World Travel

Top 10 most useless travel gadgets

Kim Wildman
wearable sleeping bag
When it comes to travel, the number-one rule of packing is: less is definitely more. So you certainly don't want to weigh yourself down with a bunch of unnecessary gadgets. While some travel gadgets, like money belts and ear plugs, are very useful, there are those that are more trouble than they're worth. Here are some best left off your packing list.
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!

Compression bags

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?

Passport holder

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.

Disposable underwear

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.

Travel humidifier

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?

Check out our photo gallery of the lamest travel gadgets by clicking here:

Are you with us on these, or do you think we're being a bit harsh? Got any other useless travel gadgets to nominate? Have your say using the comments form below:

User comments
No.11 - multi-fit bath or sink plug... it's surprising how often the plugs are missing from hotel bathrooms, which can be very inconvenient when you want to wash your underwear, or take a nice relaxing soak in the bath after a long day out. I've got a flat white one which lives in a pocket of my travel toiletries bag. No. 12 - travel hairdryer (if you've got electricity) - not just for drying hair! If you use a travel towel to get most of the moisture out of your underwear, it takes about 2 minutes with a travel hairdryer to dry a pair of undies out... it's also very good for warming feet in unheated budget hotel rooms!!!
Can solve the underwear problem and the towel problem here... firstly, travel towels don't have to be moist to work... for drying yourself, I'd recommend the ones with the towelling-like surface (I got mine from Kathmandu... you can probably also get them elsewhere). The ordinary "chamois"-texture towels are FANTASTIC for drying washing (especially little items like underwear - wash in the bathroom sink, squeeze out as much moisture as you can by hand, then lay out your trusty travel towel (not the one you're going to use to dry yourself, or you end up all moist and clammy), lay your washing on top, fold or roll it up, walk all over it, unwrap, and it will be about as dry as coming out of a good washing machine spin cycle - will usually dry overnight. You can repeat this for as much washing as you can be bothered doing on holidays - if the towel gets too damp, wring out and continue.
I have been using the same shoe bags for about 20 years and I love them! And they actually came free with some shoes I bought, so didn't cost me a cent. I always use them whenever I pack, and just throw them in the wash with everything else when I get home.
most of article is spot on but compression bags the writer used the wrong ones, there are very usefull compression bags where you fill the bag, close up and then compress all the clothes using 3 pull down straps, why usefull well if your going to visit a country that has mtns and lowlands you need warm clothes they take up lots of room but will compress down to a half and give you more room, have used these in sth america and very very usefull
you also have to take into consideration-the fact that when you are on a holiday,once you have left the airport you really don't have to show your passport and if you are staying in a secure area you can use the hotels safe (or the one in your room) to keep your passport (and its holder in).But if you have a passport and it's on you at all times and in a passport holder - doesn't this increase the chance of identity theft? I also suffer from constricted blood circulation which makes me cold pretty much all the time so I bought a doona suit - it's great for home, never took it travelling, but if I had to I could put it in the space bag and take it away.And also on the subject of the space bag - what if you roll your clothes and then put it in the space bag? I moved interstate with them - they are brilliant - as long as there is a vacuum handy! Aren't humidifiers used a lot for medicinal purposes and on business trips you almost always need an iron - travel iron may be the only option
I had a good laugh at some of the items listed above, but I must say the compression bags have been a great investment for travelling. My husband , myself and two young boys just travelled through China staying at youth hostels with one small bag each and our puffy vests or jackets would not roll up to the size of what the bag can get them down to.As it ended up being warmer than anticipated some days we needed them packed away, but also wanted room to buy a few small souvenirs They are just as helpful for ski gear.
Hey Kim, don't knock the cone, i'm guessing you have never travelled in south east asia- laos, thailand, indonesia, vietnam, parts of china etc... where you stand above a filthy hole to go and risk splashback on your precious parts. Get out there and travel a bit more! I'm guessing this story was more of an attempt at comedy than actual travel advice...
should be 11 .husbands wallet with no money in it . had a laught keep up the good work .!.
"some of the stuff here are so not true~~~especially the underwear part GEEZ how the hell do u wash ur underwear wen u r on holiday and if u are scared of paper cuts then get disposable COTTON underwear!" wow sorry but you sound really dumb.. When you travel you usually have a bathroom.. which has a sink.. Well, guess what? That means that you can wash your underwear in the sink! brilliant isn't it? And then, you know, you can just hang your underwear on a chair or something to dry... Not that hard....
I lIked it. Matter of fact,I really liked it....except for the pointlessly negative bits at the bottom written by the critics. Made me laugh too...thanks for that. It was a rough day.