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What's the most USELESS item you ever packed?

This forum is filled with good advice about what to take, but what is the single most useless item you have ever packed?

I'll start: travel-size alarm clock (I use my cell phone or iPad).

Posted by
1077 posts

Binoculars, I thought I would use them in the large churches or in the alps,etc, but all I did was drag them all over Europe and never used them!

Posted by
544 posts

Clothes line and laundry detergent to do laundry in the sink . . . It's always been way too tempting to have my hotel or a full-service laundry do my clothes for me while I'm out having fun.

Posted by
357 posts

A travel partner. I do not travel well with others.

Posted by
1032 posts

A cable lock, with the thought of locking my suitcase to the rack on trains. What a waste of time that would have been and embarrassing to be "that paranoid tourist" fumbling with a lock over my head (I'm short). However...next summer I'm travelling alone and I'm reconsidering it so I can go to the bathroom or dining car as needed. Has anyone actually ever done this?

Posted by
9099 posts

When I'm traveling solo I find the cable locks to be quite useful on trains. In additional to giving me the freedom to go to the cafe car or bathroom, I can also relax and take a nap.

Posted by
7244 posts

I'll also say the Phase Book. We mostly travel on our own, so I buy an inexpensive language learning course to prepare with the basics. I do print a summary page of the basics to review on the plane or train; otherwise, we've never opened the Phrase Book and stopped bringing them after our first non-RS tour.

I do attempt to speak the basics of the language (& mime) when we're there and haven't had any issues - just a few funny stories!

Posted by
1068 posts

A popular brand of vest with many pockets. Thought it was useless and gave it to charity when I returned home.

Posted by
1994 posts

Most useless – a clothesline. I brought one twice and rarely found a convenient place to hang it, even though I mostly rely on hand washing.

One of the most useful things for me it is a retractable cable lock. For leaving my luggage in the rack at the back of a rail car, but it's also great for attaching my luggage to a fixed object in a public place when I need to run downstairs for something (although it strikes me that the latter might not be advisable with heightened security).

Posted by
15795 posts

A money belt.

Hated the thing before we even left home, and it never left the suitcase.

Posted by
13905 posts

I'll agree with binocs...hauled my good birding binocs around for 5.5 weeks this fall and all they did was really add weight. Never had any good opportunities to bird, or when I did I didn't have the binocs or the bird app or birds, lol!!

Sink stopper was also useless especially when I discovered it worked better to have a reinforced 2 gal ziplock for laundry.

Excellent topic Zoe!

Posted by
14939 posts

My retractable cable lock finally broke after over 15 years of use. It's no longer made. I'd like suggestions for a replacement---as in what are others using.

Posted by
4385 posts

I use my clothesline all the time on every trip, just saying.

Posted by
3207 posts

Door wedge. Carried it around for years on trips. Never ever used it. I threw it out after my last trip.
@Miranda: You made me laugh!

Posted by
3592 posts

This topic is amusing, and it just underlines that everyone is different. Re: binoculars. We bring ours almost every time; and they would be useful, if we would remember to take them from the suitcase as we headed out for the day. Many's the time we've stood in a high-ceilinged venue bemoaning the fact that we could have seen some intriguing details if only we'd remembered the binoculars.

Posted by
19091 posts

Most of the things mentioned so far I've never considered bringing.

Phrase book: they're great for asking questions, but they don't translate all the possible answers you might get.

Cell phone: In all my times in Europe, I've only twice made an in-Europe call, and for those I found a pay phone.

i-Phone: Forget it. The only thing I'd use it for in Europe is as an alarm clock - a travel alarm is smaller, lighter than an i-Phone.

I do carry a clothesline. Admittedly, I've only used it twice. I keep hoping, but it's light so I keep trying. There is never a convenient place to string it, and mine has hooks, loops, and suction cups.

I no longer take a money belt For the first trip I bought a money belt. Tried it at home and found it was very uncomfortable, so I also bought a neck wallet. Left home using the money belt. By the time I got to Europe, I was using the neck wallet. Haven't taken it since.

As for a cable lock, I pack lightly enough that I never need to leave my luggage (another advantage of really light packing).

Posted by
2445 posts

Electrical converter - discovered belatedly that everything I wanted to charge really was fine with just an adapter. I actually do like having a phrase book - I want to do what I can to speak the language, even if it's not actually necessary.

Posted by
691 posts

Interesting topic. I have a few things on my list:

  • Art Supplies -- I am a painter, but I never seem to find the time for much painting while traveling. On top of that, paint takes up a lot of my liquid allowance in carry-on, and paper is heavy. I just rely on a camera (or two) nowadays.

  • Clothesline

  • Pepto Bismol and Immodium. Lots of folks advised medicine for upset stomachs when I went to Turkey recently, but I never needed it. I have no idea what I will do with all of that stuff now.

Posted by
1307 posts

I almost never never ever read whatever novel I have brought along once I am off the plane ... and I rarely read it on the plane, either, due to the noise and the low lights.
Next time I swear I will leave it at home and perhaps download something to my phone instead.

Posted by
11613 posts

I hear you, Miranda. I am fortunate to have lifelong friends that I travel with for two weeks out of twelve every year, but I think that's close to my maximum, and they are extraordinary people.

Posted by
86 posts

First trip it was two things: an extra pillow and a sleep sheet. I can't believe I carried them around for 6 weeks. Never again.

This trip: an extra pair of sandals, which I used twice in 7 weeks (one pair of shoes next time!), and a money belt. I used to wear it religiously, but now with the new thick unbendable passports it was so uncomfortable I gave up on it about 2 days in. Luckily, I was in places where I didn't need it.

Posted by
15576 posts

Camera tripod. It just wasn't worth the weight and bulk for the little I used it.

Miranda - you reminded me of one travel companion (who invited herself to be my travel partner) that left me with scars :-) Never again.

Nelly - I always take a cable lock when I'm going to be using trains. I secure the suitcase to the luggage rack at the end of the car and forget about it. It's worth it for the peace of mind.

Posted by
715 posts

I am on vacation. Alarm clock? What is that?

Posted by
8421 posts

big telephoto lens for camera. Gave up the SLR for point & shoot.

I always take and use a phrasebook. I enjoy trying to communicate with non-English speakers.

Posted by
127 posts

My Rick Steves' guidebook............. in it's entirety.

The whole book was pretty much necessary for Ireland but for Italy where my tour of Southern Italy was a tiny part of the big book- not so much. Rip those pages out! But don't throw them away so you can figure out where you took those pictures when you get back home.

Also the large telephoto lens for my camera. It would be nice to have but just not worth the weight and size for the amount of use it gets.

Posted by
13905 posts

Sharyn, I laughed when I read your comment about books. I have carried a Kindle, then the last trip converted to using the Kindle app on my iPad Mini. Years ago, before Kindle, I used to always carry 3 paperbacks with me for any trip after I got caught without reading material on a rainy long weekend on a very small Cay in the Bahamas and had to resort to reading the National Enquirer cover to cover including all the ads. Now I always have ebooks just in case but almost never find time to read.

However, one of the guys on my RS tour this Fall told me he read FIVE books during our tour! I was astounded!

Posted by
2708 posts

Shampoo. Hard to believe but I used to think I needed my preferred brand of shampoo. And creme rinse too. What was I thinking? Fortunately, I got over that many years ago.

Posted by
1059 posts

Pepto Bismol and Immodium useless? Why take a chance? It takes up so little space and weight. When you need it, you won't be sorry you brought it with you. As we have read in other posts, toilets are not always easy to find and sometimes are not the cleanest.

Posted by
1068 posts

If someone thinks Pepto, Imodium and Cipro are useless, fine by me. Didn't use them for my first 15? trips. But..........

Posted by
7025 posts

I took a cable lock because I was going solo and riding a lot of trains - I never used it, so won't bring it again.

I did, however, use my alarm clock for those days when I had early trains to catch (they were non-refundable specific train tickets so couldn't just hop the next train). I didn't need it in hotels with wake-up calls but did need it in the apartments I rented.

Posted by
353 posts

I'm with everyone else chuckling over the notion of Immodium being useless. (Pepto also but I am a Tums fan so that's what I carry).

I've traveled a lot for both business and pleasure over the last 25 years. One thing I will never leave home without is Immodium. I've needed it 10% of the time (max, probably less), but when I did need it I was sooooo happy not to have to go looking for the local equivalent.

Very glad for Marie that she didn't need it, but I'll never be without it. :)

Posted by
33 posts

I took a fair amount of Imodium on our Turkey trip...we didn't need it but my popularity soared when fellow tour mates found themselves in trouble...I was handing it out like candy! Oddly enough, my best "customer" had bragged that she never ever ran into problems - boy, was she glad I had a stash!

Posted by
2745 posts

When traveling with my mother I take bandaids and bandages. (She has a skin condiiton that causes her to bleed easily) Probably because I carried all that junke she's never needed it when we travel :)

Special laundry soap... I now just use shampoo

Clothesline ... another good idea i didn't need. I can find someplace to hang things to dry

When I travel along my valuables are in a small bag. I just leave the suitcase on the train rack and go to the bar car or bathroom. If someone wants my dirty clothes I assume they are desperate. So far so good!

Posted by
420 posts

A variety of small toys for my kids. I have always followed the advice of having some toys so the kids won't get bored and having a few new small toys to keep things interesting.--Not necessary.

Hotel pens, notepads, and disposable cups amuse my kids for hours.

Posted by
1976 posts

Great topic!

@Sherry and @Marie - ditto the clothesline!

When I was 20, I brought a heating pad to Italy for pain relief from "women's troubles" (there, @Margaret, now we're both in the TMI camp!). I plugged it into the outlet using only an adapter and forgot to use the converter. When I turned it on, the outlet sparked and there was a puff of smoke. That item was a bust in more ways than one!

Posted by
3940 posts

I took phrasebooks a few times before finally dropping...carried them in my day bag - never broke them out - well, maybe once to look up what a word on a menu meant.

Chani mentioned a tripod. I got a lovely, compact (about 45 cm/17 inches in 'folded up' stage) relatively lightweight one - weighs 1.1 kg (about 2.5 lbs) - for Xmas last year. I hummed and I hawed about taking it on holiday this year because I was trying to stay under the 23lbs allowed. After putting it in and out of the suitcase, I finally decided to take it...to the detriment of the pop tarts I was taking to the UK for my niece...lol. I didn't use it a whole lot, but when I wanted to do some long exposure night shots - in Paris and London - I was so glad that I brought it...even if I only used it 3-4 times...the photos would have been impossible hand holding. Plus I got some awesome video of the Eiffel Tower light show that they were doing special for a breast cancer gala. They were a few minutes long - nice and steady - handholding would have induced nausea for the watcher. :)

This is the tripod in case someone needs a Xmas gift for their fav photographer
http://www.manfrotto.ca/product/0/MKC3-H01/_/Compact_Series_tripod_with_built-in_photomovie_head_-_black

Posted by
980 posts

In our earlier travel days we used to carry phrase books and my wife insisted on 2 different guidebooks. Also, one early trip I carried a sleep sack all over Europe for almost 12 weeks and never really used.

DJ

Posted by
3592 posts

re: peptobismol & immodium, etc.

Many of the forum posters subscribe to the "I can always get it there if I need it" school of thought. Not I, especially when it comes to otc meds. First of all, it may simply not be true. Example: a friend visiting Vienna tried to get some pepto. The pharmacist informed her it was illegal in Austria because it contained bismuth. Second, it's likely you would need to buy otc meds at a pharmacy, even aspirin. There is always an open pharmacy, but it may be in the next village or on the other side of a large city. Third, the price of otc meds might shock you. Example: one year I forgot my supply of ibuprofen, which I take daily for knee problems. I figure that I wound up spending $40 for it, which at a Walgreen's or CVS would have gotten me several thousand tabs.

I carry a supply of the aforementioned i.b., immodium, antihistamines, and sudafed (had to pay over $1/pill for those in Italy two years ago). Otc meds take up little space and add negligible weight. I am very happy if I don't need the immodium, but I wouldn't want to be regretting its omission in the wee hours of the morning.

Posted by
928 posts

I like this topic so much I have to dive in. :)

I'll go out on a limb and say that the most useless thing I've ever packed was a second pair of shoes. My main pair of shoes was already selected to match the clothes I was wearing, so why bring another pair? It took up so much space in my bag and they were hardly ever used in my early travels. My original need was for when my shoes would get invariably drenched at some point from being out in the rain, but I've come to strapping sandals (tevas) to the outside of my bag in case I need something dry for a few hours. The sandals are also great for basic hiking or the beach. I'm not sure what my tour members thought of me wearing sandals while leading them on tour after that time we encountered several inches of hail and high water in Venice, but everyone was dealing with that crazy weather event in different ways, so I think I got a pass. ;)

Posted by
8293 posts

Rosalyn, even in Morocco I was able to buy Immodium.

Posted by
32198 posts

Zoe,

This is a good topic and it's interesting to see the diversity of replies. Here are some of the most "dispensable" travel items I've packed along over the years (not entirely "useless" in some situations).....

  • Binoculars - (I've packed those on a few trips as it seemed like a good idea at the time - however I found that my zoom lens works fine if I want a closer look at something)
  • Voltage Converter - (I've packed one on a few trips many years ago as one of the appliances I was travelling with was only designed for 115 V - these days most gadgets are designed for use on a range of voltages so there's no need for Converters)
  • Phrase books - (I don't really have any need for these anymore, as my smartphone can provide that function, along with real time translation if necessary)
  • Guide books - I often do pack along one guidebook on trips, as I much prefer using an actual book for reference - I've also torn pages out of guidebooks in the past and just carried the parts applicable to the locations I was visiting - it's much easier now to download E-books to my iPhone and just use those when necessary
  • Immersion Heater - I used to pack one of those years ago, but find these days that it's just not necessary, especially as some of the hotels I stayed at this year had a kettle, coffee and tea in the rooms
  • Travel Alarm Clock - Last time I packed one of those was about 2004 and it hasn't been used since - this is another application that my smartphone and before that my basic flip phone could provide - while I may be "on holidays", there are times when I have to be up to catch an early train or whatever, so having some kind of alarm clock is essential
  • Inflatable "horseshoe" Neck Pillow - another item that seemed like a good idea at the time - for use on flights I can usually manage with the small airline pillows - I'd rather not pack that goofy inflatable thing all over Europe.

And now a few comments on some of the other items mentioned in this thread......

  • Clothesline - This is one thing I have used on a number of occasions in the past, especially the time I had to dry a lot of clothes at the same time after being caught in a torrential downpour - it's small and light and not hard to pack so it comes on every trip.
  • Sewing kit - This is another item that gets packed on every trip. It's not large or heavy, but incredibly useful if needed for minor repairs.
  • Tripod - I don't pack a Tripod on every trip, but do take it if I'm planning to do any night photography - I've found that nothing else provides the same stability and versatility as a Tripod for time lapse photos.
  • Zoom Lens - as photography is a big part of my trips, this is one "luxury" that I tolerate - I use a Canon "DO" model 70-300 lens that's very compact for the range it provides and easily fits in my carry-on size camera bag.
  • Antacids - while those may be easily available in Europe, I always pack some along as there are no drug stores at 35,000 feet and I find that I often need a bit of relief during flights.
  • Shampoo - rather than pack shampoo, I use a "2-in-1" shower gel that's formulated both for body and hair - while more hotels are providing soap & shampoo these days, there are still some that don't provide any of that type of amenities.
  • Cable Lock - not something I'd ever use on a train - I've found that luggage placed on the racks at the end of the car invariably gets "re-arranged" as other passengers board, and having a bag locked to the rack is going to be a real nuisance - I tend to try and keep my bags close to the seat when possible, either on the overhead racks or in the inverted "V" between seats - that way I can watch it closely.

My travel gear is always a work-in-progress so the packing list gets adjusted a bit on every trip.

Posted by
32700 posts

Every trip phrase books go into the bag, along with menu translators and dining guides.

Every trip when I get home I put them back up on the shelf, unused (or barely so), ready for the next trip....

Posted by
3940 posts

Re Zoom lenses - I finally 'upgraded' to a Canon EOS M a few years ago from a superzoom/bridge camera. It came with the kit 18-55 and I picked up a little pancake 22mm as well. I love zoom (as I do lots of landscapes and love to zoom in on details) and picked up a 55-250mm...I took it on two trips and got tired of switching between the kit lens and the zoom. So after only a year, I sold my 55-250 and picked up the new Tamron 18-200 that came out in August this year. I love it!

On our trip to France this Fall I kept this lens on the whole time and could do my wide angle and my zoom. I did take the 18-55 in case I had issues with the zoom (like if I broke it - doh!) but it is pretty small and doesn't weigh much - I kept it in the room/suitcase the whole trip...but I have never been so happy with a purchase as with the Tamron. And it's really quiet for the focusing as well (I almost went with a Sigma but was turned off by the focusing noise - thank goodness the Tamron came out when it did - and at a really good price as well).

Posted by
7244 posts

Interesting to read others' thoughts.

We always pack two of the rubber-braided clotheslines and use them throughout the trip. I also use one for almost every work trip because I always just have a carry-on (except for the one work trip that I shared in a recent post with some funny replies from this Forum!)

Posted by
691 posts

Okay, you all have convinced me. I'll keep packing the Pepto and Immodium. :-)

As for the zoom lens, I pack more lenses each time I travel, and I haven't regretted it yet.

Posted by
11507 posts

Most useless item.. well honestly I guess I am lucky.. because I have never found actual "thing" useless.. but I have over packed clothing items before. I have pared it down over the years though. I have brought too many shoes. I think I am down to one pair of sandals.. one pair walking shoes.. and one pair of flip flops( but ONLY bring those if going on a beach stop) , no more "cute shoes in case I dress up for dinner one night" .

I ALWAYS pack pepto and immodium.. sure .. you can sometimes get them there.. but at 3 am when you have been suffering all night after a bad dinner out.. I think not.. In Italy I got terribly ill.. I mean stuck in room all day and all night ill.. while on a RS tour ( it was from a meal I had in Rome on our own.. not a tour meal).. and I used all my medicine up.. tour guide gave me some of his stash.. and then a tour member who was also a doctor came and gave me some of her stash too.. I figure if a doctor and tour guide carry it.. its not a useless item.

And .. in Paris I was informed by pharmacist that they simply do not have an equivalent to Pepto Bismal.. like another poster said about Austria I think.. the main ingredient is bismuth, and it is not allowed in France. Pharmacist suggested another med.. a suppository.. or charcoal.. nice.. I had brought pepto but had run out. Never again.

I do bring a travel clock.. as I travel without a phone..

Posted by
971 posts

Books are always a bit hit and miss for me, sometimes I bring a couple of books, that i lug around but never even open and other times I find myself without any reading material and I end up reading whatever I can find. I just got back from a lonmg weekend in Stockholm and I had brought two heavy WW2 historical books. That was abit too much and it's not like it was easy reading anyway, you get fed up with death and destruction at some point.
A few years back I was on an 8 day cruise on a small boat in the Galapagos Islands and I read every available book on the boat, Im reluctant to admit that in the end I got so desperat that I actually read Twillight.

One thing I always read is guidebooks, even though the information is sometime limited I always enjoy reading them, even about places I am not going to visit.

Posted by
715 posts

I have found charcoal tablets, or food grade bentonite clay, to work really well with stomach issues. I wonder why bismuth is not allowed?

Posted by
630 posts

I like having a separate alarm clock. Sometimes the iPhone is being charged across the room at night, so it's nice to have the clock and alarm right at my bedside. And one time while travelling, we didn't have access to the Internet so my iPhone didn't automatically adjust to the new timezone. So it was nice to have a clock that I could manually change until the iPhone adjusted properly. I purchased Rick Steve's Alarm Clock and I'm very happy with it. In fact, I use it every day even at home. It's simple and does the job - no fancy buttons or extra functions. It's very lightweight and works like a charm. I've tried LL Bean's Alarm Clock and ended up returning it.

And after reading these responses, I'm adding Immodium to my packing check list. LOL

Posted by
3940 posts

I actually find with a camera I look MORE at a lot of things...whether to find an interesting detail or angle...just ask my poor husband who has to wait while I take another pic or...lets walk over around said object so I can see it from a different, maybe more interesting angle. I love zooming in on details I may not otherwise see...especially the painted ceilings and decorative stonework...I got some great pics of the paintings in the duomo in Florence with my zoom (the ones in the dome)...I'd never see them that well with my own poor vision.

That being said, I am a really amateur photog who sells some pics here and there, so I am always looking for a different way to take a pic of the same old things that everyone photographs.

Posted by
2527 posts

Phrase books, most guide books (use photocopied pages or photograph and store on smartphone/tablet) and a tiny sewing kit (just in case, but not to date).

Posted by
1068 posts

Nicole, I'm with you! I have to "see" to take a good pic. Something that doesn't always happen when I'm not thinking about photos!

Posted by
17854 posts

Rosalyn; for years we packed without a first aid kit. But after I realized that all too often we were running around the city looking for things that weighed less than 2oz and we could have packed we just decided to put together a kit so we could spend our time "vacationing" and not pharmacy shopping. Although! there was one time when we assisted an American who was trying to explain to a no English speaking Romanian pharmacist what Prep H was. That was fun. That same trip I came down with strep throat and the pharmacy had neither the Prep H for the other gentleman or the antibiotic that the doctor had prescribed for me. Now I carry antibiotics too. The whole kit weighs about 1/2 pound and is worth the convenience.

Posted by
3940 posts

re - digital cameras...that being said, people who spend most of their vacation taking selfies should really leave behind the phone in the room...tho it can be amusing for us 'non-selfie' takers - it was pretty funny a few times on our trip watching selfie takers - one by the Eiffel T who was doing all the selfie poses and staring at her phone, deleting, redoing...and one in Monaco who was doing the duckface/v for victory hand sign - we saw her a few times and every time...taking pics of herself...and last but not least, the girl on the ferry ride in Portsmouth, UK, who honestly spent about 25 min of the ride doing a video on her phone, with her selfie stick -of nothing but herself - and maybe a little of the scenery we were passing by...honestly - she was just gazing at herself for at least half the boat ride - I think she was in love (with herself)...haha

Oh - I know on our first few trips to Europe we took one of those little electronic language translator things (we got it free with a mag subscription, I think) - never even took it out of the day bag! I did use our travel alarm for more than a few trips, but now with my iPod/iPad, I just use that. I always take pepto pills and Imodium as well, but have never had to use them. Hubby can get upset stomach, but we've been lucky on our trips. I tend to get heartburn at times so I have gotten into the Tums! And I always take a little sewing kit, but never had to use it - but the size is so tiny, it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of luggage weight...it's one we pilfered from a hotel :)

I honestly stopped carrying any makeup on our last few trips - it was so hot on a few of them, it would have just sweated off - rather just go au naturel! (with sunscreen of course!) Maybe that's why I don't do selfies...?!

Posted by
1068 posts

Great thread by the way. There are many things I have taken which I started to think "Why did I bring this?" until I finally used them. For example, I have always taken a tiny sewing kit...... never used it, until a button was barely hanging on and I would have lost it. Yes, I could have just taken it off and stashed it in a pocket to sew it back on at home. But it was the third button down and was rather noticeable. Also, I am not much of a "packer" (as in stashable lightweight travel backpack) and took one on a number of trips but didn't use it. Suddenly, I was in very changeable weather and carrying around rain gear as well as my camera and a few other things. Out came the travel backpack. Lastly, I am not much of a "I must always carry water" person. I drink lots of fluids and as my trips are usually not hiking, camping etc., find there are lots of restaurants/public fountains etc., close by. Took a Platypus water bottle with me several times and debated ditching it. In Turkey when it was near 100 and I was guzzling water every couple of minutes I was glad I brought it. So I often take things I don't use on a particular trip, but I'm glad I have them.

Posted by
3948 posts

We too always travel with a tiny sewing kit gotten years ago from a hotel (that safety pin has come in handy from time to time) and a first aid kit in a snack sized Baggie (band aids and a few OTC pills--won't leave home without some Imodium). We only occasionally take a small pair of binoculars with us, mainly when we are in cathedral or mountain territory.

I've been racking my brain trying to think of what has become USELESS to us and there is only one item in our travel drawer that never comes out anymore when we are going on a one month+ house exchange in Europe. But I'm too imbarassed to say what it was...

Posted by
503 posts

Oh, Mona! My imagination is in overdrive now!!!
Back to original question...I agree with Nicole, I pack makeup every single, blessed time and never.ever.use.it!!

Posted by
2349 posts

Tell us, Mona. Your house exchange people have probably had a peek.

Posted by
3948 posts

Hate to disappoint you but it's not a TMI kind of thing.

I think it's useless but we took it on house exchanges for several years. I'm having a hard time with admitting it because I don't want people on this forum to think poorly of us, but after several warm region summer exchanges with families who had a counter high refrigerator, we went out and bought a tiny plastic ice cube tray in Italy for when we really wanted a cold clinky drink.

There I've admitted it. We stopped taking it several years ago but its still in the travel drawer. Sorry to dash those scandalous images in your heads ladies!

Posted by
1410 posts

back to the question about reading material.....I usually take a handful of 3rd class mail to read and discard.....included 3 cross word puzzles......and we ended up using a church newsletter as our "tablecloth" on the train to Varenna as we ate our foods purchased in the lovely market in Florence.......

Posted by
503 posts

Hey Mona, you shouldn't be embarrassed about your ice cube tray...I think that was very resourceful of you!! I too have suffered the craving for ice cubes while in a warm/hot climate. Now, I'd be embarrassed to tell you what I was thinking you meant about your comment!

Posted by
107 posts

Lots of experience reflected here in the 66 responses to this topic. Let me add a few thoughts. First of all, most people are talking about insignificant bulk and weight. A phrase book, an alarm clock, a clothesline, a bottle of pills, a point and shoot camera; what's the difference? The decisions we really regret are the ones that add to our burdens abroad, like bringing three bulky cotton sweaters, a full-size tripod, or an extra pair of hiking boots. For the small stuff, it's a matter of personal choice that doesn't matter much.

My mantra is to be self sufficient, that is, to bring those items that will allow me to concentrate on my travels and forego those special trips to buy something that you could have easily carried with me. So, the little sewing kit, the First Aid supplies, the pills and potions that I may need; these are items I always pack.

Posted by
635 posts

BritRail Pass on my first trip in 1984. I used it once, on the train from London to Crawley. I don't know what I was thinking--maybe that I was going up to Yorkshire and other places, but I stayed put in London most of the time.

Posted by
3517 posts

bodo,

Well, each of those insignificant items on their own will not overload your suitcase. But when you find yourself taking ALL of those insignificant items the space and weight does become significant. ;-)

Posted by
2602 posts

I love Morten's comments re reading material; I am a huge bibliophile and plan my vacation reading very carefully, books are selected for size and a bit is read to ensure they will keep me sufficiently enthralled (nothing's worse than being stuck with a clunker on an 11 hour flight), and they're always used books so I won't feel bad about leaving them behind. For a 2 week trip I take 3 or 4 and I've left a trail of paperbacks in every hotel room thus far. Before anyone suggests the obvious, I'm not at all interested in lugging another electronic device so Kindles, etc are not an option.

So far, with the help of these forums, I've managed to not bring anything I later deemed useless.

Posted by
328 posts

Mosquito repellent. It took up precious 311 space on two separate trips to Italy. Six trips and never had a mosquito bite. Used a braided clothesline on my first trip until I discovered that a hanger from a hotel or apartment dried my clothing quicker than the braided clothesline.

Posted by
208 posts

These responses have been very interesting. The only thing I can think of is that I agree that a phrase book and a full guide book have been useless. I do cut out the relevant pages, though, and take those. I think I must have my packing down to a science, because I can't remember far enough back to think of something that was totally useless! LOL. Since my hubby & I haven't checked a bag since 1998, I think practice makes perfect. I enjoy taking my excellent quality, very small binoculars. I've also used my braded (latex) clothesline many times. I take along gut grief meds, and used them in Mexico. Tiny hotel sewing kit? Yup, used that once to sew up a hole in a tote bag. My iPhone has my books, and is my travel clock. If the phone's clock is inconvenient to use for some reason (time zone, etc), then I rely on my Timex IronMan-type sports watch that I wear travelling.

PS: The binoculars are Zeiss. They're very, very small, but the lens quality is superb. If we are watching nature, we take his and hers so we don't miss momentary action. On most trips, though, where the scenery (or ceilings!) are static, we just take one pair.

Posted by
6 posts

Vfyorke, so what brand/model binoculars do you bring with you?

Posted by
2 posts

Selfie Sticks. I mean, they're great, but then you're stuck carrying a 3 pound stick the entire day that doesn't fit into your pocket. What they REALLY need is a selfie stick built into the case!

Posted by
1184 posts

Sleeping bag. I backpacked Europe for 2 months back in '83 and lugged the sleeping bag the whole time. It probably weight as much and took up as much volume as the rest of my clothes combined. I only used it a couple of times. Once to sleep at a train station. Another time i slept on the roof of a hotel in Athens. It was in low season and the Greek manager offered us a room for just a few more drachmas more, but we thought it would be a cool thing to do. I guess it was my security blanket in case i ran out of travellers cheques (remember those) and had to sleep under a bridge or on a beach.

Posted by
103 posts

Way too many clothes, back in the day before I saw the light ;-)

To each their own on the stomach meds. My first aid kit weighs 2 oz. I'm cool with carrying that. On meds in general, I don't think pack for the best situation applies. I usually pack for a medium-terrible scenario: allergy meds, pepto, cipro, immodium, along with Melatonin, mini-Neosporin, a few bandaids and gel blister covers because I like them better than bandaids. I'm not going to MacGuyver my own broken leg but I also don't want to have to try and gesture "diarrhea" to a pharmacist and maybe end up with a laxative by mistake!

Posted by
7244 posts

Sporkynoodles, that's hilarious! Unless it was a real case scenario.... : (

Posted by
635 posts

A roll of toilet paper the first time I went to England. Why? Because someone I worked with told me the toilet paper there was like sandpaper. :rolls eyes:

Posted by
13905 posts

Well, OT, but laughing about the toilet paper comment but in the 70's in UK it seemed like in public buildings it was either like crepe paper with some embedded wood chips or waxed paper with the Queen's logo on it. The crepe paper fell apart or scratched you and the waxed paper seemed slightly water resistant which is not a real handy characteristic for TP.

Absolutely no offense intended to the folks on the board who hail from the UK.

Posted by
15795 posts

I'm laughing too! My first trip abroad was in the 70's and I brought some of the TP samples back to show the folks at home. It may have been Greece, can't remember for sure, but in one of the countries it was a lot like waxed paper… which definitely wasn't very useful. And I remember the stuff that felt like it had wood chips in it. OUCH!

Pam, I wonder if we were on the same trip?!!!

Posted by
23238 posts

A travel iron. Wife insisted - just in case. I swear it weighed five lb. One time we accidentally left it behind. Never missed it except for, "Wonder whatever happened to the travel iron?" "It is around here some place."

Posted by
2026 posts

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Kathy! It was 1972, Germany, and it looked like the little sheets of waxed paper my bakery used to pick up rolls. To make it even worse, some genius in marketing named it Donau Crepe...or something like that. Talk about misnomers. :-). Funny the stuff we remember after all these years!

Posted by
15795 posts

Denny, as a wide-eyed first-timer (I had just turned 18 the night before departure), just navigating the array of different water closets - let ALONE the TP - was a huge adventure! Oh, and the morning in an Athens dorm when a guy jumped into the shower stall next mine: unisex showers were a first (they had curtains, thank heavens)!

LOL, dorm-food lamb is terrible. Just sayin'.

Posted by
353 posts

I'm pretty sure my high school had the "waxed paper style" TP you're talking about. Dispensed as individual sheets. You had to pull out about 10 sheets before you felt like you had enough to brave using it. And it was not absorbent. And so many edges. I swear it gave you papercuts. Ow ow ow ow ow.

Posted by
353 posts

For our honeymoon we packed a travel alarm clock (a fancy one from LL Bean!) because we had booked the cheapest London hotel we could find that didn't look scary and we weren't sure it would come with an alarm clock. Got to the hotel and tried to open it to set it up and could NOT get the cover to open (hadn't had any troubles at home when we were testing it). We tried and tried to open it and my husband finally went Incredible Hulk on it and the cover broke off. The cover which was supposed to fold back and be the base for the clock to stand on. We decided since it was our honey moon we wouldn't worry about getting up early and chucked it.

Posted by
503 posts

OMG! The toilet paper in Europe in the 70's you guys are talking about, I remember it well. I once wrote a letter back home on it and since my mom saved all our letters and postcards, I still have it. It was definitely stationary quality, if not tp quality. In over 40 years, it has never torn or discolored!

Posted by
7244 posts

Oh, I think the roll of TP I brought on my first European trip back in '75 was one of the most useFUL items - ha! I was there for 40 days, had some extra room in my suitcase & knew that space would later be filled with souvenirs as the trip progressed, so I packed a roll. I remember the TP back in '75 being similar in color & texture to brown paper towels.

Posted by
524 posts

Hand wipes, I never used them. Or the little soap slips...never used those either. I just didn't wash things in the sink.

Posted by
11130 posts

For those with left over immodium and handi wipes, save them for a trip to Asia where I guarantee you will use them both.

Posted by
630 posts

For those with left over immodium and handi wipes, save them for a trip to Asia where I guarantee you will use them both.

LOL

Posted by
34 posts

For me it was the travel pillow and blanket. Took up a lot of room and I never used it. I was grateful for bringing day/cold medicine as well as some instant ice packs to help with some swelling. The ice packs were useful because in Italy it seems that nobody knows what ice is.

Posted by
14939 posts

Not really packing but the most useless item I ever took was ........my ex girlfriend.

There's an old saying that if you really want to know if can get along with someone, travel with them. It's true.

Posted by
1221 posts

We are now 4 for 4 in taking along the full-sized tripod, and then never having it leave my suitcase.

However, the mini-tripod that fits in a coat pocket has turned out to be surprisingly awesome when you're using a compact camera or smartphone to shoot video in lower light conditions.

Posted by
14 posts

Someone said mosquito repellent but I actually got my mom to send some when I was studying abroad in France! No screens on windows and warm September evenings in an attic room meant I looked like I had chicken pox for a month! I couldn't find anything as effective as the American stuff in the pharmacies. Now I always pause to consider that when planning trips and sometimes take a little travel spray bottle of it.

Most useless thing I took was an unlocked phone for 2 months in France in 2014. I was staying in one place and taking a class so I wanted to communicate with new friends and traveling alone I felt more comfortable having a way to call someone. After hours of thorough research I thought I had a plan and bought an unlocked phone online. When I got there the sim card I purchased still wouldn't work in it and no one at the store knew why. It just became an expensive wifi device, which I could have done with the phone I already had. It didn't take up much space or weight but it sure did cost a lot of money and time.

Posted by
427 posts

A sleepsack. We didn't need them at a single place we stayed!

Zoe - I think you are in the running for longest, active thread. I wonder what the record is. Perhaps, these tidbits should be collated into a RS book or show on what not to bring.

Posted by
149 posts

Most useless thing on our last trip was my Hydro Flask waterbottle. We ended up buying water bottles along the way and just threw them out when done. I took my water bottle with me because last time we went to Europe, we stayed in a hotel that did not even have cups and I needed some way to drink water. This time, every hotel had cups, even the one from before that didn't have any!

Also useless - travel pillow. Left it home after the first time and didn't miss it at all.

Posted by
11613 posts

I think this thread shows that one person's "useless" can be someone else's essential.

Good to know that nearly all of us has brought something we didn't need - but my nomination is the 0-for-4 tripod!

Posted by
3940 posts

Selkie - I always have a hard time with my tripod - it isn't as huge one, it's a nicer lightweight Manfrotto one. Last year when we went to France, I hummed and hawed over taking it, because my luggage was already at the allowable weight, but I sacrificed a few things out to take my tripod. I didn't really want to carry it with me all day, but man - we did go back to our room on late afternoon and I took it when we headed back out and got some great long exposures at the Arc de Triomphe, and the first night we were there was the blood moon/eclipse, so there I was at 3am heading to Eiffel to get some snaps, and they wouldn't have been doable without the tripod. So the few times I did use it, I was really glad to have it. Most of the rest of the trip we had a car, so it just came along in the car. But it is a pain to lug around...

That being said, we just took a road trip to Toronto and that tripod didn't go out once!

Posted by
18 posts

Keporter, we use the fold up cup for wine on train rides. My husband also uses Mirlax mixed in 8 oz. of water every evening, easy to know that we have a cup (fold up) to use.

Posted by
2393 posts

Keporter, we use the fold up cup for wine on train rides. My husband also uses Mirlax mixed in 8 oz. of water every evening, easy to know that we have a cup (fold up) to use.

I carry 2 glass wine glasses in my backpack - they are wrapped in in cloth napkins. DH has a med he takes mixed in water every night - we carry a shaker bottle for that.

Posted by
8938 posts

Took a travel partner that I didn't know very well, who turned out to be a nasty drunk. Really ruined the trip for me, which was sad. Reminder to check drinking habits before heading off on a trip.

Most useless item in a suitcase? 2 identical left shoes.

Most useless item on my Camino? A bathing suit. Never needed it and finally left it behind in Leon to lighten my load.

Posted by
23238 posts

Are your bathing suits really that big and heavy? I know, I know, every ounce counts.

Posted by
11613 posts

Every ounce does count! I throw away the travel toothbrush on the way out of the hotel room to go to the airport.

Ms. Jo, the two left shoes made me laugh! I once had two pair of nearly identical shoes, but one heel was 1/4 inch higher...and yes, that's the mismatched pair I wore to the airport.

Posted by
873 posts

Someone already mentioned art supplies, and I have to concur. I always bring my sketchbook but never do any sketching. I should just admit already that if the inspiration strikes, I can always buy art supplies wherever I'm visiting.

Posted by
3696 posts

Jo...lol...
Just returned from Fl. and am giving serious thought to the 'walk, trek, torture'??? Just need a little more time... and glad to know I would not need a bathing suit! Also, you know that one glass of wine does me in:)

Zoe... let's plan to get together this month or next, before the snow comes! I know how you don't want to drive in it:)

Posted by
650 posts

I always bring a sketchbook and always use it. Actually I bring two. One is for rough value sketches to help me paint later. The other is a kind of travel diary.

The most useless thing I've brought was folding hat that was too awful to wear after the plane flight.

Posted by
485 posts

Too many books.

Yep, with the advent of smartphones/tablets and translation apps, the phase book is nearly obsolete. It's nice to flip through or, immediately go to bookmarks/highlights but, the reality is I never used it.

My first trip I naturally brought way too many guide books. It's a process that everyone goes through, in retrospect I think I brought 5 books...and ended up only using the RS book for 95% of that trip. The succeeding trips, it was RS, and a few print copies and pdf files on my phone.

I see a lot of mentions about tri-pods. I did bring one and it was incredibly useful for low-light shots, wasn't bulky, and very compact. Pick-up a Gorilla Pod, http://joby.com/activity/photo-video?mode=list inexpensive, compact and easy to use.

Posted by
1265 posts

I let my wife talk me into bringing an extra pair of shoes. Never wore them once.

After that trip, I let my wife know that if she wanted me to take an extra pair of shoes, she could put them in her suit case.

Posted by
4796 posts

Susan, LOL!! Did your travel insurance help at all?

Posted by
49 posts

A great thread to read!

So, I'm leaving my money belt home, maybe my traveling blanket also. But I do take a book on the plane and usually leave it somewhere when I'm done. And one pair of shoes! I was debating on that cause my last trip I took a heavy pair of winter shoes and never wore them.
But I wonder if the weather on the Almalfi Coast is a bit warmer and might need lighter shoes!
I already tore the pages I need for my tour and highlighted the places that looked interesting. Didn't pack a bathing suit. Would rather walk the street and see the sights instead of going in the sea.

I took my language dictionary out of my suitcase also and have google translate and downloaded an Italian dictionary on my phone.

Going back to reread this thread to see if I missed anything!

Posted by
1 posts

I use my cell phone with a variety of apps:
Alarm Clock, Audible books w/ ear buds, Google Maps, Google Translate, Currency converter, Calculator, Airline app, Weather, Compass and many more!
The new smart phones are a must to have while traveling.

Posted by
2 posts

Books and air-conditioning remote control.... Why did I carry a air-conditioning remote control? Ha Ha