10 Things You Don’t Need to Pack

10 Things You Do Not Need to Pack

10 Things You Do Not Need to Pack

You’ve probably read plenty of articles about what to pack before you take a trip but less often do professional travelers tell you what NOT to pack in your suitcase. Ready to pack smarter? Here are 10 things you don’t need to pack and should leave at home to make your suitcase lighter and more manageable.

1. Expensive jewelry
Even if you’re going on a five-star cruise, leave your expensive jewelry, including watches, at home because travelers are just asking for it when they wear their flashy stuff. In fact, I always recommend that women turn their engagement rings around, when traveling through local markets and train stations, so that stones of the ring are facing their palm. If you do insist on bringing expensive jewelry for a special occasion like a fancy wedding, then carry it on the plane with you; don’t check it! And don’t wear it out on the town every day. I would suggest leaving your valuables in a safety deposit box at the front desk of a hotel or cruise ship or in a safe.

2. Travel iron
No one likes wrinkled clothes but chances are that wherever you’re going, they’ll have an iron. And if they don’t, like on a cruise ship, where irons are considered a fire hazard, there are other ways to get wrinkles out of your clothing. My favorite trick: Hang your clothes in the bathroom when you’re taking a hot shower. The heat will usually steam the wrinkles right out! Or, I’m also a fan of packing wrinkle-free clothing so I don’t even need to worry about ironing. Banana Republic’s Non-Iron Shop is a great option for men.

3. All of your tech gadgets
These days, most people have a smartphone, a laptop, a tablet, an e-reader…but do you really need all of them when you travel? Try to pare your tech collection down to the essentials and leave the others at home. For instance, if you can download the Kindle app on your iPad, you can leave your Kindle at home and just read your books on your iPad. That way, you can also leave their respective chargers at home, too.

4. Shampoo, conditioner and body lotion
We all like the products we like but when you travel, why take up all that space with your shampoo, conditioner and lotions? Unless you are going camping or staying in a hostel, wherever you go will have it all. If you don’t think you will like the hotel’s brand of amenities, then you can always go to a local pharmacy or grocery store and buy some. If you must have your favorite shampoo, then be sure it’s in the proper size container if you are doing carry-on only.

5. Hair dryer
Don’t even think about it. I’m always surprised when I hear women bringing their own hair dryer. Really? Do you not think the hotel, cruise ship or rental house will have it? Packing a hair dryer is just taking up valuable room in your suitcase unnecessarily and adds weight to your bags.

6. Paper guidebooks
Gone are the days when travelers have to stock their suitcases or carry-on bags with thick and heavy guidebooks. Don’t get me wrong – I love guidebooks but this is the 21st century and you can find all the information you need online or download it on to your smartphone or tablet.

7. Too many clothes
There’s an old saying: Pack half the clothes and twice the money. Those are words to live by. As you’re preparing for a trip, lay out all the clothes and money you plan to bring. Then only pack half the clothes and double the amount of money you had planned on. Like so many people, I used to over pack and then I got wise. And don’t use the excuse that you’re a girl who needs more stuff because my wife – the most girly girl I know—used to travel with a suitcase the size of trunk, but once she saw the light, she started using a suitcase that’s smaller than mine and now it’s carry-on only for her. Here are her packing tips.

8. Designer luggage
Speaking of luggage, don’t bring expensive designer luggage as it only draws the attention of thieves. If you’re a thief, who are you going to rob: someone that has a designer bag or someone that’s got some generic suitcase? Case closed.

9. Shoes
I once had a girlfriend who had to bring seven pairs of shoes with her on every trip because she needed them to match all of her outfits. That relationship didn’t last long. When I travel, I bring one comfortable pair of walking/running shoes and one pair of dressy shoes. Since women tend to have smaller feet, they can usually fit a few options. My wife recommends only one pair of heels, one pair of running shoes and flip flops or ballet flats.

10. Sudafed and other over-the-counter drugs
A lot of Americans don’t realize that it is illegal to bring some over-the-counter medicines commonly used in the United States into some foreign countries, like Japan. These drugs include inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, products that contain stimulants (medicines that contain pseudoephedrine such as Actifed, Sudafed, and Vicks inhalers), or codeine are prohibited. It’s best to look up country’s U.S. embassy for specific details. Here’s Japan’s as an example.

As you can see, most of the things I’ve listed will save you space in your suitcase but some can also save you jail time!

What things do YOU leave at home? What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Comments

  1. Suggestion: Pack only two colors in clothing or one if you have scarves and colorful accessories. I am gone 3 months each year in Paris — land of fashion and never have a problem looking “stylish.”

  2. I look back with embarrassment at how I over packed for my first press trip to French Polynesia several years ago (you were there, Johnny!). I not only brought my 17” MacBook Pro (didn’t yet have an iPad) but had too many bags to easily handle by myself and sometimes had to rely on others (thanks, Laz) for help. (I wasn’t used to navigating my bags without my husband being along, but that was no excuse!)

    Fortunately, I have learned from that experience and pack much lighter and more efficiently now. I’ve taken to heart the tips other travelers have shared, like rolling clothes, taking fewer clothes—planning to wear things more than once in different ways—and shoes, and finding a carry-on combination that works for me to maneuver alone. I still have room for improvement, but I’ve “come a long way, baby!”

  3. As a female business traveler (I’m on the road every week 4-5 days a week) I cannot disagree with you more about not packing the toiletries and hair dryer. Perhaps this is a gender ‘thing’, but I’ve found too many times that the products provided by the hotels are poor quality (even the branded products are cheaper versions and don’t work as well) and have had to fight off skin/hair issues as a result. And the hairdryers are often very low quality hairdryers that do not work well. I typically leave a small bag at the hotel to store these items if I will be back and forth between the location for a period of time, but even it’s a one-off trip they are in my bag.

    • Johnny Jet Johnny Jet says:

      I can understand. Natalie says the same thing. I guess I should’ve put an asterisk next to that one.

    • Cheryl S says:

      I completely agree on the hairdryer comment. It was the first thing I thought when I read it….hotels never have high quality, good wattage hair dryers. The little travel hair dryers they provide take double the time to dry hair and leave my wavy hair frizzy. Keep the hair dryer in your suitcase if you care about your hair style, men or women!

      • Johnny Jet Johnny Jet says:

        I might have to take that out because my wife says I just don’t understand. I don’t — I have very little hair and haven’t used a hairdryer in 10+ years

  4. Just to say I love the photo of Natalie!

  5. I’m guilty of packing my hair dryer. :-( My hair is super thick-even after I have it thinned out (I know…what a problem to have) and the hotel hair dryers usually take 2-3 times as long to dry my hair.

  6. There is a custom some use on sailboats. When ever you get off the boat, take something off with you. This hopefully keeps you from overload unnecessary items onto the boat. I use this when packing, pack, then take something out. Actually I take several things out of my to be packed pile. Never miss them

  7. Being Asian, I need my travel size slippers unless hotels provides them (I.e. China). Whenever I get samples from the mail (liquid detergent, toothpaste, shampoo), I put them in a box only to save for travels. If no washing machines or laundary service are around, I have my packed detergent if needed to hand wash a few. Last minute packing helps. Actually helps because my guy tends to use more shampoo than the female me. :\

    Also, I wear my secret belt stash to help keep my rolled up cash. I’m a first time, international traveler. :)

  8. My late mother did it right. She wore beautiful jewelry but she had travel jewelry that wasn’t always the real thing. Who can tell the difference between a dismond and cubic zirconia?

  9. I fly international a lot from my base in London, UK. I roll clothes and I stuff my shoes with underwear when I pack them, presently i am on a 3 week trip with just a carry on bag.On a slightly different slant one thing I always take when travelling international is a 4-way extension cable (power lead). This way I only need a single power adapter but can charge/use all my electrical stuff.

  10. Great tips! Especially that last one about over-the-counter medications, which I hadn’t heard yet. I feel like I’ve learned to scale my packing way back from what it used to be. I never bring an iron or hair dryer – don’t use them when I’m at home either – I like to be low maintenance :). Though when visiting places where it’s really humid, I learned I actually need to pack a few extra clothing items since you start sweating as soon as you get out of the shower and have to change your clothes a couple times a day. Either that or just wear swimsuits the whole trip. :) – Jeanette

  11. Nancy Reid says:

    I agree with everything except the shoes, especially if I am cruising!

  12. Still can’t seem to get my wife to stop over packing! Clothes, clothes and more clothes! :(

  13. Wow, women are such foolish travelers, it would seem. How kind of you to set them right with this article.

  14. While it makes sense to check with the embassy for surprises, YOU try getting OTC meds in France when you’re sick on a Sunday!! Overseas pharmacies are not necessarily open long hours and may require you to speak the language to get what you want. Some meds (like antibiotic ointment) that we take for granted as OTC items require a prescription in France. I learned the hard way when I became ill and had to be rescued by fellow tour members who didn’t follow the above bad advice to come unprepared. Now I pack more OTC meds than I used to for basic emergencies.

  15. I usually pack and wear some old kit, then go shopping and throw the old kit away. Ship the stuff back that I can’t get in my carry on case, most things I need are in my shoulder bag which so far no one has counted

  16. I always want to travel in style but this should not sacrifice how much I can carry. I usually pack my clothes rolled. this helps the clothes to be less wrinkled. also, I choose one shade of color when traveling. in this case, accessories, shoes and bag can be mixed and matched.

    in my recent Boracay trip, I brought a cover up that has no print , neutral color and can be styled in several ways. I never had the same outfit each day.

  17. I love AAA maps and travel books and visit the AAA office when I arrive to a new locale. Workers are a great source of local tips. No smart phone in my life. Old school is still good enough for me.

  18. I am an advocate of travel light. I packed based only sufficient, based on my past experience.

  19. Thank you for that! I don’t think I’ll be able to do it, as much as I try I’m always taking to much

  20. If you can’t carry your luggage the length of a football field, unpack enough that you can. That’s advice I got and unpacked on the way to the airport, ending up with nothing to wear to bed.

Trackbacks

  1. […] For all you overpackers out there: 10 things you really don’t need to pack, according to Johnny Jet. […]

  2. […] For more packing tips, check out my post on what NOT to pack. […]

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