In the last four years since moving to Chicago, I’ve traveled to and from my hometown at least 30 times. I wish I was kidding, but alas, I’ve spent approximately 10 hours or so packing a small carry-on bag for weekend trips in the last few years. In that time, I’ve learned a few things:
- I hate packing
- I often pack way too much
- I also somehow manage to pack way too little
- I hate packing
In honor of travel season, I’m diving into everything we always pack that takes up too much space, we don’t use, or is just a waste of time. Next time you’re packing for a trip, forget these items at home — we promise you won’t need them.
1. A month’s supply of underwear
I’ll be going away for three days and pack a month’s worth of underwear “just in case.” What the heck am I thinking is going to happen?! I’m 22 and haven’t had any issues with urinary incontinence thus far, so I can’t imagine it’s going to happen while I’m on my vacation. Pack enough underwear to last you the time of your vacation and maybe one extra. There’s no need to pack any more than that!
2. The face masks I said I’d do for “self-care”
While it sounds like an amazing idea to bring all of your favorite face masks to your destination, your vacation will likely be self-care enough. If you have a favorite, go ahead and bring that one, but there’s no need to pack a sheet mask for every single day of your trip.
3. Too many swimsuits
Before embarking on a beach vacation, I stock up on my swimsuits. I try to have a different suit for every day I’ll spend on the beach to basically guarantee I’ll get a fantastic Instagram pic. See everyone, I did go to the beach! However, once I get to the beach, I do one of two things:
- Wear only the same suit the entire week, or
- Wear every single one and then have a bunch of wet suits to bring home
Either way, I regret all the money and precious space I dedicated to swimwear. Depending on the length of your trip, bring a couple of swimsuits to fit your needs but don’t feel like you need to overdo it.
4. Clothing that doesn’t match
Instead of packing that bright pink cropped top Vacation You (because Vacation Beth and Real Beth are two entirely different people) planned to wear to your beachside brunch, create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. Make sure all of your items mix and match together — you can wear your white T-shirt with your jeans, shorts, and under a pair of overalls; your denim shorts work with a cardigan and T-shirt or a cropped tank; pair a swimsuit with a cover-up for the beach or shorts for a lunch out.
5. The fancy dress + heels
Vacation Beth loves going to fancy dinners she can’t afford and dreams of going to the hottest night clubs. Real Beth has about 30 dollars and has never set foot in a club in her life! The stilettos and fancy dress you swear you’ll wear out but don’t actually wear in your real life are a waste of space. Use that space to pack the stuff you really need (like more snacks).
Heels are also a hard pass because who’s feet actually feel good enough for that? After walking around your entire destination in flip flops for days, no one wants to put that on their feet. Sorry, not sorry.
6. Cold weather clothes in a hot climate
If you hail from a cold part of the world, you’re likely untrusting of the weather. “Just because it says it will be 80 degrees the entire trip, it might still get cold outside!” This thinking results in us packing sweatpants, fleece-lined leggings, a couple of sweatshirts, and all of our chunky, fuzzy socks. Newsflash people: not every part of the country has weather as unpredictable as the Midwest! Leave the cold weather clothes at home, and opt for light cardigans and thinner layers instead.
7. All of our hot tools
Just like Vacation Beth wears ballgowns to dinner, she’s all about perfect pin curls just in case the beach can’t quite give her the waves she’s hoping for. So, I pack two different sized curling irons, a flat iron, a crimper (it’s back, people!), and a blow dryer everywhere I go. Who knows, maybe I’ll meet a foreign leader and get swept away and have to look amazing for my impromptu wedding — I’m just all about being prepared.
8. The entire travel section of Target
Don’t tell me you don’t go crazy in the Target travel-size aisle before a trip because I refuse to believe I’m the only one doing it — my favorite toothpaste is always sold out! Just because your favorite products come in a travel-size doesn’t mean you’re required to bring only those — reduce, reuse, recycle, people!! Invest in travel-size containers that you can refill with your favorite products instead of buying new ones for every trip. We’ve all been through the cycle of buying a travel-size shampoo for one trip and then having to buy another one because there isn’t enough to get you through the next trip. Next thing you know, your bathroom drawer has become a graveyard for old travel items you can’t (and don’t want to) use again.
9. Too much technology
“Just in case,” I always bring my personal laptop, my work laptop, my tablet, my phone, a Polaroid camera I haven’t used since freshman year of college, and every charger in my charger drawer (highly recommend for your organizational sanity). Stick to the tech you actually think you’ll use — I’ve pared down to bringing only my phone and personal laptop because the rest sit in my bag for the entirety of my trip!
10. All the accessories in our closet
Vacation Beth imagines herself sitting on the beach in the perfect floppy sun hat that reads something along the lines of “out of office” in a cursive font while she sips a pina colada and reads Nicholas Sparks. Real Beth lays on a towel with a murder mystery and a vodka lemonade in a swimsuit, denim cutoffs, and flip flops from Old Navy. While it seems tempting to bring all of your favorite accessories (hats, scarves, jewelry, and more) on your vacay, it’s likely you’ll only wear what you’re comfortable in. Stick to your basics, whether that’s the necklace you never take off or your favorite hoop earrings, instead of all the stuff you just want to take an Instagram picture in.
A few things we never regret packing…
I am ~obsessed~ with these TSLA leggings from Amazon. High-quality, great material, and cheap! Plus this pair has a pocket for your phone, I mean what else could you possibly need?!