Packing a suitcase — no matter if you’re going away for a weekend or for a whirlwind trip that’ll last a month or more — can be a really difficult task, far more difficult than it should be (or that you’d think it would be). Of course, different trips call for different belongings. You don’t need your parka for a beach vacation, nor do you need your hiking boots for a weekend in the city.
There are some things, however, that you really shouldn’t ever pack in your suitcase, no matter the trip or the circumstances. From your complete arsenal of hair and makeup products to your very own traveling library to anything you can buy once you arrive at your destination, here’s what you’re really better off leaving at home — it’ll be there to welcome you home when you return.
Excessive amounts of clothing
If you’re anything like me, whenever you get ready to prep for a getaway and start thinking about what you should be bringing with you in the way of clothes, you’re tempted to pack way, way too much — like, more than anyone could reasonably be expected to wear in that period of time.
Don’t give in to that temptation. According to The New York Times, here’s how you should effectively pack your suitcase full of clothing for your work-week trip: all you have to remember is 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. First, pack five pairs of socks and underwear. Then, four tops, three pairs of pants, shorts, or skirts, two pairs of shoes, and one hat. Of course, change it up based on your needs for that particular trip.
Heading to the beach? A swimsuit is, obviously, a must. Going to a wedding? Pack a dress or two. Spending the week at a work conference? Don’t forget your suit. For the rest of your clothing choices, pack according to the formula and rest easy knowing you have everything you’ll actually need.
Too many pairs of shoes
Shoes take up valuable suitcase space, and, let’s be honest for a minute here, when was the last time you actually wore the sky-high stilettos you brought just on the off chance you wanted to trek all over the city in them?
According to Lonely Planet, you shouldn’t ever pack more than two pairs of shoes unless there’s a very specific reason why you’re bringing a third. If you’re attending an event that requires special shoes, bring them, otherwise just leave them at home, chances are you won’t miss them anyway.
Do you still dutifully pack your flat iron, hair dryer, curling iron, each and every time you go away for a few days? (Just me?) If you’re staying at a hotel, a well-equipped rental home, condo, apartment, or with a generous friend, there’s really no need.
In an interview with Trip Advisor, Paula Froelich, travel pro behind the blog A Broad Abroad, said that hair dryers and hair spray are nearly givens at the vast majority of hotels and the nicer ones even have curling irons to borrow. Check with your hotel or host so you know all your bases will be covered, but there’s a good chance that you can put all those styling tools back in their drawer.
Clothing you’re uncomfortable in
It’s easy to overpack, throwing all kinds of clothing into your suitcase to wear on vacation that you rarely — if ever — wear in your normal, day-to-day life. If you don’t wear that clothing regularly, there’s probably a reason for it.
If you don’t feel comfortable wearing it at home — whether it’s because it really isn’t all that comfortable, you feel as though it’s not as flattering as it could be, or for any other reason — you definitely shouldn’t bring it on vacation, when you’re supposed to be relaxing and enjoying yourself, not feeling self-conscious. I’ve been there and those clothes will either stay in your suitcase or you’ll wear them and feel way less than confident the whole entire time. Neither circumstance is all that great.
In an interview with MindyBodyGreen, Jules Hunt, the gal behind Om & the City, said that the last thing you want on vacation is to worry about a swimsuit in which you don’t feel comfortable. Leave it — and all your related worries — at home. They’re the last things you’ll miss while traveling the world.
Umbrellas can be difficult to pack correctly because many take up quite a bit of space. Save yourself whatever bits and pieces of space you can find and leave your umbrella at home.
According to travel blog Authentic Traveling, a lot of hotels, hostels, and rental properties will lend you any umbrellas you may need for free. If you find yourself in a real pickle, head to the touristy part of town, buy a cheap umbrella, and don’t worry about it breaking or bringing it home — either donate it or toss it when you leave.
Your entire makeup bag
Similarly to how you shouldn’t bring your entire arsenal of hair tools, you should also ditch the overly involved beauty routine.
According to the travel experts at Smarter Travel, use hotel-provided toiletries, doubling up on any that can be used for more than one task. Share whatever you can with travel companions and buy makeup compacts that contain multiple colors so you don’t have to pack as many items overall.
Pare down your beauty routine to just the essentials unless there’s a reason why you absolutely can’t. There’s no reason for you to bring all your pots and potions with you while traveling — they just take up space unnecessarily.
Anything you’re bringing “just in case”
While it can be more than tempting to just throw those last few things in your suitcase just in case you might potentially maybe need them while you’re on your trip, you’re better off leaving them behind.
In an interview with Condé Nast Traveler, Andy Krantz, the co-founder of luggage company Paravel, recommended choosing a smaller bag than you would normally think necessary so that you’re required to only pack those items that you absolutely need, which means any “just in case” items get left behind where they belong.
Books are heavy, so unless you’re driving to your destination or space is somehow no object, it’s probably best to leave the real, honest to goodness books at home. In an interview with Trip Advisor, Jonathan Sacks, the guy behind Everybody Hates A Tourist, said that while it’s not the same, an e-reader is a great choice for traveling because it stores a ton of books — way more than you could bring if you were bringing individual paper books. Plus you can download more if you have a wireless internet connection. May you never be without plenty of reading material.
Things you can buy once you get there
While it may seem smart to pack things you can buy once you get there so that you don’t have to spend money buying things you may already have lying around — or could find more affordably at home — when it comes to preserving space in your suitcase, buying the things that are readily available at your destination is a smart idea.
According to the travel experts at Smarter Travel, instead of bringing along small items that you probably won’t need, buy them when you get to your destination if you end up needing them. It will help you scrimp both on space and potential luggage fees. If you’re going to buy things while traveling, make sure to buy small sizes, or make sure that they’re disposable because you’ll either have to bring them home with you or toss them when you’re done.
While traveling, you need less than you think
Though there are, undoubtedly, many, many things you need to pack in your suitcase whenever you get ready to go out of town for a while, there are also many things that you really never need to bring along. Ultimately, if there isn’t a specific purpose for it, it doesn’t belong in your suitcase. Leave excess belongings — and any and all stress or worry — at home. You won’t need them.