Travel Tip: Abandon Ship!

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When traveling, I know that I can accumulate a lot of useless things. For example I like to take home maps from the cities I visit, but they only end up in my travel drawer to ultimately be thrown away or used as book covers. Though they might make cool, little, and free souvenirs, a lot of them add up and paper can get heavy.

So when packing after a trip is over, abandon ship. Leave behind what you really won’t need and won’t miss. Realistically, I’ll never need a brochure about Gibraltar’s Barbary Monkeys: if I’m interested in learning more about them I’m more likely to Google them than dig through a drawer searching for a brochure from Gibraltar about them. So, leave behind any maps, travel papers that you only needed for your arrival, brochures, ticket stubs, any papers that you can. Unfortunately, it seems that recycling isn’t as common in Europe as it is in the States. So I cringed throwing away all this paper, but it doesn’t make sense to carry them for all these months only to recycle them as soon as I get home. For books that you finished while traveling, maybe leave them in a lending library or a public space instead of the hotel room so that some curious passer-by can read it. You can do the same practice with your guidebooks (although I like to hold onto them).

If you have travel sized toiletries that you’re not going to need, leave those behind as well. Hopefully somebody can use them. My mom even once left a pair of cheap sandals behind with a note for somebody to take them. Who knows if they ever saw the light of day or just ended up in a trash can, but hopefully they made it!

Now, this might seem wasteful, but the point of the exercise is to think about what you really need, and hopefully there are things that you realize you don’t need when you travel. Then in the future you know not to pack them in the first place and can travel more lightly to begin with.

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