Travel tips: Ten items you should never pack in your suitcase

It's tempting, when you're packing, to just throw everything in. Everything? Think there's even a slim chance it might come in handy? Throw it in the bag.

Before long you find yourself in Southeast Asia lugging 25 kilograms on your back, wondering why you decided to pack a laptop and running shoes when all you're going to end up doing there is drink $1 bottles of Beerlao and lie in a hammock.

There's a fine art to packing, and everyone has their individual quirks – but there are certain items that should never make it into your suitcase. 

Money belt

Having some sort of wallet to hold your passport and important documents is a great idea. Strapping that wallet under your clothes and wandering around town looking like someone who's about to give birth to a cardboard box isn't. Seriously, it's usually much safer on the floor of your hotel room or in a locker in the hostel than attached to your person. Much more comfortable too. 

More than three pairs of shoes

I can see the need for three pairs. One is an everyday pair, for walking around town. The other is something nicer and a fair bit cleaner for wearing out at night. And your third set is a pair of thongs. Anything more than that is probably not necessary. Shoes are pretty bulky items to have in your backpack – try to do without them if you can. 

Hair-dryer/straightener

Really, any item than panders to your vanity is a little unnecessary – you're travelling! You're allowed to look dishevelled! Well, most of the time. And it's worth bearing in mind that if you're staying somewhere nice (and even in a few hostels and not-so-nice places) a hair-dryer (and sometimes straightener) will be provided. It might take two hours to dry your hair, but the option will be available. 

Jewellery

It's a good rule of thumb: if you can't afford to lose it, don't take it with you. That goes for watches, earrings, rings, bracelets, brooches… whatever. Travel insurance might cover you for the cost, but you'll never get those exact pieces back, and wearing expensive jewellery in a place like Rome or Barcelona will just mark you out as a sparkly target.  

More than one techie gadget

Make it a smartphone – every traveller's new best friend, with its maps and apps, its torch and camera, its books and connectivity. Or maybe make it a tablet so you can do those same things on a larger scale. Or even take a laptop if you're happy to carry it. But whatever you do, resist the urge to drag your entire office around with you overseas. You're there to experience another culture, not to be staring at your iProducts the whole time. 

Guidebooks

Having a guidebook to refer to, particularly if you're a first-time visitor somewhere, is not a bad idea. But that doesn't mean you have to lug around a brick-sized hardcopy in your daypack. Jump online and download your guidebooks to your smartphone or tablet – that way you can purchase only the chapters you'll actually need, and you'll save a couple of kilos in your bag.

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A towel

Towels take up a lot of room, and are quite often pointless. If you're staying in a hostel, then you will need a towel, so take one of the travel ones that packs down small. If you're not staying in a hostel, however, you'll have absolutely no need for that bulky lump that's taking up all the valuable snow-globe space. Hotels provide towels – even beach towels. And if you're really caught short you can always buy one. 

Toiletries

You can take toiletries, just take small amounts – the amounts you'll actually use while you're travelling. Buy shampoos and conditioners in small bottles; same goes for moisturisers, sunscreens and anything else you might want to slather yourself in. Carrying small bottles will mean a lot less weight, and a lot less mess when something inevitably shatters or explodes. 

Comfort food

Yes, Australians, this includes jars or tubes of Vegemite, as well as tea bags, or instant noodles, or chilli flakes, or bottles of HP sauce, or whatever it is you think you'll desperately miss from home while you're in another country. The idea of travel is to experience the culture of the place you find yourself in, and that includes the food. Maybe they eat noodle soup for breakfast there – so give it a try. You can have Vegemite on toast every day for the rest of your life.  

Travel clothes

Obviously you're going to need to pack clothes (although nowhere near as many as you think), but that doesn't mean they have to be special store-bought "travel" clothes. Unless you're doing some serious adventuring, the chances are high that you won't need the quick-drying, mozzie-proof long-sleeved shirts, or the zip-off pants, or the breathable wide-brimmed hats. Just pack the clothes you'd normally wear at home. You'll be fine. 

What are the items you would never pack? Leave a comment below.