Nine Things NOT to Pack for Your RTW

26 Oct

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]1: Luggage Locks
Worried about valuables being nicked while you sleep? Why not stick a small metal sign on your pack saying: “Expensive stuff in here”? It’s not like these thieves have knives, right?

Alternatively, put the stuff you can’t afford to lose (passports, cash, card, electronics) in a daypack and use it as a head-rest. Let’s face it. It’s unlikely anyone’s going to want your clothes.

2: Mosquito Net
Newsflash! It’s not just you who knows there’s mosquitoes where you’re going. The guesthouse owners do too. No net in the room? Ask at the desk. Trekking? Most trek organizers will rent or include equipment, including mosquito protection.

Essentially, don’t buy a net unless and until you KNOW you will need one, and what kind you’ll need. (No point carrying a double-bed net if you really need a single-hammock net. Or an all-in-one hammock-net combo…)

3: Rollbags
You need to compress stuff down to fit it in your pack? You’re carrying too much stuff. Oh, yeah, and the rollbag will suck (or rather, cease to suck) inside a month. Guaranteed.

4: Antibacterial Wipes/Cleaners/Whatever
The single easiest way to kill your immune system. Which works, of course, by meeting small doses of local bacteria and getting used to them. It’s too much hygiene, not too little, which makes travelers get sick the second they hit a wet lettuce leaf or a chunk of Thai street meat.

5: Antibiotic Creams
Another great way to screw up your immune system. To avoid infection, clean cuts thoroughly, disinfect with alcohol and/or iodine, cover during the day and allow to breathe at night. This should kill any bug going without – and here’s the clever part – compromising your immune system.

6: Water Filtration Systems
A great idea in principle. In practice? You end up buying water anyway, because you want the cold stuff, you didn’t get the system set up in time or, basically, you just ran out. In most major cities and resort areas around the world, tap water is chemically treated. In places where it’s not, you can generally fill up with boiled in restaurants and guesthouses. If, for whatever reason, you’re drinking unboiled water from a questionable source, iodine’s a last ditch solution.

7: Travel Towels
Sarongs are larger, dry quicker, fold up smaller and are infinitely easier to wash. Plus they double as topsheets, cover-ups, turf markers… Need the cold-climate comfort of a towel? Pack a fluffy one.

8: Travel Underwear
This stuff exists. Seriously, WTF?

9: Hiking Poles
Where to begin?! Get a stick if you need one. It’s free, organic, biodegradable, and you don’t have to take it with you. This, incidentally, applies to almost anything with “hiking” in the title, with the infinitely debatable exception of hiking boots.

Legal Blah: This does not, blah, constitute, blah, advice and is no, blah, substitute for your own, blah, common sense.

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24 Responses to “Nine Things NOT to Pack for Your RTW”

  1. Tracy Burns October 26, 2010 at 5:09 am #

    You beat me to it – I’ve had a similar post written for months and never got around to finishing it! Damn you woman, the Christmas beers are officially off!

    (ps great post. Travel towels… never needed them. Mosquito nets… like there’s ever anywhere to hang then that doesn’t involve 10m of extra rope and putting nails in a hostel wall… which they don’t take too kindly too funnily enough)

  2. wandering educators October 26, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    this makes me laugh! i think you forgot the money belt and fanny pack?

    • MummyT October 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

      I wasn’t entirely sure on the moneybelt. You see… I haven’t used mine. I don’t think I will. But I’m still clinging onto it, tragically.

  3. Snap October 26, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    pmsl…Travel Underwear…still exists! I never knew it existed in the first place.

  4. mukuba2002 October 26, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    why would someone get a hiking pole?

    • MummyT October 27, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

      I have seen it, believe it or not. Though, to be fair, it’s normally called a “trekking stick”. Why anyone would buy a hiking pole for anything beats me, to be honest.

  5. Melvin October 27, 2010 at 2:25 am #

    Nice list, but I don’t agree with point one. I think it’s good to have a lock. But one, which isn’t so obvious… 🙂 Mine is black, just like my backpack.

    • MummyT October 27, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

      Lock against thieves on trains? Or lock against baggage handlers? I have to say, the only person who’s damaged our possessions is us (quite regularly)… I do see the point of getting a non-obvious one, though.

  6. Marilia October 27, 2010 at 5:48 am #

    It all comes down to using common sense. If you are a traveler you should have it, otherwise, the road will show it to you.

    • MummyT October 27, 2010 at 5:59 pm #

      As one still carrying 17kg of stuff, mainly books, I’m in favour of having as little as possible.

  7. scotttraveler October 27, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    I was about to disagree with you about the mosquito net but you added caveat that you should only bring one if you “know” they won’t have them at your travel destination. Not sure why, but we couldn’t find any in Central America, so – if you’re headed there, be sure to bring one!

    I was recently at the travel store and saw these small steel-mesh wallets that have a metal rope and lock; you can put your wallet/passport into the wallet, zip it up, run the cable through the bed post or other “secure” item in the room and lock up your important stuff. As the wallet is reinforced with steel fiber, it can’t be cut with a knife. As for my wallet and passport, I usually run a shoe string through them, tie it to my foot, and drop it to the bottom of my sleeping bag; good luck stealing that off my leg!

    • MummyT October 28, 2010 at 1:09 am #

      I had a real struggle finding one in Ternate, for that matter: I think locals tend to rely on fans and coils, rather than using mozzie nets themselves. That’s an impressive tip with the wallet… Ironically, I am now wishing I had a travel plug. Though, given this is the first time I’ve wanted said item in nine months, I’d have chucked it out of the pack if I had carried one anyway.

  8. forrestblogging October 31, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    Hiking poles are good for one thing – my mother-in-law was using one as a collapsable walking stick, she loved it. And looks a bit cooler than a usual walking stick!

    • MummyT November 2, 2010 at 6:04 pm #

      Yes! My mother has knee problems, and the doc recommended hiking poles for walking. I would agree wholeheartedly that they do have their uses…

  9. with2kidsintow October 31, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    LOVE IT–Spot on!! So true about the travel towels, but not realistic to carry a ‘big fluffy one’ either–takes up too much space and too hard to hand wash!! sarong all the way! we WERE considering lugging the mozzie net with us as last time in india we did end up using it quite a bit (that’s where we ended up buying one), but will have to see if there’s room! as for the money belt–i think that depends on where you are going. major cities in europe, it was definitely a MUST given all those sneaky fingers! Asia, not at all.

    • MummyT November 2, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

      Ah, the old moneybelt. I’ve never used one in Europe, even Naples: just have my wallet in the bottom of a bag which I always have an arm over on public transport etc, and that has served me well. Think I did use one once in Johannesburg, years ago… Just bought two fab sarongs in Bali to replace the two we’ve just lost…

  10. Kristy November 6, 2010 at 3:16 am #

    Love the list and sarongs are the best, even my 7 year old loves using one. We take 2 or 3 with us when we travel as well as a cheapo big scarf to keep warm on those budget airline flights

  11. Katryn December 7, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Great advice! Personally, though, I love my travel towel — I have long hair that takes forever to dry, so it really helps to be able to suck a lot of water out of it quickly. Can’t imagine trying to do that with a sarong!

    • MummyT December 7, 2010 at 2:39 pm #

      I’d never thought of that! So you’d rather travel with a wet towel than wet hair?

  12. Sarah December 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    – I think of travel underwear as the quick dry stuff.
    – For the lock I used one on the over night trains in China. It would prevent someone from taking the bag. It was just a cable with a combo would not have prevented someone from going through the bag just running off with it. I feel just being a western marks you as someone that has more then most people in world
    – I used the SteriPen when traveling and worked well till my son dropped it. Would try it again. Seeing all the empty plastic bottles all over India makes you want to help out.
    – I have to say I use a money belt whenever I travel because I HATE to find ATMs so I generally exchange at a bank enough to carry me through for a month.

    • MummyT December 7, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      I use the carrying straps to attach bags to things when we’re on trains at night. For precisely that reason: just to stop someone grabbing it while we sleep. It’s worked so far…

      Interesting to hear the SteriPen worked for you. We actually drink quite a lot of tap water. How far did he drop it from?

      I like to change a lot of money, too, but I tend to leave some concealed in different parts of my baggage, rather than all on my person…

  13. The blabbing one December 18, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    I loved this.
    I was considering taking disinfectant, be it a small bottle, and maybe acquiring a net at some point, but will gladly not carry them. Thank you.
    The sarong idea I am stealing with both hands, sorry.

    • MummyT December 19, 2010 at 3:24 am #

      Do it! Sarongs are wonderful things…

  14. Gillian January 4, 2011 at 6:08 pm #

    I did use traveling underwear…I found it to be quick dry and long lasting…5 pairs for the whole year…yep, cleanliness standards definitely change when you’re on the road!

    Used a steripen too…until India. I just didn’t even trust it to clean the water there…all in my head I know but it’s there that we gave up.

    Great list though!!

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