The silliest things I’ve put in a suitcase

As an experienced traveller, as you get older you hone your holiday packing to a fine art. People have different packing techniques, some people like doing it at the last minute (shudder) while the more organised among us like to be prepared in advance with clothes washed and laid-out ready for the suitcase.

I think many travellers have a travel-box, or some place where they keep travel essentials you don’t need in everyday life. I suspect they also have travel clothes that rarely get used day-to-day but are kept in the wardrobe because they are terrific for airplanes, visiting churches or that one crush-proof dress perfect for partying out of a backpack. For examples, check out our list of items we never travel without.

Despite careful planning though, we inevitably throw in something so silly or inappropriate that we don’t use the entire trip.

This is a list of some of the silliest things I’ve flung into a suitcase and lugged half-way around the world.

A scrunchie collection

To be fair, I was 8 years old when I did this for a family holiday in 1991. I was in the grip of scrunchie fever and had a range of pretty brightly coloured scrunchies, some of which I was too chicken to wear even at home. I was going to take my whole 8 piece collection on a 2 month holiday through Europe in winter until common sense made me re-think. I only took 3. And I never wore them.

Heels in a backpack

I spent 6 months backpacking through Europe. My original pack was unbelievably sensible with one exception – a pair of black heels. As heels go, they were a good choice. But they were a nuisance to fit around my t-shirts, jeans and jumpers. I wore them three times in 6 months and on each occasion I was glad I had them, but I could have done without.

On the steps of the Vienna Opera House in my heels and one dress - the latter purchased in a Copenhagen vintage shop.

On the steps of the Vienna Opera House in my heels and one dress – the latter purchased in a Copenhagen vintage shop.

A travel washing line

Ok, this seems like a good idea and many backpackers think it’s a great idea. It’s not a stupid thing to put in a suitcase as such. My problem with it is that I have never stayed anywhere that had somewhere for me to string it up! There are never two convenient hooks or bars. Chairs just collapse under the weight of a line of wet clothes strung between them. Better to dry your underduds on the backs of the chairs themselves or if you’re in a cold climate, nothing beats a heater or radiator for sizzling your socks.

My favourite summer dresses when moving to London

I arrived in London at the end of summer and unfortunately, I wasn’t there to see the arrival of spring. I was planning to move to London or Europe indefinitely but it didn’t work out. Looking into the long term, I packed a lot of rubbish I did not need and I am not sure I would ever have used even if my plan had worked out. I had at least 7 pairs of shoes, most of which were heels. I had a selection of pretty ‘English garden’ dresses that would have been great if I’d started dating a Cambridge PHD student and needed to look pretty in a punt.

A travel hair dryer

This is silly because I never use a hair dryer in real life. I have fluffy wavy hair that does not respond well to dry heat but if I leave it alone, will dry within half an hour even on a cold day. So why the hell did I decide that backpacking around Asia was the perfect time to start blow-drying? Needless to say, I never used it.


This is an on-going problem and sadly, will be with me for the rest of my life. My whole family love picking up pottery on our travels. It’s our thing. It’s also a serious pain to pack. Your entire luggage becomes centered around getting that plate / jug / goblet set home in one piece, not keeping your clothes in good order. This is the silliest thing I put in my suitcase Every Time I Travel.


What are the strange or silly things you’ve put in your suitcase?




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