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The Most Useless Travel Products To Pack

There’s the good, bad and ugly of travel gear. I bristle when I think about all the gear I’ve purchased thinking I’d “need” it and went untouched for months.

After fumbling with so-called helpful travel gear trip after trip, I’ve realized I just don’t need all that crap. The thing is, people usually need a lot less than what they think they need. Sure, some travel accessories are totally worth their weight in gold and can make travel that much easier but sometimes you’ve gotta draw the line at something, like, travel espresso makers. (Unless you are a coffee snob of the nth degree.)

Some travel gear is just best left out my luggage. Better yet: It’s not even worth buying.

Spinner Luggage

Camps can be divided in two when it comes this one (good spinner luggage does exist). Outside of the fact that it might be fun to spin these babies around while waiting to board, I don’t personally get the draw. Spinner luggage looks effortless when they’re zoomed across the smooth airport floors, but then you hit the bumps, literally.

FlyerTalk user Mellonc says:

They take valuable space away and become harder to roll as soon as you leave the nice smooth concrete surface. You can drag it like you would a carry on but then the weight/balance thing become off kilter and starts becoming a strain on your arm….

But for full disclosure, I’ll admit I almost always pick a backpack for traveling.

Neck Pillow

The airlines give you one, right? FlyerTalk user zkzkz weighs in:

I have a neck pillow that I’ve used precisely once. It was actually super comfortable and makes a huge difference if I sleep in an economy seat. But it’s *always* the first thing to get tossed when I’m packing and trying to prune the load.

We had the same experience.

Detergent, Sink Plug

For hand washing clothes. Per FlyerTalk user JR14:

Laundry detergent and a rubber plug to block drains for hand washing. I’m sure these would both be very useful if I traveled to places where washing machines weren’t common, but in seven years of frequent travel around Europe with a few trips further away (India, Morocco) I’ve never actually had to break open any of those old packets of tide. If you tend to stay in hostels or apartment rentals, someone always has a washing machine!

Money Belts

Just saying the words “money belt” conjures up images of old ladies pouring out of fully packed tour buses. Fanny packs may have been popular in the 80s but money belts have never had their place.

Karina says:

Unless you’re fleeing the country and need to have all of your wealth strapped on your body, they’re just unnecessary and unwieldy.

I’d rather just keep a close watch on my things than mess around with a money belt—which I’m convinced would make me a more obvious target anyway—to buy a $4 cup of coffee. Besides, if someone’s really intent on making out, they’ll make out regardless.

Travel Wallets

Travel wallet this. (Kuhlman / Flickr)
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Travel wallet this. (Kuhlman / Flickr)

For when a regular wallet just won’t cut it? But when is that? Travel wallets, as they’re billed (hehe), are essentially larger wallets meant to hold everything from travel documents and passports to larger paper bills. FlyerTalk user VNA Flyer comments:

I find travel wallets more cumbersome than convenient… I just fold everything I need and stick it into my passport.

Inconvenience aside,  the biggest issue here is keeping all of your most important items in one place. I once saw a man on my train in Germany lose all of his valuables— passport, credit cards and cash—all at once, and it was, well, like a train wreck. And it’s because he kept everything together.

Pickpocket Proof Pants, “Travel” Clothes

I’m thinking it’ll take more than a pair of ridiculous-looking cargo pants to thwart conniving pickpockets. Even if these pants have secret compartments and more buttons and zippers than I can coun­t, I don’t buy that they’re foolproof.  Plus, I’d rather not stick out like a sore thumb. Also: any type of clothes usually specifically made for travel. Wear what you feel comfortable in.

RFID-Blocking Anything

Honestly, I had no idea this even existed until recently—and I think that says something about its necessity. Passports and IDs from numerous countries have RFID chips embedded in them that are linked to personal information. The idea is that someone could scan them without your knowledge and gain access to all your information. These wallets/passport holders are made to block those scanners. I think what really needs to be addressed here is the serious case of travel paranoia.

Erica weighs in:

I think RFID blocking passport holders are silly. My theory is that if someone really wants to get to something, they’ll find one way or another.

Knee Defenders

The name says it all when it comes to what these thingamajigs do. In short, they lock the seat in front of you to keep it from reclining… and it’s no surprise they’ve gotten banned by the likes of American, United and Virgin Atlantic.

It’s also not a surprise that some are very vocal about their anti-knee defender sentiments:

They might win someone a few extra inches of space but they’ll also almost certainly win some enemies as well. Get some etiquette.

Seat Enhancers

Airplane seats are cramped. We all know that. But padded travel seats and gadgets like The Reposer, which is made to fit between the arms of a seat to create a platform to rest arms on, seem extraneous. Though FlyerTalk user SanDiego1K admits that The Reposer looks intriguing, he said:

I’ve never seen one, wouldn’t want to carry over an extra pound of weight, and think it would be a hassle to put it away each time a seatmate wanted by to use the toilet.

I agree. After lugging around too much unnecessary stuff for too long, I came up with my personal packing rule: Anything that doesn’t have multiple uses stays home.

The Most Useless Travel Products To Pack via @maphappy
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