travel hacking

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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