When you finally take the leap to travel long term, one of the first things on your mind is all the things you think you need to buy for your trip. The travel gadget industry is making a fortune from us thinking that we have to pack a lifetime of gear into our tiny backpacks.
I remember the excitement, scouring the internet for packing lists, creating a ridiculously long and expensive what to pack list.
And before you march to your favourite outdoor adventure store armed with a list of outrageously expensive travel gear you absolutely must have to be a true and authentic backpacker, you may want to rethink these ones.
1. Special Travel Soap and Clothesline
I washed my t-shirts one time with the high priced travel soap. Guess what? I had soap stains on my shirt and it still smelled manky. I have yet to visit a hostel that didn’t offer cheap laundry service or at least know where one was located nearby.
2. Universal Sink Stopper
I always carried one, but never used it. If you arrive somewhere that doesn’t have one, just ask another backpacker to borrow it. You can also use your smallest piece of clothing, possibly socks, to block the drain while you hand wash your other clothes.
3. Silk Sleep Liner
Completely unnecessary in Latin America. If a hostel is that dodgy, the thin silk layer isn’t going to convince me to stay. If you really think you need one save yourself 50-80 dollars and get your mother to sew $2 sheets together. When you realize I was right and you throw it away, you will have only wasted $2. If you are a camper, then you probably have different reasons for needing one.
4. Hanging Toiletry Bag
Before you start daydreaming of waking up in the jungle, about to take a rainwater shower to the sounds of birds chirping and butterflies floating by, you need to know this. There is no where to hang that bag, so half the time it’s on a toilet. It also doesn’t fold well and takes up too much room in your bag. Just buy a regular toiletry bag, not a special travel one.
5. High Performance Travel Clothing
Unless you are planning to run a marathon you probably don’t need a $75 shirt. Talk to anyone in a hot climate and they’ll tell you that the overpriced shirt becomes a sauna. I fell for it too. But, then I left my $100 merino wool sweater, that I wore once, in Panama.
Since then, it’s $10 fake Abercrombie and Fitch hoodies for me.
For the record, I do have zip off pants and while they are amazingly useful, but also a $100, they make me look like a gringo, so I wear them sparingly. If you can’t find a cheap pair just forget them all together. I would throw them out if they didn’t cost me so much.
6. State of the Art Swiss Army Knife
Maybe it’s because I’m not in the jungle for months on end, or I’m a wussy girl, but I have only ever used my knife to clean my nails. The other other thing I wanted to do with it was open a bottle of wine, but I realized it didn’t have a cork screw on it.
So tell me folks, what outrageous travel item have you bought and then realized you had absolutely no need for it? What did you do with it? Throw it out or continue to carry it in hopes you may use it one day?