Taking a vacation is great for your health, but you might not believe that until you get past the stressful stage of obsessing over what you should pack for that getaway to the beach, city, or mountains. You probably already have a mental list (or a written list) of the things you are going to pack on vacation. But what about the things that you aren’t going to pack? Read on to make sure that you aren’t planning to pack anything unnecessary or overly cumbersome. Eliminating the things you don’t need is a great way to spare your back, have some extra room for souvenirs, and make sure you only have what you need when you arrive at your destination.
1. New or uncomfortable shoes
A vacation is not the time to finally get that uncomfortable but cute pair of shoes to bend to your will. Many vacations are pretty heavy on walking time, and even if you don’t anticipate walking much farther than between your hotel room and the beach, you still won’t want to bother with footwear that pinches of gives you blisters. Also forego packing any brand-new shoes until you’ve had a chance to really test them out (more extensively than just walking around your apartment). Even if you’re more into hanging poolside than taking a hike or a walking tour, you’ll still want shoes that won’t hurt your feet.
2. Clothes you just bought
It’s OK to add a couple of new pieces to your wardrobe in the weeks before a trip if you anticipate finding some gaps. Perhaps you realized that you’d really like to have more than one bikini for your beach vacation, or you’ve finally come to terms with the fact that your favorite white button-front shirts aren’t really so white anymore. But if you’ve been running around at the last minute buying new tops or colorful new statement jewelry just so you feel prepared for your trip, think twice about whether or not those pieces are going to work with the items you already know you’re bringing. Trendy clothes and accessories may look cute on the rack, but if they don’t match anything else that you own, they’re going to sit unworn in your suitcase.
3. Irreplaceable jewelry and accessories
Your end-of-summer getaway isn’t the right time to carry your most expensive handbag or wear the irreplaceable pieces of jewelry that were gifted to you by your partner. Everybody likes taking a bit of home with them on a far-flung vacation, but trips to new locales are also a prime occasion for something to get lost, broken, or even stolen. It would be a bummer if a suitcase of even your most basic clothes got lost and needed replacing, but don’t make that possibility even more nerve-wracking by filling it with your favorite pieces of jewelry.
4. Designer sunglasses
Whether you get hit by a rogue wave at the beach or leave your sunnies sitting on the table at brunch, there are plenty of opportunities to lose your favorite designer shades while on vacation. (And that includes the possibility of them getting crushed in an overstuffed handbag or suitcase.) Do yourself a favor and leave the expensive shades at home. Pick up a cheap pair (or two) of sunglasses at the mall in preparation for your next getaway. You’ll be much less disappointed if something happens to them than if you packed your all-time favorite pair. Plus, with cheap sunglasses, you can switch up your look without breaking the bank.
5. Full outfit changes for every day of your vacation
Especially if you’re vacationing in a hot or humid locale, you’re probably trying to figure out how to pack enough clothing that you can change as often as you want. However, nobody needs multiple full outfit changes for every day they’re on vacation.
Instead, you’ll want to think strategically. If you anticipate wanting to change outfits, pack a couple of extra tops, not tons of additional shorts and pants. Make sure all of the pieces that you pack can be mixed and matched so you can re-wear things instead of needing a brand-new ensemble each day. And always scope out whether you’ll have access to laundry facilities, which will make it easier to pack a smaller suitcase or perhaps pack everything into a carry-on.
6. Lots of clothes that are heavy and bulky
Multiple pairs of denim are the classic culprit here. Heavy layers are one thing if you’re traveling to a cold location in the middle of winter, but if you’re traveling in more temperate times and locations, make sure you leave the bulky pieces behind. Packing more pairs of jeans or pants than you need will take up a lot of space, and packing a heavy sweater instead of lighter layers is a pretty inefficient way to plan your travel wardrobe. In the interest of getting the most out of your limited packing space, you probably want to consider leaving your bathrobe at home, only packing one pair of jeans, and opting for a couple of sleek skirts instead of space-hogging fit-and-flare style.
7. Full-size cosmetics and toiletries
We can think of plenty of reasons to be particular about the hair products, skin care serums, and makeup you use, especially because some products can actually be bad for your health or can cause breakouts. But unless you’re going on an extended trip, there’s really no reason to overburden yourself with full-size toiletries. Ditch the heavy bottles of shampoo and conditioner for TSA-friendly minis (or plan to use the ones provided by your hotel). Jettison the heavy bottle of body wash and consider packing a small bottle or a bar version instead.
Also, transfer the moisturizers and serums you need into the travel bottles and jars you can pick up at your local Sephora or Target. Your bag will be lighter, and you’ll have more room for an extra bikini or for the souvenirs you’ll pick up along the way.
8. Redundant heat-styling tools
If you blow-dry, straighten, or curl your hair regularly, you’re probably in love with the tools you own. But just about every hotel provides a hair dryer in your room (or will send one up when you ask), and some will even offer a hair straightener upon request. Determine what your hotel offers, and leave redundant tools at home. And if you’re traveling with anyone else who uses the same ones you do, make sure you aren’t both packing the same things. That way, you’ll not only save luggage space but will also save counter space in the hotel bathroom, which can be at a premium when you’re sharing close quarters.
9. An excessive number of gadgets
We all claim to take vacations to “unplug,” and then post multiple Instagram shots within minutes of touching down at the airport or parking the car at our destination. We’re not advocating that you leave everything behind (or even pretending it’s an option for most people), but advising that you evaluate which devices you really need with you. Unless you’re traveling for business, you can probably leave your laptop behind. And if you’re planning on taking a tablet, make sure you have a use for it that couldn’t be fulfilled by that book you’ve been meaning to read. Besides, who wants to spend their vacation distracted by devices instead of enjoying the environment and present company?
10. Anything you already know you won’t need
Everybody considers packing at least a couple of items “just in case,” but some of us have less restraint than others when it comes to actually refraining from adding those pieces to our suitcases. If you’re thinking you need to take a heavy sweater along on a tropical vacation or packing a pair of hiking boots when you really hate hiking, take a step back. Realize that if you already know you probably won’t need something on vacation, that’s a perfect item to eliminate from your suitcase. It’s fine to pack a small umbrella and a light sweater, but if you try to prepare for every possible (and improbable) situation, you’ll never be able to close your suitcase.