We spend so much time here on Her Packing List telling you what you should pack that we don’t often tell you what to leave behind. I often see packing lists that include the items below but unless you have a specific occasion when you will need them, don’t waste the space in your bag.
There are, of course, always exceptions to the rule. Every trip is different, but use these insights to help shape your own packing list.
In my experience, 90% of hostels won’t let you bring a sleeping bag because of the transmission of bed bugs. Sleeping bags take up a lot of room in your bag, even if you’re using a compression sack.
- The Exception: If you plan on camping then it makes sense to bring a sleeping bag. You can also rent them from many tour or campervan companies if you don’t want to lug it around.
Again, you very rarely visit a place where it’s unsafe to drink the water and there is no bottled water available. Steripens can get expensive and you need replacement batteries for them.
- The Exception: If you are visiting somewhere like rural Mexico or India where it may be unsafe to drink the water, pack iodine tablets instead. They may take longer to work, but are smaller to carry and need replacing less often.
While some people swear by their ENO travel hammocks, I just don’t see the practical use for them.
- The Exception: If you are camping somewhere warm you could rug up in your hammock, but probably nowhere else.
These chargers soak up solar energy to charge all of your electronics, but it takes a while, especially if you’re short on sunny days and high on items that need charging.
- The Exception: If you are traveling somewhere more remote, like the Himalayas, this device might come in handy. But if you’re a backpacker staying in hostels, you’re better off with a standard charger.
You can’t take a camp stove on airplanes, so they are only useful if you’re driving to your destination.
- The Exception: If you’re going camping for multiple days, a camp stove could be useful, but just remember you have to bring extra propane and food to cook.
I’ve traveled with pocket knives and multi-tools in the past, but I’ve only ever used them for their bottle opener, wine opener and scissor functions. You also can’t take them on airplanes, which can prevent you from traveling with a carry on only.
- The Exception: If you plan on cooking your own meals while traveling, it’s nice to have a knife to cut items instead of using dull ones found in hostel kitchens.
I’ve seen people carry them around Austria and other parts of the world but it seems unnecessary unless you are a hardcore hiker.
- The Exception: Trips like the Annapurna Circuit or Everest Base Camp may be ones to use trekking poles, but otherwise leave them at home or rent them.
My mom bought me one before my first trip to Europe and I have never used it. The idea is to place it on the doorknob which will sound if someone tries to get in, but I have a feeling I would forget and set it off myself.
- The Exception: If your door doesn’t have a lock a door alarm might be useful, but I would recommend a $1 door stopper instead.
karablythe @ somewhere i have never traveled says
I think this is a really good list. When I first read no knives, I disagreed. I LOVE my swiss army knife! But you’re right, it is annoying that I can’t pack it in my carry on luggage, and in truth I only really use it as a wine opener or to cut some apples and cheese.
The suggestions against sleeping bags and hammocks are also true. Unless you’re doing a more specialized trip, then they really aren’t necessary. Plus, there’s always the possibility to buy those things abroad if you’re desperate. When I was in Brazil, they required you bring your own sleeping bags when traveling through the amazon. However, thosse can be easily purchased in your departing city.
This is a great list! I didn’t know that about the sleeping bags! I pack a Whitebox camping stove, it’s light and made out of an aluminum can. Plus the fuel isn’t propane , it’s Heet or denatured alcohol which you can buy in many pharmacies around the world. Of course you would need to bring a little pan for it as well. Only recommended if you plan on doing some camping or hiking while traveling though.
Great list. We bought a camping stove for a dogsledding trip in Finland in the Arctic Circle and were completely laughed at as our guide set a giant roaring fire in the teepee. No one laughed when I heated up homemade elderberry wine on my little stove! Otherwise, useless. Same for camping in Scotland. It rained so much on the Isle of Skye we gave up trying to cook our sad, soggy sausages and hit the pub for warmth, savory pies and beers, the best dinner ever thanks to sitting in the rain trying to make that little stove produce enough heat to cook those sausages! Ah, little camping stove, how hard you tried.
I beg to differ on the Steripen though. For me, it’s not about the money, it’s more about the incessant stream of plastic bottles I end up throwing away. I’m not green fanatic or anything, but it’s sad to see what becomes of those, so using the Steripen is natural for me now
Anna @ The Blonde Banana says
Agree that I’ve never had much use or most of these while traveling. I was surprised to see a lot of people walking around in Bergen, Norway which is a city, with trekking poles. There are hills but I didn’t have any issues walking up and down them on my own 2 feet!
Are you sure they were trekking poles? Nordic walking poles look very similar but are used for fitness walking, not stability.
agree with all but the steripen-when traveling in china, brought my own nalgene bottle and my steripen and could easily clear a good amount of water in am for use during day, and more later as needed. even though we stayed at nice new western style hotels, there were signs in each bathroom warning not to drink the tap water!! our guide also warned us that as visitors, we should only drink bottled water to help prevent any gi illnesses. apparently, the water purification in china is not consistent, much like the electricity-that was even in the large cities of bejing and shanghai-but especially in smaller cities and villages.
I have never heard of a Steripen! Whem camping I’ve always used Lifestraw. Look it up! It never needs recharging or any batteries. It’s amazing!!