Cultural Experience | All Destinations

10 Things You Don’t Need to Pack in Your Suitcase

Go ahead and take all these items out of your suitcase right now.

1. Shampoo and shower gel

A lot of people carry travel size shampoo and shower gel. However, to avoid spilling, it is okay to abandon them altogether. If you are going to stay in a hotel, or even hostels, chances are they already have them for you. Plus shampoo and other toiletries are readily and cheaply available almost anywhere unless you are going to a remote area.

2. Clothes / shoes for every occasion

If you are going to the mountain, opt out of formal clothes. Try not to pack for ‘what-if’ occasions because you will probably end up bring 10 pairs of shoes and 5 different types of blouses. Instead pack clothes that are appropriate for multiple occasions and shoes that go with multiple outfits.

3. Hair products and unnecessary makeup

Including styling cream, detangler, dry shampoo and another million things in your daily beauty routine. It’s understandable. We need to look good and feel pretty for all occasions. This is my weakness every time I travel. But too many of these little things will weigh your luggage down and push it over your weight limit. Try multi-tasking products such as tinted moisturizer or foundation with sunscreen so you don’t have to carry your entire beauty routine on the plane. And come on, do you really need 10 different color of eyeshadows?

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4. Electronic Gadgets

It’s true that technological advances have made our life more comfortable when travelling. These smartphones with high megapixel cameras come in really handy. However, it’s probably not necessary to pack a GPS device or an iPod dock in your suitcase. Everyone has their own definition of “necessary” so ask yourself while you packing if you really need this toothbrush sanitizer for your 3 day trip.

5. Workout Clothes and Sports Equipment

DO TAKE YOUR VACATION. Workout clothes and sneakers take a lot of space. It’s ok to not go running 5 miles for a couple of days. If you are determined to stick to your workout schedule, try doing pilates or yoga indoor instead. And if you are doing your vacation right, you are going to burn off some calories walking around looking at places anyway.

6. Jewelry and Valuables

This is the first rule of thumb for traveling. Especially if you are going to a crowded tourist place, you are possibly the target of thievery. Don’t bring a lot of valuables in case your luggage is lost. Wearing a lot of jewelry or trying to stand out might defeat the purpose of traveling and fitting with the local culture. Only bring valuables if you know there’s a safe that you can store them in.

7. Books

This category includes guidebooks. Do your research before you travel and jot down things you want to do and interesting places you must visit. You might think you will have some time to catch up with the Hunger Games trilogy. But most airlines provide some sort of in-flight entertainment for you to kill time. And why not go outside and explore instead, especially if it’s your first time being there. It will be far more interesting.  You can always load up a small e-reader such as a Kindle with novels to read and travel guides to help you along the way.  One e-reader is much smaller and lighter than several books.

8. Food

Unless you are going to study abroad for a long time and could use some sort of comfort food, refrain from packing all your favorite snack food in your suitcase. Some airports have strict rules about bringing food products into the country. And isn’t trying new food an essential part of traveling?  Look around the local markets and try the local cuisine or snack food.  You may just discover a new favorite treat.

9. Medicine cabinet

We get it. You have to be prepared for anything that could happen. You might feel like throwing in some ibuprofen or allergy medicine for the on-the-road mishaps. While it doesn’t hurt to bring some cotton swaps, don’t bring your entire medicine cabinet. Moreover, some countries prohibit bringing certain over-the-counter drugs that contain stimulants, such as Vicks inhalers or Sudafed. Do your research before you pack for the airport.

10. Electronic appliances

The prime examples of this category are hair dryer and clothing iron. Even though traveling irons are compact, these bulky items still take up a lot of precious space in your suitcase. And chances are your hotel will have them already. To get rid of wrinkles on clothing, I used to hang my clothes in the bathroom while taking a hot shower. Also try to iron your clothes with a hair straightener (it works!)  Keep I mind that depending where you go, your appliance may not work with the local voltage.  Search online before you decide to bring any appliances to check on the voltage available in your country of destination.  If you do take electronics or appliances, don’t forget to take a power adapter for international travel.

Don’t complicate your life when you don’t need too. Pack light and immerse yourself in the culture you are encountering.

Jane Ha

Wittenberg University | 6 stories

Hey, it's Jane. I recently graduated from Wittenberg University. I'm from Hanoi, Vietnam. During the last 5 years of studying and working in the US, I traveled extensively to different parts of the country as well as several countries in Asia. I like green tea and street food.


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