Packing is an art. And much like drawing or painting, there are some who excel at it, and some who are absolutely horrid. As much as we want to bring all of our homely comforts with us on that two week trip to the Bahamas, isn’t the point of traveling to experience something new and to challenge ourselves?
We’ve all been guilty of overpacking at one point or another, but if we can simply be more mindful of these ten sneaky, space-hogging items, it’ll go a long way to minimizing weight and maximizing freedom!
Thankfully, most airlines implement rather strict baggage weight limits, meaning that we’re forced to leave that fifth pair of jeggings at home.
8 Travel Pillows
Time and time again we take travel pillows with us on long-haul flights, and time and time again they end up sitting on the floor, nestled between scatters of pretzel crumbs and smelly feet (and God knows what else is down there).
Bite the bullet and travel without one, because as soon as you’ve left the plane it not only does the travel pillow becomes dead weight, but also a magnet for dust and germs (because you don’t have a cover for it, do you? Yeah that’s what we thought…). Most airlines provide at least an adequate pillow and blanket anyway.
Unless you’ve got a date with the Queen of England, why on Earth are you packing a pair of diamond-encrusted stilettos in your already overflowing carry-on bag on a 6-day London visit? No, you don’t need those red cowboy boots either.
One of the most common methods of unnecessarily wasting luggage space is with too many shoes. Most of the time you’ll be walking around, so a comfortable pair of runners should be the number one choice, even if their sophistication isn’t elite.
Hot tip: wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane (these should be sneakers/runners), and then take your other, lighter, versatile 1-2 pairs (maximum!) in your checked bag.
7 Too. Much. Denim!
There’s no doubting that denim is one of the heaviest clothing fabrics, so why do we continue to take three pairs of almost-identical jeans with us on each and every trip to Timbuktu? Don’t even get us started on denim jackets...
One pair of dark jeans is certainly plenty - they can be worn for days on end without being washed and can work with almost any outfit, just mix and match other colors on the top half.
Hot tip: If you’re on a relatively short flight, wear your denim on the plane. This will allow for more space in your luggage and make things a little lighter.
6 Expensive jewelry
Traveling should be as stress-free as possible - you’ve earned your vacation, so enjoy it! But if you’re carrying around $3,000+ Rolex watches or diamond earrings chiseled by Tiffany herself that are worth more than most people’s houses, you’ll be too busy worrying about losing and or damaging them to actually sit back and relax. It’s a lose-lose situation; the big items are space-hogging and the small items are easily lost.
Plus, shiny and expensive accessories are beacons for tourist scammers and pickpockets, so do yourself a favor and leave them at home. Your collection of high-end necklaces won’t be growing legs and running away any time soon.
Unless you’re heading to the outskirts of Antarctica where the only convenience stores are penguin-run family businesses selling nothing but snow and ice, you’re not going to need that third bottle of shampoo.
Most people pack their entire medicine and toiletry cabinet out of fear for the ‘what if’ moments, only to wind up lugging around pointless extra weight. Sure, bring a toothbrush and toothpaste, but remember that unless you’re out on Mars, you’ll be able to buy anything over the counter.
Plus, any half-decent hotel will provide at least those cutesy little bottles of shampoo, body wash, and conditioner.
5 Hiking boots
We touched prior on the waste of space that extra shoes is, but hiking boots are another whole kettle of fish. If you’re actually trekking up to Everest Base Camp or ascending Mt. Kilimanjaro, then we’ll forgive you this time, but if your three-week trip to Los Angeles and Disneyland involves ONE small walk up to the Hollywood Sign, then hiking shoes are serious overkill.
Typically, hiking boots are heavy, bulky, often smelly (if you’ve been hiking prior), and are seldom fashionable enough to respectably sport to dinner or drinks. A versatile pair of comfortable walking shoes is a far better option.
4 Thick towels
A soft, fluffy towel is comforting, but it’s also an unnecessary luxury. Is an item that’s used for two minutes a day (if that) really worth lugging around for weeks on end? If you’re insistent on packing a towel, then portable, microfiber options are great choices, or opt for the small, super-absorbent swimmer-style style.
Like our basic toiletries, you’ll be able to get towels for free at any hotel, and if you’re budgeting your way through hostels, then they’re usually still available to buy or rent for a minimal cost (or still free, sometimes). These days, it just doesn’t make sense to take a full-sized towel
3 Guidebooks (does anyone even read books anymore)
Unless you’ve been hibernating under a rock for the better part of forever, there’s this nifty invention called the internet. It’s like a guidebook, but it’s also everything else, and it weighs diddly-squat. The majority of travelers pack their laptop with them anyway, so as long as there's a WiFi signal, destination research is rather uncomplicated,
Travel guidebooks, and books in general, for that matter, are heavy, unnecessary items. These days, avid readers can store thousands of books (including travel company’s PDFs) on their e-readers, so while a paperback might have a nice, nostalgic feel, it just doesn’t make sense when we have lighter, more portable options.
2 Bulky DSLR cameras
In the age of the ‘Gram, we all love snapping away photo after photo at iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, or in front of picturesque natural wonders like Niagara Falls. However in the same vein as our guidebook point, a DSLR is just way too much weight to carry around considering that there are lighter options.
Mobile phone cameras are better than ever these days and some of the higher-end models are even competing with DSLRs. So unless you’re a photography enthusiast (which will probably mean tripod, interchangeable lenses and a flash as well), the moral of the story is that phones are good enough.
1 Money belts
If we drew a picture of the stereotypical nervous tourist, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’d be wearing a money belt. Here’s the thing, though: it’s such a common concept these days that robbers and scammers know all about the tactic. With that in mind, it simply becomes an uncomfortable, unnecessary accessory, which also looks a tad dorky, to be blunt.
A much more effective way of protecting your money and bank cards is to spread them in different pockets and bags, that way if something is lost or stolen, you’re only partially thrown into the deep end.