Five Things You Think You Need For Long-Term Traveling, But You Don’t

by Jason -- December 8, 2010

In order to prepare for our year-long trip, we read through numerous websites about what things we should and shouldn’t pack. Overall, we did a pretty good job, but within the first 10 days of traveling we realized there were many things which we packed that we ultimately didn’t need. Here are 5 things you think you need for your long-term trip, but actually don’t.

  1. Nalgene Water Bottle – It seems like a great idea to always have a water bottle on you. However, these water bottles are bulky and can be a real nuisance when packing. Instead, I recommend buying a plastic water bottle while traveling and just refilling it. Water bottles are inexpensive and when you need to save space, simply throw it away. Don’t forget that in many countries that water isn’t potable (in which case I always recommend a Steripen).
  2. Voltage Converter – Don’t get this confused with a power plug adapter. Power plug adapters change your plugs to the correct form — they’re absolutely essential and also very cheap. Power voltage converters, however, adapt the voltage of your power cord to prevent it from frying your electronics. While this seems necessary, it’s actually not. In our flat world, nearly all power cords that you use now automatically do this. My laptop power cord is capable of handling between 100 volts and 240 volts. Make sure to read your electronics before plugging them in, but rest assured because nearly all electronics take care of the voltage for you. (Voltage information is typically found on the power plug itself.)
  3. Silk Sleeping Bag – Perhaps if I had a bad case of bed bugs on my previous trip, a silk sleeping bag would be on my “must-have” list, but I didn’t, therefore it’s on my “don’t bring” list. The idea behind silk sleeping bags is to use them instead of the hotel/hostel provided sheets. Silk sheets are sewn such that bed bugs can’t penetrate it, thus making them unable to bite you (apparently). I think they’re a waste of space and time. In the age of Internet reviews, your time is better spent looking up reviews about the hotel or hostel you plan on using and making sure previous guests haven’t gotten bed bugs. In fact, at most hostels or hotels, you’re strictly prohibited from using your own sheets, making silk sheets extra worthless.
  4. Extra Toiletries (Deodorant, toothpaste, etc) – Sure, you’re traveling to a foreign country, but you’re not going to the moon. Chances are, there are plenty of stores there with everything you need. You don’t need to pack 6-months worth of toiletries. Take what you need to start and then buy as necessary when you arrive.
  5. Money Belt – Some people swear by them, I’m not a fan. You should certainly be wary of where you put your wallet and passport, but I don’t think you need to go so far as to wear a money belt. They’re really uncomfortable and you look ridiculous when you need to get something out of them.  Put your wallet and passport in your front pocket or better yet, buy pants with a zippered pocket.

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6 Responses to “Five Things You Think You Need For Long-Term Traveling, But You Don’t”

  1. Those extra toiletries will come in handy in countries where they’re not as handy to get. First world countries, sure, they’re easy to find.

    Re: the Nalgene Water Bottle: I’m still waiting for a crushable / flatten-able water ‘bottle’ - maybe a water bag would be better in conjuction with that Steripen?

  2. ewww. bed bugs… that just made me shiver :(

  3. “I’m still waiting for a crushable / flatten-able water ‘bottle’ – maybe a water bag would be better in conjuction with that Steripen?”

    Chris they have those at REI and other places I suspect.

    Here are some examples:

  4. I beg to differ on the silk sleeping bag if you are planning to take sleeper trains in developing-world countries. On sleeper trains in China, sheets and blankets are supplied on sleeper berths, but (at least in the less expensive bunks) they are not necessarily washed between passengers. I don’t have a problem using hotel sheets that have been washed, but I just can’t face sheets some stranger already slept in! Thank goodness for my silk sleeping bag!

  5. I do agree with you for the most part. With two exceptions. ;-)

    I’ve had trouble finding decent deodorant in Thailand. Wish I had brought an extra stick or two of my preferred brand from home. Especially since all deodorant here does is bleach your pits. Heh.

    And I had a sheet of my own. It’s not silk, but I’ve stayed in a few places where sheets were not provided, and it’s been nice to have an actual sheet.

    Both things COULD be cut from my list, though. Good stuff.

  6. Dorrit - That’s a good example where the sheets would be nice, I agree. I guess we were lucky and had brand new sheets when we were on the overnight trains.

    Kate - Never heard of deodorant that bleached your pits! I enjoyed trying the local brand of deodorant, but almost always was able to find a brand I recognized. Then again smelling bad as a backpacker in Thailand seems like one of those things that every traveler just has to do. :-)


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