Travel the World
8 Crazy Travel Items You Should Never Pack
From home comforts you don’t need, to travel accessories that hinder rather than help, here are the offenders that belong on every traveller’s No-Fly List.
1. Anything from Skymall
Browsing the Skymall catalogue is an outstanding way of passing time during a long flight, but don’t even think of ordering anything from its “travel” section. Please say no to the world’s most famous-and space-hogging-airplane pillow. And the probable runner-up.
And don’t stoop to a device that spies on your cell phone, so you can track who your “kids, employees or spouse” are calling/texting from your phone… which you left behind when travelling.
If you’re flying to Japan, note that Japanese Skymall is even nuttier than the North American version. Enjoy! (But don’t buy!)
2. Your Bathroom Cabinet
“My cousin came to visit us once, and she’d packed jumbo toiletries – a gigantic bottle of Scope, giant toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and all kinds of hair products, cleansers, and so on,” says Jennifer Playford, a frequent traveller and small entrepreneur.
Was her visitor geared up for an extended trip in a remote locale where familiar brands would be unavailable? No. Just Vancouver.
Playford suggests decanting your fave products into travel-size bottles, or purchasing them at your destination. “My motto is: Small and compact. Anything full-size isn’t worth bringing,” says Playford, even if it’s permitted in checked baggage.
3. Your Pillow
“I’ve never understood the pillow thing. Sometimes I see people bringing full-size pillows, and I just think: You’re supposed to be leaving your home behind, not trying to bring it with you! The small, airplane neck pillows should be enough,” says Playford.
Others argue that all you really need is a hoodie. Roll it into a pillow, or use it to encase a sketchy airline-provided cushion.
4. The Monkey Strap
Don’t buy an ergonomic backpack when you can strap luggage to your back instead. Wait, what? That’s right. Saddle your bag with this “suitcase adaptor,” and you can carry it using the built-in shoulder straps. (Or skip it, and just wheel your bag behind you, the way it was designed to be used.)
5. A Hair Dryer
“I used to never leave home without my heavy, awkward-to-pack hair dryer,” admits frequent flyer Natalie Bahadur, of Toronto. “But I’ve yet to find a hotel that doesn’t have a hair dryer. Even the smallest, most run-down joint is bound to have one. Hostels are a different story, but your hotel will have a hair dryer,” says Bahadur, senior editor for StyleAtHome.com.
6. Loaner Travel Books
Don’t borrow your brother in law’s tattered copy of Lonely Planet’s Egypt 2008. A lot can change in just a couple years-restaurants and hotels close, safety concerns change, local transportation hubs may move-making it essential to buy the latest edition of any destination guide.
“Guidebooks are $25 tools for $4,000 experiences,” notes guidebook author Rick Steeves in this excellent discussion on the topic. Spending that $25 can literally make your vacation, the same way not spending it, could break it.
7. Your Laptop
This is the thing I get wrong, almost every trip.
But time and again, after hiding my laptop in hotel room fridges, under piles of rags and cleaning products in a bathroom vanity, even the in-room safe (which may not be all that safe after all), I’ve found I never use it enough to justify the extra weight and hassle.
Hotel business centres, Internet cafes, iPads and smart phones render laptops unnecessary for most leisure travel.
8. Travel Laundry Supplies
What’s the point of travel-sized detergent or “travel hangers”?! Whether you’re in the Australian outback, a jungle lodge in Central America, or cheap beach shack by the Andaman Sea, generally:
1. Either you won’t need to do laundry, because you’re living in your bikini or swim trunks-or are so far away from civilization and its bourgeois dictates on pristine clothes; or
2. Your remote shack will have access to running water with hand soap or shampoo for washing your clothes; or
3. Your remote jungle lodge will-yup-have wash-and-dry service (though not dry cleaning). Also, check out these inflatable hangers. They let you hang-dry your hand-washed, delicate silk blouse or fine-gauge sweater to dry, without stretching out its shoulder seams. My question: Where are you staying, that requires you dress up, but that lacks in-house dry-cleaning service?!