Twelve Days of Traveller Christmas

There are so many packing lists for travellers just starting to set out. And at least half of most of them are completely not needed. They end up laying at the bottom of your humongous bag for months on end. So in the spirit of Christmas, we’ve sung a song about the packing “essentials” that you might want to rethink.

Zippered Trousers

These are the trousers that have zips everywhere, including to turn them into shorts. They are recommended on packing lists the world over. If you wear them and love them, great! But there is literally no reason to go out and buy a pair. If you find you don’t like them, or they make you feel like you stick out, then you will have just wasted time and space in your bag.

Hair Care Products

If you travel for a long time, you will start to find that you give no craps about what you look like most of the time. If you travel for a short time, you only need to look good in photos, and that’s what Photoshop is for. It’s unnecessary to fill your bag with products and if you find you need something while you’re away, then you can buy it there.

Ziplock Baggies

One is essential for travelling with liquids on planes. A couple more are needed if you’re going to be smuggling out some of the breakfast buffet. But you don’t need loads and loads. They just end up weighing you down.

Lonely Planets

Lonely Planets are amazing! But carrying a paper one around with you is heavy, especially if you need one for each country you’re visiting. With the advent of e-books (which can be read on computers and phones as well as e-readers), there is almost no reason to carry around heavy books.


Leave everything of value at home. We don’t even have our wedding rings. Yes, people might steal them. But the biggest issue is that if you misplace your watch down the back of the sofa at home, you have months and months to find it again. If you lose it down the back of the hostel’s sofa, you’ll never see it again.

First Aid Kits

Plasters and paracetamol. Anything you have a prescription for. If you’re a little anxious, a sterile needle kit. You really don’t need anything else unless you’re going to be away from civilization.

Water Filters

Again, maybe needed if you’ll be away from any towns and cities for an extended period, but not for your average Joe traveller. If tap water isn’t safe to drink, you will be able to find bottled water almost anywhere there are people.


With some fantastic credit and debit cards and money exchangers at every airport and land border, it is completely unnecessary to take all of your currency with you from the get go. You can take some of the first country you visit, though it’s not needed. If you’re feeling cautious, take some emergency cash in US Dollars, GB Pounds or Euros.


One pair is enough if you do want them. They’re great for making you feel like you’re not sticking out like a sore thumb, are usually very comfortable and it can be tough to find a pair you like in another country. However, they are heavy and bulky as well as taking forever to dry if they get wet.

Gaffa Tape

Often hailed as a life saving essential to have while travelling. We brought a big roll, but eventually tore off about 50cm and ditched the rest. It’s been useful to tape D’s sunglasses back together, but that’s it – we still have more than enough left.

Hiking Boots

Hiking Boots might be a necessity. But only if you’re hiking. And even then, they might not be completely necessary if you can find trainers that support your feet enough to walk for a few hours. In fact, I think I would have ditched my trainers by now if I didn’t use them while running. I  wear my havaianas come rain or shine most of the time.

The Biggest Bag You’ve Ever Seen In Your Life

People are always astounded by how little we carry, and it’s true that we don’t have a lot. But it’s still amazing that some people carry the same backpack that we have fitted a whole year’s worth of stuff in as their “day bag”, with a massive 80L bag on their back as well.

That’s still not quite as amazing as watching people drag wheely suitcases through mud. It’s not that I don’t like them, I love my suitcase at home. But when you’re trekking through the Pantanal, it is not the most practical choice.

What are some things that you took that you never needed? Anything you unexpectedly needed to buy halfway through your trip? Let us know in the comments below!

13 thoughts on “Twelve Days of Traveller Christmas

  1. TalesOfABackpacker (@clairesturz) says:

    Ooh I actually disagree with the water filter – I have a lifestraw water filter which has saved me a ton of money, and lots of plastic as in South America its not safe to drink water out of the taps. I suppose it depends where you are but for me I would have spent so much more without it!

    • C of Love C and D says:

      Hi Claire!

      South America is absolutely fantastic right? We found that either places had installed water filters on taps, or we boiled our own water. I don’t think we bought any bottled water in our two months there.

  2. Hannah Lukaszewicz says:

    I agree with most but disagree with hair products. I can’t imagine not having my hair dryer/straightener, I don’t want to look back at photos of myself at the Taj Mahal or something and look like a hot mess in all of them. I also have more than 1 pair of jeans, as I freeze easy…

    • C of Love C and D says:

      Hi Hannah,

      Everyone has their own thing that they consider an essential. I usually put my hair up, especially when it’s windy – otherwise I end up looking like Cousin It! To add a hairdryer to my bag, I’d have to either chuck out my trainers or all my t-shirts or it would make my bag over the hand luggage limits, which just isn’t worth it for me.

  3. Kcalpesh Ajugia says:

    Quite agree with most of the things you’ve mentioned there. I’ve always traveled with my family i.e. my wife and my 5 year old kid. And despite every time making up our minds about traveling light, we end up carrying at least 4 big bags…. phew…

    – Pixellicious

    • C of Love C and D says:


      I imagine that you could add a ton of extra weight to cater for your kid. The thing that I find I usually succumb to is bringing things ‘just in case’.

  4. La Vida Viva Travel says:

    Agree with most here but I love my jeans! I have a pair of thin & stretchy ones that I could wear all day and after 9 straight months on the road, I’m so grateful I had them for days I didn’t want to wear leggings anymore. I’m also pretty fortunate to have easy hair but I can’t imagine someone with super frizzy or difficult hair wouldn’t take hair products!

    • C of Love C and D says:


      Jeans are literally the first thing I’m going to buy when I get back to the UK! But I couldn’t imagine lugging them round the monsoon season in Asia, they would have taken ages to dry, and it’s mostly too hot anyway. If all someone is taking is jeans, then they could end up in a really pickle. 🙂

    • C of Love C and D says:

      Hey Gokul,

      Compared to the few times I travelled 10 years ago, everything is so much easier now in the digital age. I really do think we’d struggle without it!

  5. sensubhadrika says:

    I have traveled with my parents till date. And with my mom its always like carrying my house around with me. But as a solo traveler, i am pretty fine with just one trolley which suffices all my needs. I believe in travelling light and am aiming to do that most of the time.

    • C of Love C and D says:


      It’s great to hear that you love travelling light. It’s so much easier than trying to juggle three huge bags AND get your passport out at the airport.

  6. MARINA says:

    Love the list! I’m actually getting my list done of “things I need” for my next SAmerica backpacking trip!
    I do also recommend to do it… list it before packing and after that try to reduce it into half. We tend to pack thousands of “just in case” things, so I always try to fit everything in my 40L backpack no matter how many days I’m leaving for!

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