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. 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.
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!
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