How To Save 600$ While Traveling Within 2 Days And Not Feel Like A Mule

mule

The biggest mistake I made while traveling is packing too much.

It is so easy to pack to much. Looking at the “what to pack?”-section in the Lonely Planet doesn’t help either, their recommended packing list includes everything imaginable, including about 40 different types of medicine.

The reality is,  you can buy almost everything anywhere in the world. Including medicine. The Philippines may be a third world country, but there are more pharmacies here then in Austria.

“But David. I was in the army and I’m used to carry a 35kg backpack plus a 5kg assault rifle around my neck. I just want to play it safe.”

Nice. Me too. But even if you enjoy carrying too much stuff and sweating profusely, there are two other reasons why you don’t want to bring too much stuff.

  1. You waste time at airports because you have to check your luggage in.
  2. You waste money on stuff you don’t need.

So how should I pack? There are already a few good  packing lists around the web. Check out Wandering Earl and Tynan.

Instead of showing you what I pack, I’m going to show you 12 common things that I (and most other travelers) brought to Asia and didn’t need.

12 Things That Made Me Sweat

Mosquito Net

Money Wasted: 45€

Why I didn’t need it:

Many guesthouses and hotels that are mosquito infested already have mosquito nets in their rooms. Additionally, it’s a pain to install and not fun to sleep under a net. The whole mosquito issue is completely overrated by European and American doctors.

Mosquito Repellent for Clothing

Money Wasted: 15€

Why I didn’t need it:

Apparently mosquitoes sting through your clothes. You are supposed to need this spray to impregnate all your clothes every few weeks. They never stung me through my clothes. (And, the mosquito issue is overrated.)

Gorillapod DSLR Tripod

Money Wasted: 35€

Why I didn’t need it:

Although it’s not a bad piece of equipment per se, I just never had any real use for it. It’s also quite bulky.

Physical Books

Money Wasted: No waste of money. Just wrong medium.

Why I didn’t need it:

Never bring physical books while traveling. If you want a guidebook, get it for your iPhone/iPod touch. If you want to read books, get a Kindle.

Sleeping Bag/Sheet

Money Wasted: 25€

Why I didn’t need it:

Even the shittiest places come with sheets. If not, go to a different place.

First Aid Kit

Money Wasted: Didn’t buy it for traveling. Taking it with me was a mistake though.

Why I didn’t need it:

There is a pharmacy at every corner. Put the few 1st aid things that you still want to bring in your toiletry pouch.

Leatherman Knive

Money Wasted: Didn’t buy it for traveling. Taking it with me was a mistake though.

Why I didn’t need it:

Altough I love my Leatherman multi tool, I just never had any use for it. Every restaurant has knives. Plus, you have to check it at the airport.

Travel Towel (small)

Money Wasted: 15€

Why I didn’t need it:

There’s one at every hotel (in the worst case, you have to pay a few cents to borrow one).

Travel Towel (large)

Money Wasted: 20€

Why I didn’t need it:

See above.

Windjacket

Money Wasted: Didn’t buy it for traveling. Taking it with me was a mistake though.

Why I didn’t need it:

It never gets cold in SE-Asia. If it does, you can buy a pullover or jacket for 1/5 the price you would pay in Europe or North America.

It was useful once though: In a freezing cold night-bus where the AC was turned to below 15 degrees Celsius.

Overpriced Medicine, especially Malaria med and multi-purpose Antibiotics

Money Wasted: 58€ (Malarone) + 30€ (multi-purpose antibiotics) = 88€

Why I didn’t need it:

There’s a pharmacy at every corner. The price is about 1/5 to 1/10 of what you would pay back home. If there’s a chance of getting Malaria in the country you’re visiting, they probably have some medicine for that.

My oversized Backpack

Money Wasted: 180€

Why I didn’t need it:

This enormous backpack was the result of packing too much stuff. It is too big and weights almost 2kgs on its own.

Total Damage = 423€ (580$)

I spent all this money within 1-2 days. That’s about 2 month of rent in the Philippines

What about you? Did you ever bring too much stuff? Did you ever feel like a mule? Did you actually ever forget to bring something and weren’t able to find it abroad?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel Runyon October 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Don’t want to be a fear mongerer but mosquitoes are a big issue some places. Maybe not in asia [I havent’ been], but I know when I was in the DR, dengue fever was also a big issue. I actually started to enjoy sleeping under my mosquito net once it was up, but you’re right it is a pain to get installed.

You’re right on packing light though. It’s much easier to be mobile with less and add what you need than the other way around.

Reply

David October 7, 2010 at 8:59 am

Thanks for your comment, Joel. You are right. It’s good to have a mosquito net in some countries.

A point that I’m trying to make is that it’s better to bring too little than too much since everything can be purposed at your destination for cheaper. People who never went to exotic countries always think you can’t get anything there, so they bring so much stuff “just in case”.

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Earl October 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Thanks for the mention David! I love what you did with this list. These are pretty much all items I once carried as well but never really needed. We have this idea that we should be prepared for everything while traveling and that often causes us to forget that we can buy anything we may need in just about every corner of every country!

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David October 7, 2010 at 8:58 am

Thanks, Earl.
Most people seem to forget that if there is a problem somewhere, the locals will have most likely found a solution for that. (If you go to a mountain village and are surprised that it is cold, you’ll be able to buy warm clothes somewhere.)

Reply

David Crandall October 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm

This is awesome! I’m learning to pack less and less when I travel (even for business) and continually find that I enjoy it more. I’d love to know what the total wasted weight you carried was.

I’m also curious as to how to convince someone else to carry less…especially when that someone’s MORE falls to you to carry (i.e. my wife). HAHA!

Reply

David October 7, 2010 at 8:58 am

David, I’d say, the biggest weight-issue was books (there were more of them than in the picture). Since I had this huge backpack, I just started to buy books. At some point I was carrying like 10 books.

Packing light for girls is a completely different issue. =)
They’d probably not be happy with 4 shirts, 4 pairs of underwear, 1 pair of zip-pants and 1 pair of swimming trunks.

Reply

David Crandall October 8, 2010 at 3:32 pm

I’m in trouble then. Not just a wife but two daughters. LOL

Well, at least I’ll have more room since I’m learning to pare down MY stuff. 😀

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David October 9, 2010 at 10:02 am

Haha.
Yeah, but I guess girls can still keep it light if they want to. They don’t have to bring 30 dresses and pairs of shoes.
I have never seen a packing list from a female blogger though. Would be interesting.

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Scott November 20, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Your pretty accurate with this list, except I’d suggest the small med kit is a nice thing to have in your pack. A little bit of antibiotic cream, bandages, Tylenol and blister tape is all you really need. Just enough to get you past your initial injury until you can get to the local pharmacy.

Reading books on my iPhone was an eye opener, and I’ll never travel with paper books again!

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David November 20, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Thanks for your reply, Scott.
Definitely bring a little medicine, but I found that it’s enough to put that medicine into your toiletry bag. No need to carry another bag.

Yeah, paper books suck. I’m looking forward to get my Amazon Kindle. Unfortunately, they seem to have problems with international shipping – I have to wait until January to get one.

Reply

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