11 Things You Should Never Pack for Travel
It’s only three words—three little words that keep most travelers from packing light—and even cause them to end up paying extra for baggage fees. What are they? “Just in case.” Remember: you’re not a Boy Scout. You don’t have to be prepared for everything! Expert packers know that things they bring “just in case” typically don’t get used often enough to justify their inclusion.
Learning to pack light, on the other hand, doesn’t just save money in luggage fees. It also frees you up to focus on what’s important. The less you have to worry about and haul around, the more you can enjoy the sights, experiences and freedom of travel. With that in mind, here are 11 things you should almost always leave at home:
1. Extra clothes Unless you’re a celebrity with multiple appearances scheduled for the red carpet, you don’t need to change outfits multiple times a day. Don’t think in terms of put-together outfits, but pack three or four neutral bottoms and tops that allow you to mix-and-match. One expert tells us to lay out all the clothes we plan to wear...then only take half of them. If something gets dirty, you can hand-wash it. Bring quick-drying clothes and pick up some of this innovative single-use travel detergent.
2. Denim Jeans go with almost anything. They even hide stains! But denim can also be described with two adjectives no traveler wants to hear: bulky and heavy. Jeans take up space and add too much weight. Plus, if you’re going to a warm location, they will be much too hot and can lead to overheating. If you must pack a pair of jeans, make sure they’re lightweight chambray. Capri’s (three-quarter length pants) in khaki or linen as well as performance leggings in a breathable fabric are great alternatives.
3. Impractical shoes Uncomfortable shoes can make or break an afternoon excursion, a walking tour or an entire vacation. Make sure to bring versatile, comfy shoes that have already been broken in. While you’re at it, avoid show-stoppers (like high heels) you’re only going to wear once, as well as spending too much time in backless shoes, like flip-flops. The best sandals are ones with a back strap as they don’t put stress on your tendons.
4. All-weather gear Unless you’re cruising Alaska or visiting a glacier, you likely don’t need a coat. Plan to stay warm by dressing in layers and pack only a light windbreaker or jacket. And rather than pack an umbrella for a location where it’s unlikely to rain, could you simply purchase one there and then leave it behind?
5. Extra credit cards Always clean out your wallet or purse before traveling. Bring only the cards you need from banks you have informed of your travel plans. Our experts recommend bringing one ATM card, one primary credit card (Visa) and a secondary card (MasterCard or American Express). That’s it. Leave your membership cards to places like Costco and your local library at home along with gift cards and any miscellaneous credit cards.
6. Valuables and expensive jewelry The risk of losing your most precious gems on vacation is sufficient warning to leave them safely at home. Unless your valuables (engagement ring, wedding band, etc) are ones you never take off, they really shouldn’t be brought on the road. For tips on not losing things while traveling (including valuables), read this post. But it’s safe to say that bringing along diamond earrings is much riskier than bringing cubic zirconia.
7. Physical books One of the greatest technologies to improve the lives of frequent travelers has been the advent of e-books. A single Kindle can hold hundreds of titles, while weighing less than an average paperback. We love the printed word as much as anyone and almost always travel with a physical Bible, but for convenience and packing purposes, nothing beats a tablet or e-reader. Consider investing in one.
8. Full-sized toiletries Can you get by without your favorite brand of hairspray for a week? Pick up a travel-sized container (3.4 fl ounces or less) that will get the job done and leave the big bottles at home. Another bonus of travel-sized toiletries is that you can pack them in your carry-on. Rely on the soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion provided in your room to further cut back on bulk. And ladies, save yourself the trouble of bringing your entire makeup and skincare routine. Sticking with the basics will save you hassle and allow your beautiful vacation glow to shine through.
9. Heavy electronics Few things take up more space in a suitcase than a blow-dryer, which is why virtually all hotel rooms and ship cabins offer compact, built-in blow-dryers. Problem solved! On the same note, we don’t recommend bringing a travel iron. Most hotels make these available and cruise ships don’t allow irons to begin with. If you’re headed on a cruise, pack wrinkle-resistant clothing, bring a wrinkle-release spray and just remind yourself: you’re on vacation!
10. Extra technology Do you need a separate camera if your smartphone already has a decent one? Do you really want to bring both an iPad and a laptop? Can you leave one behind...or both? Technology is more convenient and lighter than ever, but it still takes up space and can cause you to waste time keeping track of its whereabouts. While on vacation, you’ll want to soak everything in and spend your time appreciating things you can’t see at home.
11. Beach towels Going on a cruise? Your cabin comes with a nice, fluffy beach towel. You don’t need to bring your own. If you’re visiting a beach but won’t have a towel provided, consider packing a fast-drying microfiber towel. Not only do these small wonders not take up space, they’re easy to ring out so you’re not lugging around a wet towel for the rest of the day.
How about you—Do you have any tips to share on packing light?