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What NOT to Pack: Items to Leave Behind

What Not to Pack

This guest post is brought to you by Michele Herrmann.

Packing for a trip is a daunting task, and traveling gals often put more items in their suitcase or carry-on than they really need. To avoid excess weight and agony over what to bring, here are some suggestions for stuff that might be better off left at home.

See Also: Items You Probably Never Need to Pack

Paper Books

Why bring reading materials on your trip when the location can offer more stories to tell? Even a guidebook could be left out. True, having a well-named travel title along with you in a new place is helpful. However, a bulky one can take up extra space for souvenirs.

Let technology can be your ally here. Smartphone apps and Wi-Fi access can provide access to answers and reviewer tips online, for everything from street maps to reader reviews on a restaurant or museum.

With the exception of remote places, it would be assumed that a visitor’s center would be found in your destination. And the staff at your lodging may serve as a reliable, local resource.

>> Read more in Should I… Pack Books? and check out some Kindle reviews

Uncomfortable Shoes

Yes, the right pair of soles compliments every outfit. But spare your body some potential pain. Flats are a must if you plan to do a good bit of exploration by foot. Also, if you’re in a place that requires you to remove your shoes (such as airport security checkpoints and even houses of worship), you don’t want to have to fuss with strapping footwear. Put your best foot forward.

At minimum, bring along two separate sets (practical and dressy) that match most of your tops, pants, and skirts or dresses. Stay home stilettos!

>> Read more in Choosing the Right Shoes for Your RTW Trip

Heels are not practical travel shoes.
Remember: Heels are not comfortable travel shoes, and they’re a nightmare on cobblestone streets.

Hair dryer

Yes, I would want my hair to look good too when going out. If your tresses need extra TLC, check first with your hotel or lodging to make sure your bathroom will have a working one. Though hostels or alternative stay places might not carry them, see what other options are available such as borrowing one from a fellow guest. Keep some hairbands handy.

Here’s one unique tip: If you have the time, attitude and cash, see about getting your hair set in a nearby salon to sport the local style. Check to see if walk-ins are welcome first.

>> Read more in Should I… Pack My Blow Dryer? and also this post on how to choose the best travel hair dryer

Unnecessary Gadgets

A traveler’s definition of need and want can vary from one person to the next. Good rule of thumb: any item that requires a charger or power convertor (which, ahem, also has to go in the bag) might be one that is debatable. Digital cameras can be exempt; photo taking is a strong pro-gadget argument. Your best bet is to only pack gadgets that serve multiple purposes- like how a smartphone can give you access to the Internet and help you take travel photos.

Stay away from “maybe items”, gadget or not. If you’ll only use your laptop once or twice on a trip, it’s probably best to leave it at home.

>> Read more in Should I Pack All These Electronics?

leave the gadgets at home
Remember: The more gadgets you pack, the more gadgets you have to carry around.

Jewelry

Fake or genuine, no gal wants to cope with the possibility of her fave bling getting lost or stolen. Also, why draw unwanted attention from con artists who may have more interest in your rings or chains than your sparkling personality? You want to blend in with your surroundings. Gems might make you seem to locals that you’re carrying around extra weight in your wallet.

>> Read more in Traveling with Jewelry Tips and How to Care for Valuables on the Road

See Also: Items You Probably Never Need to Pack

About the Author: Michele Herrmann, a writer and editor, contributes advice-based pieces about travel to various websites. She has ventured throughout Europe and up, down and across the United States and Canada. When she’s home, she likes to go hiking and enjoys festivals and general exploring. Follow her on Twitter at @micheleherrmann or her WordPress blog, She is Going Places.

what not to pack

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Anne says

    I would not have survived a lot of traveling if it were not for books. I read when someone else is driving on a long road-trip (believe me, as engaging as the view can be in some places, for the most part it’s boring). I read on the airplane (especially when I’m crammed between strangers – I’m shy and not particularly comfortable with small talk). And if I ever travel long-distance by train, you can bet your boots I’ll be filling in the rattle-clacking down-time with adventures between the pages.

    Other than that, I can agree with the rest of your post.

    And a tip about wearing flats – make sure they’re broken in before you scamper all over London and Oxford in them. Holy cow, my feet were battered afterward.

  2. Fran Ciarlo says

    I always travel with a collection of paperbacks. when I’m done I leave it at the hotel, hostel, used book store whatever. I read on the plane, before going to sleep, when I want to hang on the beach. I don’t like E-books – another electronic thing. I have a ton of photography stuff I bring and that’s the end of the electronic stuff.

  3. Joanne says

    As much as I understand the “feel” of real books, I have to say that a kindle is an awesome travel companion. Not only can you get travel books (or even chapters) but you can get English books abroad where many times they are limited, expensive, or non-existent. If you are traveling for a long period of time you will want english books and if you are traveling cheaply you will end up doing a LOT of waiting!

  4. Susan says

    I bring my ipod (music for the plane) my e-reader ( i read on planes and during down time). Otherwise, I agree with you

  5. Carrie says

    I would say – having spent the last year of my life traveling – my music is one of my most important hostel requirements – there is ALWAYS someone who snores (heck I’m sure after some exhausting days it was me!) – and the music is relaxing and drowns out the sound of snoring – I dont know about others, but ear plugs just don’t work for me – I can still hear things like snoring and that’s enough to drive me batty (not faulting snorers they can’t help it!) – and keep me up. I play Mozart and pass out.

    Also, I’m a fan of having a guidebook still – there have been back up maps that I’ve been able to use in them in the past – and there is sometimes interesting historical/contextual points that I can read while looking. Traveling all year sans-data plan means I had to go old school (and saved me a pretty penny too). I simply leave the guidebook behind in the hostel bookcase at the end of my time in that particular country – someone coming in might find it useful.

  6. Sheila says

    I Love this site, very informative. The strategic planing fits the needs of this busy mother of three lovely ladies!

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