Okay, let’s get down to brass tacks. You’ve booked your flight and you’ve made all your arrangements. You’re tickets are printed and you have an alarm on your phone to tell you when to pre-board. You are ready! Not so fast cowboy. You’ve gotta pack! Now, some of you might have rolled your bags out of the closet weeks ago while others of you just realized that you leave in 48 hours and haven’t packed a thing! No matter where you are in the packing process, there are a few items we all seem to grapple with and this list of travel gear is hear to help!
Let me confess, I do not use a carry on bag.
There. I said it. go ahead and judge! We know we MAY need certain items while flying and they would be helpful but are they really? On top of that, in the travel age of “everybody brings a carry on”, we have limits. I, personally, am a check bag kind of traveler. I do not find it appealing to sweat because I am lugging a bag all over the airport before I get on a plane. But we shall save that hot topic for another day. So, what do you take and what do you leave behind? Let’s sort out this mess.
I get it! You can do your hair the way you know how with your things so you will look good on Instagram! I’m with you! But the bottom line is that a hairdryer is bulky and heavy. On top of that, hairdryers are notorious for blowing a fuse or simply giving in. Besides, if you are staying at a hotel or B and B, they have one for you to use. The only place that I can think of that has no hairdryer is if you choose to rough it and you probably are okay without it anyway.
Take it? Never! Unless you are a hairdresser on the way to a trade show.
I get it! We all want to look nice but heels take up a lot of room. But, for the typical traveler who is out to enjoy the local sites and culture, there is really no room for high heels. Instead, there are lots of lovely sandals out there that can do double duty for day and night. See if that is a better option. Shoes should be just another part of your mix and match wardrobe. There are just two kinds of shoes I take, a pair of sneakers and sandals. I can think of a few isolated times when they need to go with you though.
If you are cruising, you may need formal wear (although that trend is not as prevalent as it used to be), you may have a specific event (a night at the Opera in Vienna or a family wedding), or you may be staying at a resort with certain activities that have a dress code. By all means, pack the heels! But for the day to day tourist, don’t waste you space.
Take it? Maybe. Just have a really good reason like your cousin, Agnetha’s wedding.
I get it! You are headed to London or perhaps, Bangkok- maybe Victoria Falls is written on your ticket. You’ve read your travel guide and it says rain. I say do not pack the umbrella!!! Believe me! The true need for an umbrella is overrated. In stead pack one or two pretty scarves that can double as a quick head cover as you duck in and out of museums on a rainy day. Scarves are usable on wet days, dry days, windy days, and cold days. They spruce up your outfit and fold down to next to nothing. If you really truly need an umbrella, buy one where you are. I’ve only done it twice in 20 years.
Take it? Nope. A few rain drops won’t hurt you.
I get it! But is this your vacation or is it another work day? We all talk about being unplugged but we adults are not very good at it. Americans have more leave time accrued than any other nation and we don’t use it! So, do you bring it? Well, if you really have no choice, then lug that thing along but even as someone who does do a little work on the road, I don’t bring mine. Why bother with that heavy bag which you don’t want to check in for fear of it going missing. I opt for two pieces of technology, my iPad and my phone. I can pretty much do whatever I have to with much lighter gear and still watch the newest Netflix releases if they ever drop (I’m talking to you The Crown!) And if I can’t? Well, I am on vacation after all!
Take it? Nope. Only a workaholic brings along their work.
Image by Pixaby
I get it! You are going on vacation! You want to sit back, relax and read that beach novel. I say, if that is what you are truly going to do, then by all means take that book. But, do not think for one minute, if you are traveling to Tokyo or Rio that a book will be read. You have too many other things to do! Books are heavy and you are not going to open them on the go. Instead, opt to read digitally (kindle, iPad) on the off chance that you have a few moments to spare on a train from Munich to Venice. One or two notable exceptions: always take your travel guides they are an indispensable part of your trip and grab something juicy for the ship or the beach if you are going nowhere else.
Take it? Maybe. Beach reads get to go but leave Fabio at home for anything else.
I get it! Once in a lifetime trips deserve once in a lifetime memories. So, do you need a camera? Well, I’ve been unsure for years about this one. So, I decided about 3 years ago to try a little experiment. I only took my iPhone and snapped all my photos on that. You know what? It worked! My pictures were clear, reasonable quality, and easy! So, for me, I’m a no go on the camera. I like not having extra gear. However, I do think there are some notable exceptions and the first one is safari. You need more than an iPhone for that! If you are an amateur photographer and it’s going to bring you joy to have a good camera and lens, you should bring them. Get those wonderful memories on film somehow!
Take it? Maybe. Only if you know what you’re doing with it and you know it will do a better job than your iPhone.
Travel sized products
I get it! You are about to stuff two weeks worth of stuff into a two day bag. Space is at a premium! Not so fast, unless you have pledged to the secret society of “I will never pay for checked luggage again”, there is an alternative. Okay, I’m seriously not trying to scare anybody but I take my own FULL SIZE products! Gasp! I do! I take them almost empty- with just enough for my trip. On the last day, I ditch them all and make room for all of the things I’ve brought along the way. Why do I need to pay $3.99 for 20 cents worth of shampoo of a brand I don’t even like? Again, I check my bag so, I don’t have to deal with the liquids restriction and with powders becoming restricted too, I don’t care to get involved with that nonsense either.
Now, you have a few other options, I’m talking to you carryoners. You can buy reusable bottles for a small price and use your own products or simply use whatever is in the hotel bath if you’re not picky. My new favorite alternative are bath bars like the ones from Ethique. They have shampoo, conditioner and body wash in non liquid, TSA happy bars. I love them.
Take it? Not me. I can pay to check my bag for the prices they charge for all those little plastic bottles which are not good for the environment anyway.
No one ever said, “I wish I had taken more”. So remember, you are going to have to lug all of that travel gear in your suitcase everywhere you go so pack wisely! Me? I prefer to leave room for all the treasures I find along the way!