Details of Life on the Road: Street eats, cheap sleeps, budget travel experiences

28 Common Travel Items I Don’t Travel With


This is a follow-up post to my “Long-Term Travel Packing List” post. If you compiled all of the “what to pack” lists from all of the most popular travel blogs and travel websites you’d end up with a very, very long list, and potentially 40KG of belongings. It’s important to pick and choose your belongings carefully. Ask yourself “Am I really going to use this on my travels?” If the answer is no, don’t bring it. Often is the case that if you don’t use it at home, you’re not going to use it on your travels.

It’s also important to leave a good amount of extra space in your bag. You’re likely going to be buying goods, and adding to your bag over time. You may buy some souvenirs for friends and family, you may buy some local garb for yourself, you may travel to a colder climate and need some heavier clothes, you may need to pick up some unforeseen items that you forgot to pack, and so on. If you fill your bag right off the get-go, you’ll have no room for these items, plus you’ll be traveling with a heavier bag and that’s not as easy. Similarly, traveling with a smaller bag will prevent you from over-packing as you’ll only be able to carry so much, but that’s a post for another time.

Here’s a list of 28 common travel items that I don’t travel with and why:

Raincoat: I think I’ve only traveled with a raincoat once, in India during my second long-term trip, and I lost it in Udaipur a few days in. I suppose a raincoat is great item to have, especially if you’re traveling in the wet season. For me, it’s just something else I need t pack, and I’m really not too worried about getting wet, which is why a rain coat doesn’t make it in my bag. However, I can see hindsight coming into play on this one…

Backpack rain cover: Similarly, the same reasoning goes with this one. Your large backpack is seldom on your back for long periods of time *unless you’re hiking*. That being said, I don’t have cover for neither my 20L day bag or my 50L backpack. I’ve never been caught in a situation where I needed a cover. Usually, if I’m carrying my bags and it starts raining, I’m not far from some sort of shelter. I did purchase a cheap cover for when I was trekking in the Nepalese Himalayas. This one might just make the cut for my next trip (especially if it’s during monsoon season).

Umbrella: Yet another item to prevent you from getting wet. Same goes with this one – it’s just extra weight that I deem unnecessary.

Headlamp: It’s found on a lot of travel lists. I don’t tend to be in situations where it’s needed (camping), so I don’t bring one. I also don’t want it for dorm rooms – I hate when when it gets flashed in my face, so I’d rather navigate in the dark. If need be, I can use my phone as a light. In SEAsia, headlamps are useful in caves, but it’s just not something I can justify packing. A lot of bloggers love their headlamps, though.

Smart phone: Okay, I do have an Ipod touch, but it’s not a phone as it doesn’t make calls. I use it primarily for music. I am no techy as all of my friends well know, but I’ve started to use the touch for things other than music and take advantage of its benefits. *Update: at 28 years old, I caved in and now own an iPhone. I now know just how useful smartphones are for travelling*

Local phone: It’s always nice to speak to family and friends on the telephone, or to make a booking via the telephone. I don’t have a mobile phone back in Canada, and I’ve only ever briefly traveled with one. With programs like Skype, and Facetime, I see no need to travel with a local phone. It’s just another expense and an extra weight. However, the times they are a changing, and the pressure to get a phone is ever increasing. *Update: see above post – I own a phone!*

Swiss army knife/pocket knife: I debated bringing something like this, but remembered that I traveled with one previously and it got little to no usage. So, this means I don’t travel with a pocket knife or compass. Although a multi-use tool can really come in handy, I decided that I wouldn’t be roughing it too much.

Heavy-duty sandals: While I also debated getting a pair of heavy duty sandals, I opted against the idea. Instead I usually have a pair of cheap flip flops (for showering), and a pair of comfortable flip flops for walking, as well as a reliable pair of walking/hiking shoes.

Water bottle: In Asia, and in much of the rest of the world, tap water is unsuitable to drink. You’re likely going to be buying bottled water anyway (unfortunately), that you could refill if you find clean water. A water bottle is all the more likely to become contaminated over time. If you’re doing lots of hiking then that’s a different story.

Water purification tablets/filter/steripen: I don’t see myself being in a place where I’ll actually need water purification tables, iodine tablets, except for when I was hiking in Nepal and drank tap water that needed to be treated. I couldn’t justify the cost of buying a steri-pen but some travelers swear by them. If you’re using either one of these things, then the case is that you’re likely traveling with a water bottle and doing some hiking, too.

Kindle/Ebook reader: I guess I haven’t been converted yet, or maybe I don’t read enough. Isn’t there something inherently unique and special about having and reading a real book, though? I’ll really only travel with one book at a time, not including destination guides, so it’s not a problem for me.

Fanny pack: I’ve never traveled with a fanny pack. It’s not the aesthetics that put me off – who cares what you look like. In fact, I think the fanny pack is great for some travelers, just not me. I keep my money and cards in my wallet, not in a fanny pack that could possibly be snatched (like everything, I guess). If I’m carrying any larger items with me, I’ll generally carry my day bag.

Guitar: I suppose this is only a common item for guitar players. I’ve traveled with a guitar for bits and pieces of my first two long-term trips. I didn’t, however, travel with a guitar during my October 2014 – June 2015 trip. Carrying around a guitar and trying to keep it safe can be a real pain. Playing it on a secluded beach, joining in on a jam at a hostel, plucking away on a lonely day can be transforming, though. Your call.

Packing cubes: Some people swear by these minimizers and organizers. I’m not one of them, although I’ve never used them. I pack lightly enough anyway, and after years of practice, I’m fairly organized.

External hard drive: I do carry a USB stick. A lot of people who travel, and who use a laptop while they work on the road, don’t want to lose priceless information that they have stored on their computer. I may consider investing in an external hard drive for my future travels. *Update: after getting into photography and videography, it’s now necessary for me to have external hard drives with me*

Watch: I wore a watch during my first two long-term trips. I didn’t bring one during my third long-term trip, though. I’m not sure of the reason, maybe I felt like I would be constrained by time if I were always looking at my watch. Plus, most people have a phone these days. Still, I like watches and may use one in the future.

Go Pro/selfie stick: No thanks. Something I don’t want to contribute to. Now, when you go to any landmark, you can’t see what you’re supposed to be looking at because of all of the Go Pro sticks. I won’t deny that they can catch some unreal footage, otherwise sometimes unattainable, it’s just something that I don’t need to carry around.

Travel pillow: Despite lots of practice, I’m not a great sleeper, especially on overnight buses and trains or even on planes. So, a travel pillow wouldn’t be a bad idea. But, again, it’s just not something that I want to carry around. I found one that was left at a hostel in Phnom Penh and decided to take it with me. I didn’t use it enough to justify carrying it around.

Sleeping bag: Unless you’re going to camp for the majority of a trip, or if you’re traveling in a colder climate, or if you’re paranoid about sleeping in a dirty hostel, you don’t need a sleeping bag. The only times I used a sleeping bag was when I traveled with my brother in New Zealand and camped for 7 weeks, and when I hiked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and I used a rental for that. They take up a lot of room.

Sleeping sheet: These are a lot lighter and smaller than a sleeping bag, and serve the same purposes: to protect you from things, and to keep you warm and comfortable. I have traveled with a sleeping sheet in the past, but not recently. If you have extra space, they’re not bad to have with you, but not necessary.

Traveler cheques: Who uses traveler cheques anymore? These will probably cause more hassle than ease in your life.

Money clip: I personally enjoy carrying a wallet but I’ve read that some people love the ease of using a money clip. It’s small and keeps things together. I can’t deny that, but I enjoy a having a wallet.

Dress shirts/Dress shoes: I can’t justify bringing nice clothes for the one of two times I might visit a formal restaurant or club. Like many of the other items on this list, some travelers can justify bringing them, but I can’t. I either wear my next nicest clothes, borrow some clothing, or don’t do the fancy thing.

Cookery: Similar to items like sleeping bags and tents. You don’t need cookery unless you plan on cooking – a lot. You really don’t need cookery unless you’re camping.

Utensils: Same as above. However, some travelers like to have a set of utensils on-hand if they find themselves with some food to eat during a trek or a similar experience. I won’t lie, a small bamboo spork was given to me and I have traveled with it and found it handy.

Shaver: Have a beard? I do. I don’t need a shaver. But, I need an electric trimmer to keep my beard under control (sometimes) and trim my cheeks and neck. I guess an electronic trimmer takes up a bit of more room, but hey, it’s necessary.

Deodorant: I didn’t travel with deodorant during my 2014/2015 trip. Most of it is toxic and not healthy for your skin, and when you’re traveling in tropic countries it doesn’t really help anyway. I often used coconut oil as a replacement for deodorant and it works quite well, even better when mixed with baking soda and other ingredients.

Combination lock: I’ve seldom used locks during my travels. At a few hostels I’ve locked up my things, but I have a bad habit of trusting the people in my dorm and just leaving my things there. I’ve used locks on a couple of Indian trains, and to lock my backpack on a couple of occasions. However, I was just using a regular, small lock which probably wasn’t much help. I’ll consider carrying a combination lock during my future travels, as keeping your belongings safe is important, being paranoid isn’t.

There you go. Is there anything on this list that you usually take with you during you travels? How about an item that you typically don’t travel with? Leave a comment and let me know!

One Response to “28 Common Travel Items I Don’t Travel With”

  1. Luise says:

    Traveling over half year myself at the moment, I can only agree with your list! I am currently in Laos and 3 month into the journey. I did bring some things I now would leave at home… namely going down from your lost:Rainjacket (used that one in Indonesia during wet season on a scooter, but always sheltered anyway, never used after), water bottle (used that a lot actually ass it fits perfectly into my bag, but it broke and I have not missed it since), sleeping bag (very small and light, I will keep it though I do not use it often…at all), deodorant. Things I currently carry around and do not need are: makeup (no idea why i brought this in first place…), adapters for all countries you could think of (I should purchase a multiple country one), second jumper, sneakers (seriously: “hiking” in flipflops is no big deal anymore), body lotion and hand cream (I only use eucalyptus oil now and it does it’s job just fine).
    All in all, I can say that I really enjoyed your list, very relatable. Before my next big adventure I will open this page and double check, so I won’t bring stuff I forgot I don’t need.

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