Pack lighter for longer – 5 useful hacks on what not to include
June 2, 2016
Want to pack a backpack you can actually lift? Planning a holiday out of a carry-on? Here is a list of 5 hacks to figure out what NOT to pack, things you will never miss and will make your gear so much more manageable.
So you are sitting on your bag, the zips are straining, you have to leave in ten minutes or you'll miss your flight. It’s clear something is gonna have to go but where to start? You’ve been mentally reducing this packing list for weeks and there is no way you can live without any of this stuff! Below is a list of 5 types of things you can turf, things that no matter how vital they seem, generations of travellers have agreed are not worth the trouble!
Extra gadgets – This includes everything from that huge pile of chargers you lug around (grab a multi-adapter and a fast charger instead) to bulky headphones and fancy electronics (do you need a laptop, tablet and a smartphone? I think not). Not to mention things like hair straighteners and travel irons (your hotel will likely provide them, if not it may be time to embrace the holiday spirit and go for a casual look).
Anything you can buy there – Toiletries are often provided at the hotel, make the most of them. Multiple books are another common mistake, you can trade them when you're finished reading, or just rely on a kindle (this goes for guidebooks too). Beyond the absolute basics, makeup can always be purchased if you need to look glam at the last moment. Towels take up a tonne of room and most accommodation will provide them anyway. Also full bottles or packets of medication, unless you're going into the outback, a handful of plasters and a sleeve of Panadol will suffice (I carried a full med-kit for years without ever using it).
Tourist schtick – You know the stuff that seems a great idea when researching but you never end up using. For example, unless you are going bush will you use that water filter or just buy bottled water? Money belts are a pain and scream tourist and traveller’s checks are practically obsolete. If your accommodation had bed bugs trust me a sleep sack won't keep them out. I know it all looks cool and professional but will you need the 12 packing cubes, plastic cutlery, and the biggest backpack available? Almost everything can be picked up cheap if you do decide you can’t live without it.
Anything “just in case” –That includes any last minute clothing and gadgets! Unless you're going to a wedding, formal wear, strappy shoes and collared shirts do not travel well! Jeans and cotton clothing take up room and dry slowly, do you need your denim on that tropical island? Hiking boots, unless you're headed for some serious hiking, are just heavy and bulky where a good pair of runners would have sufficed.
Anything you can't afford to lose – This is kind of self-explanatory. You can go without jewellery for a few weeks and you will be less of a target for thieves. Unless you’re a photographer, camera lenses and equipment are a pain to lug, realistically, a point and shoot or even a phone is all you need. Don’t take all of your cards/ID, just in case you do get robbed it pays to separate these out so you have something to fall back on.
Someone who doesn’t want to go – There is nothing that ruins a holiday faster than a travelling partner that is miserable! Make sure you and your travelling partner have the same goals and expectations. Remember it's ok for you to do your own thing sometimes, so you can all recharge in your own way and see what interests you, you don’t have to be joined at the hip.
I still occasionally struggle to thin my packing list down, but as someone who carries her pack (and everything she owns) for days on end trust me, it’s worth the pangs of parting for a more comfortable experience. Seldom have I missed anything and if I do find something I am going to need and it’s not available locally, I can always order it online, or have a family member post it to the local post office for collection. On the other hand here is a list of some of the weird and wonderful things I have found useful in my time on the road, as well as some packing lists to get you started in a better direction.