Not packing the non-essentials
Sounds like a pedantic title I grant you, but read on and you will hopefully see my point. If like me, you read everything you can about going travelling for the first time, you will find all sorts of packing check-lists. I followed them and would now like to spare you time, money and the arse-ache of lugging this pointless tat about!
- Water purifying tablets. Mmm possibly an essential if you are travelling to somewhere extremely remote with obvious lack of sanitary water and lack of shops. However, if you are travelling to somewhere tourist friendly like South East Asia for example, yes you cannot drink the water straight from the tap, but I bet you £1000000 you’ll buy a 10p bottle of water from 7eleven before you sit there purifying your own water. You’ll need the plastic bottle from 7eleven to even get started anyway!
- Money belt. I’ve discussed this glorified bum bag in my Idiot Proof Guide to Travelling For the First Time already but again, it needs to be reiterated. Pointless, impractical and ugly. Also, sweat inducing. In hot countries, people want loose fitting clothes, not something weighty stuck to their stomachs.
- Hand washing stuff and a travel washing line. My advice here: just make sure you pack about two weeks worth of pants and then everything will be gravy. Every single place you go to will provide a laundry service. And personally, I would rather hand over a pile of dirty, sweaty clothes, pay about £1 and get it back freshly pressed the next day, as opposed to say sweating it out in the bathroom, scrubbing your own pit stains (shock, it’s hot, you’re going to sweat) whilst creating more in the top you’re currently wearing and ultimately ending up with slightly less dirty clothes. Also, you try erecting a temporary washing line in a eight-bed dorm. That’ll help you make friends.
- The travel towel. I thought this was a genius idea and it is, in practice. The idea of a small, light-weight, compact, quick-drying towel seemed too good to be true. Which it was. Where do I even start? Firstly, they’re not very good at drying you. Forgive me if I’m being fussy but isn’t that the primary function of a towel? Secondly, they’re not very good at drying themselves. Even though you’re not dry, somehow the towel is soaked. HOW? Thirdly, they’re too small. The idea of a compact towel is good for travelling with, but crap when it comes to actually using it. It barely covers you which can be rather embarrassing when in a communal shower situation. Also, when you fancy a sunbathe on the beach, you either have to be about 1m tall or else accept that you’re going to get sand in your hair and on your calves and feet. Particularly brilliant when the sand is about one hundred degrees. Just get a proper towel which actually behaves like a towel! You’ll thank me later.