We all make mistakes while we’re traveling. Things get lost and left behind, we might visit a place without doing enough research and realize it’s not the place for us. We might not be aware of local customs or we might not know enough of the language to get by. Yes, there are an infinite amount of possible mistakes to be made while traveling but one of the most common mistakes is overpacking.
It can be hard to resist squeezing in that one last pair of shoes, packing a few extra books just in case you finish the five you’ve already got in your case, or slipping in another LBD because a girl can never have too many Little Black Dresses, right?
But what products, clothes, accessories and gadgets have female travelers packed and later regretted? We’ve spoken to some expert travelers to find out:
Anja travel writer for Gap Daemon- “A mozzie net”
So you want to be safe and avoid the risk of dengue fever, malaria and itchy little bites so packing a mosquito net seems like a safe and practical piece of equipment. The only thing is that they take up precious space and you’ll have very little opportunity to use it. If you’re staying in a guesthouse that has hooks to hang a mosquito net, chances are there will already be a net in place.
The alternative: There is a possibility that you will find holes in the mosquito net you’ve been provided with so why not just patch up the holes with masking tape. It’s much smaller, cheaper and easier to carry.
Scarlett from Scarlett Wonderland– “Heels”
Heels are the perfect way to dress up an outfit and make you feel feminine. But when it’s hot and muggy and there’s a chance you will be walking for miles, heels are the last thing you want to be wearing. And let’s face it, we always have more fun dancing in flats.
The alternative: If you decide you can’t leave home without your heels, take Scarlett’s advice and opt for neutral wedges that will go with everything.
Jennifer from Jdomb’s Travels – “Books”
Whether you’ve embraced eBooks or you still love the feel of a good old fashioned paperback, there is no denying the fact that eBooks are best for travel. Small, light and able to hold over a thousand books, Kindles or eReaders are the perfect travel companion. Compare it to a mountain of heavy, bulky books that end up in tatters after a day on the beach and there is a clear winner.
The alternative: Besides a Kindle, you can always download audio books onto your iPhone.
>> Read the post, Should I Pack Books?
Toni from Reclaiming my Future – “an overfull first aid kit”
Traveling with a basic medial kit is always a good idea. A few bandages, antiseptic wipes and plasters are bound to come in handy at some point but you won’t need enough medical equipment to keep a small hospital running for a year. Don’t pack anything that you wouldn’t know how to use and remember that you can pick up over-the-counter medications in most places.
The alternative: If traveling off the beaten track, find out from other travelers what might be hard to come by and just pack those items.
Katie from Katie going Global – “A black pencil skirt.”
Katie ditched her smart black pencil skirt within weeks of being on the road. We all like to dress up sometimes but it’s best to opt for something that can be dressed up or dressed down so you will have more opportunities to wear it. Unless you plan on going for a job interview, leave the work attire at home.
The alternative: Pack a loose skirt that can be worn walking and sightseeing but also has the ability to be dressed up in a pinch.
Lauren from Never Ending Footsteps – “Ugly travel clothes that have zips and 400 pockets.”
Those trousers with ‘handy’ zip-off legs and more pockets then you’d know what to do with are practical, but if you wouldn’t wear them at home, chances are you won’t wear them while traveling. This applies to all clothes that you pack. If you’re a girly girl that lives in dresses and skirts then you aren’t going to turn into a tomboy just because you’re traveling.
The alternative: Pick practical clothes but don’t change your style.
Vicky from Vicky Flip Flop – “Make-up”
This particularly applies if you’re going to a hot country where you make-up is going to melt off your face as soon as you step outside. Once you’ve got a tan you won’t need or want the heavy makeup so save the space and go ‘au natural’.
The alternative: Keep it simple with tinted moisturizer that has SPF and perhaps a bit of eyeliner and mascara for nights out.
>> Read the low-key traveler’s beauty kit for inspiration
Some other things that female travelers wish they had left behind or never got out of their backpacks include Steripens, silk sleeping bag liners, money belts, jeans in hot countries and hair dryers.
So when you’re packing for your next trip away, ask yourself if you really need it, how often you’re going to wear it and if you really want to be blow-drying your hair or applying make-up in 30 degree heat and you will definitely end up with a lighter load.
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy reading about what not to pack.
A lot of good tips on things to ditch! Plus, when it comes to clothes, you can usually pick up a cute outfit as a souvenir if you do find you didn’t pack for an unexpected night out.
So true. And it’s awful when you find something you really, really want to buy but you don’t have space in your case or backpack for it so you have to leave it behind. I’d rather leave with an empty backpack and have the space to shop til I drop!
Great list! I wish I would have read it before my first trip many years ago (I packed the nice skirt and makeup, which of course never got used). Now many trips later I think I’ve got it down…but one thing mentioned at the bottom of your list is the non-necessity of a silk sleeping bag liner. This item I am forever grateful for every time I travel. Whether it be to add a little very welcome warmth to my sleeping bag when trekking in Nepal, or as a soft and cool layer between me and a…er, unsanitary train bunk, I have a special place in my travel heart for mine. The good ones are super light and pack down into the size of rolled up socks.
Great article! I totally agree people always want to bring so much more than they need. I’ve tried to get rid of all my things now but it’s hard work phew!
Julie - The Fairy Trails says
This list is great! Though I love exchanging my books with other travellers far too much to ever switch to an e-reader.
Thanks for sharing this! So I glad I read it, it popped up on twitter just as I was thinking about my packing list and now my whole list is being re-thought! I am quite surprised to see the silk liner at the bottom of the article as additional items that have been forgotten. In the one month I travelled Chile my sleeping bag liner was my best friend – it added extra warmth and comfort when in my sleeping bag, and it provided that extra barrier between me and the questionable hostel mattresses.
And no Steripen, really? That was my number 1 on my travel wish list! Would love to hear the reasons why 🙂
I’m with you Jody-Lea – I LOVE my silk sleep sheet. I think it all depends on where you’re traveling… I tend to be in less westernized destinations and more questionable ones 😉 And Steripen, I’ve never used, but I think it depends on where you’re going. You can usually buy bottled water wherever for cheap.
Melissa - The Mellyboo Project says
I bought a Steripen to go to Africa with and kinda regret purchasing it. I didn’t use it once. I ended up buying my water – there weren’t too many (if any) opportunities where we HAD to drink the local water… yeah… kinda regretted spending $100AUD on it.
I love my steripen!!! – I lived in Uganda for two and a half years and used it every time I left my house (where I treated my water 20L at a time) Bottled water IS available most everywhere but seeing the impact of so much plastic on developing countries’ cities, where they don’t have their garbage collection in place yet, I couldn’t bring myself to contribute to the problem by consuming bottled water. I always travel with a nalgene bottle that I refill, and if I’m going somewhere I can’t drink the water, my steripen comes too 🙂
Instead of taking some heels, I’d recommend just packing some nice (leather) sandals. They’re just as comfortable (or actually more comfortable) than flip-flops and they won’t make you look like a backpacker on a night out. And, your feet will be nice and cool 😉
you can get a kindle app for your phone for free! I use an old iPhone so I don’t run down my phone battery.
The Steripen became my most prized possession when I travelled in Nepal. It was just so nice to have the freedom to drink as much water as I wanted without having to contribute to environmental waste buying a ton of plastic bottles, or spend the extra money for it either (it adds up and when you’re hiking at high altitude you need to drink at least 3-4L per day, I think I already got my money’s worth for my Steripen by not buying bottles).
Besides that I agree with you on the books, it’s nice to be able to read a bunch of different books on your phone or tablet. I think it’s nice to have one thin book with you in addition to the Kindle app, just so you can have the sensation of sitting and curling up with a book 🙂