Throughout our travels we have met many backpackers that carry around a lot of crazy and unnecessary stuff! Shit, as newbie travelers we did too. When you are just starting out you’re more prone to buy everything on every packing list you read online. We get it… you’d rather be over-prepared than under-prepared.
But we are here to help you avoid carrying unnecessary stuff. With our anti-packing list you’ll save money, backaches, and muscle mass!
Here are a few things you should definitely leave at home:
Thanks to the increase in travel blogs and travel apps in the recent years, guidebooks have become more and more obsolete. All information found in your typical Lonely Planet can be found on the web (and here of course) for free and is usually more up-to-date.
So why carry a heavy guidebook around with you when you can get tips and more accurate information from people online?
Some good places to ask questions or look for information are Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum, TripAdvisor forum, Facebook groups or your favorite travel blogs.
However, the absolute best way to get information is to ask locals, or even other backpackers at your destination. So leave the guidebook at home and go with the flow.
2.) Money Belt
Money belts are not only super uncomfortable, they also won’t protect you from getting robbed. Most robbers aren’t stupid and they know about money belts just as much as you do.
Instead of carrying a money belt, divide your money between different pockets and your wallet. That way, if you do get robbed, your robber might be satisfied with the money from your wallet and leave. That’s the idea at least :D
Either way, just take the normal precautions. Be alert of your surroundings, but don’t be paranoid.
Update: If you are really concerned about your money, a good alternative to the conventional money belt might be this regular belt with a hidden pocket on the inside.
Let’s be honest here, me and you both know how flimsy umbrellas are and how a small gust of wind can either send your umbrella flying or break it all together. Not to mention they take up precious space in your travel backpack and create unnecessary expenses to replace them.
So do yourself a favor, skip on the umbrella and buy a high quality rain jacket instead. That way you don’t have to worry about anything breaking or flying away, and you only invest in a rain jacket once. You can use the money you saved on beer or something!
4.) Zip-Off Pants
Do you wear zip-off pants at home? Yes? Then by all means bring them along with you. If your answer is no, then please leave them at home. They look super ugly and everybody can spot you as a tourist from a mile away.
We never had zip-off pants, and look at us… we have survived over 3 years of traveling the world and counting :)
5.) Medical Kit
When you are going to the supermarket or a party in your hometown, do you travel with a huge medical kit? Probably not! So it shouldn’t be any different when you are traveling.
Let’s be real, you’ve never even used most of the things in a medical kit. On the plus side, there are pharmacies all over the world, even in developing countries. There they sell everything from band-aids to strong antibiotics, usually for half of what you would pay in your home country.
So why pack a big medical kit when you can just walk to a nearby pharmacy and pick up whatever you need, whenever you need it? And if it’s serious you can always go to the hospital… developing countries have those too!
6.) Big, Heavy Towels
You know those big towels you have been drying yourself with for most of your life, or those awesome beach towels that keep sand out of your bum? Yes? We know you love them, but it’s time to cut the cord and leave them at home. They are wayyy too heavy and take up a lot of unnecessary space in your backpack.
Most hostels and hotels provide towels for free or for a small fee. And for the times when towels aren’t provided, we have our super light and quick drying travel towel as a backup.
Travel towels are super compact and weigh next to nothing. It’s definitely a worthy addition to every packing list.
7.) Hiking Boots
If hiking is not your main objective when you travel, and you’re only planning on going on occasional hikes, leave your hiking boots at home. You can always rent or buy a pair at your destination if you absolutely need them.
With that being said, most hikes can be done with regular sneakers and we are living proof of this. We’ve hiked mountains all over the world, including an active Volcano in Guatemala, in our ASICS Venture 5, and never once wished we had hiking boots.
A good alternative to hiking boots might be lightweight hiking/trekking shoes. For some recommendations, check out our list of the best travel shoes.
In this day and age, there is really no reason to travel with physical books anymore, even if you are trying to read all the best travel books out there. With a Kindle, not only can you carry around a whole library of ebooks without the extra weight, but you can also buy a new book whenever and wherever you are.
Gone are the days of looking for a bookstore abroad that carries English speaking books, or finding a good book among all the crappy ones at a hostel book exchange.
Audiobooks are a lighter alternative. Just sign up for Audible and listen to your favorite audiobooks on your smartphone.
9.) Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are for people who camp out in the woods, and not for backpackers staying at hostels. As a matter of fact, more and more hostels are banning sleeping bags because of bed bugs and other hygienic reasons.
If you are really that concerned about dirty bedsheets, it’s probably time to up your budget and spend a few more bucks on a nicer hostel/hotel.
10.) Mosquito Net
Places that need mosquito nets usually have them, and if they don’t, they have an electric fan. If they don’t have either, you should probably find a better place to stay.
Or, you can always spray yourself with a good mosquito spray before going to bed. The choice is yours :D
Wearing fancy jewelry in developing countries will most certainly make you a target. We strongly suggest you leave your shiny stuff at home. You don’t need jewelry to look nice, you are beautiful without it.
12.) Expectations and Plans
If there is one thing we have learned from years of traveling the world, it’s that you should leave your expectations and plans at home. Things change and they never work out the way you want them to, so just go with the flow. We promise you’ll have a much better time on your trip.
13.) Pillow, Coffee Press, Hula Hoop, Surfboard…
Kind of goes without saying, but you’d be surprised by what people carry with them on their travels.
We understand there are some things you may have an emotional attachment to and want to bring for comfort reasons. However, we love you enough to tell you to let it go and leave it at home…you’ll thank us later :)
Now that you know what not to pack, make sure to check out our bullshit-free packing list on things you should pack.
What have you taken with you, that you didn’t end up using? What’s on your anti-packing list?