Travel Gear: When Two Items Are Better Than One

suitcaseIf you aren’t sure how much of something to pack for a trip, you’re not alone. There are always certain things you know you’ll need, but sometimes bringing two of something is actually better than bringing just one. While it can take up extra room in your suitcase and add some weight, you may be happier you brought it after all. Contributing writer Margaret Magnus recently hiked through Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the Balkans. During the trip, she realized that in some cases, more travel gear is better than less.  

Generally when I’m packing for a trip, the objective is to reduce the number of items in my suitcase. After all, I don’t want excess anything that could add weight or take up valuable space.

There are, however, definite exceptions when two of something is better, more prudent, and can make for a more comfortable trip.


I don’t just mean two pairs of shoes, such as an athletic pair and a pair of dress shoes, I mean two pairs of the same type of shoes.

My father always said to change shoes every day to give your feet (and your shoes) a rest. His advice was backed up when I read Peggy Noonan’s book What I Saw at the Revolution. She mentions that Ronald Reagan, whose father was a shoe salesman, always took two pairs of shoes with him, even in the limo.

For our recent 28-day, six-country trip, I followed this advice…sort of. The only time I had problems with my feet is when I broke my rule of not changing shoes every day.

The weather was unseasonably hot, so I brought out my sandals. By the second day, one of my toes was feeling odd. I ignored it and wore my same and only pair of sandals anyway. By the end of the second day, a blister was starting to form. So, I went back to shoes and socks in 80-degree weather. But the damage was done.

Then, we went on an 11-day hiking trip in Montenegro. Several years ago, when I went hiking in Bhutan, I took two pairs of hiking boots and switched them. I never had a problem with my feet. On this most recent trip, I didn’t want the extra weight of a second pair of boots.

Second or third day out, I was wishing for that second pair. The boots rubbed one of my other toes the wrong way. I laced my boots differently and that helped in the short run. But there was a day (or two) in which every step created a small pain in my toe. Next time, I’ll handle the extra weight. I needed options and did not have them.


This is so obvious, it shouldn’t even need stating. Bring two pairs of glasses.

I sort of did.  I brought two pairs of reading glasses. I brought two pairs of sunglasses. But I only brought one pair of medium-distance glasses—the ones that I use for museums and watching movies on the airplane.

Of course, the ones that broke on day three were the distance glasses. I survived, but had to get up really close to read the descriptions in museums. Next time, I will be completely prepared.


We brought an adapter, and it worked fine. Unless, of course, I wanted to charge my mobile phone and use the curling iron at the same time. Next time, I will take two adapters or a device for charging multiple items simultaneously.

Prescription Medicines

Taking an extra set of prescription meds is another obvious precaution. Pack one set in the suitcase and one set in the carry-on. That way, if your luggage is lost, your medications are not.


While packing for a trip to India, I included a second set of my basic makeup. I knew I wouldn’t be able to just pop into a department store and pick up eyeliner or lipstick.

While on a road trip through Arkansas, I realized that searching for a department store would have taken up valuable sightseeing time. As a result, I take back-up cosmetics, regardless of my destination.

Copies of Vital Documents & Extra Passport Photos

Before each trip, I make sure that my husband and I each have a copy of our vital documents—passports, visas, shot records, health cards, travel insurance, full itinerary, and any other documents that might be important on the trip. We also throw in two sets of passport photos, just in case we need to get new passports if ours are lost or stolen.

Then we each carry a set in our carry-on luggage or daypack. I suppose if I were traveling alone, I would only take a copy in my carry-on, as I would not want this information stolen.

Is Two Better than One?

In the future, I’ll ask myself the question whether two would be better than one, such as two wash-and-wear shirts, two walking pants, two travel skirts, two athletic shirts, and so on.

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By Margaret Magnus for