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The Things I Always Regret Packing (And The Things I Don’t)

The Things I Always Regret Packing (And The Things I Don’t)

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You know that moment at check-in where they weigh your bag? I hate it.

Despite years of practice and being old enough to know better, I am a chronic over-packer who leaves home with a suitcase already nudging the weight limit and then continues to overstuff it with new purchases as my trip goes on. I struggle with the biggest decisions over what to pack, and I can’t stick to a packing list.


Every airport “weigh in” is a white knuckle ride that usually ends in me quickly redistributing a few items to my hand luggage, soundtracked as I go by the feet-tapping of all those behind me in the queue.

What am I packing that is so very unnecessary, you ask? Well, there’s a few things.

My hair dryer

To be clear, I am not one of those people who think women shouldn’t pack a hairdryer when they travel. You should absolutely pack something that is going to make life easier and you feel good about yourself.

But! If you’re going to pack one you should probably check the voltage works overseas first, something I have failed to do on no less than three separate occasions. With the same hairdryer.


The first time, I got to my hotel, plugged it in and nothing happened. It just did not produce hot air, which is the sole purpose of the device. Then two more times after that I packed the very same hairdryer, pulled it out of my bag on arrival and felt an unplaceable sense of déjà vu before the penny dropped.

My hairdryer was expensive so I couldn’t just throw it out. It’s also very heavy, which means I recently spent two months lugging around an extra kilogram of dead weight.

Note to self: do not pack that fucking hairdryer again.

Approximately twenty different adaptors


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On the topic of electrical conversion, I also suck at figuring out what power adaptors I need when figuring out what to pack. I know that these days they make universal adaptors that work in every country but instead of shelling out $20 for one, I just continue to throw every adaptor I own into my suitcase and hope for the best.

Must stop doing this.

A kilogram worth of guidebooks


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The year: 2016. The trip: across the United States. In my suitcase: four different guidebooks, together totalling 1.8 kilograms.

Every time I travel I bring a separate guidebook for each spot I’m going to (Type A personalities, we’re insufferable). A more logical traveller than I might just throw the guides out after leaving each port but I’m incapable of parting with any book ever. So I lug the things around until I can place them snugly back on my bookshelf at home.

I’ve switched to a Kindle for reading novels overseas. I know Lonely Planet guides are available in PDF form. I read them all cover to cover before I leave, anyway. And yet.

Dry-clean-only clothes

Do you know how much it costs to dry clean a dress at The Ace Hotel? About AU$17, and then you’ve got to tip the bellboy for bringing it to your room.

I know this because I have a bad habit of packing dry-clean-only clothes on trips where I have no intention of going anywhere near a dry cleaner. This either ends in me paying through the nose for the hotel to take care of it or, more often, half my wardrobe getting worn once. It then sits crumpled, dirty and dejected at the bottom of my bag for the rest of my trip.

See also: packing clothes that need to be ironed when you’re not staying anywhere with an iron, another one of my special skills.

A torch, in the year 2018

We have those on our iPhones now.

A film camera

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I had the romantic idea before my last overseas trip that I would exclusively shoot on film. Sounds cool, right? Nah.

Because not only did I have to stuff my bag with spare rolls of film, I also decided halfway through my trip to get every roll I’d shot developed… and then had to carry the eight inch stack of prints home with me. I even packed a spare lithium battery for the camera, which got dumped before leaving Sydney airport when I realised that, um, you can’t fly with those.

The kicker? Half my photos didn’t even turn out.

And the few things I don’t regret packing…

Cold and flu tablets for just in case (you can’t get pseudoephedrine everywhere in the world and I always get sick traveling); double the amount of undies I “should” need; all the tampons; full strength insect repellent (often oddly hard to come by in the places you really need it); and three different tubes of Lucas Papaw Ointment, carried in different compartments of my bags in case one goes missing.

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