A Medical Kit – unless you’re going to a really remote town, the likelihood that there will be a 7/11 on the corner of your street is high. There’s no point carrying ‘what if’s’, just buy as you need, most probably for a fraction of the cost of Boots too!
Anti-diarrhoea tablets, rehydration salts, painkillers, throat lozenges -ditto my reasoning for aborting the medical kit.
A Microfibre Towel – These towels do nothing but transfer moisture around your body. Use a cotton sarong instead, its thinner so dries quicker, and takes up less space in your bag. Or buy a Lightload towel – these are actually really great, will fold up a lot smaller than microfibre towels and last a good few months of using everyday before they go holey moley!
Jungle Formula Bug Repellent – in the past I would always reach for the DEET, the higher the concentration, the better, right? Wrong. Consider the fact that DEET can melt plastic just on contact and the Environmental Protection Agency say you should wash it off as soon as you return indoors – think about what such harsh chemicals are doing to your skin and being absorbed into your body. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use bug spray – Malaria and Dengue Fever are far from to be desired. Try this fab home-made bug spray from WellnessMama made of nourishing essential oils, it’s simple, cheap and smells delish too!
Anti-malaria tablets (also used to treat malaria)- There are lots of different brands of tablets, but all come with a host of unpleasant side effects including nausea, diarrhoea, indigestion, depression, may make skin more sensitive to sunlight, stomach pain, dizziness, headaches, coughing and vivid dreams. The most popular brands being Malerone, Doxycycline and Lariam, none of which are safe to take during pregnancy – which to me says something about the toxicity of the tablets. Taking them long term will do more harm than good. Did you know: The female Anopheles mosquito is the only mosquito that transmits malaria, she primarily bites between the hours of 9pm and 5am.
Mosquito Net – anywhere that you need a mosquito net will already have one if you are sleeping in hostels, hotels and guesthouses.
Pegless clothes line – A great idea and it works, but I struggle to find two bars/pegs far enough apart to attach it to. The suckers don’t work once you have wet heavy laundry on the line. Hang wet clothes outside to not encourage mosquitos in your room – they love damp clothes and towels.
Sunhat – Hats are great for a little bit of portable shade, however a nuisance to carry. They get squashed and lose their shape in your luggage. Buy a cheap one when you land instead!
Pacsafe anti-theft exomesh – I’ve had two of these, they are a great idea in theory, but heavy, bulky and attention drawing in reality. They shout ‘I have lots of valuables in here!’ whilst giving off the impression the you don’t trust the local people and other travellers around your belongs. Leave this behind and just bring some padlocks for your luggage instead!
The nice purse/wallet you use at home with all of your cards in – for obvious reasons, if it gets lost or stolen you will lose everything. I usually take two purses that I don’t mind losing. You will be taking chunks of cash out at a time so leave the majority of it in your hostel locker in one purse and take the other with a little bit of cash out with you.
Expensive and heavy DSLR camera and kit – a lot of people do take really nice and pricey camera gear backpacking, and most wont regret it. However, my personal reasoning for opting for a point and shoot over professional kit is A: it’s really fricken heavy. My first trip to Asia I packed a Canon 7d camera, 24-70mm, 10-20mm and 70-300mm lenses, all with hoods and a flashgun. Being valuable, they were always carried in my hand luggage/day pack alongside my GoProHero3, countless attachments and pole, Fujifilm Instax camera, hard drive, kindle and phone. You can imagine the weight and bulkiness of that on top of my main baggage as I rocked the front-pack-back-pack look. Serious backache! B: the value of everything inside that one bag was tremendous, and if the whole thing got snatched it would be a sure fire way to ruin one’s trip. C: I was shooting in RAW at the beginning, which meant I needed a huge storage device to save all my images and software to process them – which I didn’t have as I did not take my laptop, which led to an entire memory card becoming corrupt from an internet cafe computer virus – I lost hundreds of images. D: I didn’t know which lenses I would want to use so would either take all of nothing. I also worried that they’d get sand/water in if I took them to the beach or pool or I’d lose/get them stolen if I took them out at night. And finally, I found myself missing the moment because I was worrying about taking pictures too much.
Travel guide book – these are heavy, bulky, often outdated and a lot of hostels, hotels and even bars and restaurants have their own copies (I suspect they have been ditched by fellow travellers). I also found that some hostels recommended by Lonely Planet stopped putting any effort into their establishment as they’ve already earned their ‘seal of approval’.