10 Items Experienced Travelers Don’t Pack

Do you consider yourself an experienced traveler? Whether you enjoy RVing, flying internationally, or tent camping in the open desert, you’ll pack a suitcase or bag for the trip.

Your experience may determine whether or not you have an easy time getting all your stuff into the car. Today, we’re looking at ten items you don’t need to pack. Let’s dive in!

Why Is Packing For A Trip Difficult?

Whether you’re packing for a trip via airplane, train, bus, RV, or car, this task isn’t easy. You might be limited to one suitcase on a plane or two carry-ons on a train.

Your RV or car can only hold so much cargo. So eliminating what you don’t need and ensuring you take essentials is critical when packing for a trip.

In a culture where we have so much stuff, this task is becoming increasingly difficult. We want to plan for events or situations that might happen. We want to pack for cold weather and warm weather.

Our kids want to take their favorite stuffed animals, blankets, toys, and books. But there just isn’t room to take everything we want when we go on a trip.

A person kneeling on a bed stuffing a huge pile of clothes into a suitcase.

Are There Restrictions On What You Can Bring When Traveling?

Before packing your suitcase, knowing what you can and can’t bring across state lines or international borders is important. Airlines have restrictions on certain items you can bring and specific amounts.

For example, you can’t bring bear spray on an airplane. The Federal Aviation Administration also limits the total amount of restricted medicinal and toiletry articles.

When RVing around the country, some states require you to leave fresh produce or meat products behind before crossing the state line. For example, when crossing into California, all commodities are subject to inspection. Citrus fruit is one of the prohibited items.

There are also restrictions on crossing into Canada or Mexico with a pet or weapons. If you don’t check the rules before arriving at the airport or border crossings, your vacation may end before it has even begun. 

10 Items Experienced Travelers Don’t Pack

Although many of us have probably packed at least one of the items on this list, with the advancements of technology and changes to travel happening constantly, our packing needs should also change.

If you want to reduce the number of items you pack on your next trip, here’s a good list to get you started.

1. Cash

While it used to be common to travel with cash, this isn’t the case anymore. It was always a good idea to travel with a couple hundred dollars.

So many places accept credit cards nowadays, and many don’t have foreign transaction fees. If you need cash for some reason, pull up to an ATM and get out what you need.

We worry more about getting cash stolen than having cash help us out in a particular situation, so we think it’s safer to travel with credit cards.

A person counting their money with coffee, a camera, a phone, and a map on the table in front of them.

2. Organizing Cases

You don’t need an organizer for everything. Removing these large cases will help save space when you’re trying to pack efficiently.

Use items you’re already bringing to cushion items that may break. For example, put your GoPro in a sock or wrap a towel around a camera. If you need to keep loose items together, use bags rather than cases because they take up much less space.

3. Flashy Clothes Or Too Many Clothes

We struggle with how many clothes and what types of clothes to bring on a road trip. Many locations experience a wide range of weather, and when you’re going to be somewhere for a week or longer, you often need to be prepared for rainy and dry weather and hot and cold temperatures.

However, we also know that many places have a Walmart or Goodwill nearby, so if we need something we didn’t pack, we can run out and grab that item without spending much money on a new wardrobe.

We also may drop off any unwanted items at a local shelter if we don’t need to take them back home with us.

We highly suggest not packing flashy clothes if you’re traveling to another country. You’ll stand out as a tourist and become more susceptible to scams. Dress to blend in.

A peson putting a folded shirt into a half packed suitcase.

4. Expensive Jewelry

Like flashy clothes, expensive jewelry will attract attention—something you don’t want in a foreign country. And like cash, you risk getting it stolen.

You might leave a nice necklace at a hotel or a ring in the bathroom of a restaurant. It’s not worth bringing along expensive items, so leave fancy watches, earrings, bracelets, and other jewelry at home. 

5. Unnecessary Toiletries

If you’re going on a trip, you might wonder if you need to pack all your toiletries, such as face lotion, shampoo, creams, masks, etc.

If you’ll be somewhere for a long time, we think buying things at your destination is better than traveling with them. If you’re only going on a week-long vacation, you can last a few days without all of your toiletries.

Unless they’re medically necessary, these items are products you can leave behind to save space in your suitcase.

Be sure to read What to Pack for a Family Vacation (and What Not To)

6. Pillows

Some people can’t travel without a neck pillow. We won’t tell you to stop if you’re one of those people. But if you’re considering bringing a pillow to be comfortable on a long train ride, road trip, or flight, we suggest you don’t.

They take up a lot of space. Bundle up a jacket or sweatshirt you’re already bringing so you don’t have to add another item to your gear.

7. Blankets

Do you or your child have a favorite blanket? This is a common item taken on a road trip or train ride. Blankets bring physical and emotional comfort to many people. But if you’re looking to save space, this bulky item is best left at home.

Sometimes, airlines will provide blankets on long flights. But regardless, dress appropriately in layers so you don’t need a blanket on your travel day.

A person wrapped in a blanket.

8. Books

Books are one of the items on this list that have changed over time. Many of us used to travel with books to pass the time.

Whether you’ve traveled on a Greyhound bus or flown to Australia, you’ve probably packed a book or two. However, with Kindles and eReaders, you no longer have to pack bulky, heavy books for vacation.

We know many of you like to hold books in your hands and physically turn the pages. But save the books for when you’re at home. Use devices that take up less space while traveling.

9. The “What If” Item

Have you ever thought about what could happen when packing for a trip? What if the weather is snowy? What if this pair of shoes gets destroyed?

These “what if” questions can cause you to pack unnecessary items. Don’t put anything in your suitcase or bag for “just in case” moments.

If something comes up, head to a nearby store or have an Amazon package delivered to a locker.

10. Low-Quality Gear

Finally, one of the worst mistakes you can make when planning a trip is to buy cheap gear. We know travel is expensive, and we want to save money wherever possible, just like you.

But low-quality gear won’t last. You’ll have to buy more gear and spend more money than you might have spent upfront on a better-quality option.

If you buy suitcases, camping equipment, or duffle bags, you don’t have to invest in the most expensive brand. But you also don’t want to go for the cheapest either.

A person peeling back the top of a shoe to show it's wear and tear.

Do You Find Yourself Packing Unnecessary Items For Trips?

So, what do you think about our list? Is packing a struggle for you every time you head out on vacation? Over years of traveling, we’ve learned what we need and what we don’t.

We hope that by sharing these unnecessary items, your packing process will be easier! And if you have to throw in that one “what if” item, don’t beat yourself up about it!

Is there another item you’d add to our list of things experienced travelers don’t pack?

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