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. RELATED: Why These Are a Packing Essential
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1. Expensive jewelry
Even if you’re going on a five-star cruise, leave your expensive jewelry, including watches, at home. Don’t flaunt flashy stuff. In fact, I even recommend that women turn their engagement rings around, when traveling through local markets and train stations, so that the 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 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 out. I’m also a fan of packing wrinkle-free clothing so I don’t even need to worry about ironing. You can also pack a small, travel-sized bottle of anti-wrinkle spray, which is far smaller and lighter than an iron.
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. To keep your tech gadgets and chargers in order, a tech organizer like this one is a traveler’s best friend.
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 and if you’re checking it, decant some into containers that are smaller than the original. These travel bottles for toiletries will do the trick.
5. Hair dryer
Some people may not agree with me on this one but I’m always surprised by travelers bringing their own hair dryer. However, a study did reveal that hair dryers are the dirtiest thing in a hotel room, so, I suppose some people would rather just bring their own. You could sanitize the hotel’s hair dryer or, if you use a few different styling tools, you might want to consider this Revlon hair dryer brush, which combines a hair dryer with a brush and flat iron. My wife swears by it!
6. Paper guidebooks
Gone are the days when travelers had 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. Before you leave on any trip, download the apps of any hotels, airlines, car rental companies, tours and attractions you’re using or visiting and save them all to one folder for easy location when you need them.
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 you plan to bring. Then only pack half of it. Like so many people, I used to over pack and then I got wise. My wife used to travel with a suitcase the size of steam trunk, but once she saw all the advantages to packing light, she started using a suitcase that was smaller than mine and from then on, it was carry-on only for her. These days, with two kids, carry-on only is impossible but it’s more important than ever to pack smart.
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 who has a designer bag or someone who’s got a 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 dress shoes. Since women tend to have smaller feet, they can usually fit a few options. My wife recommends one pair of heels, one pair of running shoes and flip flops or ballet flats (and of course, you’ll be wearing one of these pairs for travel.) My wife recommends the Adidas Ultraboost as the most comfortable running shoes she’s ever worn and are perfect for travel since they’re slip-ons so you don’t have to fuss with laces.
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. In some countries, these drugs include inhalers and some allergy and sinus medications. Specifically, many 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 and share your thoughts!
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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.”