What Not To Pack: Five Items to Leave Behind

Backpacking & Trekking, Packing & Wardrobe — By on January 18, 2010 at 6:00 am
Too Many Shoes
Ready to take off—but not sure how to plan for the getaway? Check out our new Guide to First Time Travel!
Special to The Lost Girls

Every good trip starts with a suitcase…and the inescapable problem of what to put in it. Or better yet, what NOT to put in it.

Melanie Webb with Sol Fitness Adventures said, “I’ve seen many clients catch ‘kitchen sink syndrome’ during my 10 years of guiding backpacking trips.” Travelers try to bring everything they can cram in their bags. Beat the kitchen sink syndrome with these LG approved top five NO-pack items to keep at home on your next journey:
1. Books As much as I love the weight of a good book in my hands while lounging at home, it’s the last thing you want weighing down your pack on the road. Instead, download audio books for your iPod; tear out sheets you’ll need from your travel guides; photograph key pages (especially maps!) with a digital camera. Or skip the guides altogether-sometimes the best places are the hidden gems you can only discover through locals or stumble upon on by chance.
Consider purchasing an e-reader. A cheaper alternative to Amazon’s Kindle (retails at $259) is

the Sony Reader Pocket Edition (retails at $199). It holds up to 350 books, and the battery lasts up to two weeks.

2. Unnecessary Clothes and Shoes Carin Kiphart, the co-owner of Living Adventurously, an international luxury tour company, said the main rule for packing is to “throw in what you want, take out half, and you’ll have what you need. Layer, mix and match.”

Carin minimizes shoe options and suggests Tevas or Chacos, which serve duel purposes of “flip flops” and light hikers. Before you stash any item in your bag, ask yourself if it’s versatile enough to warrant the extra space.For example, Susan Foster, packing expert for www.smartpacking.com, has some double-up ideas for making your wardrobe stretch futher. “A long tee-shirt can serve as a nightgown, robe, beach cover-up, or a top over tights. A large pareo can be worn as a shawl, sarong, skirt, scarf; used as a beach or airplane blanket, picnic tablecloth; or tied into a bundle for a tote bag, hobo-style.”

I’m a fan of swapping bathing suits for regular bras, since they’re comfortable and functional in and out of the water.

3. Purses & Accessories “If you’re going on adventure travel, do you need the Louis Vuitton?” said Kiphart. Depending on the type of trip, choose a light backpack or over the shoulder bag as a carry-on. If you need dressy accessories, consider bringing a wallet that doubles as a clutch. Don’t forget to leave anything you can’t afford to lose at home!

4. The Entire Contents of Your Bathroom Counter/Makeup Drawer Think multitaskers! Substitute body wash, shampoo, dish soap and laundry detergent for an all-in-one soap. Webb likes biodegradable cleansers like Dr. Bronner’s or Campsuds. Look for travel-size makeup kits (with mirror, eye shadow, blush and lip gloss). Clinique makeup products often have these travel make up kits in the ‘free with purchase’ sets.

5. Your Laptop You’re supposed to be enjoying the sights, not sites (as in Web)! If you absolutely need to use a computer, you can likely get everything you need out of a smart phone. For my last two-month trip, I invested in an international data plan for my Blackberry Tour, which practically paid for itself in the Internet cafes I avoided. Plus, my friends and fam had the comfort of knowing that I was still alive through updates via Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget – you can always go shopping later or pick up items on the road. Like Foster says, “It’s a suitcase, not your closet.”