Packing Sins: Four items I brought travelling, but really shouldn’t have

I’ve mentioned before that without doubt anything I brought that had sat in the ‘dither pile’ when packing, was never used. But sadly, it doesn’t end there.  I also brought things I was so convinced I’d use, yet still made no, or limited, use of them.  Here, I’ll tell you about four items that I either didn’t use, or that didn’t work out and explain why.


 1. Scrubba Wash bag

Scrubba-Wash-BagOh dear. The number of hours I spent dithering over buying this makes me shudder.  Overlanding through Central Asia into Tibet and on to S.E. Asia meant we would be travelling in a variety of temperatures.

I brought quite a lot of Icebreaker clothing with me and on the whole they worked really well.  Icebreaker gear is quite pricey so I knew I wouldn’t want to risk sending it out to be washed on a rock in a river. The Scrubba Wash Bag seemed the perfect solution.

I had visions of me, during our overland trip, camping deep in the wilderness of Kyrgyzstan with a fantastic backdrop and no one around for miles, happily washing clothes with my Scrubba.  So, sitting on the sofa in the comfort of my home, The Scrubba struck me as the perfect solution, I purchased it.  Only it wasn’t. At least, not for me.

I should have guessed that water stored on the truck would be too precious to waste on washing. Plus, clothes don’t dry so well in the cold and damp, and sometimes we moved on the following morning, so doing washing just wasn’t an option.  Hell, I didn’t even wash myself!  Why I thought I’d wash my clothes I’ve no idea.

I thought the Scrubba could also double up as a dry bag, but it’s rare for items to be multipurpose and there be no compromise.  I found it too bulky and it has an internal scrubbing board that just added to the bulk.

It was however good for soaking clothes without hogging the bathroom sink, or the bath.  But in the end, I found the sink easier to wash clothes in. So, along with other items, including my winter gear, it was put in The Box of Stuff, and was posted home.  I may give it another airing, who knows.

Where it is now? In a box back with my parents, having journeyed to, and from, Kathmandu, Nepal. At least it got to see a bit of the world.


 2. Pacsafe Coversafe Money Belt

Pacsafe-coversafe-Money-Belt-blackAnother thing I dithered over, bought, never used, gave away. I knew I’d never use it, they just don’t work for me.  I’ve tried before.  They’re too bulky, too hot, don’t stay in place and make me look pregnant.   I should have listened to myself and not pesky bloggers…

Plus, before I left I designed some ‘security knickers/pants’.  These worked far better than a money belt. I could carry my passport, $1,000 cash and cards and not feel a thing.  They aren’t bulky, can’t be seen under my clothes, could be used as normal underwear and, above all, are comfortable. I still use them now. Result.

One day I’ll unleash to the world my personally designed security knickers/pants, and you will all be in awe and look back at our time of using money belts and wonder why we stayed in the dark ages for so long.

Where is it now?:  I gave it away to a fellow traveller and it should be in South America with him, or on the floor of a wardrobe in England, if he came to his senses.


3. Pacsafe Travel Safe

Image-of-damaged-Pacsaf-travel-safe

We were advised to bring a Pacsafe portable safe by the overland company.  You put valuables in the wire mesh-lined bag, pull the top tight, and secure it to a fixed object via the metal cable and padlock.

I think I used it 3 times in 8 months. Nearly everything that was of value could be carried in my Pacsafe handbag, so most of the time I kept valuables on me.

If valuables couldn’t fit in my handbag, then they were too big for the Pacsafe anyway.  Sometimes I just lock things in my pack and leave it in the room.  I rarely use hotel safes.  Most of the time they’re not even secured to something!

The 3 times I did use the Pacsafe I worried more about it being found dangling from the shower pipe/toilet/bed head than all the times when I locked stuff in my backpack, or carried it.

wire-mesh-of-pacsafe-safe-poking-out-the-base

Eh? What’s going on here?

So I’ve carried it or months, and now it’s disintegrated.  I mean, look at it! What’s all that about??

I wonder if it was because we crushed it lengthways to fit in a bag once.  It’s wire so doesn’t ping back into shape and perhaps the wire started forcing its way out the base.It was a few years old, too.

I see they’ve changed the design now. I don’t know.  I don’t really care either.  It’s out of my life now. What a relief. Although if the new design fits a Macbook Air I might look into it.

Where is it now? In a bin in Chiang Mai, Thailand


4. Spare Sunglasses

3d-cardboard-glassesI brought these just in case the good ones I bought for my trip got damaged when I was in some far flung place that didn’t sell real sunglasses i.e.: ones with actual UV protection.

As it happened they did get damaged. I dropped them and someone trod on them, grinding them into the dirt and scratching the lens just I was spluttering the words ‘DON’T MOVE! YOUR FOOT’S ON MY…oh..um…glasses….um…never mind’.

Being British, I of course said sorry, and thanked him.

I persevered with the scratched lens, but it was unbearable. However, I was in luck. I managed to get the lenses replaced in China, which was no mean feat.  To this day though, I’ve no idea what they used, but they were all wrong.

Pavements were jumping up at me, making me feel dizzy.  If the sun was shining on anything metal it became slightly distorted.   Buildings seemed to loom large.

When I closed one eye and looked at my iPhone the screen was green.  When I closed the other, the screen was pink.  I came to the conclusion that I think they may have been 3D lenses!  EPIC FAIL.

But it was ok…I was prepared, I had a spare pair of sunnies.  Only, the reason I bought new ones for my trip was because the pair I had weren’t good enough for travel.  They were too loose and had a scratch, which I’d forgotten about. Plus, I wanted Polarized lenses.

So what’s the point of this rather boring, long story you say?  It’s this:

 If you’re going to bring spares and carry them around for weeks or months, make sure you bring things that are up to the task.  

In the end I bought new ones, so for a time I was carrying three pairs of sunglasses. Loser.

Where are they now?: In yet another box at my parents, having flown home from Malaysia, I’ll replace the lenses as they are Oakley frames, but this time with ones that don’t enhance the cinematic experience.


These are just a few items I brought and didn’t use, or that didn’t work out for me. I guess they could have though, if I’d thought it through, but you can’t win them all. I’m sure they work out for some people, as they are good items.  Just not me.

Do you have anything to add?  Or is it just me who carries things they don’t use?  Let me know in the comments box below.  You can also confess your packing sins here, I won’t judge you. As the packing bible says:  Let he who is without a packing sin, be the first to throw a packing cube. Or something like that.

10 thoughts on “Packing Sins: Four items I brought travelling, but really shouldn’t have

  1. Ahh see I love our pacsafe, we have used it every day, we even kept it attached to the truck… much to the annoyance of border guards who Nico would have to explain what it was and that it wasn’t contentious… ours is currently wrapped around a table, last place it was round the sink pipe 🙂 I remember being jealous of your scrubba… but I can definitely follow your thinking. We shouldn’t have brought mosquito nets (and hanging kits), they got sent home unopened from Phuket, available soon on eBay! Are you going to do a post on best things you took? that would be interesting too. Sorry, this is a long comment.

    • I’m not totally out of love with the pacsafe safe, I think I’m just out of love with mine. Now I have a laptop, so can’t put everything in my handbag, I may look into it again. The final straw was it disintegrating! I will do a post on best things but need to give it some thought. My Pacsafe bag would definitely hit the list. Would yours?

      • I think I would have liked your sized handbag rather than mine… I could keep too much in it and it got too heavy sometimes. I am pleased I got it.

  2. I have two words for keeping your money safe on your person – safety pins – pin the bulk of your money into you pocket. It stopped the pickpockets in Barcelona… just keep handy a few dollars (or whatevers) in an easy access spot.

    I’ve been known to put my passport into the top of my knickers… did I just confess that? 🙂

  3. Fab and witty piece to read first thing (well, its strictly speaking well past first thing for most people). Made me laugh and I particularly like the concept of security knickers – if you bulk them up a bit more they could double as bum enhancing pants 🙂

    • I think that depends on if you want your bum to look like a passport and a wodge of cash! Although at the moment Thai food is doing a good job at enhancing my bum. And tummy!

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