Stuff you should never take on a trip

Adult travelers and holiday-goers (i.e. not backpackers), and I’m sure just most female young or old travelers in the world just find it difficult to cut-down on packing.

Leif Pettersen at The Lonely Planet has just published this article and it did crack me up; at a time where I’m scratching my head and wondering how to pack for Myanmar (the very exciting countdown until November has started!!), I thought it was a good idea to bring up the topic.

So, no, Mr Leif, I’m defo not taking oversized pillows onboard, but how am I supposed to go from work meetings and weddings to visiting the local church and museums, plus fit the odd run in between, with only 2 pairs of shoes?

And yes, I need a minimum amount of grooming goops, who knows, Prince Charming / boss / in-laws / clients / girlfriends might be lurking around the corner. No offence but no, I don’t think because one is a tourist, he should walk around in shorts and trainers at the Verona Opera. I did go in evening dress and heels and keep my pride, thanks a lot.

But I get your point, I also do get annoied at people slowing airport queue checks with two suitcases, heels, tons of metallic bangles and whining kids 🙂 So what should I cut off and how to do that?

A couple of obvious questions I ask myself before leaving:
what’s the weather like? With the forecast for the next 5 days and average temperatures for the month, it should give us a clue. Now true, it doesn’t solve your “I’m off to 30-degrees-in-the-shade-Sicily, will attend a fancy wedding and climb up the Etna where it’s snowing” type of problem. Erg.
– so next obvious question is: what’s the plan? How many nice restaurants and evening outs do I need to pack for?
– And finally, what company am I flying with? Ryanair has slightly relaxed their handbag policy (small trolley + small handbag is now acceptable), while Easyjet is still on a strict 1 hand-luggage only (they seem to let camera bag and suits go though), other traditionnal mainstream european companies with more headlocker room are generally more lenient.

1. Liquids are restricted on plane boards since the 9/11 events but 13 years later I still seem to systematically get stuck behind people who have a whole pharmacy in their handbag.

I have to admit liquid is the one thing that always is a bit of a headache for me, and contrary to Mr Leif, I almost never find a hotel that provides me with toothpaste. Recently in Sicily 1 hour before the start of a wedding reception, 4 of my girlfriends were frantically running in the corridors in search for a bottle of shampoo (and yes it was a 3 stars respectable hotel in case you wonder)

There aren’t that many miracle solutions I’m afraid, but here are my 2 cents:

– Take sample size and mini products. Even my hair brush is mini, my make-up, my perfume. Everything. I’m actually quite mini myself.
– share the love, if going with friends, maybe one can take a small bottle of sunscreen, deodorant and a small toothpaste for all. That’s what male friends are for, aren’t they?
The magic of wipes. I cheat a bit with those I have to say. I’m not sure if they are technically liquid, but they have gone folded into my t-shirts quite a few time. For more info, or if any doubts, check there.

The alternative is to buy stuff at the duty free, even though I don’t tend to do it for 1/ lack of time, I seem to always be running 2/ it doesnt solve the problem of having to come back with the liquids on the way in. 3/ because some low-cost air-carrier would ask you to fit your shopping bags in your hand luggage anyway, not saving much in the end, is it?

2. Pack in outfits and in layers. That’s a mostly girly one but I feel a lot of men could also take on from it.

I try to line up my outfits on the floor or my bed before I leave, to make sure that I pack stuff that match together and avoid looking like a parrot on holiday, but also packing tops that I cannot match with any bottom and as a result would come back clean and unused at home.

Basics and layers are girls’ good friends. Black jeans and flats travel far and can do in quite a few circumstances. In Finland and Norway this summer, layers saved me: short sleeves, long sleeves, leggings to add under skirts in case, cardigans, wooly jacket…

packing outfits
bank holiday weekend in Italy last minute catch up with the girlfriends. “kitsurfing & running items? check. Days at the beach? check. 2 to 3 evenings out? check. Underwear, matching accessories and shoes? off we go.”

3. Leave a little bit of space for souvenirs and other tokens of travel. I love those and I know I will almost always come back with at least some local sweet specialty, a book and a pair of earring. It’s also probably a good idea to think about what you would like to bring back beforehand.

4. use roll-on vacuum bags for big jumpers and other fluffy space-consuming things. Just make sure you buy the travel version, not the one that needs a hoover. I use those and can’t thank my friend enough for the tip, it saved the skiing holidays!!


5. for the love the almighty, please leave your pads and tablets at home, especially if you intend to take photos with them. My travel buddies know how much I moan about that and I’m not the only one pleading for the cause: Ipad is not a Camera, get a damned real camera

Oh… and this summer I’ve witnessed several times the next stage of grossly inappropriate tablet behaviour: people having video conferences (skype, Facetime and the likes) with their friends and family at the restaurant table, at the beach and generally any public place where they could find wifi, and all of that on loudspeakers obviously, for everyone’s enjoyment.

Do yourself a favour; leave the bloody thing at home, thanks.

Now, all that being said, I’m actively looking on how to pack in a rucksack. Is a 40L enough/too much for a 2 weeks holidays? any tips to pack all I need without going mad and keep it to a minimum in order to board as lightly as possible about 8 times in 2 weeks while having enough for a couple of “local accomodation”, cold nights, hots days, city, hicking and beach…?

Has anyone got Mary Poppins phone number?

could take a few tips, thanks

6 thoughts on “Stuff you should never take on a trip”

  1. Hahahahaha as a backpacking-GIRL (yes, I will insist upon that term) I find myself in a bit of a pickle every time but, thanks to pay-for-laundry available almost everywhere in the world (beware though, it was SO overpriced in Myanmar !), I settle for a one-outfit-for-every-occasion way of packing. So basically : heeled sandals, classy flipflops (mine are leather, there you go, beach AND classy evening/afternoon), flats (bensimon usually do the trick) for everyday use and a pair of baskets/hiking shoes.

    And I pack an evening dress that don’t need any ironing (thank you gauze), two shorts, one skirt and a jean and finally two jumpers (a pretty one and a “this bus is freezing”-one. That way I’m ready for absolutely every occasion and I don’t have to leave my pride out of the backpack 🙂


  2. Merci!! I’m glad I’m not the only one, may I ask what backpack you used? good brand / model to recommend? I found a few Osprey ones, in the 40L type of size and wondered if it’d be enough…
    thanks for passing by!


    1. Very very classic one coming from decathlon ! I’ve got a 60L an every year I discover that I could have packed lighter ! This year I had 13kg for 7 weeks ! 🙂 (Could have downsized to 11 or so, the pack was kinda almost full which is always a shame but again, it forces you to reconsider that thousandthhh item you want to buy, so that’s not bad ! :))


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