We’ve all seen these people and, inevitably, at some point we’ve actually been these people. The urge to overpack is a phenomenon most people experience in their early travel years and eventually outgrow it with experience. But some never quite make the connection between overpacking and the resulting inconvenience and misery it creates for them – and sometimes fellow travellers. Here are some non-debatable, tough-love list of things that you should never carry with you on a trip.
1. More than one suitcase: If there is one thing on this list that can be easily avoided, it’s bringing two suitcases. Seasoned travellers on short trips that routinely travel with two giant, rolling suitcases, big and heavy enough to be holding actual kitchen sinks. What are people putting in those things that they can’t live without for two weeks? Any bag that a perfectly healthy adult can’t lift on to a bus without assistance should be emptied and repacked.
2. Guitars: Yes, we know you are fond of music and would love to show off in a public place, but seriously think about it. Do you want to lug a guitar everywhere you go? Neither will it be a trouble carrying it all around but these things take up critical space on buses and trains. I don’t care if you’re the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix, leave your guitar at home.
3. Full-sized pillows: These take up too much luggage space. If you are a light sleeper and require a specific pillow buy the inflatable neck pillow, it is great for flights and travelling. Many luxury hotels have a pillow menu so you’ll be spoilt for choice.
4. Hairdryers and curling/straightening irons: Travel and glamour do not belong together. If having perfect hair is that important, you probably aren’t cut out for travel. Moreover, if you’re staying in a hotel, there will almost certainly be a hairdryer in the bathroom so leave the one you have got at home. And do you really want to spend all that time ironing or curling your hair when you can be sightseeing or sipping a cocktail on the beach?
5. More than two pair of shoes: I’ll let this stretch to three pair of shoes if you’re going to a wedding. Otherwise, limit it to casual shoes and dress shoes. Or dress shoes and sandals. Notice I didn’t say high heels – you’re on holiday and there is no place for them.
6. Full-sized umbrella: When the market is flooded with colourful, pretty, sleek, smart and compact travel size umbrellas available why carry a full sized one, who are you, Mary Poppins?
7. Huge headphones: Haven’t you seen the sleek earphones available in the market? Go get those and if you already have them carry those instead of big headphones. They are smart, convenient and not a burden on your ears or head.
8. Masalas, pickles, Indian sweets and ready to eat Indian packaged food: All of us know of people who religiously carry all kinds of pickles, masalas, and ready to eat packaged food on a holiday, but unless you’re camping there is absolutely no need for this. We understand that you love Indian food, but can’t you live without it for some time? Just imagine if it spills in the suitcase. Now you wouldn’t want that, right?
9. Over-sized toiletries: What is the need of carrying a huge bottle of shampoo, shower gel, moisturizer and sunscreen when the travel packs are easily available. Avoid these as they get too bulky and there are more chances of them spilling.
10. Too much Make-up: Carry the bare minimum and remember the basic rule – you’re on a holiday, you don’t need to dress up or deck up as if you’re going for a party. Don’t worry, we aren’t denying the basics, carry them, but cut out the unnecessary ones.
11. Jewellery: Oh that lovely diamond necklace that makes you look like a million bucks – leave it at home. It is a really bad idea to carry expensive jewellery on a vacation unless you’re going for a wedding. Think of the tension of keeping it safe all the time. It’s just not a good idea.
12. Over-sized souvenirs: Just because you’re heading home doesn’t excuse you from buying huge souvenirs. Nothing unnecessarily complicates travel like rainsticks, hammocks, rice paddy hats, didgeridoos, bamboo art or the giant walking stick you found while hiking. Even if there was enough space in the overhead bins for such nonsense, those things will likely get damaged during take-off or landing anyway.
13. Laundry detergent: When there is laundry available at the hotel then why carry detergent? Moreover – why even think of washing clothes on a holiday? Do that dirty job when you get home. And, if you’re so desperate then buy it from some shop nearby.
14. An overfull first aid kit: Again, we are not denying the basics. A medical kit is essential but avoid the unnecessary medicines.
15. Snorkelling gear: Don’t carry such bulky gear. Your suitcase is not meant for the snorkel tube, dive mask, fins. It is best to rent it from the place where you plan to go snorkelling.
This article first appeared in www.lonelypanet.com in August 2014.