. I too have been guilty of carrying less than useful items myself. At one point or another I did have most of the below in my bag but they were all removed within a couple of months.
In league with my post on what to pack, here is my list of items to leave at home:
I made the mistake of bringing my favourite pair of Oakleys and while they have lasted me the entire duration, they are now trashed to the point of no return. On the other hand, Paul also started with an expensive pair of Oakleys and have gone through 4 pairs of sunglasses in 14 months. The point of the story is leave those nice shades at home and just pick up cheap ones on the road on a ‘as needed’ basis.
This one was tough to live with in the beginning. I will admit I packed my BB cream, travel sized eye shadows and eyeliner in my original pack but everything minus the eye liner ended up in the trash. Main thing was weight and space. My toiletries bag was overflowing and I prioritized face wash and shampoo over BB cream. Second was the liquids restriction for flights. Leaving the expensive stuff at home means you won’t care when airport securities makes you toss everything in the trash. Last but not least, after awhile it just doesn’t matter. In fact, since we did so much hiking during our trip, I felt out of place wearing make up out in nature.
No need to bring huge bottles of shampoo, body wash, conditioner, etc. We started off with a set of travel sized bottles and refilled along with way. We also hoarded those pre-packaged shampoo packets provided at hotels. Any time we were staying in a country for more than 2 weeks we opted to buy a cheap bottle of shampoo and top up our travel bottles before flying out. There was seriously a Body Shop in almost every country we visited so if I was really desperate, I would have no trouble picking up face wash, or anything semi important.
I bought one at REI thinking it’d be handy for when we do our laundry in the sink but we left it behind in New Zealand and didn’t miss it once. There are always curtain drapes, chairs, bed frames, and closet doors to hang things off. You learn quickly to make do with what you’ve got. In line with this, we also did not need a drain plug for laundry.
Swiss Army Knife
We opted to travel carry-on only as much as possible and for this reason we had to skip the multi-functional tools. Maybe the scissors or knife would have been handy here or there but in reality we never wished we had one. And these are usually quite heavy anyway.
Unless it’s a special lithium battery for the camera, leave those rechargeable AA batteries at home. You can buy replacement batteries anywhere in the world and you don’t have so much extra weight in your bag. Every gram counts! In fact, Paul would prefer a camera that takes AA batteries over ones that take rechargeable lithium ones.
I’m not saying you should dress like a a bum, but you can dress smart. I had a simple black dress that doubled as a casual everyday dress but nice enough to get me into a nice hotel buffet in Dubai. Plus, nice clothes get wrecked. I wouldn’t recommend packing anything you wouldn’t be able to part ways with. Don’t pack your favourite silk top you wear to work!
Too many pairs of Underwear
Lets be honest, it’s not that hard to wash your underwear daily. At worst, you skip a day which means you can survive on 3 or 4 pairs of underwear max. Paul survived with 2 pairs after losing 1 within the first month of our trip. Underwear may seem so small but they take up a lot of space. A packing cube can only hold so much! Plus, having 5 or 6 pairs of dirty underwear in your bag is just gross so less is more when it comes to keeping up with overall cleanliness.
I started off with a necklace but I ended up leaving it behind in New Zealand and didn’t miss it once. Sometimes it’s more fun to shop and wear local jewellery and you can send them home as souvenirs. As travellers, you want to leave that bling at home regardless of it’s actual value. Plus, jewellery is heavy.
You really don’t need more than one. There are more book exchanges than you will need. Even if you do want to bring a book, I highly recommend considering an e-reader instead. Lighter, and you can take as many ebooks as you can!
When it comes to guidebooks, we had 1 or 2 hardcopy Lonely Planets with us most of the time. And while we used ours extensively I have to admit they were a burden to carry. An alternative was to buy/download the pdf version and read on your phone/tablet/laptop at the hotel. We also got a couple of books sent to future destinations so they were waiting by the time we arrived.