What Not to Pack
In a recent talk with Hejorama co-founder Ben, he underlined how this magazine is not the place to tell people how they should travel. Our goal is to inspire people, talking about the way we travel to provide an example and make people think about the way they want to travel. This article is not an instruction list, but rather provides observations on what people pack that I don’t find necessary. Feel free to comment and disagree with me on this subjective undertaking.
- Soundtrack of the report
- Travel Light
- The Dø
I’m writing this when getting ready for a two-month trip in South East Asia, and as usual, I’m doing a lot of research before leaving. Preparing is half the fun of traveling for me so I spend a lot of time on blogs, forums and websites working out a proposed itinerary. I’ve also done a bit of research on what people pack for similar trips, considering it will be my longest continuous trip (not counting places where I have moved to live and work).
In my quest for minimalism (a way overused word these days), I’m trying to establish the perfect packing list. I’ve read a lot of posts on the topic, where most travel blogs have their own gear section. But let’s face it, usually when you forget to put something in your bag, it’s because of the rush or the excitement of the trip. It could be your mobile phone charger that stayed plugged into the wall, or the book you were reading on the table next to your bed. Not often your socks, underwear or t-shirts.
On the other hand, people always take way too many things, which only add weight to your bag and can make moving between cities a nightmare. This is what minimalism is really about, not breaking your back and enjoy your trip. I do believe in minimalism as a life philosophy but when it comes to travel for me it’s really just about being comfortable and being able to move easily.
So here’s my ultimate list of things that I don’t pack on a trip (as we have the Bag Raiders video series to inspire you on things to pack):
Technical clothes, sandals and cargo pants
I don’t wear any of those and I don’t understand why they are such a big deal among travelers. They are more expensive than normal clothes and give you the standardized backpacker look. Not that I really care about what people think, but I enjoy looking different. Wherever I go I wear my jeans, with long johns if needed when it’s cold, and regular shorts if it’s warm.
Supposedly special travel clothes dry super fast, but seriously, why would I need that? If my pants are wet I’ll just wear something else while they dry. I usually pack one pair of jeans and a pair of sweat pants to wear as pyjamas, or for when I need to wait for my jeans to dry.
And those convertible pants? I don’t see the point. Are you going to switch to shorts during the day if you realize that it’s actually too warm? I think I’ll survive in my jeans until getting back to the hostel and make the switch there.
Sandals? My parents forced me to wear those when I was a kid so there’s no way I’ll wear them now. My Vans will do the job just fine.
And as Daniel noted: “are you travelling around the world in order to have the same confort that in your living room?”
Wherever you go, you will find some. But my friend Roy will confirm that having white powder in your bag will lead to trouble in airports and such.
I know that this will disappoint Dan, but I’m not a big fan of running and usually it’s the last thing I want to do on a trip. And if I really want to do it, my regular sneakers will be good enough for the 20 minutes of running that I can handle.
I’m pretty sure thieves and muggers know very well about these thing, and I prefer the Paul Smith belt I got on my last day of my job in London. My safety measure is usually to carry the least amount of cash as I can, and to just hand over anything I have if I feel that it’s the only option. For extreme situation I have a pouch that I carry around my neck under my T-shirt with my ID and credit card in it. But my cash is always in my pocket.
Aluminium water bottle
I never understood why people travel with these. I have to say, they look cool, but honestly a good old-fashioned plastic bottle does the same job, right? And you can even throw it away when you feel that your bag is too heavy. Also, what is the point of them in countries where you can’t use the water from the tap to fill them. You are going to buy a plastic bottle of water to fill them, correct? That doesn’t sound very eco-friendly to me.
It’s not the heaviest thing to carry but I have always hard time finding small tubes for carry-on. So usually I don’t carry any at all. It makes a good excuse to meet people in hostels. Worst case: brushing your teeth without it works fine.
That sounds very MacGyver-esque to carry one but I don’t know how to sew. And I can’t remember the last time I had a hole in my clothes.
That’s a big debate I don’t really want to get into, and our Manifesto says it all. I don’t travel with them anymore, thanks to Twitter, Couchsurfing and Facebook, I can get first hand information easily.
Those are just an incentive to pack too much… I roll my clothes, that’s only 5.3% more space.
If I don’t trust the pillow that was given to me, I just use a T-shirt as a pillow case.
I read in many packing lists that people carry drain stoppers with them. Please don’t take baths when you travel, save time — and the environment — by taking quick showers.
But I’m actually debating if I should get one.
I guess the rest of what goes into your luggage is just common sense and up to you. In the end, packing is a very personal process and a packing list on Internet should just be used as inspiration or as a base to make your own. And as our friend Che says in his Bag Raiders video, the more you travel and the more you learn about packing.
What about you? Any items you never pack?