Kim Wildman has some insightful ideas about what not to take on your next trip away...
The Stash Card
This travel gadget comes from the "seems like a good a good idea at the time" file. Designed to look like a memory card, the StashCard allows you to hide your valuables, like money or keys, in the unused PC card slots on your laptop. The problem is that your laptop will be the first thing a thief will target. So you'll not only lose your computer, but all your money, too. Why not slip your credit card into your iPod case while you're at it?
The chamois towel
Whatever you do, don't even think about buying one of these synthetic towels. First launched as a swimming towel, this glorified car chamois must be kept moist to work which means you'll be left feeling wet and clammy no matter how much you pat yourself down. I can tell you from experience that it won't dry your hair, it won't cover your modesty, and, if you're in a cold climate, you'll freeze before you dry!
These are the travel equivalent of Space Bags, the huge vacuum-sealed bags on the infomercials. The idea is that you put all your clothes in them, zip them up then push all the air out through a special valve at the bottom. Then — hey presto — your clothes take up much less space. The problem is, when you pull your clothes out to wear them they'll be wrinkled beyond use. If you really want to save space, try rolling your clothes rather than folding them. It not only creates more room, but also helps minimise creases.
For the uninitiated, the Urinelle is a disposable cone into which women can urinate without having to squat. Personally, I'd much rather squat behind a tree than try to aim into a paper cone while standing up. What if you miss? And what, pray tell, are you meant to do with a warm paper cone full of pee once you're done? Walk around like it's a cup of coffee until you find a rubbish bin?
While a passport holder might look stylish and may prevent your passport from getting damaged, they're really quite impractical. You'll invariably spend more time extracting your passport from and putting it in the holder at the check-in desk, security and the departure gate than it's worth. I find the best place to store my passport while going through airport formalities is in the front pocket of my cargo pants. Beyond that, your passport belongs in a money belt.
Underwear you can simply "wear and toss"? Talk about unnecessary and wasteful. Is it really that big of a deal to wash your underwear and bring it back with you? If it is, then why not just buy the cheapest underwear you can find and wear them until they need tossing? Or better still: go commando! Personally, I'd choose comfort any day over scratchy underwear you run the risk of getting a paper cut from
Wearable sleeping bag
Seriously, a sleeping bag you can walk around all day in? Who comes up with these ideas? Besides looking cumbersome and awkward, not to mention completely ridiculous — think Gumby meets the Michelin Man — what happens if you need go to the toilet in a hurry? Also, considering many hostels don't allow sleeping bags these days, you're likely to get thrown out before you even make it to bed.
Cotton shoe bags
These cute little bags are designed to put your dirty shoes in to protect your clothes. Besides the fact that they'll simply get dirty and require cleaning themselves, they're not waterproof so are completely useless if your shoes are muddy and wet. A plastic bag is far more effective and what's more they're usually free.
Now I'm not someone who relishes travelling in hot, dry climates — or hot, humid ones for that matter — but is a travel humidifier really necessary? My thoughts are if you can't survive a few weeks away without perfectly pleasant air humidity, you shouldn't have left home in the first place.
Garment steamer/travel iron
Any gadget designed to make you feel like a laundry slave while on holiday — that includes the portable washing machines — isn't recommended. Almost all hotels, and many hostels these days, have irons and laundry facilities available for guests. And really, you're travelling; so who cares if your clothes aren't pressed to perfection?