Travel "Must Haves" Are A Bust

Almost everyone who considers themselves any sort of travel writer or blogger will insist that they have the optimum list of things to pack for each destination. It's usually the same list on repeat- scarf, neck pillow, portable phone charger, that stuff. It's rarely clever or helpful because it is either fluff posts or stuff that everyone knows to bring like pants. Mostly it's sponsored stuff or it's a push to get a post out. Fuck that. I'll be looking at a few Must Have lists and let you know what you DON'T need to take a trip based on their specifications .

I like to be quality over quantity like most writers. My chore is to have an open discussion with you all on what the definition of necessity really means when traveling, especially for frugals and budgeters like myself. Esquire magazine is of course reaching the more affluent set of travelers, but even Conde Nast will have you spending more on items that either can be found cheaper, or are unnecessary in the first place. Do you need packing cubes, sanitizing wipes in a plastic case (when it already comes in a pouch) or a traveling clothesline? Probably not unless youre going away for a year. But that's a different list of expensive gadgets and overpriced stuff that you don't actually NEED in order to travel.
But yes, and also no duh, pack pants, your glasses, daily medications and a jacket. Pack the stuff you know you need like your ID, charging cords, your travel info and extra socks. Come on. Pack what you already have and know you will use. You don't need extra stuff to waste your cash on right before your trip.

Context: For the price of ONE suitcase  below I booked a flight to Dublin and home through Amsterdam. So, that should tell you the kind of crap out there parading as necessity versus cha-ching.

Without much more fanfare than this, I bring you my judgments on bigger store products and gadgets that are not imperative to any vacation whatsoever, but fancier "news" articles will tell you to buy, buy, buy!

Luggage is important when going on a trip.  But is it this important?  $375 important? No. No it is not.

Call me crazy, but my $100 carry on French Bull brand suitcase from Target works just the same as this one from SwayTravel.  It has four working wheels, a strap and an extending handle, is brightly colored so I will never confuse it for someone else's bag- you see where I'm going with this. This one above is an attractive looking piece I suppose, but the price is ugly. Do you need a suitcase to travel? No, you can get by just wearing the same clothes every day. But it's nice to have one. But do you need to spend more on the suitcase than you do on the trip itself? Absolutely not. Check Target, or Groupon, even, for deals. Pro tip: Suitcases come in seasons like fashion, so you can find last fall's color palette discounted at most stores where luggage is sold, or for even better prices at places like Marshall's or TJ Max or whatever local version people outside of the Midwest have if it's not those. 

 Passport Holders are neat. They help you feel more put together.

As a Detroit native I am supposed to love all things Shinola, since that's one of our originals. I don't. Here's why. Shit be expensive. This passport holder is on the lower end of their products, and at only $150, you can afford to buy yourself a SECOND passport WITH ID card, expedited OR buy this holder! (Because why buy a [passport holder for that much if you don't already own a passport?) No, this leather pocket a stupid waste of funds. A passport holder/folder/book is great. It's useful, it's handy for your information and organization. But do you need to spend this much money on a leather folder for a tiny book? No. I have a very nice passport holder. I got a Bebe brand (my only Bebe brand anything because that place is also crap) rose gold metallic pink one for $6 at Marshall's. It has many pockets, is more brightly colored and marked down in price for good seasonal timing. It's also not real leather so my vegetarian hands are clean. I like it because when in a rush, if I reach my paw into a crammed handbag in line at the airport, I can feel for the texture of this rose gold leatherette more easily than a passport page or an overpriced strip of soft leather.

 Cocktails for the runway. Cool.

It's not imperative to have to mix your own cocktails while on a plane. I can see how this is a fun gift, though. I'm not a complete downer here, despite not drinking hooch. I think this is a fun stocking stuffer add-on gift or something fun for a bon voyage and so on. But it's expensive, at $24 for stuff in miniature that you probably already have at home. But I get it- the kit is cute. It makes you feel fancy to mix a gimlet mid-flight like Don Draper. But mostly I just see this as a funny gift set someone gives you but it sits in a drawer for three years, everything expires, and you leave it in the drawer for another year. Like the stuff you get on Amazon after binge drinking this kit that just sits around. But, since it's got a cuteness factor, it's on most lists for mags and bloggers alike. But, it's pointless because you still have to pay airplane prices for a thimble of gin.

Money Belts: The surefire way to spot a tourist.

People feel secure with them, but honestly, at what cost? (money zing!)  It's basically a flat fanny pack that straps to your body in secret. That is, until you go to use it. If it's chilly out you have to disrobe layers at the cash register. You're fumbling around looking for top and bottom, shoving cards and money in whatever zipper you find. Money belts can come cheap- $10-$30 or so. But, maybe I'm a hater, but this is just a pocket. Or a purse. Or a fanny pack that holds your sweat to your naked skin. Or the thing that you have to shuffle around every time you need to use the bathroom. Waist or shoulder clasped. Figure that out!

Luggage Scale. Ok. Don't get it.

To me, this is just a gadget. It's not necessary. It's a tiny scale. And it costs anywhere from $12 to $165 just to hang out at the bottom of your suitcase 365 days of the year. I can only imagine needing this, MAYYYYBE once in your life. So it's an extreme price. Maybe I'm being elitist here, but who doesn't have a REG-U-LAR scale at home? I guess if you're going overseas and plan to pack your entire case with treats and souvenirs then you'd be the one needing this dinky handheld scale. Or you can just realize how heavy fifty pounds of chocolate is before to try to smuggle it past airport security. But according to nearly every travel must have list and every gadget list- you NEED to carry this broke ass scale around with you where ever you go. Whether you're traveling or not, it's a must have just to exist at your office or at the library or in the car... Because you'd think if it were important enough to be on legit four out of four travel lists of crap you don't need that I read, this scale would be the ONE THING you would absolutely need on you all the time. ALL the time. To weigh things. Constantly. You'll become the weirdo with the scale. Four out of four Candes agree. Suck it, Trident Doctors.

This is a short list of ridiculousness. I can have a second round later, after weighing my options. Weighing. Get it? Snark. This stuff is for the people who TALK about traveling around Europe but you know that they spend 90% of the trip on their phones. The ones who talk about their cool shit as if their shit is the coolest shit that ever shat. You don't need to spend this much dough on anything except for the trip itself. Le Fact. Be a baller while abroad, not while your're sitting on your couch, drunk off boxed wine and sending yourself Amazon packages at 2am. Or something.

As Ellen says, be kind to one another. Until next time, my doves!


  1. I like your list and agree to pass on the travel scale. Some airports will try to extort you for more money by having their scales rigged (cough...Cancun...cough), but having your own scale won't change that. It is just another thing to pack and take up space.

  2. Haha the cocktail mix killed me! Love the passport holders tho, really useful and classy.

    1. I have the rose gold one pictured. It cost under 10% of the one Esquire said is the must have item and brand.

  3. omg love the passport holders!

  4. I was shocked to see the cocktail mixer in this list lol. One of my travel must haves is a pair of heels because I am the person that uses an airport as a runway lol. Awesome post!

    Erica Raquel


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