Packing for a trip away is surely one of the most stressful parts of the whole experience. It can be tough knowing what to pack and what to leave behind, especially if the trip is last minute or doesn’t have a set schedule yet. We’ve looked back over our years of travel experience to create the ultimate list of what you SHOULDN’T pack, as well as two essentials that you must absolutely carry.
If you are staying in a vaguely decent establishment, they will provide towels. Even if you are planning to spend your time wild camping, a huge fluffy towel will never dry and just make everything smell of mildew. Pack a super-light travel towel if you really must or head to the nearest beach to pick one up for minimal cost.
Newsflash – Shampoo and toothpaste are available worldwide! Don’t weigh your bags down with the entire contents of your bathroom when you can pick up most things you will need at the local supermarket for probably much less. This is an absolute no-brainer if you are staying in hotels – there’s almost always free toiletries provided.
A different outfit for every day you’re away.
Definitely take enough underwear, but otherwise restrict yourself on outfits. Pick one or two key items that can be worn most days (such as a pair of jeans and a sweater) and then several tops. Vest tops and plain tees are great as they can be worn alone on warmer days and layered up if it gets chilly. Refresh slightly stale clothes by hanging them up in the bathroom as you shower – the steam will get rid of any creases and mild odours. For longer trips away you’ll need to find a laundry to clean things properly, but remember even the CEO of Levis says you shouldn’t wash your jeans.
A posh outfit “just in case”.
How often do you get invited out to surprise fancy meal or party? Maybe you’re travelling abroad for a wedding, in which case absolutely pack your best outfit, but every other time save yourself the space and leave it at home. Fewer and fewer places have a dress code these days so a smart top that you can pair with your everyday jeans will probably suffice 99% of the time. And if you do suddenly find yourself invited to an A-List gathering, it’s a great excuse to check out the local shops!
A stack of books.
Travel is about broadening the mind, so taking a load of books with you not only weighs you down but means you end up reading what you would have read at home anyway. Instead take one book and swap it when you finish. Many hotels and guesthouses now have book swap shelves where you can leave your old book and pick up a new one for free. Alternatively, it’s a great conversation starter for meeting new people. Worst case you get a new book and best case you get a new friend!
It’s the 21st century. No one does cheques any more.
Hairstyling gadgets or shavers.
While you might need an arsenal of hairdryers and stylers to achieve beach wave hair at home, on holiday you can actually just go to the beach. Tropical humidity will ruin most hairstyles in minutes and if it’s cold, you’ll be battling hat hair instead. For the guys, leave those shavers at home. A small razor will keep the beard at bay without the hassle of finding a plug socket. Or let your hair be free and spend the time saved admiring the view instead. You’re here to have fun, not compete in a beauty contest (unless the whole point of your trip is to enter a beauty contest, in which case ignore this tip).
Swimsuits dry really quick so there’s no need to follow “one to wear, one to wash”. No one will notice that you wore the same outfit yesterday. If you’re worried about tan lines then SPF and fake tan is your skin-cancer-free solution.
Your best jewellery or watch.
A few nice earrings, fun necklaces or a cool watch are a great way to add extra style to your capsule wardrobe (see tip 1) but don’t pack anything you would be sad to lose. Tourists are often seen as easy targets for pickpockets and muggers so don’t make yourself even more attractive to the wrong sort with a tonne of bling.
Camera lenses and tripods
Again, these just mark you out as a target for thieves. Digital cameras can do so much these days that for most people a whole truckload of fancy kit doesn’t actually add that much.
Tablets and laptops.
Another thing to lose! Plus a trip away is a great opportunity to have a digital detox and be present in the moment. If you’ve got your smartphone that will cover your online needs but discourages you from spending all evening watching Netflix when you could be out discovering a new town.
If it’s hot, you won’t need it. And if it’s cold, you should be wearing it, not packing it!
Brand new shoes.
It always seems like a good idea to pack those cute new shoes but extreme blisters are guaranteed to put a downer on your holiday. Instead, wear any new purchases a couple of times at home to break them in a bit.
It can be tempting to pack for every occasion, especially if you are heading somewhere known for the great outdoors. However, hiking boots are very heavy, take up lots of room and aren’t very comfy to wear while traveling. Unless you are booked to do some intense trekking, opt for sturdy trainers that can manage a day hike but also be worn around town.
Alongside men’s dress shoes, these are another item to leave at home unless you know for sure you will be attending a specific event or party that requires it. Pack a more versatile pair of heels (or even better, smart flats) that will see you through a variety of situations.
Plus Two Items to Always Pack First
You won’t get far without it.
Everything you pack can be replaced if you have some cash. While it’s not ideal to forget an expensive item that you then have to buy again, as long as you have some spare pennies you don’t have to worry that you’ve packed toothpaste or enough socks!
What’s your must have when traveling?