Vacations are never cheap, and luggage space is always precious. It doesn’t matter if you’re backpacking across Europe for a year or driving up to New England to spend a week touring Redfin homes for sale. You don’t want to pack more than you need, but this is something many people end up doing. Some people might also invest in travel items before a trip that are supposed to make traveling better, which could get expensive quickly. While there are some things you need to make traveling smoother, there are a lot of products out there that will end up being a waste of money instead.
Wherever you’re going, the following items are not worth your time or money.
Toiletries are something many people buy specifically for a trip, but they aren’t actually necessary. No, I’m not saying you should embrace bad breath and B.O. I’m just saying that travel-size versions of toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, conditioner, and the like are all overpriced, and bringing your own stock from home takes up way too much room in your bags.
Why bother? It’s not like these items can’t be purchased at just about every dollar store and corner pharmacy on Earth, and usually for cheaper than what you’d pay for miniature versions. Paying more for less? Sounds like a scam to me. If you aren’t picky about what soaps you use, your hotel or other accommodation might provide them already. A whole trip to the store just for travel-sized products also isn’t always necessary. If you travel often, it can be much more beneficial for you to buy reusable travel-sized containers that you can bring in any trip. You already own all the toiletries you need to bring with you, just squeeze what you already have into these containers to avoid having to buy something new each time you have a trip.
Most pieces of luggage already come with tags or tag holders (which you can easily put any old piece of paper inside), but even when they don’t, they’re not worth spending money on. Even the nicest, sturdiest-seeming can fall off during transit, so you’re better off just using the flimsy free ones they give out at the airport. If you want a nice luggage tag just for a look of it, buying a luggage tag is fine, but otherwise, you could go without it and be fine.
Luggage handlers rarely look at them anyway, and you’ll likely recognize your own bag when they come out of the chute at the end of your flight. So what’s the point? If you have luggage that you think looks too similar to everyone else’s and you think you won’t spot it after a flight, there are cheaper, more eye-catching ways of knowing it’s yours. A piece of brightly colored duct tape or a ribbon tied around the handle can stand out in a crowd enough for you to notice it. If you’re worried about recovering your luggage should it get lost, it’s worth noting that airports use their own tags with bar codes to track your bag. That’s all you really need.
Like toiletries, travel pillows take up a lot of valuable room in your luggage that could be used for something better. Now, don’t confuse travel pillows with neck pillows. The latter are great for long flights, car rides, train trips, etc. Travel pillows aren’t designed specifically for nestling between your head and your seat. They’re just slightly smaller versions of normal pillows.
In other words, travel pillows are basically just throw pillows with a marketing gimmick. They’re unwieldy and often provide little comfort when compared to having no pillow at all. Not worth it. When you’re traveling by car, space might not be a huge issue, so you can just bring a pillow you already own instead of spending money on a new one. If you’re traveling overnight or for a long flight or train ride, they might even provide you with a pillow for the trip, so bringing your own really is just a waste of space.
Print is dead, at least when it comes to travel guides. There was a time when a hefty tome full of geographical maps, historical information, language information, time zone charts, and helpful tips were invaluable for tourists on the go. Nowadays, not so much.
There’s no reason to carry around a guidebook with you. Every piece of information you can find in a guidebook, you could just as easily find online with your mobile phone. The digital versions are better, too, with interactive maps and translator apps. Best of all, most of this stuff is free or super-cheap, whereas a decent guidebook could cost around 15-40 bucks. This can also save a decent amount of space in your luggage. Thank God for the Internet. The same goes for any book. Many people want to read while they travel, but you can do it with your phone or an-reader and take up a lot less space.
With a limited amount of luggage space available, most people try to optimize how they pack for a trip. One popular way of doing this is with packing cubes. These allow you to keep everything separated in bags when traveling and can help make packing easier. If spending extra money is worth it to have the inside of your luggage look nicer, or if you really care about packing the best that you can, packing cubes might be right for you. Frequent travelers may also benefit from being able to reuse packing cubes for each trip.
However, if you aren’t really picky about what you’re using and just want to keep everything organized, packing cubes could be a waste of money. You could essentially do the same thing that packing cubes do but with large plastic bags you already own. This allows you to still separate everything how you want, but you don’t need to buy something special for it.