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.