Maybe you’ve lugged one too many heavy suitcases across Europe’s craggy cobblestones or you just want to take a more minimalist approach for your next trip. Traveling light is always easier said than done, but there are some items you that you can easily ditch, lightening the load so you have an easier time getting around. We’ve gathered together a list of 10 items that you always pack but could probably leave at home.
If you’re staying at a hotel, or even most AirBNBs for that matter, simple toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are typically provided. Even if they aren't, they can usually be easily acquired at your end destination. Save space in your toiletry bag for items that you just can’t get anywhere else, including your coveted skincare routine, and pick up what you need once you arrive. You’ll also be doing yourself a favor by minimizing liquids which can be a bit of an airport headache for those who travel carry-on only.
While they can provide comfort while you’re in transit, neck pillows can be a huge pain to carry around from place to place. Most transatlantic flights provide you with small pillows that work in a pinch or you can easily use a sweatshirt or scarf in its place. If you really can’t part with a neck pillow, opt for one that is compact and easily slips inside your backpack. Although it might seem like a good idea to just clip it onto the outside of your suitcase or purse, you don't want to risk the soft material gathering germs along the way.
An Extra Pair of Shoes
It can be tempting to bring an extra pair of shoes, and while one is certainly warranted, two extra pairs is where we’d draw the line. Wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane and pack away your extras, whether they be sandals or sneakers. Try to resist the temptation to bring along a fancy pair of heels or your hiking boots. Unless your vacation revolves around hiking, bring along a more versatile shoe, like trail runners, that can double as athletic wear. (Check out our list of 9 essential shoes for every type of trip to help narrow it down.)
From floppy-brimmed beach hats to ball caps, hats can take up some serious real estate in your suitcase or backpack. The high likelihood that your hat might get bent out of shape is just another reason to leave it behind. Pack some sunscreen and sunglasses instead, but if you just simply can’t forgo the headgear, wear a baseball hat on the plane or find one that is specifically made to be folded and creased.
Guidebooks (& Books in General)
Toting along a good book – especially if you’re going to a beach destination – is always tempting. And if you used a guidebook to plan your trip, you might think it's a good idea to add it to your pack for some light reading or recommendations along the way. Save space and weight by downloading the book to the Kindle app on your phone or better yet, an actual Kindle. You can also take pictures of the pages in a pinch or print out some key pages ahead of time to save on space.
You would be surprised how many accommodations provide umbrellas for you, especially at hotel stays. Check the weather right before you leave and make a game-time decision. Oftentimes you can leave your bulky umbrella behind and, worst case scenario, simply use a lightweight rain jacket to protect you instead.
This is another essential that is often provided for you. From hotels to AirBNBs, it would be strange to not find a hairdryer in the bathroom drawer. It’s bulky, heavy, and a waste of space in most situations. Better yet, give your hair a break and let it air dry for your getaway. If you have a special occasion planned for your trip, consider giving a local salon a try for a fun styled look.
Stop and ask yourself if you really plan to workout on your vacation. Will you wear athletic gear out and about if you’re going to a place where it’s not the norm (looking at you Europe)? Most travelers forgo their daily exercise regimen, even if they don’t mean to. If you’re truly dedicated, go ahead and bring it along, but if you have doubts that you’ll keep up with your workout routine while you're traveling, leave it at home. Besides, walking around to all the sites is a workout in itself.
Traveling is not the time to flaunt expensive jewelry. Instead, opt for cheaper, less flashy options that won’t catch the attention of potential thieves or pickpockets. Even leaving your wedding rings at home is a good idea. Instead, opt for a silicone version, which is both cheap, comfortable, and won’t tempt any prying eyes.
The days of hiding your cash and credit cards beneath your clothes in a money belt are over. Many places in Europe (and around the world) now accept touch-to-pay via your phone which negates the need to carry around cash or card. Still, it can be hard to let old habits die and there’s something fun about collecting different currencies. If you do plan to bring along your wallet, wear a sling bag that sits on the front of your body or bring pants that have zippered or buttoning pockets.