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6 Things To Leave Off Your Packing List

What to Pack for Hiking

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.

Pack List

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.

Pack List

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.

Pack List

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.

Pack List

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?

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On my first couple of stints into SE Asia, I brought with me a state of the art mini (yet still bulky) first aid kit. it took up a a massive chunk of my massive backpack that made me look like a turtle. now i carry a zip lock bag with just a few necessary items. i really don’t need the defibrillator.

You just made me realize that a wine bottle opener is a must! :)

Thanks for the tips. I’m going back and forth on what to bring and what not to bring.

Linda says:

We only ever took 3 of everything with us – 3 sets underwear,outer wear – end of. The rule was one on; one in wash; one clean. At the end of the trip everything was binned, so we only ever had the cheapest / oldest of anything with us at a time. Anything that was needed whilst away was bought there.

Benjamin says:

Thanks for saving me a shit ton of money It is sounds like a lot of the people who are debating you about the high performance clothing haven’t been in country a long time and haven’t seen their million dollar underwear become a frayed mess. I’ll stick with the cheapest clothing I can find, thank you very much.

Jason says:

Glad we could help Benjamin. I think it comes down to personal preference. I liked my expensive clothes for my multi-day treks, but I didn’t mind the cheap stuff when doing normal traveling. I admit, I couldn’t live without my ExOffico underwear. Its still strong today 2.5yrs later.

Dina says:

I actually like the silk sheet. It does help me in dodgy situation, or to sleep outdoor on the grass. It packs really small and light. It reduced the amount of bugs eating me alive at my nights in Honduras. I guess it depends on your traveling style :)

The universal sink stopper is an item that I won’t left behind. Very very convenient and waste almost no space in backpack. It;s damn cheap too, a dollar for a pair, huh.

It’s just a piece of flat rubber, but it works the best to… ehmm… clog any kind of sink that I’ve encountered. Excellent for soaking the clothes. Socks or crumpled plastic bag don’t do this job well. I love it especially when we are in place when doing laundry ourselves is the only cheap way to go.

Jason says:

Dina, we are big fans of the sleep sacs too. We used them often during camping and when we stayed in some rough accommodations.

Don Faust says:

What, you don’t take your Universal Sink Stopper with you? Haha – good one. Some people also think they need to bring socks for every day – a good pair of socks (assuming you don’t have super smelly feet) should last a few days at least. I happen to like the performance clothing though – they normally pack much smaller.

Jason says:

It does pack smaller and usually lighter. I can get some pretty cheap stuff at Target, Champion brand. It’s made of the same stuff from UnderAmor, yet it’s half the price.

Jason says:

Nice list. I agree with all –except for the swiss army knife–can’t leave home without it.
Jason

THE_HONEST says:

Fancy flippin’ high tech Merrell-Gore-Tex-Vibram-Soled-Kevlar hiking shoes, or anything like that. Just use simple, basic running shoes, or flip-flops. Guess what? Rockin’ those new super trooper space shoes in bangkok or la paz or wherever makes you look like a tool! Unless you’re a jungle guide or a Blackwater mercenary or something, leave the “Everest Destroyers” at home.

Great post! Lots of common sense and a practical approach to packing. Easy to waste money buying and packing unnecessary things, very good advice. Thank you for sharing.

MaryAnne says:

I had a bungee cord clothes line that I used full time for my first decade of backpacking- though rarely for actually drying clothes. It made an awesome curtain rod for a sarong curtain when living in bottom bunks in hostels full time. The modicum of privacy it provided was marvellous.

My dad once picked me up a 25 cent rubber disc sink stopper at a thrift shop that I used for 6 years in Turkey (they don’t like stopped sinks there) and now two years in China. I use it when washing delicates in our cold water utility sink out back.

I once bought a huge Egyptian cotton sheet from the Goldhawk Road market in W. London and sewed it into a sleep sheet by hand (by hand! my god! I must have been motivated!) but never used it and ended up taking a stitch ripper to it in Ghana when a local artist said he could batik it for me. It is now a wall hanging.

Corfu Hotels says:

I agree with this article except clothes. My clothes make me feel better or make me feel the time better. Evening clothes make me feel that is evening and night that is night. Sorry, but i can’t change that.

I disagree on the clothesline too, I’ve used mine many times. Plus it weighs nothing. A giant rubberband can be use for all kinds of things, like lashing things to a pack, creating a slingshot to hunt small game, or as a tourniquet to help you find a vein when injecting heroin. ;)

Also a big fan of my Icebreaker Apollo t-shirts. They look normal and work great in 100 degree heat. They dry really fast on my clothesline too, when I’m not using it to get my next fix that is…

An interesting read. I can’t say that there is too much that I have purchased and not used, although the knife is something that does get a work out from time to time. I know how easy it is to throw everything in though, on the thought of ‘I might need this….’!

Aaron

Alice says:

I couldn’t agree more on this, sometimes over worrying makes you bring things that you wouldn’t use on a trip.

thegoodword says:

I leave tomorrow for Guatemala. I plan to bring a lot of clothes that I would normally donate to charity. Instead of washing them, I will just leave them when they are dirty. I will still have quick drying Patagonia boxers, socks, and zip-off pants. I personally see no need to plug a sink, nor do I plan to use anything but what is around me to hang dry boxer shorts.

Maryannee says:

yum! dirty clothes!

Good to know that I’ve never considered bringing any of these items. I stick with the basics. Although, my mom did buy me a toiletry bag and I love it so much that I don’t know how I lived without it for so long!

ayngelina says:

@Jordan

It’s amazing how we feel like we need special travel related products for everything and then we get there and realize that no one uses them but travelers.

As for clothes, I’ve ditched almost all my ‘traveler’ clothes and am just wearing stuff I’ve bought on the road. I feel less like a traveler and more like a regular person who happens to be in another country.

Juan says:

I agree with nearly all the things, but I always carry a swiss knife with me. Great article anyway!

Theodora says:

I didn’t actually buy any of these things. Though I did buy a clothesline in Cambodia, after I got sick of local laundries bleaching my clothes.

And there is nothing, nothing like “travel” or “performance” clothing to make you look like a tourist. Apart from, conceivably, a fanny pack.

I shop locally, I guess you do too. It’s easier that way…

It’s only after your first travelling trip that you realise how little you really need with you. My first time travelling I think I brought every luxury under the sun. Now I realise all you essentially need is your clothes and a few small items.

Anthony says:

i would have to agree with some item but disagree with a few others. We carry around a half cut tennis ball as a sink plug and regularly wash smaller items like underwear and socks in a sink. The swiss army knife has also been used on countless occasions to open cans, bottles and also that damn plastic packaging you get electrical things in that are impossible to open. You can leave the silk liner I though, takes up to much space.

Rebecca says:

Agree about the hanging toiletry bags – I have so many but now end up just using simple, no frills bags that I can shove more easily into spaces in my backpack.

JB says:

I also would have to disagree about performance clothing, though what is meant by that might vary. For me it means mostly shirts that are made of synthetic materials. Nike dri-fit is the most popular example but Champion makes a nice, much cheaper alternative and I have a shirt from Asics that I like as well. Didn’t pay much for any of them and I love them. People always talk about ex-officio underwear and I have two pair but I have found Champion’s C9 brand offerings just as good and likewise for Underarmour.

As for convertible pants, they seem to be a big point of contention but I personally love mine. I agree they make you look like a tourist, but I really don’t think I am going to ever pass as a local anyway so I don’t worry about it. Function and comfort first is my mantra. Plus, looking like a tourist isn’t always such a bad thing as you sometimes end up in some interesting conversations on the street as a result.

I like having a hanging toiletry bag, but if I had to choose again I would find a different model than mine (Rick Steves). I just saw a really nice one that a German guy had from Jack Wolfskin (?). The difference was really just how it was laid out – his used space more efficiently and flexibly.

Erica says:

We’re trying to put together our travel supplies so it is nice to read other people’s reviews of items. It looks like I won’t be buying those silk sheets!

I was wondering about the Ex-Officio underwear. It looks like I will be investing in some of those!

Enjoyed the post and the lunacy of packing for a long trip! It’s hard especially with diverse climate changes and unexpected adventures. The only two items on the list that I’ve actually enjoyed having with me are 3.) silk sleeping bag, and 5.) high performance clothing. You don’t have to spend a lot on either. I bought my silk sleeping bag in the Hanoi night market in Vietnam for $3 and it made my overnight rides on the trains down right comfortable. Throw in iPod speakers (for music that reminds me of home) and some cheap snacks before boarding the long-haul trains and it’s practically a slumber party! Seriously fun! you can ball up one of your shirts to slip inside the sewn-in pocket of the liner and voilà you’ve got a silk pillow to sleep on. Besides, as a female, the silk sleeping bag provided some minor sense of comfort while sleeping in a train cabin packed with strangers / men. With regard to 5.) high performance clothing, I always travel with one Patagonia / North Face style pull-over and zip-up. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot. I bought mine for $14 in Sapa, Vietnam and was told that many of these popular American brands are made there, so it’s cheap! But if you can’t buy your travel clothes in Asia, Old Navy makes cheap $20 alternatives in the states. I’ve seriously worn mine everywhere… on early morning game drives in Africa, to freezing mountain climbs, to walking around metropolitan cities like Rome or London. I also learned the hard way that cotton (when wet) draws heat away from your body, while synthetic high performance clothing helps keep you warm… even when you’re stuck sleeping outside in the pouring rain. In general though, I second the notion of light weight fast-drying clothing that’s easy to layer, depending on the weather.

cheers,
hiptraveler

Jaime says:

I am about to take off on my RTW trip in 25 days and thankfully none of these items are going to be in my backpack. I have read through so many packing list that many of the bloggers have made. I love reading packing list & i am actually taking a lot of advise from everyone. I will be traveling light & everything is going to fit in my 40L backpack!

Madhu Nair says:

:) I have a swiss knife somewhere in my backpack … :) Have been on the road for about 18 months – haven’t used it even once :)

I agree on the travel soap. I used the Sea to Summit soap on a trek across Spain on the Camino de Santiago and it just didn’t get my clothes clean. Later on in my travels, my sister brought me some Dr. Bronner’s and it worked better. Once I was able to be in more “civilized” areas, then I was able to have my laundry done.

As far as the “Tech” clothing, there are ways to get good deals on those kinds of clothes and there is NO way I would have wanted cotton clothing when I was in SE Asia. I was so glad to have my lightweight, quick-dry, synthetic clothing.

And, lastly, I took my Leatherman with me and it was indispensable. I am very glad I took it.

I liked this list though….it’s always good to share!

Abbey Hesser says:

Alright. Throwing my two cents in. I know a lot of people are freaking out about the silk sack. IMHO… I looove love love my sleep sack. It’s not silk. It’s not intended to fend off dragons or malaria infested mosquitoes or even bad looking men. It’s sole purpose is that I always sleep better in my own sheets. Hostel sheets are generally shitty and scratchy and I don’t LIKE it. For no other reason than that, I always and forever will keep my sheet sleep sack to go around me while I’m sleeping. In addition to that, it’s great for sleeping without pants on and for changing in if you happen to get bottom bunk but don’t have time to wait for the bathroom line to die down to just change. And did I mention sleeping without pants on? How often do you get to do that when you’re staying in hostels? The answer for me… every. night.

Kim says:

Dammit. I already bought my silk sleep sack. At least you saved me for a few other unnecessary purchases.

T Roach says:

I think every traveler has one of these silk sheets they’ve never used kicking around somewhere.

Amy says:

I think this is definitely a case of it depends on your personal preferences and where you’ll be. I have to disagree on almost every item, but others obviously feel differently. I agree on the special soap, because you’ll run out in a few weeks anyway, but the clotheslines is invaluable. Often there is little room to hang wet clothes. Although they aren’t perfect, I’m sad we lost our sink stopper behind in some random sink because many places don’t have them and a sock stuffer never works for me. I used my silk sleep sack every day in India because the levels of cleanliness in almost every place we stayed, from low to mid-level, were not the same as it home. In other countries I haven’t touched it, which is why I’m glad we went with the smallest and lightest version possible, even though the silk was expensive. I love my hanging toiletry bag – I find places to hang it and find it to be compact enough. We lost our multi-tool, so we’ve been living without it, but just yesterday we bought some fruit and had no way to cut it.

So with everything in travel, it just depends on your preference! Good article though – it gives rtwsoon people some food for thought.

Kristi says:

Agree on the power converter, I only needed an adapter for my electronics on a RTW trip and converters can be bulky & heavy. For a sink plug, I took a rubber grippy thing – you know those small, flat things you use to open jars? Takes up very little space, light, and can potentially be used for other things than plugging a sink. Haven’t used my clothesline a lot (it is a small, stretchy elastic one), but was really helpful a few times when I had to dry a lot of stuff due to the laundry situation or there weren’t any hangers available. It would be a good tip to find out the laundry situation in the countries/areas you’re visiting. For example, everyone (including the hostels) seemed to outsource their laundry to a service in the places I visited in Argentina & Chile so I wasn’t doing it myself. In other places, there are do-it-yourself laundry facilities everywhere. Same with towels. I took a travel towel – takes up a lot less space & dries much faster – and used it every day for months in countries where towels aren’t included at hostels and then didn’t use it for a month in a country where towels were included. I read a lot of reviews/blogs where people swore by them and others claimed they were unnecessary and/or smelled funky after awhile. For me, buying & taking one was the right choice, but it depends on where you’ll be. It was great in New Zealand because we had a car so I just hung it in the back seat after checking out of the hostel and it dried quickly as we drove to the next stop. That doesn’t work so well if traveling solely on public transportation… Washing it occasionally is a good thing.

In the cooler climates where I’ve hiked a lot, wouldn’t trade my synthetic or wool clothes for anything – stay warm even if wet and dry so much faster than cotton. They aren’t necessarily high performance TRAVEL clothes, but high performance outdoor activity gear. A little more expensive, but I’ve always watched online for sales and bought them over time so I wasn’t spending a fortune right before a trip and have had good luck with durability. And they don’t comprise my whole wardrobe – I’ve still got cheap cotton tank tops & t-shirts that are just fine for a lot of days. Zip-off pants (or trousers as my British friends would say) saved a lot of room in my luggage – I could wear them over a pair of long underwear in really cold places and then as shorts in the tropics. I’ve used the corkscrew on my knife more than anything. Tried to use it on salami while camping & realized the knife was too dull to cut anything – if you’re going to haul one around, make sure it’s sharp! Doh!

I love my hanging toiletry bag! Occasionally there hasn’t been a good place to hang it, but I’ve found more often there isn’t a place (at least a clean place) to set things down. Especially in hostel bathrooms that are a little dicey and covered with water, toothpaste, and who knows what, but I might be more picky about bathrooms & where I sit my stuff than most. More often than not, I’ve been glad to have the hanging bag which is the same one I use if I visit my out-of-town family overnight.

Wow, I didn’t intend to address nearly every point of the article, but that’s my two cents based on my experience traveling round the world through drastically different climates. Even if I didn’t agree with everything, I think the completely valid take-away is that you don’t need every travel gadget or to spend a lot of money on unnecessary stuff just to take a big trip. Do a little research on your locations and introspection on your needs. It’s great to have everything you need on the road, but not if it makes it too difficult to be on the move and actually travel!

Agree with it all, except the clothes. I’m a big believer in proper clothes = good times. All my shirts besides one poly T are merino and I think they’re awesome. Warm when wet, cool on warm days. I will agree that they’re not fantastic 100% of the time, +40c jungle or Egyptian summer was a little much. I can’t stand wearing cotton T’s.

My couple pairs of pants (besides one pair of gore-tex climbing pants) are zip offs. I don’t care if it makes me look like a tourist though.

Brought a really basic swiss army knife, and barely use it. The mini scissors once in a while only.

A lot of the things really depend on where you’re traveling though. Travel soap is handy when you’re camping, and a lightweight sleep liner (of one sort or another) is good for couchsurfing so your host doesn’t have to keep washing the sheets all the time for each guest.

I just love to see our favorite bloggers together teaming up with this post and the list of people who inspire us peppering the comments. Obviously what to leave behind is a popular topic and one we wish we had listened to more before we left.

For some unknown reason we continue to carry the sink plug (which we have never used) and the silk sheets which were used once in the jungle to effectively fend off a puma in the middle of the night (at least that is the story we are both using as to why we keep carrying them). In truth, your article may be the final kick we need to donate them to the population here in Lima.

My personal favorite about the expensive travel shirts we bought is the smell. Every time we go on a hike Betsy reminds me that my shirts stink (thanks to all the chemicals they put on them to resist sunlight, bugs, meteors, and screaming children) but I just can’t seem to part with them.

Thank you for the intervention. I am going to pour a second glass of wine and reflect on my backpack.

Melvin says:

I agree, but not with the knife… that’s something I really like on my trips. It’s not that you use it daily, but it was good to have it a lot of times already.

Erin says:

Completely agree with all of these. We do like our long sleeve merino tops as they are warm, don’t smell and are long lasting, but we could manage without them. On the other hand we could do with some quick drying socks -it was a real problem in colder climates.

Liv says:

I like to think of myself as very good at NOT overpacking but I have to confess sink plugs are not always easy to find in countries in the middle east, so I often take one of those. Wouldn’t bother if I was going to America, Australia etc though!

Dalene says:

My ex-officio stuff did not last long at all. Bra had massive hole in it within 6 months, and pants wore through pretty easily. Perhaps I needed to bring more clothes and stop re-wearing so much…hmmm. Won’t buy that line again.

We brought our silk sheet liners and were so glad we did. Yes, we stayed in those sketchy hostels but even if the sheets probably were fine, sleeping in the sheets just made me feel a little safer. I am one who gets munched on by all hungry bugs within a 10 mile radius, so any bit of protection is welcomed by me!

ayngelina says:

I had a pair of ex officio and agree they were awesome and I was devastated when I lost a pair of $15 underwear. Without getting too personal I wear $1 thongs that I buy along the way and they don’t take that long to dry. I certainly wouldn’t pay $14 more for ex officio again unless I wanted full briefs

@Evi agree with you on the power converter and if people are thinking of getting an expensive plug adapter they may want to wait as here in Latin America they are 1-2 bucks

Evi says:

Great list, though I might quibble a bit on the sheet, if you’re in India at least. (Though definitely wouldn’t spring for the $80 silk one.) We ended up buying a sheet – couldn’t bring ourselves to sleep on another hairy, stained, nasty bed.

Another thing I’d leave out is a power converter. All you really need is a universal plug adapter – I think almost all electronic devices by now convert the power themselves.

Frank Dolendi says:

As far as the performance clothing goes, I stand by ExOfficio underwear. It is an absolute must for travel anywhere warm or humid and they only take 15 min. to dry after washing in the sink. Light, dry, and easy to pack, you would be crazy to bring anything else.

jason says:

I’m with you on all except the Swiss Army Kiife…mine has been used a lot: scissors, toothpick, tweezers, mini flashlight, screwdriver, etc.

We do need a clothesline in countries where laundry gets expensive but dental floss will do the trick.

Nice list.

Jason

Akila says:

Yep, we never used our silk sleep liner, rarely used our Swiss Army knife and ditched almost all our high performance t-shirts for regular old cotton shirts. However, my husband swears by the high performance underwear and pants and I like the bamboo wear sweaters because they are light and not smelly. Great post Ayngelina!

Jason says:

We swear by the underwear too, specifically ExOfficio.

I just wanted to chime in on the expensive underwear debate. I own both ex-officio and icebreaker underwear and there is no contest between the two in my view. The ex-officio ones wore out much quicker than the icebreaker ones and I found the material to stretch much easier than the icebreaker’s wool. To add insult to injury, they were dismissive when I contacted them about it!

Sheila says:

Great list. I was seriously debating on getting the silk sleep liner, but I think I’ll pass.

for the first time I am going to both agree and disagree with an Ayngelina post. Totally agree on most of these, especially number 1. Laundry is cheap to do – and frankly, you are going to be wearing dirty cloths a lot anyway, since you are sweating so much. BUT, I partly disagree on number 5. The one high performance clothing that is a must get for me is the quick drying underwear and T-Shirts. Again, since you are sweating soooo much, the typical cotton shirts and boxer shorts are horrible. Having the more expense stuff that dries really, really fast is handy. Great list though.

Jason says:

We are high performance clothing people too, but not the kind that looks high performance. Did that make sense? ExOfficio underwear is #1 for us. We wear it everyday and clean them in the sink almost every night. It lightens are load, because we only need a few pair and they dry quick. We did have a piece of rope that we used as a clothes line in our hostel room many nights, but we were in a private room. This would be a bigger problem in a dorm. We also had our clothes done by the laundry service, but as i said, the underwear, usually washed in the shower. I have an ExOfficio t-shirt too, that is only 15% cotton. It looks like a thin casual t-shirt, nothing like an Under Amour spandex shirt. I wear the thing constantly, it’s my favorite shirt.

A lot depends on what type of traveling you are doing. If you are a camper / hiker, the list probably changes. But, for a casual backpacker / traveler it makes perfect sense. Aracely and I did do a lot of hiking, sometimes multi-day trips. This made the sleep sac desirable for us, because when we got in our sleeping bags at night, we were filthy and smelly. The silk sleep sacs kept our sleeping bags clean. And when it was to hot, they served as our sleeping bag in the tent.

ayngelinai says:

@Allison

Totally agree if my multitool had a corkscrew it would be awesome, now its just a heavy nail file.

Also agree on the multicard reader, I use it daily (albeit Im a blogger) but at least once a week someone borrows it.

That said in Canada they are expensive, on the road super cheap.

I think my mantra will be ‘if you really need it you can buy it there!’

I totally agree, and totally disagree, about some items you have listed.

Universal sink stopper – priceless if you are a dude who shaves, unnecessary if you are a girl. They aren’t even that good for doing laundry.

Swiss army knife … WITH corkscrew and scissors. I don’t care about anything else. Absolutely necessary.

I proceed to bring my silk sleep sheet with me on all my long trips (bought fro $6 in Hanoi, so at least it didn’t set me back $80). I proceed to shake my head at it. every single time I open my bag.

I can’t travel without an itty bitty memory card reader. Priceless for downloading pictures from your new friends!

Adam says:

I spent six weeks traveling through Sudan and Kenya. I made the mistake of bringing books to read in my spare time. Not only did they put a weight drain on my back and shoulders, but I read through all of them in the first week. I’m not one to preach against reading (I’m an English teacher in NYC), but there are better things to fill your time on those long treks than reading what you’ve brought.

Betsy Talbot says:

Lots of people make the mistake of thinking that no one has what they do back home – but they do! So don’t bring a bunch of stuff you would normally just pick up at the store as you would need it (drugs, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, razors, etc.). If you plan to go to a really remote place at some point you’ll know it, and you can stock up beforehand.

We brought giant bottles of antibiotics from the travel clinic with us which take up too much room and will probably expire long before we ever get around to using them.

Great advice!

Taylor says:

I use a little wad of toilet paper to plug the sink when I do laundry, it works great!
Also heaps of prescription medicine from home… You can buy it anywhere for much cheaper! (unless you need special medicine… Im talking Cipro or Anti malaria pills)

Jason says:

I can relate to so many comments here. We spent $300USD on Cipro and Malaria pills in the US. It was available everywhere in Latin America for a fraction of the cost. And, we stopped taking the Malaria pills anyway.

Sarah says:

Hi — great to discover your blog! But, I respectfully disagree about the clothesline. When my kids, husband and I traveled around the world (with just one bag each), we washed clothes in the sink almost daily and always used a braided clothesline to use them. I also am a fan of high-tech fabric shirts because they dry quickly. And we used our Swiss Army Knife as a can opener more than once!
The thing we packed that all packing lists include, but we never used, was a towel, and they take up a lot of room in the bag. Wherever we stayed tended to have a towel, or we made do without one.
happy trails!

Sarah says:

oops — typo above — I meant “to dry them”. Also, p.s., I totally agree about the sink stopper!

Guro says:

Have you heard of microfiber towels? I’ve got one, and they’re great! Takes up less space than a singlet, and dries reasonnably fast.

Jason says:

We travel with those towels too. It’s good because they didn’t always provide towels in the hostels.

Frank Dolendi says:

On my first backpacking trip I bought a “special” travel lock that came with a wire cord that was supposed to be used to secure my backpack when left in the guesthouse or hostel. It turned out to be somewhat useful but not in the way that I expected it to be. After all of the worrying about my bag, the fancy lock and cord ended up only being used as a laundry cord. lol A $25 dollar laundry cord. I NEVER ended up needing to “secure” my backpack the way I anticipated I would.

Jason says:

Frank, I have been there too. I purchased a wire lock to lock up things and never used it. I had so much stuff that was a waste. The unknown scares us, so we end up spending a lot of money to be prepared. Once we discover things are so bad, we realize we overreacted a little bit.

Frank Dolendi says:

Jason I totally agree. The second I touched down it became obvious to me that I wasn’t going to “get the use” out of the lock that I thought I was. I lost my fears quite fast thankfully.

Brett says:

I once bought an em-Power travel adaptor for use on airplanes. The main problem with this is that very few planes actually had the empower adaptor…and even then, only if I scored the upgrade to Business class! Turns out I have had more flights with normal US two-prong plugs than empower plugs! It does have the redeeming quality of allowing me to plug normal plugs into a car cigarette lighter due to that attachment…but then, only when driving and needing to charge somethin that does not have it;s own USB/Cigarette lighter adaptor. But then…this was all in 2004…my how technology has adapted since then!

Jason says:

Brett, I had the em-Power too for my MacBook. I originally purchased it to use for business trips. I figured, what the heck, I will bring it with me during our budget travels. Well, I sent it home with 15lbs worth of other stuff after 2 months of traveling. I was never on an airplane, nor a car, so had no chance to use it.

Jeff says:

I bought that darn silk cover too. Agree that it’s a waste.I might debate you on the swiss army knife. I got around fine without it, but there were times when it would have been nice to have. Good list!

Thanks for commenting Narendra.

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