Five Things Not to Pack When Traveling

General Lifestyle Travel

Five Things Not to Pack When Traveling

overpacked suitcase five things not to pack when traveling
Is This a Familiar Sight to You?

Packing is one of the most stressful parts of traveling. Yes, it’s exciting to get ready for your trip – packing makes the trip feel real. But what should you bring and what are five things not to pack when traveling?

I can tell you there are more than five things not to pack when traveling, but I’ve narrowed the list down to five – the five I consider most important to me.

Five Things Not to Pack When Traveling

Shaking It Up at Whiskey Thief at the Edwins Hotel in Chattanooga

I don’t know about you, but if you’re the least bit like me, I’m guessing you’ve packed way more than you needed to when it comes to traveling. The last time Gary and I went away for vacation, we definitely overpacked, and we vowed not to do it again. I mean, do you really need to bring three pairs of boots on a week’s getaway? (Me, not Gary!)

And on our last summer trip (pre-pandemic), we traveled to Tennessee for a week. We had a blast, but again, overpacked, despite our vow not to! For our upcoming summer vacay, we are determined not to pack too much – even if we are traveling by car. We’re headed to Bluffton, SC, and then the Highlands and Banner Elk in NC. So I’ve decided on five things not to pack when traveling, and we’re sticking to it!

1. Most Toiletries

don't pack big toiletries five things not to pack when traveling
Leave the Big Bottles at Home!

How often do you find yourself buying and packing those little travel-sized shampoos, conditioners, and body washes? Sure, they’re convenient (and adorable), but they take up a lot of space, and that’s why I include basic toiletries in my list of five things not to pack when traveling.

Almost all hotels (and even some Airbnb rentals) have basic toiletries. So even if you’re picky about your hair care items and don’t take advantage of what the hotels offer, you can probably buy whatever you need once you arrive, including:

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Styling products
  • Body wash or soap
  • Disposable razers
  • Toothpaste

Unless you’re traveling way off the beaten path (not my kind of travel) and won’t have access to stores, you can buy most toiletries once you get to your destination. Bonus? You get to treat yourself to new products.

I’d still pack my moisturizer, deodorant, and sunscreen, but if you aren’t picky about these items, you can also leave them home and purchase them at your local destination. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Many hotels have these items available for free. They don’t advertise them, but if you ask, chances are you might be in luck.

2. Expensive Jewelry

leave expensive jewelry at home five things not to pack when traveling
Leave the Expensive Baubles at Home, too – You’ll Be Glad You Did!

As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to leave your valuables at home when you travel – and that includes expensive jewelry. Of course, there are some exceptions here, like your wedding ring, but for the most part, keep your valuables safe by not taking them along.

Instead, pack fashion jewelry. Only bring pieces you wouldn’t be upset about losing because theft isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. It’s easy to leave items behind in the hotel or drop something when you’re out and about on your trip.

I remember leaving a beautiful pair of designer earrings in a dresser drawer in a hotel. Unfortunately, when I got home and unpacked my suitcase, a quick call to the hotel brought disturbing news. “So sorry, miss, we didn’t find any earrings.” Lesson learned. Of my list of five things not to pack when traveling, this is a biggie.

3. Too Many Gadgets

don't pack too many gadgets five things not to pack when traveling
Too Many Gadgets Take Up Valuable Room in Your Luggage

We live in a tech world. If you’re like most people, you probably have a smartphone, laptop, tablet, and maybe even an e-reader. But, do you really need to bring all of these gadgets with you? They’re just going to weigh you down and take up more space in your bag. This is another biggie on my five things not to pack when traveling list, and I always try to stick to it.

Most people won’t need anything more than their smartphones and an e-reader when traveling. I just ordered a new Kindle Paperwhite – it’s waterproof, AND I got $25 off when I traded in my old one, plus an additional 20%! I’ll be taking it on our trip this summer to SC and NC!

If you have a DSLR camera, you may want to take that along, too, but remember – they’re big and bulky. Most modern smartphones take great photos. Unless photography is your hobby. Then, by all means, you need your camera, and probably a tripod, too.

4. Your Whole Closet

don't pack your whole closet five things not to pack when traveling

We’ve all been guilty of packing everything in our closets for a trip. That’s because every “what if” question runs through your mind when you’re packing.

  • What if I need something for an impromptu dinner?
  • What if it rains?
  • What if it gets colder than expected?
  • What if my pants get dirty?

The truth is that you don’t need a new outfit for every day of your trip. No reason you can’t repeat an outfit. Instead, pack a few essentials that pair well together. For example, don’ bring five pairs of denim jeans. You’ll weigh down your luggage as well as not have enough room for other necessary items. Instead, bring two pairs, and a pair of leggings, jeggings, a pair of linen or cotton pants, and a pair of shorts (if you’re traveling in the summer). They take up less room, and let’s face it, aren’t leggings more comfortable anyway when traveling?

Check the weather before you leave so that you can be prepared. If the forecast doesn’t call for rain, you probably don’t need your raincoat, and if you do want to bring one, consider a tiny foldable rain poncho. Rain ponchos take up a tiny amount of space, and if it gives you peace of mind, then why not? Of course, a Shopping with Gigi poncho doesn’t take up much room, either and it’s lightweight and soooo cute! (Shameless plug!)

You can always wash your clothes either at the hotel or a laundromat if it’s necessary. The hotel concierge can also probably take your items to the cleaners for you if it needs to be dry cleaned.

5. More Than One Book

don't bring lots of books
One Good Book is All You Need Unless You’re Going to a Book Club Convention!

I love having something to read when I’m traveling. If you’re like me, you’ve probably made the mistake of packing two or more books and a few magazines for your trips. But let’s be honest – are you really going to do that much reading? You’d be lucky to finish the book you were halfway through when you left. Of course, if you bring your Kindle (check mine out!) instead of a book on which you’ve downloaded several titles, you’re set.

However, if you’re the type of person who likes holding a book in her hands, only pack one book. Grab a new one just for your trip. A few of my favorite ‘easy reading’ books for travel that you won’t want to put down:

Not giving too much away – you need to click on the above links to learn why these are such great reads, but as I mentioned, you won’t want to put these down – they are all that entertaining. I’m guessing my new pic, Malibu Rising will be just as fab.

Cheers to Not Overpacking for Your Vacation!

Honeymoon in Napa
Denim Jeans and Jacket, Sneaks, and Smiles Were All We Needed.
Oh – and Wine, Lots of Delish Wine, on our Honeymoon in Napa.

Traveling is always more fun and less stressful when you pack just enough. Unfortunately, we can’t bring our whole lives with us when we take a trip, so don’t be afraid to leave items behind. On the other hand, if you forget something you really need, chances are, you’ll be able to find it once you arrive at your destination.

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  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    July 26, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    How funny you are because of course I’m an over packer. On my last trip to Seattle a couple of weeks ago, I decided to embrace the fact now instead of feeling bad about it, LOL!! I will admit that the trip to Seattle was easier because I could borrow things from Catherine (except shoes, which is why I needed 5 pair for 4 days).
    As for books, that’s one reason that Kindles are a good option. Don’t get me wrong, I still love a real book, but for travel, you can have a ton on your kindle instead.

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 28, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      Yes, I love my kindle for that reason! And yes, for me too – the shoes are always the issue! And some hair products! xoxo

  • Reply
    July 27, 2021 at 12:35 am

    Thanks Gwen, great tips! I’m trying to pack less as I’m definitely learning that so many nights I don’t end up changing for dinner!

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 28, 2021 at 12:47 pm

      Yes, I’m not planning on changing for all of the dinners we have planned. And will wear the same thing twice, too!

  • Reply
    Janet Lucretia Montgomery
    July 27, 2021 at 6:26 am

    Great tips here Gwen. I always overpack anytime I travel. I must do better! On our last family trip, my brother’s SUV was literally packed to the roof. I ended up holding bags in my lap on a 3 hour trip. I’ll be sure to follow your suggestions next time.

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 28, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      Janet! I can’t believe you held your bags on your lap – lol! Thanks for sharing! xo

  • Reply
    Sherri Preston
    July 27, 2021 at 8:02 am

    Yes, I am an over-packer, I admit it! I also get incredibly stressed when packing so I have to do it a few days in advance and why can’t I take my whole closet:)) I will try a few of your tips next time!

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 28, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      I have my clothing out all over the place for our upcoming trip on Sunday!

  • Reply
    July 27, 2021 at 9:13 am

    This is perfect as hubby is flying tomorrow.

  • Reply
    Jessica A Jannenga
    July 27, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Love this! I tend to underpack some times. I follow the rule of bringing one pair of earrings that I am wearing, and not good jewelry for fear of losing it. I am also with you on shoes. I like a pair of dressy and then a pair of sneakers. My sister packed for a trip once and they told her it was over the 50 pounds!
    Have a great week Gwen!
    jess xx

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 28, 2021 at 12:45 pm

      The over 50 pounds has happened to me more than once. Never again, lol! xo

  • Reply
    July 27, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Re: traveling with nice jewelry. My mom — never a fancy jewelry type — wanted to replace her tiny original wedding ring with something new and big. 🙂

    She didn’t want to take it on trips, so she made a faux copy of the ring. And wore the faux on the trips. Kind of cool idea!

    Wendy https://theinspiredeater.com/

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      July 28, 2021 at 12:44 pm

      My mom did the same thing! Another way not to lose the real deal – don’t take it off, lol!

  • Reply
    Rosemary Davis
    July 28, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    Great tips, Gwen!

    I am the queen of over-packing and overthinking. But, I am working on it and am improving. I try to choose a color scheme. It makes dressing and coordinating outfits and accessories so much easier. Plus, it’s always nice to shop a little when traveling!


  • Reply
    Kim Cook
    August 3, 2021 at 9:18 pm

    We are getting ready for a 9 day trip and I am planning to NOT overpack. Thanks for the tips. I totally agree with the jewelry and books. I try to just bring 1 book and 1 magazine. I will also be wearing lots of hiking/swim type shorts so I wont have to take as many shorts. Will bring 1 maxi dress and 1 short dress…just in case!



    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      August 30, 2021 at 5:07 pm

      Just getting to this now – sorry! A nine-day trip sounds fab! And it sounds like you already know just what to bring! Have fun! xo

  • Reply
    August 30, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    These are great tips and just in time! We will be traveling to Italy next week for our son’s wedding! Thanks so much! XO, Christine

    • Reply
      Gwen Gottlieb
      August 30, 2021 at 5:04 pm

      How exciting for you and your family! Have a wonderful time. Congratulations! xo

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