I don’t know about you, but for me, packing a suitcase is a sort of artform. I always marvel at the flight attendants and frequent flyers who travel so lightly, no matter where they go.
Every time I pack for a trip, I find myself asking the same questions: How many nights will I be away? What’s the weather going to be like? Who am I seeing? What will I be doing? The more I analyze the trip, the more I think I need to pack.
There is a lot to consider, and often in a scurry, I pack too much. Even after many years of traveling, I still find myself packing the same items I never use. If I were honest and realistic with myself, I would probably pack way less than I do.
Here are 20 items that you, like me, probably pack but don’t use when you travel.
1. Vitamins and supplements
For some reason, this is one thing I’m terrible about on trips. At home, I probably remember to take my vitamins 60% of the time, but on vacation, forget about it! I’ve even tried organizing them into those daily pill boxes, but it doesn’t help my case.
If you’re in school, like I was for many years, you may think that extra time on vacation means extra time to be productive and get ahead a chapter or two on school work. Not likely, especially on vacation.
If you must study on your time off, consider making a copy of the few chapters or sections you need. Your checked bag’s weight limit will thank you later!
3. Extra shoes
I’m not saying I travel barefoot, but I always end up wearing only a pair or two of shoes I bring.
If you’re going somewhere fun, it can be tempting to pack a pair for every day or every outfit, but you’ll save space by choosing shoes that can go with multiple outfits – and that function for different types of activities!
4. Curling iron
There’s something about traveling that makes you want to dress up a little more and put extra effort into your hair and makeup.
I don’t know what it is, but I always think, “Well, I’ll bring the curling iron just in case!” And then I always end up letting my hair air dry, or I just throw in some curl cream and call it good.
A curling iron doesn’t take up too much space, but it’s one less thing to unpack when I get home from my trip.
5. Another pair of sunglasses
Sunglasses to me are just one more thing to risk losing when I travel. Instead of packing an extra pair, I pick the ones that are going to work in all sunny scenarios, and leave the rest at home.
Plus, if I really need another pair, or if I lose the one pair I bring, I can buy some at the airport or at a store when I get there.
6. An extra coat
Packing appropriately for cold weather is hard, especially if you live in a warmer climate. One thing I know from experience is that you really don’t need more than one overcoat.
I know it’s tempting to channel your inner Carrie Bradshaw and have a beautiful coat for each outfit, but again, like the shoes, just pick one that will work with everything. Coats take up major space in suitcases!
I know this one sounds gross, but I forget to floss when I travel. Maybe it’s laziness, or apathy, or a little bit of both. This is also something hotels will have in stock if you ask for it!
8. Printed boarding passes
If you’re an over-preparer like me, it can be tempting to print a physical copy of your boarding pass “just in case” you need it. Between airline apps, Apple Wallet, and the kiosks at check-in, you really don’t need a physical boarding pass anymore.
Plus, chances are if you’re upgraded or your flight gets changed, they will have to re-print you a physical boarding pass at the gate anyway!
Remember that scene from The Holiday when Amanda (Cameron Diaz’s character) is settling into her first-class seat with a stack of books to read on her flight from L.A. to London? I always laugh because there’s no way she has the time to read them all!
Also, think of how heavy that would make her carry on luggage. If you’re planning to read on your trip, consider downloading digital versions of them on your Kindle or iPad.
10. Hair dryer
When I get to my hotel room and unpack, I usually don’t need my hair dryer right away, so I keep it in my suitcase until the time comes to do my hair. Fast forward to that time, when my hair is wet and I’m in front of the mirror.
I see the hotel’s dryer there in front of me, so out of convenience I just use that one instead. Another item I packed, and didn’t use, added to the list!
11. Workout clothes
Unless you’re training for a marathon or weightlifting competition, you’re likely not going to need more than 1 pair of workout clothes for your trip.
Too many times, I’ve been overly ambitious and would think to myself “I’m going to use the hotel gym every morning!” only to end up unpacking all three clean pairs of workout clothes when I’m home from my trip.
Be realistic with yourself. If you run 3-4 times a week at home, you’ll probably do it half as often (or not at all) on vacation.
12. Work computer
Find a way to simplify what you bring to keep up with work. If you can handle emails from your phone, then don’t bring the laptop, charger, and bluetooth mouse. Or, consider swapping out the laptop setup for your tablet.
It’ll be one less thing to worry about when you go through security at the airport.
13. Travel-size mouthwash
I have a toiletry bag that I keep at home for trips, filled with toiletry-sized items that save me time when packing. You want to know what’s one item that’s literally never been opened or used? My mouthwash.
Not because I don’t use it, but because hotels usually already have a cute little mouthwash on the sink available to use. I see that one first, so I always end up not using the one I packed.
14. Body scrub/face masks
Fancy hotel bathrooms can be fun, and it’s tempting to pack enough scrubs, masks, lotions, etc. for a mini spa night. It’s especially tempting when you see them on sale in the Target toiletries aisle.
I always think I’ll have time for a DIY facial or body scrub, but in reality, I’m lucky if I shave my legs!
15. Antibacterial wipes
Nowadays, you can find hand sanitizer stands just about everywhere you go, so chances are you won’t be needing wipes of your own.
These are also something you can buy at a local pharmacy or grocery store, so if you’re in dire need of some, wait until you get there and then decide.
Maybe it’s because I just throw the whole medicine cabinet into my toiletry bag in a frenzy, but my tweezers never get used on vacation. Unless I’m going to (unlikely) be in a photoshoot or have an important interview, I don’t use my tweezers.
17. An extra pair of pajamas
If my trip is longer than a few nights, a second set of PJs might come in handy. However, for most shorter trips, I can get away with just one pair. I always laugh at myself when I’m back home, unpacking my clean and unused second pair of pajamas. I should know myself better!
18. Apple watch and charger
My Apple watch doesn’t get worn enough as-is, and when I’m on vacation, time is the last thing to be concerned about. I’ll already have my phone and the clock in the rental car to keep track of time if needed.
If I’m headed to Disney World or another large theme park, it may be useful to wear so I can count my steps, but otherwise, there’s a good chance my watch won’t leave my suitcase.
19. Nail clippers
I always have this irrational fear that my nail clippers will be confiscated from me when I go through airport security, but I pack them anyway. And then I still don’t use them.
Like so many other things on this list, I think I’ll have time to trim my nails, but then I get lazy and skip it.
20. Those five extra pairs of underwear
I don’t know what it is about traveling that makes us think we need extra-extra of everything, but underwear is definitely in that category. For some reason, I pack underwear as if I’m planning on suddenly peeing my pants daily on vacation.
Stick to the normal amount you go through, you’ll be just fine.