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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
- The Secret Life of the Savoy: Glamour and Intrigue at the World’s Most Famous Hotel by Olivia Williams
- Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- When We Were Young by Jaclyn Goldis
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- The Four Winds by Kristen Hannah (and anything else by this mega author!)
- Malibu Rising also by Taylor Jenkins Reid (I’m downloading this one on Kindle for my upcoming trip.) Love TJR!
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!
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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