New Zealand


While I was packing for my upcoming trip, I realized how much we all have changed. These days I travel with a laptop, a digital camera, and a smartphone. This pretty much covers my can’t-live-without gadgets. Here is a list of the equipment I used to travel with; I hope you enjoy looking back and thinking about the good old days.



Analog alarm clock

I’m notoriously bad at early morning starts. After all these years of traveling, I still get nervous to get on an early morning flight. I once read a study that basically said each individual has an internal code that controls her natural biorhythms and decides if she is an early bird, or a night owl (like me). I believe it might also be a nature versus nurture issue, but I also believe I can’t wake up in the morning because my DNA says so.


For that reason, I bought a small analog alarm clock with glow in the dark needles for my very first backpacking trip. I read somewhere, either in a guidebook or from a traveler’s forum on the Internet that such a clock was a must-have item. Mine has been to many countries since I first got it. It helped me to catch an early morning flight in Taipei once. The square alarm clock is still on my shelf, but no matter how it’s sad face looks at me, I don’t think I will travel with it anymore.



Film camera and films

I was one of those stubborn photographers who didn’t think digital could cover what film could do. I still think this is true, especially for long-exposure star trail photos, but now I can’t imagine life without my digital cameras. However, before 2009, I was still using my Pentax MX and slide films. I always used to pack a bag full of different types of films, two lenses with my Pentas MX. I still miss the time when I was shooting with films, but economically and practically it’s just not possible anymore.





For calculating money exchange rates of course! Because my calculator was a professional one that is required in engineering school, I brought a small shopkeeper style one from home. The amount of zeros can be tricky for me. In case you didn’t know, Korean currency has more zeros than the US dollar. For example, 1 US$ is about 1,070 Korean Won. It just confuses me big time. The shopkeeper calculator saved me many times. This was, of course, before the smartphone and currency converter app.



Traveler’s Checks

People said Traveler’s Checks would ensure I got my money back if someone stole it or something. I wasn’t familiar with the concept of checks (Korea doesn’t use them), but I bought some anyway, even though I was going to one of the safest countries in the world (New Zealand). It was fascinating! I got a couple pieces of paper in exchange for cash, and then I could turn them into cash again.


I used these during my trip in 2006, but I could already see then that it wasn’t very popular any longer.



Electronic dictionary

For an English novice like me, my dictionary was a lifesaver. I always brought it with me until my second visit to New Zealand. Thankfully, I didn’t need it anymore thanks to my improved English skills.


Phone card

I always traveled with the plastic international phone card. Before Skype and laptops, it was the cheapest way to phone home overseas.


A public phone


Blank CDs

When you weren’t traveling with your own laptop, and there wasn’t high-speed internet, how did you backup your photos? I chose blank CDs. Most hostels had a public computer at least, and I burned my photos on a CD to bring home with me. Have you done this? Crazy, I still have them. Even though I have all the photos on my hard drive, I still can’t throw them out. Emotions and memories, I guess.



CD player and CDs

Speaking of CDs, I also traveled with a CD player and my favorite CDs. As stubborn as I was about using film over a digital camera, I similarly wasn’t too thrilled about mp3 players replacing CD players. As a music enthusiast, I couldn’t accept the low quality sound of the mp3. It’s a different story now, but I had 10 CDs and my player always in my bag.




13 thoughts on “Things I Don’t Pack Anymore”

  1. This is really a funny post and I do second the motion on everything. We started our RTW a few months back and we realized that we did not need everything we packed. Too bad we can’t just send it back now. But good thing we will be home again soon.

  2. This is hilarious! Reminds me how fast things have evolved and how traveling is quite different than just a few years ago before the great internet and mobile device boom!

  3. Wow. It would be interesting to write this same post again in 5 years and see just how much technology has changed. One thing that I can’t give up is an actual paper book, even though I have switched to an ipad for reading magazines.

  4. First, I never used a traveler cheques – who use them anyway? The world has changed so much since I started traveling for the first time..this things you mentions are history now. Maybe the things we are using now, like the Ipad, in the future will be useless too :).

  5. I can so relate to this. I also no longer pack travelers checks, calling cards or an alarm clock. Somehow a calculator snuck into our luggage this trip (for adding up expenses). This makes no sense give it’s way better to do it on a spreadsheet.

  6. Sorry if I sound rude, but these items look so ancient to me! Never really had the chance to look at some of these, let alone travelling with them. 🙁 Like a film! I always traveled with digicam! Sigh, it must have felt good to have such items on the deck 🙂

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