Travel Tips March 09, 2018
The 5 Travel Products That Are Actually Pointless And What To Get Instead
You’ve booked your flights. You’ve confirmed your hotel reservations. Now all that’s left is to pick up a few odds and ends for the trip. However, if you’re tempted to bring any of these travel products, back away from your credit card slowly. Here are a few seemingly clever travel items that are actually useless and what to bring instead.
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1. Travelers Checks
These days, finding somewhere that accepts travelers checks is more difficult than finding a Walkman. If you bring these along, you’ll setting yourself up for endless frustration and may not even be able to access your funds.
Visa and MasterCard are now almost universally accepted and American Express and Discover are gaining traction overseas. You can even pick up a prepaid debit card if you don’t want to take your main cards with you. Make sure your credit or debit card has a "freeze" function or that you can easily report it stolen online if it goes missing during your travels. And of course, there’s always good old cash.
This tip isn’t anti-book, it’s anti-hassle. With the wealth of totally free information, travel articles, reviews and city guides available on the internet for download, in-the-moment browsing and even printing, there’s absolutely no reason to drop $20+ on a paper guide book. They add extra weight, quickly become out of date and mark you out as a tourist the minute you pull one from your bag to consult on the street or in a cafe. This can make you a potential target for thieves.
Save yourself the money and inconvenience by doing a bit of online research ahead of time and save your must-see attractions and restaurants offline on your phone or laptop. You can always pick up a local map for a few bucks if you absolutely need an analog reference, and most guidebooks are available as e-books now anyway.
3. Passport Covers
Simply put, these are a pain. You’ll have to squeeze your passport in and out of its cover every time Passport Control or Immigration needs to check your credentials. This will likely cause way more wear, tear and bending than a cover will prevent. Plus, they can be bulky and expensive.
Skip the cover and opt for a clear, plastic, zippable pouch for your important documents instead. That way you’ll be able to keep you passport, boarding passes, luggage claim tickets and parking tickets all in once place with minimum fuss.
4. Travel Alarm Clocks
Just in case you haven’t noticed, your cellphone has an alarm function. I pretty much guarantee that it does. If you don’t have a cellphone or tablet, and your traveling partner doesn’t either, arranging a wakeup call via hotel staff is easy and simple. Bringing a separate clock with you is not.
What to bring instead? A power bank to keep your phone and other devices charged. This is a must if you’re staying somewhere without electricity, and is beyond handy in general. If you’re staying somewhere without electricity outside of a hotel and don’t have a cellphone, chances are you’re looking for a little morning peace anyway.
5. More expensive "travel" versions of things you already own.
We’re looking at you, travel sporks. Quick: name a non-wilderness destination where you won’t have access to cutlery. You can’t, and that’s why you shouldn’t bring a spork. Hostels, hotels, AirBnbs, friend’s homes, strangers homes…they all have the basics. What if you’re going camping? Bring a separate spoon and fork from your kitchen (or disposable plastic) and don’t bother with the $15 keychain spork.
This rule also applies to things like travel towels, travel doorstops with alarms (just pay a few extra bucks for safer accommodations if you’re really that worried), airplane seatback organizers (how much organization do you really need on a three-hour flight?) and jackets with an insane number of interior pockets.
What do you think is the most pointless travel product out here? For more packing tips and tricks, check out