I moved house recently and I came across the battered and bruised backpack I used for my two year trip around Asia and Australia.
Prior to the trip I spent more than a year planning and plotting and excitedly scouring the internet for tips and advice. A lot of this planning time involved reading and preparing lengthy packing and shopping lists.
I was one of those backpackers who bought EVERYTHING. I read every packing list out there and dutifully bought everything. My bag was enormous, it was heavy and it was a nightmare to lug around.
If I went back in time and told my 21 year old self to remove more than half of the shite in that backpack I wouldnât have listened to her but here are 10 things I really should have removed. These are the items that slipped to the bottom of my backpack and never emerged again.
Iâm not saying that these items arenât useful for some people, but I doubt theyâre useful for most!
1. A full medical kit
You definitely need a small medical kit with things like paracetamol, rehydration sachets, antiseptic cream and sting relief but I never used anything more than this. I even packed a syringe and needle because I read they try to use second-hand needles in some countries!? I had all sorts of bandages and plasters and antihistamines but Iâm not the sort of person to wrap myself in bandages at home so why would I do it on the road?
The solution: Unless you know how to use it, I’d only take the basic medical supplies. No matter where you are in the world, medical professionals are never far away.
2. Hiking boots
Iâll be honest, I ditched my hiking boots fairly quickly. I took a sturdy pair of walking boots thinking Iâd need them for lots of hiking expeditions, but in the end I found that my trainers were sufficient. I thought Iâd wear my hiking boots on the plane to save carrying them but they were so hot and heavy that I could never be bothered.
The solution:Â Opt for comfortable but stylish and lightweight trainers than can be worn hiking as well as running about a city.
3. A sink plug
How many times in your life have you said, âI really wish I had a sink plug right nowâ?
No, Iâve never said that either.
When you stay in budget accommodation you often donât have a sink plug in your bathroom. I guess it can be awkward if you want to have a sink wash but you just have to leave the tapÂ running. It could also be difficult if you plan to wash your clothes in the sink but leaving your clothes to soak in tepid water doesnât really clean them anyway. If I ever washed my own clothes I always did it in the shower anyway.
The solution: Use the shower
4. A sewing kit
This is probably me being lazy but if my clothing ripped I would never sew it up. Of course, Iâd have good intentions to sew the hole âone dayâ but I know I never would. I’d wear it with a hole in it until the hole because so big I had to throw the item away. And then Iâd be really pleased it broke and Iâd go out and buy a new one.
The solution:Â If youâre the kind of person who sews up holes then take a sewing kit but if you barely know how to thread a needle then leave it at home!
5. A Swiss army knife
Iâll admit that a corkscrew on a Swiss army knife is kinda handy but when youâre travelling in Asia youâre not going to have many opportunities to use a corkscrew. Other than that, I don’t know what I’d use all the other gizmos on a Swiss army knife for.
The solution:Â If you really need a corkscrew, consider buying a small corkscrew instead.
6. More than one warm jumper or pair of jeans
A lot of people will say you shouldnât pack any jeans at all when youâre travelling because theyâre bulky and take so long to dry. Personally, I live in my jeans and wear them all the time, even when itâs hot, so Iâd never travel without them. One thing I would say is that thereâs no need for more than one pair of jeans and you only need one warm jumper/sweater/hoodie/cardigan.
The solution: Pack one pair of jeans and one warm top in a dark colour – you’re going to wear this a lot!
7. Solar charger
It depends where youâre travelling here but itâs very unlikely youâre ever going to use a solar charger.
The solution:Â Take a small rechargeable USB charger for your phone and gadgets.
8. Alarm clock
Does anyone travel without their phone these days? And do any phones not have alarm clocks on them?
So why do backpackerâs packing lists still contain alarm clocks?
The solution:Â Just use your phone.
9. Travel towel
This might be a controversial one because a lot of people love travel towels but I hate them. Theyâre too small and they donât really dry you. Yes, they dry quickly but thatâs pretty much their only pro. If Iâm in a hot country Iâd rather use a sarong and if Iâm in a cold country then IÂ want a proper towel. In Asia, guest houses will always provide towels so itâs only some cheap hostels in Europe where you need your own.
The solution: Double check if any of your accommodation doesn’t provide towels. It’s very unlikely that they won’t.
10. An enormous backpack
The best way to pack light is to have a small backpack. Why anyone thinks they need a 65L backpack is beyond me. Why do all the packing lists suggest large backpacks? The bigger the backpack, the more crap youâll squeeze into it. Keep it small and you physically canât overpack. It took me a very, very long time to learn this one!
The solution:Â It’s a simple one – just take a smaller bag! If you can, go for hand luggage only!
Read more: 12 travel hacks for travelling light
Do you have any more unnecessary travel items to add to the list?