Over the years, I’ve tested a lot of travel gear. Some travel accessories are now indispensable to me: I absolutely love my hanging toiletry kit and packing cubes, for example.
Unfortunately, other travel accessories have been total disappointments.
Keep in mind that we may have different opinions about these products – maybe you swear by your travel pillow! Maybe you can’t live without your wifi antenna! But these are just the travel accessories I personally don’t like. No hard feelings.
1. Travel alarm clock
Why do people use these? I just use my phone as my alarm. Is that weird?
Don’t need it. Not gonna buy it.
2. Duct tape
It feels like every travel blogger loves duct tape, but I’ve never found a use for it.
I dutifully carried a roll of duct tape on my four-month Southeast Asia backpacking trip, but didn’t end up using it once. Since then, I haven’t even considered packing it.
Maybe I’m not hardcore enough?
3. Paperback travel guides
When I was a teenager, I devoured travel guidebooks. I especially loved Lonely Planet for its poetic prose and budget backpacking recommendations.
But thanks to the internet, I don’t feel the need to use travel guides anymore. Plus, paperback travel guides often aren’t as up-to-date as they claim to be. I remember once when Lonely Planet led me to a restaurant that had been closed for seven years. Uh, seriously?
4. Compressible travel pillow
I bought this travel pillow before my overland tour of South Africa, knowing I’d be on a bus for up to twelve hours a day.
I wanted to love it, I really did. But it a. wasn’t that comfortable, and b. didn’t compress that much. The travel accessory ROI wasn’t there, so I ended up giving it away after the trip.
5. Quick-drying Travel Towel
I used to use a quick-drying travel towel, but honestly, I kind of hated it. It just never made me feel clean or dry, which I believe is the point of a towel.
Then, I discovered the quick-drying travel robe and it changed my life.
A travel robe is so much bigger than a regular travel towel, so you end up drier. Plus I’m a robe wearer back home, so it’s comforting to have one on the road.
Additionally, it makes showering in a hostel way easier – no more shuffling down the hall with your toiletries trying to hold your towel up.
6. The Diva Cup
A few years back, I decided to give into the hype and try out a menstrual cup, because they’re both cost-effective and environmentally friendly. What’s not to love?
Um, a lot. I have one word to describe them – pinchy. And god only knows how you would use one in a public restroom.
Then I read this hilarious Man Repeller article, which echoed my feelings about the Diva Cup. Which made me realize, “Wait, I DO hate this thing.” OB tampons will work just fine, thanks.
7. Portable Safe
In theory, a portable safe is such a great idea.
In practice, it’s kind of a hassle. To use it, you have to remove all your valuables from your backpack, put them in the safe, and then lock the safe to something sturdy.
A better solution? Just lock your entire backpack with a small lock. Unless you’re staying in the world’s sketchiest hostel, you’ll be fine.
8. Wifi antenna
I had high hopes for the wifi antenna I bought. It’s supposed to generate your own wifi signal, effectively functioning as a hotspot.
Sadly, it did not work AT ALL. I tested it at home and it performed so dismally that I didn’t even bother bringing it on the road.
If you know how to use this, let me know, because I’m pretty sure it’s still sitting in my brother’s closet.
9. Three-outlet swivel charger
This swivel charger with three outlets and two USBs seems great, but it’s just too heavy for outlets. Over time, it weighed down the plug in my last apartment until it fell off the wall.
This power strip, which sits on the floor, is a much better choice.
This is another item that’s on a lot of packing lists that I just don’t get.
I’ve never traveled with a clothesline, but I don’t know why you’d need to. If I’m traveling in an expensive part of the world like Europe, I wash my clothes at a laundromat or stay in an Airbnb, which will most likely have a washing machine. In inexpensive places like Southeast Asia, I pay to have my clothes laundered, and it usually costs less than $5.