Pack Smarter: 5 Items You Should Leave At Home (& What To Bring Instead)

I’ve seen it time and time again.  People overpack, stuffing their suitcases/backpacks with items that are just simply NOT necessary and essential to the happiness of your trip.

It only weighs you down, making your actual traveling experience (i.e. flights, buses, to and from hotel/hostel, etc.) that much more uncomfortable.

And I’m not knocking anyone, I’m delivering all of this advice from firsthand experience — here are five items that, if you’re thinking about taking on that next travel adventure, don’t.




1. Shoes you cannot walk in.

Yes, those pretty heels or dress shoes look SO cute with that dress or suit, but if you can’t actually walk in them comfortably for HOURS, leave them at home.  For one, they’ll get absolutely ruined on old town cobblestone, and most of the time people won’t even notice them.

Save that extra space in your suitcase for shoes that are FUNCTIONAL.  If you don’t have a stylish pair of comfortable shoes, take a well-traveled friend with you shopping.



Comfortable and stylish sneakers.

Closed toe flats that do not pinch or constrict.

Any dark colored shoes that have decent padding and/or arch support.



2. Big, floppy hats.

Oh, how we adore those beautiful beach hats with pretty little sayings on them — panama hats or big floppy fedoras.  But the truth is, they don’t pack well.  Actually, they don’t pack at all.  A pre-packed panama hat is bound to be destroyed, and if you can’t pack the hat – you’ll have to wear it every single step of the way.  In the airport.  In the taxi.  While waiting in line to board the airplane.

I had a pretty big floppy hat that I loved, but I got so tired of carrying it around after numerous flights in Southeast Asia, that I literally just left it in the airport for it to become someone else’s beautiful inconvenience.




Baseball hats or beanies.

Any hats that you can easily pack without completely destroying their shape.

Extra sunscreen if you’re worried about your face getting too much sun. 🙂



3. Thick, stuffy layers.

Those super chunky cozy sweaters are nice to have on a day when it’s a bit more chilly outside, but they will be the ONLY thing you have room to pack if you keep the on your packing list.  Think about bringing pieces that take up less space, but still provide a bit of warmth.




Windbreakers or other formulated thin layers that keep you warm (i.e. Uniqlo heat-tech style pieces).




4. Too many valuables.

The flashier you are, the more attention you attract.  And there is way more room to lose things or have things stolen when you are on the road.  My advice would be to LEAVE MOST OF YOUR VALUABLES AT HOME.  If the only function they serve is being pretty, you probably don’t need to bring loads of jewelry or other high-value items with you.  It’s better to be safe, than sorry.



Only one or two things that make you smile when you wear them but won’t make you cry if they are stolen or damaged.



5. Hair dryer / curling iron.

It boggles my mind when people bring hair dryers on trips with them.  Depending on where you stay, some hotels will provide them in the bathrooms for you to use.  But packing one with you will take up valuable real estate in your suitcase, and the likelihood of you causing an outlet to be ruined/short-circuited is very high.  A lot of places I’ve stayed in, across the world, had outlets that simply could not handle hair dryers.

Learn to air dry your hair and be okay with it.  It’s nice to get dolled up, but embracing those natural locks is a habit I think would do all of us some good.



A carry-on size bottle of hair serum or other hair management product that works for your style of hair (i.e. coconut oil, serum to help frizzies, dry shampoo, curl activator, etc.).

A foldable, pack-friendly hat (see above).



Thanks so much for reading this post. Got any extra items to put on this list?  Leave some travel and packing advice for our community below!


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