Figuring out which things to pack for an upcoming trip requires some careful planning. To help you out, here’s what not to pack in your suitcase — like, ever.
Packing the perfect amount of clothing, toiletries, and other life necessities for vacation is a fine art that I’ve yet to master. For years, I was a serial over packer. I always had to have a different outfit for every day of the trip, because in my mind Vacation Claire was immeasurably more stylish than Home Claire — and stylish Vacation Claire liked options, apparently. The thought of going on vacation without all of my favorite shoes made me break out in a sweat. Heck, I’d even pack a swimsuit when traveling during the winter, because you never know which hotels will have an indoor pool, right?
Thankfully, my solo travels during recent years have taught me that I only need to pack a fraction of what I used to when traveling. I no longer worry about wearing a different outfit each day and instead try to bring along clothing items that can be washed mid-trip and reworn later on with different accessories to make it feel like I’m wearing something totally new. I now focus less on appearances and pack more practically to suit the activities I’ve planned.
Am I a perfect packer? Definitely not (yet). But when considering which things to pack for a trip, there are a few key items I’ve learned to leave at home to save space and weight in my suitcase. Below, I’ve shared what NOT to pack for vacation. These are everyday items you might not think twice about throwing into your suitcase, but trust me when I say they’re not worth lugging around your whole trip.
Your Hair Dryer
I know you want to look fabulous on vacation and that your hair’s never looked so good since you bought that special new hair dryer, but do yourself a favor and leave it at home where it belongs. Hair dryers take up so much space in your suitcase, which is an unnecessary sacrifice since hotels almost always supply hair dryers in the bathroom. And yes, there are plenty of travel-sized hair dryers on the market, but most of them are garbage quality.
No matter how you look at it, the hotel hair dryer is your best bet. Your hair might not meet your usual standards on vacation, but who cares? You likely aren’t traveling for that long, and there’s no better time to let loose than when you’re off the clock. If you’re really concerned about the state of your hair, decant your tried and trusted hair care products into travel-sized bottles and continue using those while you’re away from home.
Most of Your Makeup
For the longest time, I over packed my makeup bag for every trip. I envisioned myself doing my eye makeup each day to match my outfits, coordinating my Chapstick color to my eyes, and so on. You want to know what my actual travel makeup routine has been for years and years? Well, I haven’t had one. If I know the weather won’t be too hot, I might put on some concealer to hide the traces of jet lag around my eyes, but besides that I like to let my skin breathe. I travel so often by myself that I really don’t see the point in slapping on lots of makeup when it’s just me.
Chances are good that you’re also prone to packing too much makeup and never bothering to put it on. Think back to the last few trips you’ve taken — how much makeup did you bring along, and how much of it sat untouched the whole time? Think about the products you actually used (mascara, concealer, and maybe some powder), and leave the rest at home. After all, do you really want to waste your precious exploration time putting on your makeup?
Shoes for Every Outfit
Guilty as charged…again. Until college, I’d pack a completely different outfit for every day of my trip, including shoes to go with each outfit. I have absolutely no clue what I was thinking — or why my mother let me hog that much suitcase space. There are a few key reasons to streamline your footwear choices when traveling:
- It saves space in your suitcase.
- It makes for a lighter suitcase (i.e. more room for souvenirs on the way home!).
- There’s less chance of your favorite shoes getting damaged in transit.
If I’ll be traveling for a week, I’ll usually pack no more than two pairs of shoes. I’m not yet at the point where I can wear just one pair the whole trip because my feet inevitably need a break from one pair after an entire day of walking. To maximize your suitcase space, lay out your outfits before packing them to make sure they match all the pairs of shoes you pack. This way, you won’t wind up with shoes that only go with one outfit.
In the age of the Internet, I know it’s hard to leave home without your Kindle, iPod, phone, laptop, and FitBit. But please take a moment to consider the fact that you’re going on vacation — you don’t need all that technology physically and mentally weighing you down. Especially not if you’re traveling with friends and family. Yes, you’ll need something to keep you entertained on the plane or car ride, but you don’t need to bring every electronic you own along with you.
Before packing your bags, think about the reasons you want to bring each electronic along for. Then, think about which electronics can do double duty. Instead of bring your iPod, can you load some songs onto your phone for this trip? Can your iPad double as a Kindle, or fulfill the same purpose as your laptop? If you’re traveling with others, ask them what electronics they’ll be bringing along. If someone in your group needs to bring their laptop with them, then you definitely don’t need to bring yours. Remember: you’ll only be gone for a little bit. Social media and Netflix will still exist when you return home. Enjoy the quality face-to-face time you’ll have on vacation!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in packing snacks for travel days since airport food is always expensive and often unhealthy. But there’s really no need to bring more food than that. If you plan on making some of your own meals while you’re away, wait to stock up on vittles until you arrive at your destination. When I travel, I hit up the grocery store as soon as I’ve checked into my room. I always stock up on instant oatmeal packets for breakfast and fruit to snack on during the day. Oatmeal, cereal, granola bars, yogurt, and other snacks can easily be found in individual packages, so there’s no need to worry about throwing away food before returning home.
Tell me: Which of these items are you guilty of having packed in the past?
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