15 Useless Travel Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

SAVING & SPENDING - TRAVEL
Don't fall for these money-draining travel products that belong in the 'do not pack' list.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Family getting ready to travel

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It’s easy to overpack — from worrying over how many shirts you’ll need to whether you need that specific jacket, your suitcase fills up faster than you’d think.

Brands will advertise the necessity of their travel products, but these so-called compact, travel-friendly items often take up valuable space in your bag.

Simplify your travel experience and keep more money in your wallet by eliminating these 15 travel items.

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Luggage lock

Courtesy of Amazon amazon luggage lock

Luggage locks sound good in theory, but if someone nabs your luggage at the carousel, a lock isn’t going to keep them out — they can just cut the zipper.

Not only this, but it can cause unnecessary hassle with TSA if you don't have an approved lock, snag on other items, and add extra weight to your bag.

Multiple books

Courtesy of Amazon amazon multiple books

If you’re not an avid reader, what makes you think your vacation is when you’ll start? Even if you are, you know better than anyone that books are heavy and take up tons of space.

Bringing one book for the flight or trip is fine, but consider opting for a compact and versatile e-reader, which saves space and reduces luggage weight.

Travel medical kit

A travel medical kit could be a tempting last-minute vacation buy, but hold off. While packing some Band-Aids, over-the-counter medicines, and other minor necessities is a good idea, don’t bog down your bags with excessive medical care.

If you’re flying, staying in a hotel, or a similar rental, odds are there will be ample medical supplies at your disposal. Save time and money by just bringing the basics.

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Sewing kit

Courtesy of Amazon A sewing kit

Sewing kits are useful to have on hand — if you know how to sew. If not, it’s a needless, space-hogging trinket.

While patching a hole may seem simple enough, it would be pointless to try and learn on the go if you've never sewn before. Instead, keep the item safe until you can get it to a tailor, or use the extra space in your suitcase for a backup top.

Towels

Courtesy of Amazon amazon towels

Depending on where you’re staying, it can be tempting to pack your own towels. Don’t fall for the travel towel advertising trick, and avoid packing your own full-sized towels for a few reasons.

Aside from taking up space, you now have to get them dried and repacked for the trip back — an added chore for a needless item. A hotel, rental home, or other vacation residence will likely have towels too. 

If not, buying one or two on the go is worth the cost compared to how much space they take up.

Most travel-sized toiletries

Courtesy of Amazon amazon most travel sized toiletries

You may feel the urge to stock up on mini-toiletries right before your trip, from shampoos to lotions to toothpaste. Refrain from this, and check with your rental first.

Almost every hotel, and most Airbnbs, have these items available in the room and upon request. Bring along specialty items as needed, but don’t feel the need to add a surplus of mini-body wash bottles to your packing list.

Hair dryers

Courtesy of Amazon amazon hair dryers

Similarly, most hotels and rentals cover your necessities, including hair dryers. Unless you have a specialty dryer you use regularly, free up tons of suitcase space by leaving it at home.

So-called travel-friendly hair dryers are a waste of money, too, as they often aren’t as powerful due to their compact size. And they’re redundant if your hotel room has a perfectly good standard hair dryer.

Neck pillows

Courtesy of Amazon amazon neck pillows

Depending on the duration of your next flight, consider leaving the neck pillow at home. While it can come in handy when trying to nap on a plane, it’s often not worth the hassle.

The item is bulky and nearly impossible to smush into your carry-on bag, making it another thing to keep track of at the airport. If you need one, buy it at the airport or on your flight, or make do with a jacket or similarly plush item.

Heavy boots

Courtesy of Amazon amazon heavy boots

Packing practical footwear is a travel must. However, one pair of high-quality, multi-purpose sneakers will do the trick.

Footwear becomes unnecessary when you start packing bulky, singular-purpose hiking boots, rain boots, and so on. Even if you plan on doing a lot of walking or hiking, durable, well-made sneakers will usually take care of it.

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Mosquito net

Courtesy of Amazon amazon mosquito net

Mosquito nets are necessary for many travel destinations, especially where malaria is still a prevalent risk. That being said, it’s not necessary to pack one.

If you’re visiting someplace where they are necessary, your hotel or rental will already provide you with them, though you can always double-check this ahead of time. Bug spray is equally helpful in preventing mosquito bites.

Compression bags

Courtesy of Amazon amazon crompression bags

Compression bags seem like a great way to create extra storage in your suitcase, but they may have the opposite effect.

While it technically creates more space, it doesn’t create more opportunity — the bag still weighs the same, and you may be at risk of overpacking. Neatly and compactly folding your clothes should be just as effective.

Travel wallet

Courtesy of Amazon amazon travel wallet

Save your money and skip buying a travel wallet. While having space for your passport is convenient, it may be safer to just leave it with your luggage or in the hotel safe and just take it out at the airport.

It’s also possible to accidentally forget an important ID card or payment card when transferring the contents of your regular wallet to your travel one. Save yourself the hassle and stick with what you have.

Travel safe

Courtesy of Amazon amazon travel safe

One of the more anxiety-inducing elements of travel is protecting your valuables. Many people think the solution is taking a portable safe, but this just weighs down your luggage and is not nearly as effective as you’d think.

The easiest way to protect your valuables is to leave them at home. Items like laptops and cameras can be left in the hotel safe, or you can bulk up on travel insurance to protect the value of those items.

Portable alarm clock

Courtesy of Amazon amazon portable alarm clock

Oversleeping on a work trip or a trip with a heavy itinerary is the stuff of nightmares, but a specialty travel alarm clock isn’t the solution.

If you use your phone for your alarm regularly, don’t add new variables on vacation — just stick with your clock app. If you want more of a guarantee, request a wake-up call from the front desk of your hotel.

Packing cubes

Courtesy of Amazon amazon packing cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to organize your luggage and make the most of the space you have, and they can help keep track of what you have on hand.

However, these cubes come with a high price point, which is absurd considering what they are — dressed-up plastic bags. No one will judge you on the aesthetics of your packed bags, so just stick with old grocery bags or gallon zip-closed bags.

Bottom line

IvanMel/Adobe packing for travel

In the chaos of preparing for a trip, it can be easy to load up on unnecessary, overhyped travel products without stopping to think if you need them.

Many of these products that market themselves as compact or travel-friendly have the opposite effect, creating clutter and weighing down your luggage even more. 

Be a bit strict when grading an item’s value when packing for your next trip, but don’t forget actual travel essentials, like a travel credit card that lets you earn travel rewards on your next trip.

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Benefits

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Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

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Why we like it

Author Details

Lucy Clark Lucy Clark has considerable experience writing about real estate, as well as homes and gardens, home value, and more. She is savvy and resourceful, and she aims to ensure others can be, as well.

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