Want to experience Asia like a local? Read our latest tips here...

Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Travel Experts

World’s Best Travellers Reveal What You SHOULD NOT Pack In Your Suitcase

In the last 4 years of non-stop travel we’ve learnt there are quite a few things we really don’t need. But also things we really do need. 

On our very first family trip we packed an abundance of luggage that would barely fit in a taxi. These days we travel much lighter, because we’ve ruthlessly eliminated every item we did not absolutely need. Not even “just in case” items.

Like what?

Towels – these are big space takers.

Too many clothes – unlike “real life”, no one sees you in your clothes everyday so you don’t need a different outfit for every single day and evening.

High heels – I mean, really?

Regular car seats – talk about big and bulky. Get a BubbleBum instead.

Clothes hangers – I am not sure why we even thought we needed this, but Josh insisted for over a year… We never used them once.

Seasonal wear – buy a jumper/sweater if you need one, don’t carry snow boots if you are going to the beach and avoid a sarong if you are going skiing.

And the list goes on.

You need to be merciless when packing. And to help you lose any lingering shreds of mercy, I’ve rounded up the world’s best travel bloggers to see what is the worst thing they’ve ever put in their suitcase. And the things they MUST HAVE


Johnny from Johnny Jet

The one thing you should never ever pack is expensive jewellery. Even if you’re going on a five-star cruise, leave your expensive jewellery, including watches, at home because travellers are just asking for trouble when they wear their flashy stuff.


Alex from Travel Fashion Girl

Avoid packing “just in case” items. If you need something you didn’t bring, you can buy it there.


Alesha & Jarryd from NOMADasaurus

Too many electronics. Even though we need a lot of camera gear and electronics for our job as travel bloggers, we always find that we pack way too many adapters, chargers, cables and accessories that just weigh our packs down. 


Dave & Deb from The Planet D

Umbrella! We've packed them in the past and never used them, they take up valuable room and weight. Instead a lightweight waterproof jacket with hood does the trick. Otherwise sit in the coffee shop and wait for the rain to pass. We also have a rain cover for our camera bags, so electronics stay dry should we get stuck in a downpour. 


Shobha from Just Go Places - Family Travel Blog

I never bring umbrellas anymore. Instead of umbrellas, we take foldable rain jackets in case of rain which are much easier to pack and stow in our day bag.


Elizabeth from Peanuts or Pretzels

Umbrella. It seems like an important "just in case" item, but in reality, we rarely ever use it. Plus, many nicer hotels and even some metro stations offer umbrellas to borrow. 


Keryn Means from Walking On Travels

The worst thing I ever packed was a car seat when we went to China. There was no way to install the car seat into cabs or even cars since the seatbelt didn’t lock in the cars to secure the car seat and there were no latch systems in the cars either. I lugged that thing through 3 cities over almost 3 weeks! We now research before we pack the car seat. 


Patty Monahan from Our Whole Village

The worst item I've ever brought along was a heavy and bulky car seat. We thought our first born would be happier flying in a car seat, but the model we had did not even fit the plane seat. Rookie parents! Smile


Bryanna Royal from Crazy Family Adventure

4 kids car seats. We lugged 4 car seats through the airport, security and into the plane’s door check cargo hold. We now know that renting car seats is easier.


Bret from Green Global Travel

One thing we wish we'd never packed is a tripod - they're heavy, bulky and, because we're constantly on the move, we never use them. The one time I did carry one on a hike (in Costa Rica), I nearly got heat stroke! 


Paul from A Luxury Travel Blog

Occasionally I might take a book with me but I rarely find the time to read it so it's usually surplus and ends up being something I wish I hadn't brought.


Lance from Travel Addicts

My never-pack item is inevitably a book. I always have the best intentions of finding some free time on a vacation to read, but it just never happens. The book becomes nothing but extra weight in my carry-on bag.


Naomi from Roaming the Americas

Too many books. I’m a sucker for books, and I’m usually reading several at any given time, so I have a tendency to pack several (or 5) when traveling. 


LiLing from Trekaroo

One thing I now avoid is carrying a bag full of books and amusements for the kids when flying. I know lots of parenting sites say to pack new toys and books. I did just that for my first child and lugged a huge bag around Paris. Never again! Now that we have 3 kids, I have realized we can do with so much less. An iPad and an arsenal of games that require no props is the way to go.


Anne & Mike from HoneyTrek

Clothes or shoes (no more than 3 pairs total) that are only good for a specific occasion or activity. Everything your bag must pull double duty. 


Marta from Learning Escapes

The most annoying item we ever packed was dressy clothes “just in case”. We never wore them, they took up space and added to the ironing chore when we came back. Never again!


Dan from Points With a Crew

Workout clothes - when I'm packing, I always have great intentions of working out on vacation, but in reality, they always just sit there taking up space Smile


Stefan & Sebastien from Nomadic Boys

Too many clothes. This happens to us consistently on every vacation - but I guess you want to go on holiday with the luxury of knowing you have options with your outfits!


Cacinda from PointsandTravel.com

I must learn to leave home extra shoes and clothes. There are so many times I don't wear them. I really need to learn this lesson.


Lillie from Around The World “L”

Hiking boots. Every time I've packed them, they've driven me crazy with their weight, and I didn't use them once.


Charles from McCool Travel

I typically bring 2 sweatshirts and rarely need one. Space suck. 


Megsy from Food Fun Travel

I wish I had never packed high heels. They don't pack well, take up too much space and get worn maybe once.


Patti from The Savvy Globetrotter

I finally realized packing workout clothes when a hotel had a gym was useless. I never used it. All my free time was spent exploring - the reason I was actually traveling!


Gia from Mismatched Passports

Wedges (extra pair of shoes). I often think that I will have an opportunity to wear my wedges but I hardly ever do.


Eileen from Pure Wander

I wish I didn’t lug around 5 pairs of shoes! Almost every time I only wear one or two while traveling, there’s no need for more on most trips. Minimal is best!


Chris from One Weird Globe

Dress slacks/dress shoes/dress shirts. In several years, I never once needed anything dressier than a polo shirt, but ended up carrying stuff like this for way too long. 


Lisa from Mom Voyage

We packed snorkel gear for all of us, lugging it to Hawaii. While we loved lounging in paradise, we never snorkelled! We had to pack it all back up to take home... unused!


Dana from Dana Freeman Travels 

I wish we had never packed our own snorkel gear, tennis rackets and so on. Not only is it too bulky, we only used it once during the trip.


Paula from Contented Traveller

The absolute worst thing and a waste of space was a portable water heater. It was unnecessary and the water tasted disgusting after anyhow.


Gina Dunklebarger from Vacation Maybe

A banana. Nature's perfectly packed snack? Ummm no! It got left in the car parked at the airport for a week. Bananasty! Definitely not a great snack item to pack. 


Inga from Coolkidzcooltrips

Bicycles. We thought we'd cycle around France, but then one day it was too hot, the next we got up late, the kids weren't in the mood etc. Because you drive them on top of a car you have to drive slower, you can't park in garage, the car uses a lot more gas... It doesn't make sense to bring them along unless you will really use them. We didn't.


Natasha from The World Pursuit

My portable outdoor travel hammock. The reality is a hammock requires two perfectly placed trees as well as a suitable and "non-weird" secluded environment. The item is bulky and can even add quite a bit of weight. 


Virginie from Travel With My Kids

Fluffy beach towels: first, because it takes a lot of space. Then you use it once, and if you need to pack again quickly, it never dries well and begins to smell bad. 


Gemma & Craig from Two Scots Abroad

My mosquito net - it was bulky and we learned to live with the bites (while taking malaria tablets of course).


Sarah from Coffee With A Slice of Life

I always pack a solar powered charger that was given to me as a present, just in case I find myself in the desert and want to charge my phone that doesn’t have the faintest hope of connecting to mobile Internet. 


Mar from Once In A Lifetime Journey

One thing I forever regretted taking with me was my drone to Djibouti. I learned the hard way that it pays to investigate the rules of drone flying.

After we were seriously taken for spies at immigration and realising my only way out was to break down in tears and convince them I was just a silly tourist, I managed to get them to agree to keep the drone at customs until our departure. I now always check the rules thoroughly before flying it. 


Jo from Frugal First Class Travel

Dual SIM card. The SIM card functionality was great. But this phone failed dismally on its most basic function - it was a lousy phone, with terrible sound quality. Its first trip to Europe was definitely its last.


Kevin from Wandering Wagars

Angel Care Travel monitor. As brand new parents, we were as paranoid as can be about our first child's safety. We brought a monitor that tracks breathing and heart rate. Not only was it useless due to not working with the soft bottoms of pack-and-plays, but it was bulky and unnecessary. 


Edwina from Traveling German

The Shewee, a “female urinating device” that was recommended to me for squatting toilets in Southeast Asia. Never used it!


Allison from Eternal Arrival

The item I wish I never packed? A hair dryer. It takes up a ton of space and usually you can borrow one from where you're staying.


Inma from A World to Travel

Hair straightener! Holiday destinations are usually by the beach, enjoying highly humid weather that will keep your hair curly no matter what. Plus, who wants to spend some precious vacation time killing perfectly made curls thanks to the salty water?


Stefania from Every Steph - Green & Glamorous Travel and Lifestyle

My travel safe. In 3+ months I never used it. It’s quite heavy and bulky, and I hated it each time I had to pack my bag.


Rob & Nat from Love and Road

Now an item that we regret to have packed was a tablet. We used it once or twice, so decided to give it away to a kid in Croatia. Nowadays mobile phones do pretty much the same tasks as a tablet.


Bec from Wyld Family Trave

As a mum, I have to admit the worst thing I have ever packed was a pencil case full of toys on a recent trip. It took up a lot of space and our daughter barely got any time to play with them at all after being out all day. We left pieces everywhere and I also was the lucky one that found a rogue piece of LEGO at 3.30am embedded in the bottom of my foot!


Your Turn

So tell me, what is the WORST item you ever packed? Something you never used and wished you had never brought. Share it in the comments below.

And to see the items these travellers MUST HAVE, click here! 

Here's what you have to say...

"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Corey Robinson on
This was a good read, although i haven't been on a trip in a while so i cant really say Ive been through this experience, cause i bring whats necessary and thats not very much. but this post will be more useful to me in the future when i end up going on a few trips with my soon to be wife. Ive been doing research online and found that taking the same amount of clothes and accessories every time and do mix and match works pretty good. so i'll try that as well. again great article cant wait read more articles from you guys. Corey
Posted by Melinda on
I'll never forget the time I sat on the floor of Luton airport deciding which of my clothes to throw away so I could fit my purse in my carry on and get on Easy Jet to Paris. Never missed those clothes!
Posted by Natalie Deduck on
It's funny to see all the extra stuff people carry around for ages and then realize that don't need them at all... We decided to give away our tablet, but kept our snorkel gear... Strange choices.
Cheers and happy travels,
Nat
Posted by Jessica on
We recently went away for just over a week to another city in the same country. We have a 4 year old daughter. We all managed with just carry on luggage for a week. If we are going to be staying somewhere for a week I try to rent a house, cheaper and much more comfortable. We did take the car seat, but if we are going overseas I will be hiring that sucker. Also pays to check the car seat requirements in countries you go to. Here in NZ kids MUST be in an approved carseat till they are 148cm.
Posted by Jane on
Onesies! not for me, though! The girls insisted on taking them and they did get to wear them during a winter travelling in a small caravan... but what a pain they were! Then we went through the summer and returning via Asia... with the onesies as the girls really wanted to keep them!
Posted by Jen from Yellowscarfandasuitcase.com on
I once packed a yoga mat. It took up too much space, and I never used it. I ended up leaving it behind.
Posted by Living Outside of the Box on
Josh insisted on hangers?!! For real?!! Ha! Sooooo funny!! For me? Most annoying thing I've packed is a VOIP phone system to plug into modems as we traveled. That's before we discovered the joys of smart phones and Google Voice/Skype numbers to avoid all of that!
Posted by Tracy Collins on
After moving around for 6 years in my 20's (30 years ago
Posted by Wendy on
Garlic! We stopped in Gilroy, California (home of the Garlic Festival) and picked up a few gifts of garlic for family. We then drove to Fresno for a wedding where it was 105 degrees. One of the jars of garlic in olive oil leaked and you can guess the rest of the story.
Write a comment...
(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)
Find more posts by tag:

Reader FAQs:

Question: How do you get reliable Internet access when travelling overseas?

Answer: We use Tep Wireless. Read our review for more details...

More FAQs...

38-airplane2x.png

Get The Latest Blog Posts

There are a number of convenient ways to get the latest blog posts and news from Travel With Bender.

Need Internet access while you travel?

We use Tep Wireless. Save 15% with our code: tepbender
Find out more... Our full review...

tep_wireless_sidebar_3-comp.jpg