4 Things You Should Take -- and Leave -- When You Travel
Hotels are a collecting opportunity for Langdon, a court reporter from
But it doesn't end there. Unused soaps, shampoos, lotions -- all disappear into her carry-on. She lifts packets of ketchup and mustard from room service trays left in the hallway. And, of course, she brings home the hotel key cards.
"Not only do they remind me of where we've been," says Langdon. "But they also make good little scrapers for the side-view mirror of my car. And emergency screwdrivers."
Maybe you know someone like Langdon. Maybe you are someone like Langdon. Either way, you probably also know that there's more than ever to collect while you're on the road, from cheesy T-shirts and coffee mugs to boarding passes and key cards.
What to keep?
"If you feel compelled to bring an item home, try to make it something useful and not CUTE," she says.
Oh, that's cute.
Can't decide what's worth holding on to? Here's a helpful list:
THINGS TO TAKE
These don't just make nice keepsakes. My travel-writing colleague
I've written about the airlines' insistence on being shown an actual boarding pass when you try to collect award miles, particularly on a codeshare flight. Better hold on to those stubs if you need the miles.
Hotel key cards
They're meant to be kept, they're collectible, and you're probably better off pocketing them, too.
But it's probably better that way. I can't seem to completely debunk the rumor that hotels encode the cards with your personal information. The best way to make sure no one gets the card is to just keep it.
If you are a business traveler, or part of your vacation is a write-off, you definitely don't want to throw anything away. Take it from someone who's been audited by the
"They don't take up any space in your bag, and nothing is worse than trying to travel and having to lug bags around everywhere," says
Actually, he's on to something. Several professional organizers I spoke with for this story also recommend taking photos when you're on vacation.
THINGS TO LEAVE
Odds and ends
This is classic "pack rat" behavior, and you'll pay for it when you try to check in for your flight home and find that your bags are overweight.
Items resulting from 'vacation shopping disorder'
That's the word used by
For her, it's a matter of separating yourself from the emotional attachment of that "must-have" merchandise. I've traveled with compulsive shoppers, and I know how difficult this can be.
Something you already have back home
"I really don't need any more college sweatshirts, T-shirts, or coffee mugs," says
Collect only what you can use. Remember -- be CUTE.
Something you shouldn't have
I can't pass up the opportunity to say something about hoarding and award programs. Two facts can't be disputed: Award programs benefit the travel company more than they do the traveler, and they lose value over time.
There's a whole online community of mileage pack rats that forage for deals and award offers online. Some of these travelers are perfectly reasonable and pleasant, while others are rabid elitists. The latter probably shouldn't be collecting miles. Playing the mileage game brings out the worst qualities in them. They should also be kept away from the computer. But that's a topic for another time.
Next time you're on vacation think twice before pocketing that bottle of shampoo, buying the velvet Elvis, or claiming the frequent flier miles. You may be better off without them.
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