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23 2015

Packing Tips We Hate That You Should Ignore

Packing is a very popular travel topic, so of course there’s a lot of packing advice floating around on the Internet—some good, some not so good. The bulk of these expert packing tips help us master the art of traveling light. But not all tips are created equal. Want to avoid hobbling through the streets with a fat suitcase filled with superfluous garbage? Here are five of the most common packing “tips” that you can safely ignore.



The Bad Advice: Buy Expensive Packing Cubes

(Photo: waitscm via flickr/CC Attribution)

Packing cubes can be a smart purchase—but only if you buy the right kind, especially in terms of weight and price. I’ve seen cubes that weigh more than half a pound and cost half the price of a suitcase. (This Timbuk2 shirt cube is guilty as charged.)


Instead: Choose your cubes wisely. Before purchasing packing cubes online, be sure to check product specifications to see how much they weigh. And don’t pay 40 bucks for one cube. That’s ridiculous.


Or just use the free packing cubes you already own, also known as zip-top bags, plastic grocery bags, or reusable shopping bags. And you know those plastic cases that sheets and pillowcases come in? Keep those. They’re clear (so you can see your stuff without opening the bag), cube shaped, and virtually weightless.



The Bad Advice: Pack for Worst-Case Scenarios


(Photo: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images)


You have no formal dinners or events on your itinerary, but you throw some heels and a fancy dress into your bag in the event that some fine-looking human appears in your life and invites you to dinner. This is no way to travel. Just-in-case scenarios are one of the top causes of gross overpacking. In the quest to stop ourselves from forgetting something important, we pack things we don’t need—impractical items we schlep around because we think there’s some slight chance they’ll come in handy.


Instead: Ideally, you want to have a manageable piece of luggage filled with the crucial items you will absolutely need on your trip. So make a packing list. Fill it with the important and the necessary. And leave some room in your travel budget for nonessential items that can be purchased in your destination if the need arises.



The Bad Advice: Get a Bag That Can Hold It All


(Photo: jepoirrer via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Use a suitcase fit for the minimal amount of things you want to cart around, not the maximum amount of things you think you have to cart around. In other words, if you buy a bag you can carry with ease, you’ll be forced to pack light. Don’t purchase a hulking 32-inch spinner just because you have a 10-day trip coming up. You can pack everything in a carry-on, no matter the trip. We believe in you.


Instead: Travel with a carry-on bag and one piece of hand luggage, like a purse or a backpack, always. Unless you’re permanently moving to a destination, traveling with kids, or spending months abroad, you shouldn’t need any baggage larger than carry-on size.



The Bad Advice: Don’t Bring Bulky Shoes


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

On a trip to the Galapagos Islands, a guide made an example of one member of our tour group whose shoes fell apart mid-hike. The guide pointed to the man as he cautiously stepped over the unforgiving igneous rocks with shredded soles and said, “That is what happens when you wear the wrong shoes.”


Foldable shoes are fabulous. But they’re not always the most durable option, and there’s definitely a place for bulky hiking boots in your travel repertoire. This is especially true if you’re … hiking. Though bulky shoes can be hefty and a pain to pack, they’re a necessary evil when trail-bound.


Instead: Bring ’em if you need ’em. But wear your bulky shoes on the plane. If you find them uncomfortable, put some foldable flats or slippers in a pocket and change your footwear in-flight. Slip your boots under the seat in front of you, or tie them together and store them in the overhead bin.



The Bad Advice: Leave Electronics Behind


(Photo: Thinkstock/Monkey Business)


Unplug. Relax. Leave your electronics behind. That will make your vacation more relaxing, right? Not so much. E-readers and smartphones will help you travel better by lightening your load. You can replace a lot of physical bulk with these devices, which store a world of entertainment and information. Want to pack light? Go high-tech.


Instead: Load your tablet, phone, or e-reader with books, music, movies, shows, itineraries, apps, maps, boarding passes, et al. Just remember not to leave your charger in your suite. It’s one of the items most often left behind at hotels. Another tip: If you normally access your work email from your phone, disable or delete the mailbox for the duration of you trip. Not that’s relaxing!


by Caroline Costello, SmarterTravel Staff


This content was originally published at Smarter Travel, a TripAdvisor Media Group company. is the largest online travel resource for unbiased travel news, deals, and timely expert advice.



Categories: Smarter Travel, Travel Tips

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