Travel Items You Don’t Really Need

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

If ever there is an occasion that leads to the unnecessary purchasing of items that will be used once, it’s travel. From telescopic fishing rods that you hope will help land Moby Dick during your annual trip to the coast to a snorkel set only ever used in a swimming pool, going on holiday leads to some regrettable decisions.

I am fortunate enough to be touring over the December break and have spent a fair amount of time damaging my credit card, buying items that will probably gather dust upon my return. I write this week’s column hoping that you will learn from my ill-informed consumer choices. Below is a list of items that I have bought or have come close to purchasing, in some instances dropping out of a long queue, realising that I was about to make a mistake.

Travel pouch

What the packaging says: “Stylish travel pouch that conveniently straps around the waist. Perfect for storing important items such as your wallet or passport”.

What stopped the purchase: A voice in my head asked, “Are the 80s making a comeback? What’s with the glorified moonbag, moron?”

Combination locks for suitcases

What the packaging says: “Keep your valuables secure with this high-quality combination lock”.

What I now realise: The kind of person who is willing to take a risk and pilfer goods out of your suitcase probably does not care about a cheap lock that can easily be broken or reset. There is also a good chance that you’ll set a combination that is either easy to crack, or too difficult for you to remember. It’s rather frustrating when you have to break in to your own suitcase.

Travel pillow

What the packaging says: “Get a good night’s rest on long-haul flights or bus trips with this soft pillow that folds around your neck”.

What stopped the purchase: It was almost an impulse-buy. But I remembered that sleeping upright on an aeroplane is never comfortable. You have two choices if you want to sleep on a flight – sell a kidney so that you can afford fork out for business class seats; or down a few bottles of the cheap wine you get with dinner.

Backpack with iPod holder and iPod jack

What the packaging says: “Listen to your favourite tunes while you trek”.

What stopped the purchase: For starters, I don’t own an iPod. Secondly, we’re going to be spending some time outdoors, surrounded by imposing mountains, forests and snow. Why on earth would I want to listen to music?

Secret wallet

What the packaging says: “Secret wallet designed to keep your cards and bank notes safe”.

What stopped the purchase: The way I see it, if a mugger is lurking around an ATM where there is a giant sign that reads “cash available”, he probably knows exactly why you’ve used it. A secret wallet fools no one. If you speak with an accent that is not local or a language that is foreign, muggers will be able to guess that you are a tourist. Forget trying to hide your cash – rather make more of an effort to look like a criminal. The guy who wears sandals and socks and reads a map in public is a target; the one who looks like he should be in a heavy-metal music video will be avoided by muggers.

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