8 Things You Never Actually Need to Pack for Vacation

If you want to have an out-of-body experience, I highly recommend packing a suitcase. More likely than not, you’ll arrive at your destination and ask yourself questions like, “Who did this?” and “Why are there three jackets packed for a four day vacation?” Overpacking happens to even the most experienced travelers, but it’s not your fault. I personally think linguistics are to blame. After all, the root word of “luggage” is lug. And “baggage” doesn’t exactly have a light and airy feel to it either, but I digress. There’s a heightened sensitivity to things when you’re packing. Suddenly, you want to be prepared for every conceivable possibility, and understandably so. But being prepared doesn’t necessarily mean you should be dragging around your bedroom dresser.

Here are 8 things that you never actually need to pack for a vacation.

1. Ginormous bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash

There’s a reason why travel-size shampoo exists. This is viscous, heavy liquid we’re talking about. Don’t put yourself through the unnecessary pain of lugging around the weight of your entire shower. If you want to stick to your at-home products, it’s best to transfer them into mini travel bottles instead. They’re compact, affordable, reusable and TSA friendly. Remember you can also transfer any topical ointments and moisturizers into small reusable travel jars too. It saves a surprising amount of space.

2. Any valuable jewelry or keepsakes 

It’s totally normal to want to whip out the good stuff while you’re on vacation, especially if you’re on your way to a special occasion. In theory, it may really seem like a great idea to pack an irreplaceable ring that’s been in your family for five generations. But trust me, the amount of joy you’ll feel wearing it will not overcome the dread you’ll feel if you lose it. Leave the family heirlooms at home.

3. Your laptop… along with some other gadget that also connects to the Internet

I hate to admit this myself, but your smartphone should be sufficient enough to keep you connected. If you absolutely need to take an additional electronic device like a laptop, tablet or iPod, do yourself a favor and just pick one. Technology can be a great space saver when it comes to going paperless, but it can also be detrimental if you go overboard. Besides, bringing multiple electronic devices requires you to bring multiple chargers, which is a pain in the butt. You didn’t go on vacation to become the human embodiment of a Radio Shack…at least I don’t think.

4. Those stupid shoes 

Anyone who’s made the mistake of overpacking knows which stupid shoes I’m talking about. They’re those impractical ones you probably brought as an option, but never quite worked out. You may have even gone so far as to try them on in the mirror, but to no avail. Here’s a tip: don’t bring “optional” shoes. Rather than doubling up with two pairs of flats, pick a single pair that can work double duty. I know it’s tempting to bring options, but having more than one pair of shoes for the same type of occasion will only waste space and hurt your back.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=132701258 Tasha Oxner

    Helpful article! I can never understand why people take full bottles of anything with them, unless they’re going to a remote village for 6 months. Travel-sized toiletries are a must and most big airports have an amazing array of miniature products.

    I find it useful to lay out all of the clothes I want to take on my bed, in rows by kind, then eliminate anything that doesn’t fit into an overall colour scheme. I match up layers so that I have at least 5 whole outfits (though don’t take more than three bottom items) and, if I’ve matched colours well, I’ll have several days of mixed outfits built in. Then I spray everything with perfume, so I don’t have to take a full-size bottle with me (why yes, I would like a sample!)

    I always pack my most valuable stuff (whether on an emotional or financial level) and the key items I’ll want for the first couple of days of my trip in my carry-on, just in case something happens to my checked luggage.

    One thing I do ‘overpack’ for longer journeys is earphones; my ears get sore after a couple hours of earbuds, and I get headachy from hours of wearing headphones, so being able to swap partway through is a relief.

    When I (inevitably) get carried away while packing, I stop and remind myself that all I REALLY need is my passport, a source of money and any vital medications. Sure, we’ve all got budgets, but at the end of the day the rest is STUFF that can be replaced if lost or forgotten!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=729251779 Natasha Venzke

      I’m going to use the spraying everything with perfume trick. I’m too scared of taking anything in case it breaks. I usually take my full size shampoo or buy some when I get there if I’m going anywhere else than a hotel because travel bottles don’t last very long with my long hair.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1153243561 Niki Watson

    I always take a book. If your sitting in the airport it’s a good way to pass the time. But I think you should add blow dryers. Most hotels these days have them. I always drag my giant blow dryer with me it’s a hassle. Then I get to my hotel and find I don’t need it. Of course my luck would be that the one time I don’t bring one the hotel I stay at won’t have one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=521146352 Jennifer Spearin Brennan

    I’ve got to disagree about the books under MANY circumstances. I absolutely LOVE reading and would really enjoy some quiet moments in a cabin or on a beach just reading a good book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=39900383 Phyllis Rose

    I’m with others. I completely disagree about the book thing. Books are a must have for every vacation!! Other then that, great article!! I’m definitely an over packer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10034404 Sarah Rhea Reveles

    I would recommend if traveling by air or to a location that doesn’t have access to a pharmacy please bring a couple extra days worth of medication especially if it’s a life or death med. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT pack in your carry on or gate check bag. I work for an airline and I can’t even begin to count the number of times someone called complaining their bags were lost or delayed and they had medication in it. Or there’s a cancellation or delay and no way to get out for a few days you want to make sure you have enough for this possibility. Thanks to hurricanes we had passengers stranded in the Caribbean for days because we either didn’t operate daily or all the flights were completely booked. You don’t want to be stranded and not have your heart medication.

  • Avelena

    ONE book is enough, if that. They weigh too much. You do not need a travel size hair dryer. They are in every hotel, mid range and cheap, that I stayed in on an Asia trip. You do not need a towel or sleep sheets, unless you stay in a cheap dirty Hostle maybe.. Yes keep your RX close in your purse or carry on. My Apple air book was the perfect solution for me to keep in touch, make hotel reservations and purchase plane tickets, and for entertainment. I bought a cheap cell phone in Bangkok and switched out the sim cards for Myanmar and Nepal. Sim cards cost $1.50 to 3 dollars and international calls are unbelievably cheap! 22 rupee in Nepal for a 15 minute call (put on hold) to my bank. We are getting so ripped off by cell phone charges and internet here in the west! I find my iPad’s wifi too slow for my liking, and some challenged countries wifi capability is a bear. It was easier to research destinations and make plans too. Hotels have all the body wash and shampoo you need, but if you have your own style then do bring yours. Some have tooth brushes and tooth paste. But wash clothes are not common in Asia! So yes, bring some old disposable ones. You can buy laundry soap in small shops if needed. Hotels in Asia can charge $2. per item! And I bring throw away clothes and especially underware when I travel. Stay fresh and no need to deal with the mess.

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