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Travel Tips

12 Things You Should Never Pack for a Trip

Chances are, not every item in your suitcase needs to go with you on vacation. Lighten your load by casting off unnecessary extras like hair dryers and toiletries and makeup bags and magazines. SmarterTravel contributor Olivia Briggs rounds up the 12 things you should cross off your packing list ASAP.

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Books and Magazines

We’re not saying you shouldn’t enjoy a good read on vacation. But if you’ve got a Kindle or tablet, you can free up valuable space by leaving the paperback books and magazines at home. Electronic options are slim and lightweight, and allow you to load up more reading material than you could ever hope to finish on vacation.

RELATED: Five Ways to Protect Your Electronics from Airport Security

A Different Outfit for Each Day

We all like having options, but most people don’t need an entirely new ensemble for each day of the trip. Packing this way is one of the quickest ways to run out of room in your luggage—and chances are, you won’t end up wearing half of what you brought.

For all but the longest trips, you can get away with bringing three tops and three bottoms that are practical and comfortable, and that can be mixed and matched. If you’re worried about running out of clean outfits, plan on doing a load of laundry on the road, or simply hand wash items as you need them.

RELATED: 10 Cures for the Chronic Overpacker

Excessive Amounts of Denim

Denim is ideal for travel because it’s versatile, long-lasting, and hides stains well. But, it’s also heavy and takes up a lot of space, even when folded tightly. So pack your favorite pair of jeans, but stick to one or two pairs at most, and mix in lightweight bottoms like cotton or linen pants, leggings, jeggings, performance fabrics, or khakis.


Instead of bringing your entire toiletries bag, take advantage of the free stuff you can get at your hotel. Most properties provide shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion, but that doesn’t mean that’s all they have in stock. Some hotels also have a supply of deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, razors, shaving cream, feminine hygiene products, and even sewing kits. The secret is, you have to ask for it.

RELATED: Free Things You Can Get Just by Asking

Your Makeup Bag

Chances are, you don’t use every item in your makeup bag regularly, so why take the whole thing? Stick to the products you use on an everyday basis, and nothing more. Try limiting yourself to a cover-up, a blush or bronzer, an eyeliner pencil, minimal eye shadow, mascara, and a lip color. Or, consider one of these makeup kits, which come with a variety of cosmetics all in one travel-size palette.

Hair Styling Tools and Products

Leave your blow-dryer, straightener, curling iron, and large bottles of hair product at home—they eat up a ton of space, and take over the bathroom once you’ve unpacked. Most hotel rooms already have a hair dryer, and some properties are even offering hair straighteners now, too. Confirm this with the hotel in advance to avoid packing more than you need. If your hotel doesn’t offer styling tools, invest in travel-size options, or, simply make do without—after all, it’s only temporary.

RELATED: Make Every Day a Good Hair Day: Travel-Sized Hair Tools and Products

More than Two Devices

Unless you’re traveling for business, you can probably make do with just a smartphone. But if you’re considering packing other devices—such as an iPad, tablet, laptop, or Kindle—limit yourself to two at most. Here’s why: Overpacking gadgets leads to suboptimal vacations. Either you find yourself constantly distracted by your tech gear, or you end up not using most of what you packed. Choose wisely and preserve vacation time and packing space.

Expensive Accessories

You might want to look like a fashion icon on your next trip, but don’t be tempted to pack your nicest watch, jewelry, designer purse, or any other nonessential embellishments. Traveling with valuables will make you a prime target for pickpockets, and you’ll run the risk of losing, or leaving, the smaller accessories behind.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Protect Your Valuables While Traveling


It’s okay to bring a snack for the plane, but there’s no reason to stash excessive amounts of food in your luggage. If your goal is to save money, plan on buying a few staple items, such as coffee, cereal, and milk, when you arrive. But in your effort to save, don’t miss out on the local delicacies of the destination you are visiting. After all, food is a huge part of your vacation experience.

RELATED: Truly Authentic Cultural Food Experiences Around the World

Sheets and Towels

Unless you’re going camping, don’t pack your own sheets and towels. Hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals nearly always provide them. And if for some reason yours doesn’t, consider it a sign that you should probably find a different place to stay.

Uncomfortable, Impractical Shoes

There’s nothing worse than suffering through a vacation in the wrong shoes, so choose carefully. Leave behind any footwear of questionable comfort—like high heels and ballet flats— and any you haven’t broken in yet. Only pack two or three of your most comfortable and versatile shoes—try bringing one good pair of walking sneakers, and one or two other pairs of supportive shoes that can be dressed up or down.
RELATED: 5 Worst Shoes for Travel

That “Just in Case” Gear

Avoid packing for situations that are unlikely to happen. For example, you don’t need to pack rain gear if you’re visiting somewhere dry, or a winter coat if you’re going to the tropics—you won’t end up using them. The same thing goes for anything you might do. If you aren’t a hiker, don’t bring hiking boots. Set realistic plans so you don’t end up packing unnecessary gear.

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Read the original story: 12 Things You Should Never Pack by Olivia Briggs, who is a contributor to SmarterTravel.



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