Travelling is great for making new memories, but it’s also nice to be able to relax in a space that’s yours after a long day of experiencing a new place, whether you’re in a hotel, hostel or vacation rental. But we all like to pack less stuff when we travel, so here are five things to pack (and to leave behind) when you next get on the road.

What to pack and what to leave behind on vacation
Things to pack - things to leave behind while travelling. Photo by: JGI/Tom Grill/ Getty Images

1) If you need to shave, you might be able to leave your shaving cream behind. Whether it’s legs, face or both, conditioner works just about as well as shaving gel, and I tend to find it’s less irritating and gives better glide to a razor. Have a try at home before you go to make sure your personal hairiness situation works with conditioner.

2) You might also consider skipping the hotel shampoo too: it’s often cheap and pretty harsh stuff, and can dry out your hair — especially if you’re in a different climate too. Many folks I know have sworn off shampoo, using a fresh-smelling conditioner like tea tree or mint instead to cleanse their scalp and letting their hair’s natural oils regain their balance.

Avoid the hotel shampoo if you can
Consider skipping on the hotel shampoo. Photo by: HowardOates/Getty Images

3) Bring a smell of home, whatever that is for you. Hotels and other kinds of accommodation often smell weird, whether that’s thanks to the last guest’s standard of personal hygiene or the choices made by housekeeping or a wider hotel brand, which are all into signature fragrances that can get a bit cloying. I love the scent of fresh rosemary, so I’ll often pop a couple of sprigs from the bush in my garden into a zip-lock bag with a damp piece of paper towel to keep it fresh. Lavender and mint work very well here too, but avoid bringing anything living like that across the border for biosecurity reasons.

4) If you’re going for an extended period, bring the people you love and might miss with you… not literally, but in photo format. Travel photo frames are available, but I prefer to make my own in a triangle format: tape one photograph next to another, and another next to that, so you can create a kind of column and stand them up. An advanced-level version of this is to stick three other photos on the back so you can swap them around every so often.

You might consider taking a bottle of water on your travels
Bring a bottle of water with you. Photo by: Mongkol Nitirojasakul/Getty Images

5) I always try to bring a water bottle with me, even if it’s sticking one of those environmentally disastrous single-use bottles in my pocket from the plane or wherever. Hotel glasses are usually tiny, and I like being able to turn over in bed, take a long drink, and go back to sleep. If you’re reusing a single-use bottle, though, make sure you keep a bit of water in the bottom so that housekeeping don’t take it away with the recycling!

What’s your favourite thing to bring with you to make your travel space your own, and what’s the thing other folks travel with that you always leave at home? Hit me up on Twitter: I’m @thatjohn!

Explore related stories

Kem Beach is one of the island's prettiest - Phu Quoc - Vietnam © James Pham / Lonely Planet


Copy My Trip: A Phu Quoc beach escape

Jul 19, 2024 • 5 min read