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10 things not to pack when backpacking

Recently in Bangkok I decided to shed all my excess baggage. For two months in India and Nepal I had been carrying around a ridiculously heavy backpack and a day pack. I decided to ditch the day pack and got rid of all the unessential items in my backpack.

Things not to take backpackingI had packed things that were completely useless to me when backpacking but maybe could use when I eventually stopped travelling and to my great expense had to send them via DHL to a family members address in New Zealand. Not only did this bite heavily into my travel funds but also quite a lot of time was spent dealing with frustrating Thai bureaucracy!

Below is a list of things that I should not have taken with me and some other things that I have learned not to travel with.

Mosquito nets

Mosquito netShould have been fazed-out in the early 20th century, In one hundred Indian hotel rooms, I rarely found anything to hook the thing on to, and when I did, I found that it obstructed the much-needed cool breeze from the ceiling fan, creating an uncomfortable pocket of warm air.

I have visited almost all of the S.E Asia countries now, and have never encountered mosquitoes in such numbers that they would interrupt my sleep (unlike my experiences in South America) and as for malaria prevention – there are better ways! Any area where Mosquitoes maybe a problem the nets will be provided.

Shampoo and Conditioner

Invest in sun cream but don’t bring large or even medium sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Local products will do just fine and can be purchased in neat travel sized sachets from most chemists.

Hair Dryers and Straighteners

Yes believe it or not people do take these with them.  Me included one trip!.  Most sockets do not offer enough power to make them work to there full capacity.  Not only do they take up valuable space but the heat in Asia makes them virtually pointless.

What not to take on vacation

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If you want to pack super light then watch this handy video!


Things to leave at home when you travel

A small minority of hotels/backpackers lack sheets and just provide mattress coverings.  during most of the year, it is usually so hot that sheets are unnecessary anyway. Whilst in the hills and mountains, you don’t need sheets you need a sleeping bag which can be purchased cheaply then disposed or tied onto the outside of your pack.

Whilst travel pillows do help you endure the epic night bus journeys they take up a massive amount of space and tourist bus companies tend to provide a pillow and a sheet.

Swiss Army Knifes

I had one for years and took it on every trip.  I never once used it.  I am a backpacker not an outdoors man.  Unless you’re going camping in the wilderness leave it at home.

Wine is rare is S.E Asia and mainly served in bars so you won’t even need it for that and eventually you will forget that you have it in your bag and have it confiscated at the airport like I did.


Controversial choice amongst some people but they take up valuable space, are useless if you get wet and it tends to be hot to wear them almost all times of the year.   It’s also worth noting that it is almost impossible to keep your clothes looking good when they are washed in rivers and squashed into your backpack for months on end and expensive items of clothing should be left at home.  I would also advise unless you own a small cheap waterproof jacket that can be stuffed into your backpack not to bring a jacket either.  You will never/rarely need one.

Expensive clothes

expensive travel clothes

No matter how much they cost, or how much you liked them before your trip after six months of rolling them into a ball, squashing them in the backpack and being washed in hostel washing machines you will want to burn every item of clothing you own after travelling.

Leave the good stuff at home.


Things not to pack for travelingBooks take up a large amount of space, controversially I wouldn’t even bother carrying a Lonely Planet guide.

South East Asia is full of travellers who can give first hand advice and it is hardly off the beaten track.

Books can be purchased much cheaper on the street and most book places offer a book exchange meaning you don’t have to carry around unwanted books.

Large amounts of medical supplies

One for the hypochondriacs, compact, basic first aid kit is essential to bring with you, such as plasters, a small tube of anti-septic cream and so on. But don’t go overboard.  I’ve had the same emergency kit with me for five years and it still remains un-open.


Apart from the major inconvenience in carrying one you fit every backpacker stereotype in world.   If you’re desperate to keep playing you will find a hostel or bar with one lying around or find at the one stereotypical American jock douchebag with a guitar that I always seem to meet who is trying to impress girls with Bob Marley, Jack Johnston songs.

What not to travel with

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