When planning a trip for a number of weeks there is often the temptation to spend your hard-earned cash on gadgets and accessories that will supposedly enhance your travel experience.
There are some that undoubtedly have their benefits where you realise you can’t live without them and others that will languish unused at the bottom of your rucksack for the entire trip.
The following, however, will be about as useful as a chocolate teapot and should be avoided at all costs.
1. The Travel Clothesline
This is essentially a piece of twisted elastic rope with two small rubber suckers at each end. The typical experience with one of these is as follows:
You wash your clothes. You hang the line up from one end of your room to the other. Your clothes are wet and heavy. You quickly discover that the weight limit of two small rubber suckers is one very small handkerchief. Your freshly washed clothes inevitably end up on the dirty floor. After the first attempt of using the line, it usually ends up being thrown in the bin in a fit of rage.
The one I bought completely disappeared, possibly catapulted out the window in a bizarre case of clothesline suicide. I can’t say I blame it.
2. The Underwater Money Belt
Money belts are meant to be discrete. Once you’ve managed to cram all your valuables inside the belt and put it under your swimming costume, there seem to be bulges in all the wrong places.
Whether you are male or female, this is probably not the look you wish to go for on the beach of a faraway island. Added to this is the fact that they are uncomfortable, rub in inappropriate places and may even leak if not zipped up correctly.
My advice would be to leave your essentials locked away back at your accommodation – many places will have a safe you can use. You can then enjoy the water without fear of all your money getting soggy or your passport becoming illegible.
3. The Disposable Underwater Camera
Snorkelling can be hours of fun. However, if you try to capture anything of the experience with a disposable underwater camera, you will almost certainly be disappointed.
Unless you are very lucky, have the sunlight illuminating just the right spot and the subject manages to swim into the frame at exactly the right moment, the photographs you take will be grainy, dark blue, blurry shots that will not win any awards.
They will probably contain the fin of a fish in one corner of the picture and you will have to convince your friends and relatives that it really was a shark/barracuda/marlin that you saw on your trip.
Your memories of a place can be tarnished by these poor photographic souvenirs – leave them intact by using your eyes rather than a cheap camera lens, which is best employed on the beach or when splashing around above (rather than below) the water.
4. The Toiletry Organiser
You might think the idea of having your shaving foam, toothpaste and all the other things that will make you smell nice neatly arranged in one bag is the smart way to travel.
In reality, it will take up far too much of your valuable luggage space. You’ll also be itching to get out and see all the sights at your chosen destination rather than fastidiously unpacking every single item from your bag and inevitably you will end up living out of your rucksack.
This is not a bad thing; unpacking and repacking when you are moving from place to place every few days is rather tedious. Leave the toiletry organiser at home but do remember to wrap your shampoo and shower gel in several layers of plastic to ensure that you don’t end up with dodgy-looking stains on your clothes.
5. The Hessian Sack
I admit that this is not strictly a gadget or an accessory, however it was a terrible idea and one worth noting for its stupidity.
Before my round the world trip, I was rather paranoid and thought that camouflaging my rucksack with a tailor-made Hessian sack would stop it being stolen when I was in India. What I didn’t count on was the fact that Hessian is an incredibly itchy fabric, so much so that I wasn’t even able to go near it without feeling the need to scratch.
I then discovered that the in-built waterproof cowl was just as good for concealment of my baggage. Suffice to say, the sack never made it on my world trip.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are probably thousands of companies all over the world dreaming up ideas for new travel gadgets for the gullible consumer to purchase during their pre-trip excitement.
I am sure that in the not-too-distant future we’ll have jetpacks fitted to our rucksacks and use satellites and GPS to find our way through the jungle. Until then, remember there are some good gadgets and some truly awful ones.
Regardless of what you end up taking with you, it is important that you don’t let your possessions overshadow your travelling adventures.