23 Dumb Travel Products That Are a Waste of Money

Travel Wastes

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Travel Wastes
Cheapism / John Blottman/Lisa5201/istockphoto

Travel Must NOT Haves

Traveling, whether for business or pleasure, can be a beautiful experience that makes you emotionally richer. But stepping out of the daily grind and comfort zone usually makes you a prime target for an industry designed to lighten your wallet. In 2021, the Global Travel Accessories Market was valued at $48.2 billion, and it's expected to hit $95.7 billion by 2031. While many products in this industry are handy and make life on the road easier, what about those that are just gimmicks? 

According to the globetrotting Redditors and other travel forums, these 23 travel products cause more hassle than help and are downright dumb.

Girl uses a neck pillow and eye mask to sleep while traveling on an airplane

1. Neck Pillows

It would be a lie to say that none of us has fallen victim to the promising premise of the travel pillow. And in all honesty, it can be useful, but the time frame of its usefulness isn't worth dragging it through the airport, past the TSA, and picking up the gazillion germs it collects along the way. 

Veken Packing Cubes

2. Packing Cubes

Travelers are dividied on this one, with some finding them rather useful for orgazining your stuff—especially if you sharing the suitcase with someone else, the more frugal of the bunch say that they are over priced and you can do the same in ziplock bags. 

Travel Wallet
John Blottman / iStock

3. Money Belts

Nothing screams “I’m a tourist, steal from me!” louder than a money belt, and ironically, these are magnets for pickpockets who, by now, have become experts at taking them away from you.

Inflatable footrest

4. Inflatable Footrest

Planes are incredibly uncomfortable, and because of that, we often fall prey to every product that offers even a glimmer of hope for comfort. An inflatable airplane footrest that starts at $20 may come in handy for, let's say, the first hour of the flight. But ask yourself this: Is it worth taking up the already limited space underneath your seat with a bulky item that you'll need to deflate before you land or drag along with you?

Luggage Locks
ULU_BIRD / iStock

5. Luggage Locks

Luggage locks are nothing but useless trinkets for your suitcase. If someone wants to steal your luggage, it's naive to think a lock will stop them. Plus, 99.9% of the time, TSA agents will break it. So, unless it comes with a suitcase, don't waste your money on this useless delusion of safety.

Passport case
Sanny11 / iStock

6. Passport Case

Yes, they look classy, especially if you go the extra mile and buy a branded one by Hermès or Louis Vuitton starting at $400. But then again, why would you do that? Passport control will take it out, and it will slow you down.

Mosquito Net
DmitriyKazitsyn / iStock

7. Mosquito Net

This gadget sounds useful, especially in malaria-ridden countries, but in reality, if you travel to a place where mosquitoes are common, your hotel or hostel will likely provide one. 

little girl travel by plane, child in flight, safety concept

8. Knee Defender

Planes do turn into battlefields the minute you are seated, and nothing screams "war" like the passive-aggressive travel gadget — the knee defender. Aptly named, this device locks the seat in front of you to keep it from reclining. This ultimate "Karen" accessory is not only over the top but has also been banned by many airlines, including United and Virgin Atlantic.

Travel Containers for Liquids
Anastasiya Larionova / iStock

9. Travel Containers for Liquids

It might feel like a necessity and definitely make you the Type A traveler, but the truth is, it's a waste of space and money. Your hotel, hostel, or Airbnb will likely offer complimentary toiletries. So, unless you're traveling to the edge of the world, there's no need for this.

Alarm Clock
:deteetarkan / iStock

10. Portable Alarm Clock

Unless you're traveling to 1995, there's absolutely no need to bring a bulky alarm clock in your suitcase. There's a thing called a phone, and these thingamajigs are quite handy for setting your alarm.

detergent for a laundry washer

11. Laundry Detergent & Rubber Plug

Again, Type A traveler, you’re going on a trip, not starting a laundromat. These might be recommended if you're heading to a place where washing machines are unheard of, but that’s unlikely. Save yourself the space and the mess caused by an accidental spill.

Hotel safe
Gorica Poturak/istockphoto

12. Portable Safe

If it's of utmost importance to carry valuables that require a locked suitcase, then okay. But again, every hotel, even the crappiest ones, has a safe. And isn't the concept of a portable safe just making it easier for a thief to take it?

Compression Bags
Viktoriia Oleinichenko / iStock

13. Compression Bags

Compression bags are great — for creating the illusion that you can pack more than you should. But when you unpack and then have to repack, you need to find a vacuum. Plus air always sneaks back in and your neatly packed items end up a chaotic mess.

bose quiet se noise canceling headphones

14. Bulky Noise Cancelling Headphones

Light sleepers who travel a lot might find noise-canceling headphones handy. But catching some Z's while traveling doesn't have to come with such a price tag and space requirement. Earplugs or a simple white noise app on your phone can have the same effect.

Portable Iron

15. Portable Iron

While it's understandable why one would be tempted to bring an iron when traveling, especially on a business trip, hotels have irons and ironing boards. There's no need to take up extra space in your luggage, and these things are pricey as well, starting at around $30.

Conair Turbo Extreme Fabric Steamer

16. Portable Steamer

A clothes steamer is indeed very handy, but a portable one takes it up a notch. There are many travel hacks that can help you de-wrinkle your clothes without costing you top dollar.

Open suitcase with packed clothes, accessories and pill box on sofa, above view
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto

17. Special Travel Pill Box

Just because a product has "travel" in its name doesn't make it specialized — it just makes it a useless overpriced gimmick. The travel pill box is absolutely no different than your regular pill box.

Selfie Sticks

18. Selfie Sticks

These cringe-inducers were barely acceptable when they came out in 2015. Now, they’re just an utter annoyance that takes up way too much space.

Travel Sewing Kit

19. Travel Sewing Kit

The rule of thumb is that anything with "travel" in its name is mostly a fad that should be avoided. Instead of buying a specialized sewing kit for traveling, just grab the essentials from your regular sewing kit.

Foldable Water Bottle

20. Foldable Water Bottle

It sounds like a great space-saving idea, but these things are a mess waiting to happen. They never quite stand up straight, and when empty, they take up more space than you’d think, crumpled into a ball at the bottom of your bag. 

a brand new black universal adapter
Freer Law/istockphoto

21. Chunky Universal Adapter

Seemingly, these hefty multi-pronged contraptions look like a must-have for your international escapades. However, unless you're the first foreigner to visit the said country, chances are you'll find convertible outlets there. 

Personal Air Purifier

22. Personal Air Purifier

The pandemic made us understandably paranoid, but are we really going to pay a cool $149.99 just to avoid breathing the same air as the people around us? It's a bit much, don't you think?

Travel Bidet

23. Travel Bidet

When your bum needs a bath on the go, sure, a portable bidet might seem handy. But if you really think about it, these "portable tushy bidets," as they aptly call themselves, don't do anything a plastic water bottle can't.

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