What NOT to Pack for Your Next Big Trip
Nothing weighs you down in your travels like too much luggage. It's cumbersome on public transport, inconvenient to haul across town, and expensive to check on flights. During the year I spent travelling around the world, there were times that going somewhere off the beaten path just felt like too much work with my gigantic backpack—and I quickly learned what gets used most, and what gets forgotten. Since then, I've downsized considerably, and love the freedom that comes along with travelling light. If you’re preparing for a big trip, consider leaving these eight things behind.
All hotels, and the majority of hostels these days, provide towels. And if they don't, you can typically rent one for a small fee. Not only is a travel towel bulky, it never seems to be quite dry when it’s time to pack it up. The last thing you want on the road is musty luggage. A good alternative is to carry a sarong; it takes up far less room, can be used to dry off in a pinch, and doubles as a scarf, cover-up, light blanket, and beach towel. Not to mention, it makes a great souvenir!
Rather than bringing full bottles of every medication you might need, just stash a small amount of each in a divided container. I find plastic pill dispensers (with a compartment for each day of the week) to be the perfect device for sorting headache meds, allergy pills, seasickness tablets, etc. Round, stacking organisers from The Container Store are great, too. Mark the medication types and expiration dates with sticky labels, and you've got a compact emergency kit at your fingertips.
If a bed is so gross that you don't want your skin touching it, you should probably just spend a few more dollars on a nicer place. And I hate to break it to you, but if bed bugs are your concern, a sleep sheet isn't likely to protect you. Those little guys will get into your luggage just as easily as your linens. A sleep sheet takes up valuable room in your bag, is a chore to launder regularly, and can't possibly be comfortable to sleep in. I've never met anybody who actually found a sleep sheet useful. Skip it.
You won't wear them. You just won't. They Will sit at the bottom of your bag, taking up an annoying amount of room and feeling neglected. For days when you want to dress up a bit, you're far better off with a pair of cute, flat sandals. They are more compact, easier to navigate all kinds of terrain, and will help you stay on your feet all night long!
I've witnessed many a traveller being forced to cut a lock or, worse than that, damage a bag to gain access to belongings after losing the key. It's a great idea to secure your zippers to keep your stuff protected, but stick to combination locks—ideally, ones with the TSA logo, in case airport security decide they need access to your bag.
I get it. You are really particular about the type of conditioner you use. But after a few weeks on the road, you’ll be even more particular about what takes up precious space in your bag. Resist the urge to pack enough toiletries for your entire trip, and stick to a few travel size items to get you started. After all, they sell toothpaste all over the world!
Nothing screams "valuables" like a money belt. It’s usually visible under your clothes, and it’s certainly obvious when you're reaching into it, so it isn't fooling anybody. There are mixed opinions about this, but I personally believe your passport and credit cards are safest in your accommodation, locked inside your luggage (or a safe, when available). The old money-in-the-bra (or shoe, or sock) trick is just as secure as a money belt, and far less conspicuous. And, of course, only carry out what you plan to spend that day/night; that way, if worse does come to worst, you won't lose much.
You will not need more than one pair of jeans. Or one dress shirt. Or a single sundress. I know, we all love to have options. But you won’t love carrying them. A fellow traveller once said, “You can change your outfit every day, or just change your city!” When packing for a big trip, lay out everything you think you want to bring, and then cut it in half. You’d be amazed how quickly you fall into a routine of wearing the same few things anyway, regardless of how much you carry. Besides, you’ll want a little extra room in your bag to enhance your wardrobe along the way!
What would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments below.