I recently shared my top 10 must-haves for international travel. In that post, I mentioned that I’d follow it up with a list of items that you might think you need to pack, but aren’t worth the space they take up in your suitcase.
Here’s my list of travel leave-behinds. Keep these items at home, and save some space in your suitcase for souvenirs and travel essentials.
- Traveler’s checks. Traveler’s checks used to make it easy to securely travel with a large amount of money. But using traveler’s checks today can be a big, expensive hassle. Even if you don’t pay anything to get them issued, you will definitely pay a hefty service fee when you cash them. Since many establishments no longer want to deal with travelers checks, you may have to fit finding a bank into your itinerary in order to cash them. Stick with your credit/debit card and cash instead.
- Devices that keep you connected to work. This is a vacation you’re taking, isn’t it? You’ve worked hard and deserve some time off, so make sure you unplug enough to actually enjoy yourself. If possible, leave the work phone and laptop behind, with instructions to reach you only in an emergency. Give yourself permission to enjoy some much-needed time with loved ones or even all alone.
- Snacks. If you have dietary restrictions, bringing snacks is a great way to ensure there are some foods you know you can enjoy and eat safely. If not, keep the amount of snacks you bring to a bare minimum. Instead, try snacking like the locals, which will save you plenty of money as well as room in your luggage. And who knows, you may discover an amazing treat along the way. And not to worry if you aren’t up for the local treats. I’ve found potato chips, peanuts, Oreo cookies and plenty of other US-branded snack foods in the most remote corners of the earth.
- Shampoo and soap. Every hotel on your itinerary will have these available for you in your room. If not (hard to imagine), it’s easier to pop down to a corner store and pick some up then hefting your own along. Not every hotel will offer conditioner as an amenity, though. I pack a travel-size bottle of conditioner with me, and I’ve never run out, even washing my hair daily.
- A hair dryer. Most women and many men rely on their hairdryers on a daily basis, but there’s no reason to pack a full-size dryer in your luggage. Every hotel in today’s world will provide you with a hairdryer. Even if you don’t find one in your room (rare occasion) you’ll be able to borrow one from the front desk. Don’t count on a diffuser, though. If you need one, carry a mesh sack, available in any store that sells beauty supplies, that fits over the top of every dryer.
- New shoes. A vacation is no time to break in a new pair of shoes. Instead pack a pair of extremely comfortable walking shoes that you know you can wear to explore your destination pain-free. Unless you know you’re going to need to get very dressed up at some point, try and make due with an extra pair of shoes that can do double duty, for comfort by day and for style by evening. Definitely do not bring stiletto heels with you. You’ll lug them around and probably never wear them.
- Denim jeans. Jeans are heavy, take up a lot of space in your suitcase, and can’t be washed and dried in your hotel sink. Opt instead for light, breezy clothing, such as cotton shirts and khaki pants. If you can’t live without at least one pair of denim jeans, wear them on the flights. If they need to be washed, send them to the hotel laundry and accept the charge as a splurge.
- Jewelry you would hate to lose. If you would be devastated to lose your grandmother’s antique ring or a necklace you were given for your high school graduation, leave them at home. Travel with a few pieces of costume jewelry that you wouldn’t mind losing. And to perk up your wardrobe, check out the many inexpensive options at local markets. You’ll find lots of great items, often hand made, and help local artisans earn a living from their craft.
- An iron. Talk about a space hog. Irons are heavy to carry around (even the travel variety) and will probably require a plug adapter. For wrinkles that absolutely have to come out, try running the hot water until the bathroom fills with steam. If you hang that garment up in the steamy bathroom, the wrinkles will mostly disappear. If you hate wasting all that water (and electricity) a travel-sized bottle of Downey Wrinkle Releaser will do the same thing, and your clothes will smell lovely, too.
- An overabundance of clothes. Take a few comfortable outfits, that you can dress up or down with accessories. A few extra tops can turn two pairs of slacks and a skirt into a whole week’s wardrobe, and if you stick to one color palette, you’ll always match. Bringing less clothes from home will assure you’ll have space in your suitcase for those one-of-a-kind or handmade pieces that you’ll find as you travel.
That’s my list of items you can leave at home when traveling internationally. What do you consider a leave-behind? Let me know in a comment below.