21 Things You Don’t Need on Your Packing List
We are always on the look-out for the hottest travel necessities on the market, and we’ve spent loads of time perfecting our “must-pack essentials for Croatia” list, but there are plenty of travel goodies out there that can be left at home! When it comes time to pack for your next holiday, invest in items like anti-theft backpacks, but lighten the rest of your load with these “leave it at home” tips from fellow travel bloggers who have mastered the art of traveling light.
Toiletry Items to Ditch
Traveling with some of your favorite products from home is never a bad thing, but it’s easy to over-pack. Here are the non-essential toiletries to consider ditching.
Shampoo and Conditioner
I’ve stopped traveling with shampoo & conditioner, and will bring a bar of soap with me instead. This allows me to carry-on without worrying about liquids and take up less space in my bags. Most accommodations, even some hostels, will already have these items available for you. While bar soap might not be the best for your hair in the long term for a few days or even a week you can get by just fine. I’m more likely to stay in hotels so I’ll only bring toiletries I know won’t be at the hotel to save space and a little money too.
Diapers take up a lot of space in my already cramped suitcase. More and more airlines are adding fees for the first checked bag, so our family of 4 will often try and fit everything into one checked bag! A week of diapers for my 2 year old takes up more space than all of his clothes! I will generally pack 1-2 days in my carry-on, as well as extra clothes (there is something about airports and my kids always needing a change of clothes!). Upon arrival, the stash will likely get us through the rest of the day, and the following day, giving us ample time to find a store with nappies available for sale! While you may think you are saving money by bringing them from home, but the cost of an extra checked bag greatly outweighs the cost of paying a few extra cents per diaper!
Here are a few other things we suggest you do pack when traveling with kids.
I used to be a girl who could never ever leave the house without polished toes. After we left for a life of travel I decided to ditch the polish for good. It’s not that it is a big item to lug around, but the nail polish remover that you need every two weeks is! I feel so much better now that I don’t have to worry about keeping my toes beautifully polished all the time, and now walk around all natural. If we do happen to visit some exotic location and I will be on the beach the whole time then I can find a cheap bottle of polish literally at any drug store in any country. When it’s time to remove the polish, I can usually find a cheap bottle of remover as well that I won’t feel bad throwing out.
Before I leave for a trip, I would imagine myself looking my best when discovering a new city. I would bring make up I don’t usually use because traveling was an ‘occasion’ to look good for. When traveling became more frequent, I realised the bottles and tubes were only taking up space- and hardly used! The potential for discovery each day was far more significant than making sure I was picture perfect. I’ve left it home for my last few vacations, hardly noticing their absence.
You may have seen the advertising for ‘Go Girl’ – Life’s greatest adventure should not be finding a bathroom…. Normally not swayed by advertising but facing a long series of train journeys and long term travel I was swayed. I thought how wonderful and convenient, I need one of these wonderful portable devices so I can pee anywhere. It is now two and a half years since I left home and finding a loo has never been an issue. I am yet to break open the packaging, so my advice on something not to pack is a ‘go girl’ save your money for something you actually will use.
Hair Dryers and Straighteners
Hairdryers and straighteners are bulky, cumbersome, and – depending on where you’re traveling – often completely useless. For one, unless you have an adaptor/converter hybrid that also converts voltages for heat, it’s quite possible that you’ll blow out and destroy your hairdryer. Even if you do buy that converter (yet another thing in your bag!), you’ll often find your hairdryer or straightener redundant. Most hotels, hostels, and even Airbnbs have ones you can use or borrow. Lastly, it’s a good idea to give your hair a break from constantly applying heat to it. Too much blow drying and straightening lead to breakage and permanent damage. Try some new styles that don’t require a full blow out or straightening, get creative with updos, or just enjoy your hair in its natural state – especially if you’re having a beachside vacation!
Editors Note: I totally disagree on this one – and in fact, I recommend great travel straighteners here which are light and compact.
Clothing Items & Accessories to Leave Behind
We’re not suggesting you leave behind the basics, but there are ways to trim down on your style choices for an easier on-the-go experience.
Paranoid about getting your beautiful necklaces and bracelets stolen? Simple solution: don’t bring them! While it may be tempting to want to jazz up your outfit, the chances are that you’re only going to be wearing them once or twice (or not at all), and they only add a layer of nervousness to your packing. You’re also a pretty easy target for thieves too if you brandish fancy bits and bobs. Not only that but by not wearing jewelry you may find it easier to blend in with the locals and get better prices at market. If you can’t imagine living without your favourite item of jewelry, don’t haul it overseas.
Sue and Dave of
Adventure travel requires extra gear and one item we have packed for years and never use are rain pants. We suggest you pack a high quality rain jacket every time. Protecting you from rain and wind this is a key item. Cycling and hiking in rain pants left us sweaty, wet and miserable. Over time the rain pants just took up space and added weight. Our experience is that you will be happier in most situations without them.
This applies when you’re travelling to hot countries, not if you’re off to scale mighty peaks or sail the seven seas. Hot doesn’t necessarily mean dry, so it’s natural to want to pack a rain jacket. Yet I suggest you take an umbrella instead! We’ve carted our jackets all over South East Asia and Africa and been caught in torrential downpours. Yet the humidity makes even the thought of wearing a jacket unbearable, so we’ve not used them. Ever. An umbrella is less bulky, and can double up as protection from the sun too. Bonus!
People go on safaris and feel like they need to go shopping and spend all that money on clothes they will then store in the closet for maybe the next safari. Truth is, on a safari, you just need comfortable clothes, layers, and to follow one single rule: use colors that can be found in nature. The same clothes you would wear trekking, walking or simply camping will do. If you want one of those pants with zippers that can turn into shorts, great – temperatures in the morning can be really cold. And don’t let me get started on the trekking boots , I guarantee, you will never need them to then sit in a comfortable 4×4 car.
Underwear and Socks for Each Day
I’m not suggesting that you go “commando” and don’t wear any undies, nor am I suggesting that you wear the same pair for seven days straight. But doing a little bit of light laundry in the hotel sink at night saves space and weight in your bag for other clothes and souvenirs. I travel with only three pairs of fast-drying underwear and socks — one pair I wear, one pair is spare, and one pair is either waiting to be washed or is in the midst of drying. This system allows me to travel carry-on only, save on checked luggage fees, and stay mobile and unencumbered by large suitcases.
Outfit Per Day
I want to look nice as much as the next person, but let’s face it: the chance that you’ll bump into the same people on the road every day of your trip is very slim and even if you do, they probably won’t remember what you were wearing the day before. Choose bottoms and tops that all go together and switch things up that way.
Even if you have plans to dress up and go out for a nice dinner and/or drinks on your trip, I would still recommend leaving your high heels at home. Not only are high heels hard to walk in and uncomfortable but they also take up valuable space in your luggage. There are many compact shoe options to look stylish and fashionable without resorting to heels. If you are planning to wear a dress or skirt, pair your outfit with cute flat sandals. Ballet flats are also a great choice since they can be worn with both pants and skirts.
Travel Gear to Reconsider
Let’s face it…some travel gear is highly overrated. We are led to believe this gear is “just what we need” for our next adventure, yet after purchasing, the items hardly see any use.
Airports secretly hate them, so do the scanners, chuck it in the bin and give yourself one less thing to worry about. Let your actual passport cover (yes, your putting a cover over a cover) embrace the world. Like a good cheese or fine wine, let your passport mature in age and show its true character. Your not fooling anyone, a passport should reflect you and a pristine cover is not going to get you far in life. Any ways you get a new one in a few years or when your passport is full of stamps. I’m sure your battered passport would look better being all mangled instead of looking like the day it was born, it will tell its own story.
Maps have slowly been phasing out over the last decade as the adoption of smartphones increases, as does our reliance on them. A map can be bulky, confusing and makes you the prime target for theft. If you use a map from a free city guide, chances are it’s not comprehensive. Because of this, you ended up purchasing a map which has a short lifespan for the average human. They aren’t exactly easy to fold up into 1/16th of their size when they’re fully open so you give up and stuff it into your pocket to mate with other dirty treats in there. If you still appreciate maps, buy them as a souvenir to add to your collection, which realistically won’t ever see the light of day. A large world map, however, hang that up on the wall and pin where you’ve been! Free offline map apps are the way to go.
I don’t know why people love to pack a lot of stuff for those “just in case” moments and umbrellas are one of those things you don’t need to pack.
If you are thinking on packing an umbrella because you don’t want to spend extra money or waste time finding one you will realize that the moment it actually starts to rain people will go out to streets and sell them. Different sizes, shapes, colors and more efficient than the little umbrella you are planning to carry all the time with you.
Also, if you are traveling to a city or a country with huge probabilities of rain my guess is that the people living in that place are more used to dealing with it, so you will be able to find a better umbrellas for a cheaper price than the small, light weight and expensive travel umbrellas that you find in a travel stores.
I love reading as much as the next person. If I’m going to be in one place for any length of time, I’ll likely pick up some paper books to enjoy while I’m there. That said, I very rarely travel or pack paper books since they take up lots of room. For books that might take some time, I aim for the e-book version. Paper books are a transient sort of thing, picked up at yard sales or thrift stores, then left with a friend or donated.
When I first started travelling friends and fellow travellers warned me I’d be staying in a lot of sketchy places, so I better ensure I had something to separate myself from the bedding. Enter the sleep sheet — basically a thin bedsheet that’s sewn together similar to a sleeping bag. I carried one for years, but honestly I think I only used it twice. A much better substitute for a sleep sheet is a sarong — you can wrap it around yourself if you’re worried about what creepy crawlies might be in your bed, and it doubles as a beach blanket, a towel, and a cover when you go to religious sites. Plus it takes up very little space and is far more versatile.
Controversially, I would recommend not paying for packing cubes. Now I’m not saying that I will never use packing cubes, but as a super tight Scot I like to look for money saving alternatives and I found them for $2 in an army store – giant sandwich bags! We travelled for 17 months around the Americas and Europe using these resealable bags which separated our tops from our bottoms. Another bonus was that they were waterproof and silent to open!
When we travel as a family, we generally travel with a laptop, three iPads, two iPhones (plus portable charger), a Kindle, a DSLR camera and a GOPRO Hero camera – that’s a lot of luggage space and weight, and that’s just the chargers! I recently invested in a Multiport USB Charger, which means we can leave behind most of the heavy plugs and just take a few multi-use cables with us.
A life of adventure should have no bounds!
How many times have you heard that someone wants to travel, but is just waiting, waiting, waiting for that friend to come along? Solo travel can be amazing and eye opening, and almost always lands you with a ton of new pals. So stop waiting for that second human to come along, and find new friends along the way instead!
What else would you leave behind?
All that said, there are a few things you MUST PACK! Like…
- A lightweight travel hairdryer and a
- A quality Cross-Body Bag